What can go wrong with homecooking?

When we choose to homecook, we have complete control of which ingredients we are choosing and complete reassurance that we are feeding the right thing to our pets – wholesome healthy and nourishing ingredients with no additives. Homecooking for your dog offers the most cost-effective way of feeding plant-based and it is also the most palatable way to feed your dog if they happen to be extra fussy with their food.

It is possible to homecook without the addition of any supplements as a plant-based diet is so healthy, but as a dog owner and the knowledge I have acquired as a vet, I am also so aware that we could get it wrong too and that is the last thing I want for my own dog. 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 and urinary tract infections, heart conditions or lack of calcium – all of these were corrected by simply adding in supplements to the homemade food!

” If you are not using a commercially prepared complete vegan dog food, with a formal analysis that you can check for nutritional completeness, be very careful that you are meeting a dog’s nutritional requirements. Months after starting to feed Nancy on home-cooked meals without a supplement (and thinking that we had researched and understood her nutritional requirements), she started to become unwell. She had increasingly worrying congitive and physical symptoms that could have been put down to her age (doggy dementia).

It turned out that she had insufficient Vitamin D in her diet, causing her to have problems with processing of available Calcium (which WAS already present in her vegan diet in sufficient quantities). Tested calcium levels in her blood samples were worryingly low. Some of our misunderstanding about Vitamin D was thinking that it was present in things such as tofu (it’s not in the UK, unless fortified).

From this point on, we have always added a supplement to her meals.”

Steve, West Yorkshire

Nancy, 16yr old Border Terrier


Daniella Dos Santos, the president of the British Veterinary Association (BVA) states that “It is theoretically possible to feed a dog a vegetarian diet, but it’s much easier to get it wrong than to get it right,” she says.

The last thing that you want as a dog owner, and me as a vet, is to cause harm to your pet. Any unbalancing of nutrients, deficiencies or excesses of nutrients can cause harm. For example:

dog icon The main source of protein in a vegan dog food diet comes from legumes, peas or soya and these tend to produce phytates that lower the absorption of important nutrients such as Zinc and Taurine. These need to be supplemented but in just the right proportions to make up for this shortage, or certain dog breeds may be more prone to developing Dilated Cardiomyopathy.

dog icon A plant-based diet tends to result in a very alkaline environment in the intestines, and in the bladder. This can result in your dog suffering from urinary tract infections with resulting bladder stones, and this condition is extremely painful for your dog. Some owners add apple cider vinegar to homemade food to attempt to balance this, but cider vinegar actually turns alkaline in the intestines so has the opposite effect! The addition of one of the sulphur amino acids methionine, is the most important way to acidify your dog’s urine. This is found in the foods we recommend as well as in the supplement we use in our homemade recipes.

dog icon There is enough calcium in many of the green leafy foods that we recommend in our homemade diets, but it can only be properly absorbed with the addition of just the right amount of Vitamin D. Your dog may get enough Vitamin D if taken for a few hours walk a day, but for most of our dogs (and us too) this just does not happen. A lack of calcium in your dog’s body can cause so many painful arthritis issues as well as heart issues and again, it is SO important to supplement correctly.


just be kind vegan dogs
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