An inspiring example of a 100% plant-based dog is that of Bramble, a 25-year-old Border Collie whose wholesome diet of organic brown rice, red lentils, vegetables, and some additional ingredients like yeast extract and herbs earned her a place in the Guinness Book of World Records as the world’s oldest living dog in 2002!
Bramble’s owner is Anne Heritage – a devoted animal lover growing up in the South West of England in the 60’s.
In her words she not only had Bramble, but “I’ve had seven dogs – three of them lived to 19-years-old, one lived to 20-years-old (a German Shepherd), and then Bramble lived to 25-years-old.”
This is remarkable and can definitely be attributed to a life dedicated to feeding a healthy plant-based natural diet as well as the freedom of exercise and kindness.
We should all aim for this……and it IS achievable as we all want our most loyal companions to live as long and as healthily as possible.
Yes, I truly believe that your gentle elderly dog could live a longer healthier life on a balanced plant based diet than on a meat based diet. I know the value that we place on our pets in our home and our lives, and as a GP vet and animal lover, I want to help you have your pets with you for as long as possible.
Humans on a plant-based diet suffer with far less life-threatening illnesses such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes than those on a normal animal product based diet and thus live longer, healthier lives with a far stronger immunity to fight off infections. Exactly the same is true for our pets……….but their plant-based diet MUST be balanced with all the essential nutrients in it.
We all just love our elderly pets
How we love our elderly dogs who deserve every bit of our patience and care for all the devotion and loyalty that they have given us over the years. We watch them grow from a playful, bouncy puppy and suddenly before our eyes, we are placing non-slip mats on our kitchen floors and slowing our daily walks to allow our elderly pets their ‘golden times’ of sniffing the hedgerows as their eyesight fails.
Our darling old Labrador Slick died in 2019 and it has taken me a full year to write about her as she has been such an important part of our lives as a family, but more importantly part of my life. How I wish I had known what I know now and had fed her plant-based.
I adore elderly dogs when I work as a vet – they have such a special place in our heart as they carry all our memories and just offer us loyalty and devotion all their lives.
How does a plant-based diet benefit elderly dogs?
1. Elderly dogs need high quality proteins that contain all 10 essential amino acids and the proteins must be readily available and not in excess as this can hasten ageing by being damaging to their kidneys. A balanced plant-based diet made of lentils, peas, sweet potato, brown rice and added supplement provides all the essential amino acids that dogs will selectively choose as they can smell the amino acids in the food. These proteins are naturally gentler and kinder than meat protein. Choose a dry food with a protein content of 20 – 24% and no higher for our elderly dogs such as found in Solo Vegetal premium food.
2. Plant-based diets contain a number of anti-oxidants that protect the cells in the body. Beta-carotene is a natural anti-oxidant found in bright orange sweet potato and fresh carrots for example.
3. Vitamin B12 is a water soluble vitamin and an essential nutrient that helps to keep the body’s nerve and blood cells functioning properly. This is particularly important in our elderly pets who may begin to show signs of dragging of their hindlimbs with spinal nerve dysfunction. This vital vitamin is found naturally in nutritional yeast (as used in this delicious and easy recipe that I share with you), as well as in beans, sweet potatoes and cauliflower used in our homemade recipes.
4. Lentils and peas contain not only proteins, but natural vitamins A, K and B as well as iron, potassium, magnesium and they are high in fibre. These are all essential natural nutrients that will benefit and enhance the quality of life of our elderly pets.
5. A healthy gut is key to your dog’s health (and your health), with 70% of the immune system found in the intestines. Plant-based diets made with natural prebiotics and fibre provide all the elements to feed your elderly dog’s immune system and produce a healthy and balanced gut microbiome. Added pre and probiotics in our JUST BE KIND supplement are there to help your elderly pet if you choose to homecook for them as their teeth struggle with hard biscuits.
6. I always advise that a homemade plant-based diet is fully mashed or blended so that any peas, beans or seeds are completely softened and broken down to allow for maximum intestinal absorption. Dogs do not chew their food as we do – they gulp their food, sometimes without even chewing (or ‘hoovering’ as many owners describe:), and if you do not mash the food, the nutrients will be unavailable to your dog and result in visible chickpeas, beans or seeds littered on your lawn!
7. As a plant-based diet results in a more alkaline environment in the intestine of our dogs, and your elderly dogs also produce a more alkaline environment that could inhibit the adequate absorption of all the essential nutrients such as Zinc, Iron and Vitamins from the intestines. Methionine is added to our JUST BE KIND supplement, and it is recommend for this reason as it helps to acidify the urine. Asparagus, peas, brown rice and lentils in our homemade recipes also help to naturally acidify the urine and microbiome environment.
8. With a plant-based diet, you can select kind and natural anti-inflammatories as found in fresh herbs such a basil and oregano. The kindest plant-based anti-inflammatory is Algae oil Omega 3 capsules. These are the purest form of Omega 3 with none of the heavy metals or high levels of Vit A as sometimes found in cod liver oil. Algae oil is where fish get their Omega 3’s from. These are so beneficial for ailing joints and nerves. The Algae oils that we recommend also have the valuable addition of plant-based Vit D3 for your pet’s immunity. Our elderly pets need this addition as they may not get out for long walks as much as they used to and be exposed to as much natural sunlight as usual.
9. A plant-based diet contains no hidden saturated fat that we find in high meat diets that are detrimental in humans to heart health and the same effect can be seen in our elderly dogs with underlying genetic heart conditions. Plant-based diets offer one of the best diets for heart health, especially if they are properly balanced with added taurine and L-carnitine for heart muscle function.
10. Cataracts or a dull cloudiness that forms very commonly over our elderly pets’ eyes and affects their sight and quality of life (especially if their hearing begins failing too as is so commonly observed). Feeding a folate-rich diet such as bright green cooked kale and other greens, can actually reverse the onset of cataracts quite dramatically. The word folate actually comes from the word foliage!
11. Carrying extra weight as many of our very loved elderly dogs do, puts extra strain on their already painful joints as well as affecting their breathing, heart and energy levels and making them more predisposed to cancer. Plant-based diets are low in fats and high in fibre and you can visibly see the excess weight just drop off and energy levels return after just a few weeks on a healthier, kinder diet with healthier plant-based treats.
12. Our elderly dogs with signs of cognitive dysfunction (doggy dementia) do better on a diet that is high in medium chain triglycerides as they use this as their energy source when older rather than glucose. Coconut oil has the highest source of medium chain triglycerides and we include desiccated coconut in our homemade recipes for this reason. This means that your elderly dog can stay bonded to you and recognise you for longer by delaying the onset of any doggy dementia.
13. We always worry about our pet’s dental health as they get older and the tartar builds up causing painful red gums. Less dental concerns means less anaesthesia and dentals in our elderly dogs which all leads to a healthier, longer life. Plaque Off is a 100% plant-based dental supplement made from the goodness of sea plants and ensures healthier, cleaner gums.
14. Highly processed diets and treats filled with preservatives and food colourants can increase the chances of cancer in your pet, especially if they are overweight from eating too many of these artificial treats and dental chews. A healthier more natural diet filled with anti-oxidants, lessens the chances of cancer and ensures that your loyal dog lives to a good old age.
15. The kindest reason for choosing a plant-based balanced homemade diet for elderly pets as Sue chose for Bea, is that plant-based means no animal products at all that may contain added feedlot hormones, growth promoters or zoonotic bacteria (as known to be found on and in raw meat). These ‘toxins’ would all need to be processed and excreted in your dog’s ageing liver and kidneys and so with nothing artificial but goodness from a plant-based diet, the results are remarkable as seen in Bea and her ability after only 1 month on her new healthy and delicious diet to climb onto her favourite comfortable spot!
Something that so many owners who transition to plant-based notice with their dogs – how soft the fur becomes!
I have been contacted by so many owners feeding their dogs plant-based and some of their dogs have had issues with painful urinary crystals…..
The majority of foods we eat and feed to our pet (especially plant-based) are healthy and good for them, but these are the few exceptions to be aware of
Gradual changes allow the appropriate changes of digestive enzymes and intestinal microbiome
We recommend these Omega 3 capsules above the other brands as they …..
Owners of dogs on plant-based diets do report that their pets appear happier and calmer
We are so passionate about plant-based feeding in dogs, that we want to support you and hopefully make it affordable for you
Only by convincing vets that it is the way forward, will we together have any success as plant-based feeders of ensuring that it becomes a very viable and superior option to feeding our dogs
The maned wolf really blows the theory of our pet dogs needing meat in their diet completely out the water
An online survey in 2019 revealed that around one in three owners may be willing to consider switching to a vegan diet for their pet in the future
This is one of our biggest concerns as pet owners that we are not getting the balance just right for the health of our pet
When we choose to change our dogs onto a vegan diet, worrying about what other people think is a huge concern to us