Vegan dog food
Only 55% of people with a dog in the UK felt well informed about a dog's diet, according to the 2022 PDSA PAW report. This isn’t surprising, as there is so much conflicting marketing and information out there.
Nutrients needed by dogs
In terms of nutrients, the UK’s Pet Food Manufacturers Association endorses nutritionally complete vegan diets for dogs, and says that “nutrients that were previously only available from animal-based ingredients can now be made synthetically or be sourced from novel ingredients”.
There are a variety of ways to fulfil nutritional requirements from different sources, and the nutritional guidelines for dog food nutrition from FEDIAF (the European Pet Food Industry) are seen as a gold standard.
For some, nutrition is what matters most. One of the nutritionally complete vegan brands we rated says on its website,
“To those emphasising that a plant based diet is not natural for cats and dogs, please be reminded that in the wild cats do not hunt for tuna, just like dogs do not hunt for cows. Our aim is to offer our four-legged friends a diet that meets their nutritional needs.”
Evidence on health impacts of vegan dog food
A 2023 systematic evidence review titled, ‘The Impact of Vegan Diets on Indicators of Health in Dogs and Cats’, evaluated all of the research to date.
The researchers concluded, “that there has been limited scientific study on the impact of vegan diets on cat and dog health… However, there is little evidence of adverse effects arising in dogs and cats on vegan diets… Given the lack of large population-based studies, a cautious approach is recommended.”
Ultimately, assessing whether pet food is nutritious and healthy is more important than whether it contains meat or not. Needs may also change across a lifetime and as food sensitivities develop.
Companies at the top of our tables include those who produce vegan products as well as those who do not produce vegan products, so there should be something for everyone in this guide.
FEDIAF compliant dog food brands
According to FEDIAF’s code of good practice for labelling, if dog food is labelled as ‘complete’ then the product should meet all of the nutrients needed when given in the instructed amounts, and the diet does not need to be supplemented. Of the brands in our guide:
Nutritionally complete FEDIAF compliant products: Ami, Applaws, Benevo, Butternut Box, Encore, Hownd, Scrumbles, Yarrah, Yora.
Offers a complete product, but is not explicit on whether it is FEDIAF compliant: Bakers, Barking Heads, Beco, Cesar, Chappie, Iams, Lily’s Kitchen, Pooch & Mutt, V-Dog.
Product information says it is complete, but it is not labelled as complete pet food: James Wellbeloved, Royal Canin, Winalot.
Does not say: AATU, Eukanuba, Hill’s Science (“100% balanced and healthy” was not seen to count), Purina Pro Plan, Wafcol.