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Vegan puppy food?
weigand Posted at 2010/06/10 2:26pm reply to

weigand
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Anyone have any recommendations for vegan or at least vegetarian puppy food?

I've seen Natural Balance Vegetarian Formula, but apparently it's only for adult dogs, not puppies. Puppies require 25% or more protein content, and Natural Balance only has 18%.

This is for two 11 week old small breed puppies, both are Papillons.

Any advice would be appreciated.

Thanks,
- Steve
VeganExplosion Posted at 2010/06/10 2:31pm reply to

VeganExplosion
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We use NB veg for both our dogs. One has been on since she was a puppy (since around 10 weeks and now she's 2!) The other has been on it since he was 4 and is 8 now.
My puppy and our older doggie are both long coat chihuahuas (very similar to papillons) and they've done so well. I love that it says "vegan" on the bag.

For protein: we've always added protein to their bowls (some legumes, chickpeas, etc).
We did this with betsey as a puppy. she's super healthy.

NB veg is one of the best dry foods because nature's recipe has menadione and avoderm makes my dogs instantly sick.

They've loved it and are both right on target weight for their size.
VeganExplosion Posted at 2010/06/10 2:35pm reply to

VeganExplosion
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But i would recommend processing or blending the legumes or chickpeas in a processor or blender. their outer skin can be difficult to digest so you def want to make it easier on their tiny puppy poops. otherwise they'll throw it up or poop it out undigested.

Ross Posted at 2010/06/10 2:48pm reply to

Ross
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Yeah adding things like Crystal noted could definitely help amp up the protein a little. We use Natural Balance with our dog too, and her weight's been great on it. but we only got her once she was a little less than 2 years old, so she's only been on it since then.
squint Posted at 2010/06/10 3:12pm reply to

squint
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weigand Posted at 2010/06/10 3:23pm reply to

weigand
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Good input, guys.  But I'm still not convinced that Natural Balance should be used for puppies, even if you add pureed peas and such.

Since puppies don't eat a lot (volume-wise), whatever they eat must meet the 25% protein requirement.  And NB does not. You can add stuff like pureed peas to it like you mentioned, but that just means they'll eat less dog food. They probably won't eat the same amount of dog food while also eating this additional food, I'm thinking.

Chickpeas are 21.6% protein by calorie, and green peas are 25.5% protein by calorie.  So chickpeas are not acceptable. If half the meal was Natural Balance (18% by calorie) and the other half was pureed peas (25.5% by calorie), the whole combined meal would be just 21.75% protein by calorie. That's still not the 25% requirement.

You'd need equal parts of NB and something that has 32% protein by calorie in order to get an effective 25% protein for the whole meal.

(Of course I was going by protein content by calorie, but you really have to take volume into consideration here. Or total protein.)

I'll continue pondering this problem.

- Steve
j1 Posted at 2010/06/10 3:41pm reply to

j1
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Evolution vegan dog food is suitable for all life stages. It's 28% protein. My dogs vastly prefer it to any other vegetarian dog food they've had.

http://www.evolutiondietstore.com/category.sc?categoryId=4
Ross Posted at 2010/06/10 4:07pm reply to

Ross
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>Evolution vegan dog food is suitable for all life stages. It's 28% protein. My dogs vastly prefer it to any other vegetarian dog food they've had.
>
>http://www.evolutiondietstore.com/category.sc?categoryId=4

have they tried natural balance and preferred evolution to it? i've always thought of trying evolution with our dog, but the convenience of being able to buy nb at the store has always prevailed.
weigand Posted at 2010/06/10 4:39pm reply to

weigand
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I believe Evolution dog food once failed some sort of independent nutrient profile test and didn't explain why, but simply asserted that it's a fluke or something. I'd have to dig to find that article. I tried finding it just now but couldn't. Google is both a friend and a foe sometimes.

Also, comments online suggest that Evolution dog food contains at least one potentially harmful ingredient (menadione). And the ingredients feature soy and corn, both of which are potential allergens.  And they say the protein content comes mostly from one relatively cheap source (corn gluten) and is simply used to inflate its protein count but fails to provide a "complete" protein with a full amino acid profile.

http://www.dogfoodadvisor.com/dog-food-reviews/evolution-diet-dry/

- Steve
j1 Posted at 2010/06/10 5:34pm reply to

j1
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They've had all of the vegetarian stuff you can buy at local pet stores. They've had V-Dog and another dog food that we ordered.

The information on dogfoodadvisor seems to be slightly incorrect compared to what evolution has on their website and printed on their bags. I showed the dog food ingredients to two vets and they both thought it was fine. My dogs have been eating it for several years with no adverse effects. My coonhound is able to climb in trees, climb chain-link fences, run 30-ish miles an hour, swim crazy fast for a dog, compete strength-wise with my friends large German Shepherd (by his assessment) and has a shiny soft self-cleaning coat. I would be afraid to see her if she were running at a higher performance level (I already think she has a 26% chance of killing me in a cage match). My beagle is really good at sleeping and being a lazy ass, so it's good for that lifestyle as well.

If anybody wants to try some of the evolution dog food, I can give them some.
Jessica. Posted at 2010/06/10 10:02pm reply to

Jessica.
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steve - have you read the book Vegan Dogs: Compassionate Nutrition ?  It's free to download, and has a nice comparison of all commercial vegan dog foods starting on pg. 48.

For the record, I've been making home cooked meals for Sugar for a few months now. I use the Vegedog supplement available from http://veganpets.com/ and Vegan Essentials. It is suitable for all stages of life, as you mix it in with the homemade food. There are specific recipes for puppies, mature dogs, momma dogs, and grandpa dogs.

Anyway, good luck on your mission!
weigand Posted at 2010/06/11 6:21pm reply to

weigand
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Thanks for the link, Jessica.  That has some really good info.  It looks like the only dog food that would be passable for puppies is Evolution. At least from what's shown in that book. There's only one other there that I saw which has the required amount of protein, but it's mostly just a dog food "base" which you add other stuff to in order to get all the vitamins and minerals needed.

But as I noted before, it looks like Evolution may not have a very good amino acid profile. I do appreciate j1's input about Evolution. But I'm still worried. I think if I decided to use Evolution, I would try to add a protein source that complemented its amino acids. I'll need to analyze it more deeply.

That free ebook gives a recipe for adult dog food. That is very tempting. I could try to implement my own recipe for puppy food based on that recipe by increasing protein and fat content.  Though, I'd really have to research it well. And I'm thinking right now I don't feel confident enough to do that. I'll look around on the web to see what others have done.

- Steve
weigand Posted at 2010/10/09 10:49pm reply to

weigand
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Okay, I just wanted to give an update. My puppies are now nearing 7 months old. I searched for a vegan dog food suitable for puppies, and the only thing out there seemed to be Evolution. But as you recall, I rejected it in favor of a non-vegan puppy food, because I didn't trust Evolution's amino acid profile. Our puppies were just skin and bones when we got them, and I really wanted them to grow as fast as possible. I just didn't want to take the chance. So we stuck with non-vegan puppy food.

But I wasn't satisfied. I figured that the food we were giving them was basically crap. All mass-produced dog food, for the most part, uses rendered meat from downed and diseased animals. And along with that comes the possibility of getting euthanasia agent and salmonella bacteria and so forth. Not to mention cancer causing dioxins. No thanks.

I liked Natural Balance vegan dog food, but it didn't have enough protein for puppies. So I decided to analyze how much protein and calories they were getting with the non-vegan dog food. And I wrote a computer program to figure out how much Natural Balance vegan dog food and how much extra protein (from soy beans, chicken, or textured vegetable protein) I would need to combine with it in order to give them the same amount of calories and protein.

The purpose was to get off of the rendered meat dog food and start transitioning them mostly to Natural Balance vegan dog food with some other protein supplement added.

My computer program figured out that for about 15 grams of Natural Balance, all that's needed is about 5 grams of chicken breast meat. It's very small. We used a kitchen scale to carefully measure the amounts we fed them.

We started with chicken breast meat, because it had the highest concentration of protein we could find. You see, our puppies were just skin and bones, very thin. They ate very little. They often didn't finish their bowls when we fed them the non-vegan dog food. So we figured that if we switched them to Natural Balance, we had to worry about the volume of food they were getting.

If they were eating 15 grams of non-vegan dog food, we couldn't just give them 30 grams of Natural Balance vegan dog food instead. They wouldn't finish it. So in order to keep the volume down, we had to use the highest protein source we could find. That was chicken.

So my girlfriend (an omnivore) bought the chicken, cooked it, and added it to their Natural Balance vegan dog food. And they loved it. They went crazy for it. They ate so much more of that than they had ever eaten of the non-vegan dog food we used to feed them.

This was good news, because since they were eating a lot larger volume of food now, we didn't have to worry about volume.  That meant we could feed them vegan protein sources instead of chicken. The protein didn't have to be as dense as chicken.

After a week or two with the chicken, I started feeding them vegan Smart Dogs instead (cut up into tiny pieces). Smart Dogs, as in the vegan hot-dogs you can buy from Whole Foods (people food). They loved that about as much as the chicken. Yay!

We'll eventually switch out the Smart Dogs and use TVP (textured vegetable protein) as well. TVP can be bought in bulk and can be flavored using vegan chicken/beef flavorings. It's an excellent protein source also.

Oh, and even if we didn't add anything to their dog food and just fed them vegan Natural Balance, they're eating so much of it now that they probably don't need any extra protein. When they were eating the non-vegan dog food, we could hardly get them to finish eating 15 grams of it. Switching to Natural Balance, we now have to limit them to eating just 30 grams, because if we gave them as much as they wanted, they'd eat probably over 50 grams. Ha!

So now we have vegan dogs. They're thriving, and I am one happy doggy daddy. I am so glad that I don't have to deal with chicken and non-vegan dog food being in my house ever again. The chicken smell as it was being cooked was making me sick smelling it.

- Steve
j1 Posted at 2010/10/10 5:40pm reply to

j1
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I think you're over-analyzing what your dogs need. The way I see it is if a dog can live off of Ol' Roy dog food (basically tumor flavored Captain Crunch), a dog will be fine with Evolution.

My dog Daisy (the one in the tree) has only eaten Evolution since we got her (when she was about 7 or 8 months old). There are special high protein dog foods for hunting dogs like her and she does fine with the Evolution.

image

weigand Posted at 2010/10/11 10:24am reply to

weigand
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I don't think you understand our particular situation. Our puppies (both are Papillons from the same litter) were 12 weeks old when we got them. We would have gotten them at 8 weeks old from the rescue, but they were quarantined under a vet's care due to an outbreak of the Parvo virus that killed 4 of their littermates. Only 3 survived the ordeal, and it was due to intensive medical intervention including IV drip antibiotics and IV drip meal solution. We adopted 2 of them. The one remaining puppy was adopted by another family.

When we got them, they were fairly emaciated looking. One was just skin and bones, and the other was not much better. That's not surprising, since they had been through such an ordeal.

They were being fed Eukanuba Small Breed Puppy food. That food is optimized for small breed puppies to ensure the rapid growth that they need. Small dogs (like our Papillons) grow to their adult size within the first 6 months of age. After that, they're done growing. So it's very important that they get as much to eat as they can, especially protein.

Papillons only grow to 8-10 inches tall, by the way. So it's very important that they get as much nutrition as they can (especially protein) in the first 6 months or so.

Larger breed dogs, such as yours, grow to their adult size over the span of a year to two years (as opposed to just 6 months in the case of smaller breed dogs). Their protein requirements are less than small breeds' are. Their diets don't have to be as closely monitored, unless they're especially athletic and active (which requires a lot more protein and calories). Especially if they're coming to you in good shape and in the latter half of their first year (ours were 12 week old puppies that were emaciated and recovering from the Parvo virus and intensive care).

In addition to the normal concerns with small breeds, we had very skinny puppies that needed as much nutrition as we could get them. Yet, they only ate about 1/3 cup of food per day taken over 3 meals per day. That's very little. Problem is, we figured that if we switched their dog food, we had to make sure they were getting as many calories and protein as before. Because, they're just going to eat the same amount (1/3 cup). It has to be as dense in calories and protein. And whenever you switch dog foods, dogs generally turn their noses up to the new dog food, by the way. We didn't have a lot of room to play around here.

Evolution dog food has a good following on the web. I will likely incorporate it into our dogs' meals at some point in the future just to give them some nutritional variety. However, I could not trust it during the critical first 6 months period. I would need to see an amino acid profile for it, and the manufacturer has not provided one. Because corn gluten is listed first in the ingredients list, it's very possible that it was included to boost protein content to 31%, but corn gluten's amino acid profile is not complete. Therefore, I could not trust its protein content. It said 31%, but for all I know, only 16% of it is "complete". For adult dogs, it's probably just fine. But for small breed puppies, I can't say.

And so I wasn't going to experiment. Their requirements didn't allow me to play around with this. It's just too bad Evolution dog food didn't have an independent amino acid analysis available, as far as I can tell.

- Steve
DRiot Posted at 2010/10/29 5:39pm reply to

DRiot
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Not *quite* what you asked, but the Goodwill off Parmer between Mopac & i-35 has a ton of boxes of Vegetarian Dog Biscuits. Not vegan, but they're super cheap and vegetarian.
adrienne Posted at 2010/11/01 12:04pm reply to

adrienne
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weigand Posted at 2010/11/01 2:03pm reply to

weigand
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Thanks. I just looked at that web site (avodermnatural.com). Their dog food is for adult dogs only, not puppies. And while their total protein content is listed as 18% (sufficient for adult dogs but not puppies), their caloric density (323 cal per cup) is just a shade low from what I'd like to see (around 400-500 cal per cup).  Good for sedentary dogs, though, because you don't want them to get a calorically dense source of food. You can boost calories if you need to, though, by simply adding some canola oil to the meal or dog treats between meals.

One other thing I noticed about that food. The ingredients list onion and garlic. That's usually a no-no in dog foods. Onions in particular are not good for dogs. In these small doses, though, it's probably nothing to worry about. Though, it's pretty weird seeing them in a dog food.

Also, it contains Vitamin D3, which is from animal sources.

I did appreciate that they listed amino acid content. I've not compared their amino acid ratios with target ratios, so I can't comment on whether or not it's good.

Also, zinc looks maybe a bit high. Not sure.

- Steve
mermaidem Posted at 2014/02/23 4:36pm reply to

mermaidem
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weigand, I just wanted to say thank you for asking this question and doing the research that you did.  And coming back to follow up and let everyone know the outcome.  This was exactly what I needed to read.  How are your dogs?  
weigand Posted at 2014/02/23 9:26pm reply to

weigand
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Thanks for that, Mermaidem.

Our little Papillons are awesome! They're about to turn 4 years old in a few weeks. We're always getting positive comments from our vet about their health, their coat, etc.

Even their teeth are doing pretty darned good. We take them to get their teeth cleaned by the vet once a year. They have to be put under anesthesia when they do. It's a very thorough cleaning. And we get the photos and full report on how good/bad their teeth are. Usually on a scale from 0 to 4, with 0 being the best, they're at a 1 when they come in. After their teeth are cleaned, they're at a 0. They've had no cavities or lost teeth. Just slightly inflamed gums in different places and some plaque. They say this is about as good as it gets for most dogs.

Anyway, the tooth thing worried me since we're not feeding them real bones to chew on. A lot of people say that they need to chew on bones to have a healthy mouth, and that's just not true. I remember growing up, my family gave our completely non-vegan dogs real bones to chew, and their teeth were atrocious! The dogs we have now (all vegan) are much better off.

We do give them Veggie Dent dental chews on a daily basis (they're vegan) . And we use Oxyfresh water additive (also vegan as far as I can tell) . We used to also brush their teeth daily, but that was never something we were good at, and we've stopped for about 2 years now. If their teeth worsen, we'll go back to brushing them daily.

We put our two little guys through over a year of dog training also. We went once a week to attend the class (A Real Friend is the company, Janice Patton is the trainer) . That was quite an amazing learning experience for us as well. Our trainer welcomed vegan dogs and took care never to treat them with anything non-vegan. We had to shop around for the best vegan dog treats to use. We had several. And we went through tons of them. You have to when you're dog training using positive reinforcement only.

Anyway, so far so good. I don't see them having any issues with anything we're feeding them or not feeding them. They're in good shape, and I hope they live a long, healthy life.

Oh, the dog food we almost always serve them is still Natural Balance Vegetarian. I've really not found much else that's better. We occasionally used Evolution, but I trust Natural Balance more. V-Dog is another good one, but they liked the flavor of Natural Balance better. There are several vegan dog foods on the market now, I think.

We also give them some human food on occasion, but it's the size of a finger nail when we do. They also like strawberries and carrots, so we give them those once a week or so. Also, their dental chews which we give them once a day. And their dog treats which are daily, but not very much, maybe 3-5 grams... So basically, most of their nutrition definitely comes from Natural Balance.

One other thing... If we ever get another puppy to raise, I would not hesitate to switch them to 100% vegan dog food. And I would probably choose either Evolution dog food or Natural Balance with added protein supplement (like TVP, edamame, or soy "chicken" ) . Feeding them meat-based puppy food with rendered meat, oils, and crap is just a terrible thing to do. I would never do that again.

- Steve
lazy smurf Posted at 2014/06/02 1:51pm reply to

lazy smurf
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I'm in this situation right now with the puppy food and I'm not sure how to handle it. My big problem is that the puppy just wants what the adult dogs eat and the adult dogs want the puppy food. I just started feeding them all V-dog just to keep the peace. I'm not sure if I need to add extra protein or not so if anyone knows more about this and can advise regarding V-dog, I'd love your help.
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