Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Healthy, Ethical or Not? Vegan Dry Dog Food, Vegetarian Dry Dog Food

Healthy, Ethical or Not? Vegan Dry Dog Food, Vegetarian Dry Dog Food – is it really good for your dog. Are the pet food industry's offerings of vegan and vegetarian dry dog food actually ethically sourced and formulated? In this article I look at an actual Case Study - what went right, what went wrong, and why, and I discuss in further depth ethical issues and impacts…

Actual Client Case – Seriously ill Dog Needs Help Now!

A woman contacted me after her veterinarian told her that her dog had “vestibular disease, maybe cancer under the ear canal, and probably epilepsy”. 

Her veterinarian wanted to prescribe additional courses of antibiotics, seizure medications, and do invasive (surgical) investigation. After listening to her veterinarian’s recommended ‘course of action’ my soon-to-be client contacted me.

After listening to her brief, the very first question I asked her was “what are you feeding your dog?” Her prompt reply was “I just switched to vegan dog food a few months ago, as my dog had chronic ear infections, and did not want to put my dog back on veterinarian prescribed food”. The vegan dog food just happened to be the most popular brand of vegan dog food sold in North America.

After going on the vegan dog food, her dog developed the following serious health issues…
1.     Ear infection returns
2.     Acquired:
a.     Head tilt
b.     Tremors and twitching
c.      Sudden collapse of legs
d.     Seizures
e.     Stressed dog, no energy, stiffness

After one (1) week on the holistic, species appropriate custom designed diet I did for my new client’s dog…
1.     No head tilt, ear infection clear
2.     No tremors and twitching
3.     1 collapse on the first day of new diet – none since
4.     No seizures
5.     Stiffness gone
6.     Energy levels up
7.     Happy dog

Why did the Expensive, Dry Processed Vegan Dog Food Make This Dog so Ill?

Highly Processed Dry Food Triggers Health Issues

The manufacturing process used to create dry dog food (meat-based or plant-based food) presents several unsolvable complications that result in serious, chronic health problems for dogs. Even the BEST dry dog foods are subject to these problems. Here are a few examples of those unavoidable pitfalls:

  • Carcinogens are an unavoidable side effect of high-temperature processing
  • Over processing destroys essential nutrients making it necessary to add reconstituted and synthetic additives to the food product.
    • The majority of reconstituted, synthetic essential amino acids, vitamins and minerals are contaminated with GMOs, heavy metals and other toxins that add to your dog’s toxic load, taxing the organs which must deal with the elimination of toxins and triggering his/her body's inflammatory response.
  • A dog’s digestive system, eliminatory system, and immune system are not evolved to consume, process, absorb, and eliminate large quantities of dry, processed food. A daily diet consisting of dry highly processed food is a leading cause of immune system problems, urinary tract problems, premature aging of organs, oral health problems, gastrointestinal problems, arthritis and a host of other inflammatory conditions
  • Dry processed food does not contain or provide sufficient levels of good source essential; Omega-3 fatty acids – the body and brain’s natural anti-inflammatory. This critical deficit serves to increase the body's inflammatory response, leaving your dog prone to many inflammatory conditions and chronic diseases.

Primary Ingredients in Vegan, Vegetarian Dry Dog Food

The primary ingredients are grains, and legumes such as chick peas, lentils, green peas and soy.   

Grains, even good quality organic, ancient grains are not dog-friendly. A dogs digestive system is not not evolved to thrive on grains. Grains trigger multiple inflammatory conditions, and chronic diseases in dogs. Now consider the following:
  • The vast majority of grain-in dog food consists of non-organic grains
  • The grains are typically animal feed-grade, not human food-grade
  • Grains such as rice can be contaminated with heavy metals that the plant absorbs through its roots and leaves – i.e. non-organic arsenic is common in rice. 
  • Genetically modified grains (i.e. GMO corn, GMO soy) contain higher levels of toxic residue than conventional grains, and have been proven to cause the growth of tumors, trigger the development of serious gastrointestinal problems and more. 
  • Animal feed-grade grains can contain higher levels of contaminants including aflatoxins, vomitoxin, zearalenone – naturally occurring, potent cancer-causing toxins. While many pet food companies test for the presence of these naturally occurring contaminants, the fact remains - allowable levels of contamination exceed that of human-food grade products. Your dog is just as susceptible to illness from these contaminants as you are.
It’s not just your dog that will be adversely effected by consuming GMO grains... 

GMO agriculture destroys the living microbes in soil that are essential to supporting healthy plant life that wild animals rely on as their food source. When GMO crop fields are sprayed with Monsanto’s 2, 4-D Agent Orange. Natural organisms have now become resistant to the heavy doses of 2, 4-D. The FDA has just approved a new, more potent chemical called Dicaumba for use on soy and cotton GMO crops, which will serve to add additional health hazards. You can read more about that here. These chemicals leach into the water table exposing wild animals to carcinogens, hormone disrupters, mutagens and other very real adverse health impacting cruelty. GMO crops have been proven to cause bee colony collapse.  If you purchase GMO contaminated food, marketed as Vegan by the pet food industry, you are unknowingly supporting Monsanto’s GMO crops, Monsanto’s lack of ethics, their animal cruelty, and destruction of the natural environment. It is not a pretty picture, and it’s certainly not what you intended to do! 

Legumes such as chick peas, lentils, navy beans and peas may be tolerated by some dogs, particularly when ingested in small amounts, but when consumed daily as a major ingredient in a food product – legumes can cause serious health issues due to the presence of lectin proteins.  Lectin proteins can travel through an organism, and for that reason are used by plants to help divert predators from eating the plant. The ability to travel allows lectin proteins to pass from the digestive tract into the blood stream, after which they can attach themselves to various tissues resulting in poor nutrient absorption, and may also cause an autoimmune response resulting in a host of inflammatory conditions and diseases. 

Vegan and Vegetarian Dry Dog ‘Food’ Is Unethical, and Cruel

Dry food products comprised of species inappropriate foods, and synthetic additives can have a significant adverse impact on the quality of a dog’s life, and can shorten a dog’s life-span.

Some people can chain smoke their entire life, remain relatively healthy, live to 105 years of age and pass away in their sleep of old age – but this type of genetic resilience to toxic exposure is more rare than common. The same is so for dogs - however the majority of people and dogs simply cannot weather the abuse to their body – the result is serious illness. 

People who feed their dogs vegan or vegetarian dry dog food products are trying to do the right thing as they seek to:
  • Provide their dog with relief from illness, or;
  • Aid in the fight against cruelty to farm animals.

The pet food industry simply sees this as an opportunity to take advantage of a special niche, an opportunity to make large profits - the health of your dog is a low priority, although the industry would like you to believe otherwise.

I have been a vegetarian since I was a pre-teen – for ethical reasons. Even at a very young age I could not tolerate animal cruelty. Going vegetarian and then vegan was a decision I made on my own, as a young child while living among others who consumed meat on a daily basis.  My choice.

In my opinion animals that live on a farm (so called ‘farm animals’) should NOT be called or thought of as ‘livestock’.  These animals are individuals with emotional capacity, and intelligence – each one with his/her own personality, likes, dislikes, and best friends. Large factory farms (CAFO – Confined Feeding Operations), and associated slaughter houses, auction houses, feed lots, etc. are places of torture and abuse - the truth about CAFO can be found here.  I sign petitions on a daily basis to stop the daily wrong done to animals by humans…but two wrongs don’t make a right. 1) CAFO is wrong, and cruel, 2) feeding a dog vegan or vegetarian dry processed food is also cruel as the dry vegan and vegetarian dog foods offered by pet food manufacturers contain multiple immune system destroying allergens, toxins and carcinogens. 

My dogs eat plant material: vegetables, herbs and fruit but they also eat meat adhering to the species appropriate ratio of +/- 57% meat, 30% good-source fats, with the remainder of the daily diet comprised of appropriate fruits, herbs, veggies and seeds (i.e. pumpkin seeds, tahini, chia seeds, etc.) It was natural, and important for me to be vegan – however it would be unnatural, and unethical to make my dogs eat DRY vegetarian or DRY vegan processed food.

Are Vegan Dry Dog Foods Really Vegan?
If the grains used in the product are GMO, the product is not vegan. Bees are harmed in the growing of the grain ingredients due to use of neonicotinoids which cause bee colony collapse disorder , harming bees is in direct violation to veganism. In addition as noted further above wild animals suffer cruelly from ingesting the herbicides, pesticides, fungicides applied to GMO crops.

Knowledge is the Pathway to Health…

You can find an objective analysis of six of the most popular Vegan dry dog foods, and Vegetarian dry dog food products here.  I recommend reading it, for the health of your dog.

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Article and graphics by Karen Rosenfeld


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Important Note

1.0 Use of Foods, Herbs, Alternative Medicines:

Safe use of items and protocols in the article above, is your sole responsibility.

Foods, herbs and alternative medicines have health issue, condition and conventional drug interactions. Safe use of all substances and protocol are your responsibility.

Before you use any substance or protocol do your research. Check for cautions, contradictions, interactions and side effects. Do not use substances or protocols not suitable to your animal's individual circumstances.

If your animal has an underlying condition substances and protocols may conflict.

2.0 Definition of Holistic…

Food, herbs, alternative medicines are NOT ‘holistic’ they are a substance and MAY, or may NOT be ‘NATURAL’.

If you use a ‘natural’ substance (ie. an herb) you are using a natural substance, not a holistic substance.

Holistic is not defined by use of one or several substances. Holistic is an approach.

Definition of “holistic” from the Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press


"relating to the whole of something or to the total system instead of just to its parts"

"Holistic medicine attempts to treat the whole person, including mind and body, not just the injury or disease."

Holistic is a way of approaching life, and within that health, and well-being.

3.0 Expectation a natural substance remedies a health or behavioral situation.

A natural substance used to treat symptoms. But, if factors causing the underlying issue remain you do not have a remedy.

Remedy requires a comprehensive approach. It is necessary to identify root cause. Remove items that trigger, cause or otherwise contribute to issues. Holistic approach includes design, implementation to treat, remedy and maintain long-term health.

4.0 Leave a Comment

I review all comments and publish those deemed appropriate for this site.

I answer questions deemed appropriate when I have time to do so.

Wishing your dog and cat the best of health!

Karen Rosenfeld
Ottawa Valley Dog Whisperer
Holistic Behaviorist - Dogs
Holistic Diet Nutrition Wellness Adviser – Dogs and Cats