Can dogs be healthy on a vegetarian diet?

Updated: Jul 19

Anusha’s parents are strict vegetarians. When Anusha brought up the idea of getting a dog, one of their first questions was, “can you feed the dog a vegetarian diet?” Anusha had never thought of this aspect and wasn’t sure. Her parents feel very squeamish at the idea of even bringing meat into the house. Anusha feels it’s not really a good idea to think of a plant-based diet for dogs and that they must have meat for them to remain healthy. 

That’s a myth.

Dogs can not just survive but also live a full and healthy life on an entirely vegetarian diet when balanced with nutritional supplements

About three in ten Indians are vegetarian, says a 2016 survey from the National Census Bureau, and more people are opting for pets. For vegetarian pet owners, even the thought of having to prepare meat-based meals would put them off. Right now, if you Google “vegetarian diet for dogs,” you’ll find mixed answers. Although the debate is still on, there is scientific evidence that supports the dog-is-an-omnivore theory.

The science behind it


Dogs are actually classified under the Canidae family, which includes foxes, wolves, and jackals. Having evolved from timberwolves, dogs fall under the category of carnivores, but they are an exception. Contrary to popular belief, dogs are omnivorous creatures and are happy with vegetarian or meat diets. How is that possible? 

Dogs have special physical and biological qualities that separate them from true carnivores.

Herbivores have long intestinal tracts for digesting plant fibers, which are relatively more difficult to break down compared to meat. Cats, who are carnivores, have short intestinal passages, while dogs who fall in between herbivores and carnivores have longer ones compared to cats.