How to transition your dog to a plant-based diet
Dogs are omnivores just like us – they are not obligate carnivores that crave meat and hunting (as cats do), but just like us they do crave fat, salt and the familiarity of foods that they have been given – usually all meat-based. This makes transitioning to a plant-based diet more challenging as your dogs are primed to want what they have always had as they are creatures of routine.
Changes are best made gradually, eg by feeding a 90%/10% old/new plant-based mixture for a few days, then 80%/20%, until gradually over a matter of 2 weeks, your dog is used to their new food.
Gradual changes allow the appropriate changes of digestive enzymes and intestinal microbiome (all those healthy gut bacteria). Transitioning slowly minimises all the changes you may expect such as abdominal discomfort, wind and diarrhoea. We do have to confess that our little Ruff went vegan from 1 day to the next and he was fine! The other theory is that dogs are natural scavengers and they have gut bacteria and enzymes that will adapt, so it is up to you the owner how you choose to transition.
As an owner, show your pet that the new diet is just as edible as the old. We eat the food once the homemade squares have cooked in front of Ruff which makes him very excited – give it a try – the food is tasty (and earthy:)! Our pets trust us implicitly and love to share in all we do.
Always offer the food initially either at room temperature or slightly warmed as the smell is much stronger when heated. We do feel however that with the addition of all the nutritious yeast and marine phytoplankton (plus all the other superfood ingredients that we include), that your dog should find their new plant-based homemade diet very tasty!
What about Probiotics?
Should your dog develop diarrhoea with the change to a plant-based diet, then just like us, probiotics can play a very important role as they at least help to let your dog’s gut adapt quicker to the new diet.
The gut bacteria that we recommend supplementing your dog’s diet with must contain Enterococcus faecium which is beneficial to dogs. It is not found in all the normal probiotics that we can buy easily online, but we have been able to source one that we use in vet clinics that does contain E.Faecium and it contains pectin to help bind the soft faeces.
Another good produce is from Viovet called ReguTum that also contains Enterococcus Faecium and is possibly a little cheaper than Pro-Kolin.
A very old fashioned recipe is to grate an apple with its skin and let it ‘brown’ or oxidise for 15 minutes. This is a perfect prebiotic and the pectin in the apple helps the diarrhoea (we love that this benefit was discovered 87 years ago!)