Canine Cuisine: Can My Dog Do Okay on Vegan 'People Food'?
A Companion Animal Care Article from

FROM Marc Bekoff, Psychology Today/Animal Emotions
June 2020

While advertisements for dog food may tout something along the lines of “Feed the wolf in your dog” or “Dogs evolved, but their instincts remain,” these sorts of comparisons can be fraught with error when it comes to actual feeding advice.


Can My Dog Do Okay on Vegan 'People Food'? Yes, he can—and many experts agree.

I  receive numerous emails from people concerning meal plans for their canine companions. They often ask if there are any general "rules of thumb": Do dogs really need to be fed as if they're wolves? What about so-called "people food"? How about vegetarian or vegan diets? A few days ago, I received an email from Dottie asking, "Can my dog do okay on vegan 'people food'?" Dottie's dog is named Marcel, and she told me that while he's "doing great on a healthy and balanced diet of vegan people food, and her vet agrees," some people criticize her for not paying attention to the fact that Marcel is really a carnivore who has descended from wolves and needs meat. In fact, dogs are more omnivores than carnivores, according to a veterinarian and nutritionist.

I decided to write this essay because Dottie's question contains two of the most common questions that come my way—namely, can dogs thrive on vegan diets or other meal plans that contain a lot of "people food." In a previous essay titled "Should I Really Be Feeding 'The Wolf' in My Dog?" I answered a woman's question by writing, "When it comes to diet, treating dogs like wolves doesn’t make biological or nutritional sense." The woman who sent it was confused because of all of the "glitzy advertisements and hype" about the "best" meal plan for dogs. I fully understood her dilemma, so I began my answer to her simply by noting that dogs are not wolves and I was not a fan of feeding "the wolf in a dog." While it's true that a domesticated wolf (but not a socialized wolf) is a dog, there are many differences between wolves and dogs including their meal plans and dietary needs.


Return to Companion Animal Care