It was such a treat to be interviewed by Zoom and meet Maria – one of the Editors from Vegan Life just a month ago. I could have spoken to her for hours about the benefits of plant-based feeding in dogs, but we had a strict 30 minute cut off time as unfortunately I had to fetch my daughter from school!
Maria’s understanding and empathy meant that she was able to absorb all the most important aspects of what I had to say in that short space of time. She has written the article with such an in-depth understanding of the importance of dogs going plant-based – all just so positive for the future!
The wonderful Mac the Shepsky also appears in this month’s article and I couldn’t be happier for his dedicated owner. She is so devoted to her sweet boy who suffers from many worrying allergic conditions and what she has achieved with transitioning him from raw food to plant-based is remarkable. We also loved reading about Ruby Roo the elderly Cavalier and her owner noticing such positive changes in her loved Ruby.
The article is only available as a magazine to buy from Sainsbury or Waitrose, so we have copied the article as written by Maria Slough for you to read it online:
Plant based dogs – a topic that causes great passion and debate. With over 30% of livestock destined to become dog and cat food and beef the number one allergen that causes gut inflammation and intolerance in dogs, I understand those not wanting to support the meat industry through dog food.
But as vegans, do we not believe in giving sentient beings choice? Are we not striving constantly to stop industries removing that choice from the animals we share this planet with? And where does this leave those of us wanting to transition our dogs? In speaking with several people navigating this canine plant-based journey, I found a wealth of information and tales of great love and inspiration.
Ruby Roo, an 11-year-old cavalier king Charles spaniel with lifelong chronic health problems, has had her transition to plant-based documented on her Instagram (@ravenous_ruby) by her incredible mum, Paige Whitaker, a softly spoken young woman whose love for her dog Ruby is simply beautiful.
Paige grew up with Ruby and now she lives with Paige and her partner in their home. “Ruby came to us as a puppy when I was 12 and she has been epileptic for as long as I can remember, having seizures from three,” Paige tells me. “Her heart murmur was diagnosed when she was four and she has been on medication her whole life and was recently diagnosed with liver disease.
Ruby lived with me during my final year at university and I decided in January 2020 to take her plant-based. There were multiple reasons. I didn’t want to be buying food I didn’t believe was good for her and as I was now looking after her full time, I was able to change her diet.”
Were you vegan at the time? “I went vegan three years ago – I deeply care for animals. Once I understood just how much cognitive dissonance I had been living with my whole life and how horrible the meat trade is I did not want to be part of it anymore.
I always felt that plant-based would be beneficial for any omnivore and I was concerned about the amount of saturated fat and high cholesterol foods Ruby was having with meat and the pressure that was putting on her heart.”
“Her heart murmur has stopped progressing since going plant-based. She has so much energy now”
Paige felt the best thing she could do for Ruby was to help reduce that strain and after a vast amount of research she embarked on transitioning Ruby to plant-based.
“At the time, there was no vet support available to me and I didn’t want anyone to think that I was causing her any harm, so I did my research thoroughly and designed her recipes full of nutrients. My family are still sceptical, but Ruby has been seen by her vet and her heart murmur – which has declined over the years to grade five – has stopped progressing since going plant-based.
She has so much energy now. Her coat has improved, she no longer pants uncontrollably and her quality of life has changed for the better. Ruby enjoys fresh cooked food with an amazing vegan supplement, V-complete, from Germany. Just recently, her blood test came back and every single marker for her micronutrients was bang on.
If I ever needed any evidence that plant-based was working for Ruby, that was it, we are together every day, and I would literally do anything for her.”
Three-year-old Mac the shepsky (@mactheshepsky) is another dog who has benefited from plant-based living. “Mac had been severely ill with chronic gastroenteritis from the age of six months old and was on a raw diet, which I believe created his problems.
He was such an energetic boy and had really good appetite,” his mum Linda says fondly in a melodic Scottish accent. “One day, he just stopped eating. We were told that it was hereditary and he would never get rid of it. He was vomiting green bile twice a week. I was plant-based and looked into that option for Mac.
Specialists laughed at me when I suggested this, but I kept researching, supported by our vet. It was a real turning point for us when we found a lady called Dr Arielle; I felt like I had won the lottery. She helped tailor a plant-based diet just for Mac taking into consideration his condition, age and activity levels and now I can walk into our vet with confidence about his food plan.
Mac was two when we switched to plant-based and things just settled down and we haven’t looked back. He has the odd flare up that needs medication, but we have gone for periods of seven months with no medication at all.
Overall, going plant-based has produced massive positive changes for him. He is super active; he doesn’t lack energy and is a very happy doggy.”
Vet Dr Arielle Griffiths
When I zoom met veterinary GP of 25 years, Arielle Griffiths, who last year launched ‘Just Be Kind’ vegan dog food, I had to agree with Linda that she is, indeed, extraordinary. After a day working at the PDSA when she had to euthanise four animals due to obesity and cancer-related illnesses, she knew something had to change.
“I came home that night and told my family I was going to set up a company to sort out obesity in pets but I needed a deeper understanding of nutrition. After completing multiple nutrition courses, it was clear that increasing the plant element in a dog’s diet would help with weight loss and overall health.”
“Advised by top nutritionists in the UK I looked at what the USA had to offer for plant-based dogs, but the carbon footprint of bringing supplements over from America was so prohibitive. So, I took one step closer and turned to Germany, who are eight years ahead of the UK on feeding their companion animals a plant-based diet.”
It was then that Dr Arielle decided to move away from the weight loss concept, and inspired by her vegan son, she decided it was time to go plant-based.
“Our family dog and I both went vegan together overnight! I felt it was important to prove to myself as a vet that I could get this 100% right for our little family dog, who is a rescue from Cyprus. I made contact with the top veterinary nutritionists in Germany who formulated a supplement and developed balanced recipes. I imported the supplements and produced my own recipes and launched the business.”
“There are extra requirements that dogs have when being fed a plant-based diet. You need to supplement taurine and l-carnitine for adequate heart function, the B vitamins need supplementing just as in humans, as well as zinc and calcium.
There is a particular amino acid called methionine that is mainly found in meat-based products. It is extremely important in the diet of a dog as it helps to acidify the digestive and urinary tract. A diet lacking in methionine could result in painful tract infections and crystal formation in the bladder of susceptible dogs.”
“You also have to supplement with Omega-3 fatty acids. The algae oils that we recommend are the purest form of Omega-3 DHA and EPA compared to fish oil and is farmed sustainably in the Netherlands in bio-reactors. Many people are using krill oil in their dog’s diet, which is a disaster to our fragile oceans, as krill is needed to feed the smaller fish. Proteins are most important as well, particularly for fur, which has a high protein requirement.
Dogs get this as we do from legumes, lentils, beans and tofu, which dogs adore, as well as peas, millet flakes, textured soya protein and quinoa. You have to be careful of what we call the anti nutrients that are found in beans and legumes; soaking, rinsing or sprouting legumes is the best way to remove these. It is important to be done properly. Just following your instinct is a disaster waiting to happen.”
“Dogs have genetically evolved over thousands of years to be able to digest what humans have fed them, especially starch. They don’t chew, see or smell food like we do, so home cooking must be cooked and blended very well so when it reaches the stomach, inevitably quickly, it is ready to be absorbed.”
Dr Arielle’s passion for this subject is beautifully infectious coupled with expert knowledge.
“I believe that in choosing a wholefood plant-based diet for your companion animal, you aren’t denying them, you are making additional positive changes to their nutrition to keep them really healthy and happy.”
Dr Arielle offers online consultations for those wanting help with transitioning to plant-based dog food and balanced wholefood recipes with a JUST BE KIND supplement at vegan-dogfood.co.uk that sell from £17.95.
Next issue, follow Maria as she more inspiring people helping plant-based dogs, including the creator of the world’s first vegan dog bed, the maker of plant-based dog treats, and a passionate vegan groomer.
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