Last updated: August 12, 2021

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Welcome to our big vegetarian dog food test 2021. Here we present all the vegetarian dog foods we have tested. We have compiled detailed background information and added a summary of customer reviews on the web.

We want to make your purchase decision easier and help you find the best vegetarian dog food for you. You will also find answers to frequently asked questions in our guide. Furthermore, you will also find some important information on this page that you should be aware of if you want to buy vegetarian dog food.




Summary

  • Vegetarian dog food does not contain any meat components. This can be good if your dog is intolerant to meat.
  • However, always bear in mind that animal protein is not included and some other nutrients may be missing. In the worst case, you will have to feed these nutrients in another way.
  • Before you change your dog's diet, it is important to do some research and seek the advice of a veterinarian.

The Best Vegetarian Dog Food: Our Picks

Guide: Questions you should ask before buying vegetarian dog food

Are you thinking about buying vegetarian dog food for your four-legged friend, but are a bit overwhelmed by the choice and the different offers? Then you've come to the right place, because we explain what you should look out for when buying vegetarian dog food.

What is vegetarian dog food and how does it differ from conventional dog food?

More and more people are choosing a vegetarian lifestyle. For this reason, many dog owners, out of conviction or for ethical reasons, ask themselves whether they should also change their pet's diet.

In addition, health aspects can play a role. Vegetarian dog food, as the name suggests, does completely without meat components. This means that the proportion of animal protein is lost and with it some nutrients. This is why many dog owners are sceptical about vegetarian pet food.

Vegetarian diets - when properly designed and composed - pose no risk to your dog. It can even have a positive effect on your pet's health.

However, the truth is that a high-quality vegetarian diet provides all the nutrients needed by the average dog. There are also factors such as fattening and feeding antibiotics to cattle, for example. Together with the fact that only the meaty leftovers are added to the dog food, which are not suitable for sale to humans, the vegetarian diet not only forms an alternative, but is often the better food choice.

Overall, a vegetarian lifestyle can have a positive effect on the health of your four-legged friend. To find out whether a vegetarian diet is suitable for your dog and what type of meat-free food you should choose, read the following information.

Does vegetarian food provide a balanced diet?

Dogs are not described as man's best friend for nothing; after all, in Germany alone around 10 million people have at least one dog as a pet. Despite the changed habitat of the dog, many critics of meatless diets fall back on the origin of the dog, which refers to the lifestyle of wild dogs as carnivores.

In the course of domestication, however, dogs have developed into omnivores, as in earlier times they often received not only meat from their owners, but all kinds of food scraps. As a result, dogs adapted to their owners' meals and gradually became accustomed to a meatless diet.

A vegetarian diet is therefore no contradiction to species-appropriate animal husbandry.

For most dogs, a vegetarian diet is uncomplicated and even healthy. (Photo: Claudia Peters/ Pixabay.de)

However, as with any food, you should make sure it is nutritionally balanced. If you are unsure whether the food of your choice covers all the important components, you can look for a complete food label. This usually means that no supplements are needed in addition to the chosen vegetarian food.

What can replace animal proteins?

The fact that a vegetarian pet food can be implemented without further concerns is closely related to the composition of the feed. The lack of animal proteins is a constant challenge even for vegetarians, as it has to be compensated by other sources of nutrients.

The lack of animal protein would then become a problem if you were to change your dog's diet to raw food. Your pelt's digestive tract does not allow it to extract all the necessary nutrients from the raw food.

What a vegetarian would have no qualms about as a source of essential vitamins, minerals and more, turns out to be insufficient for pet food.

No matter if vegetarian or meat-based food: You should always pay attention to the composition of the food in order to cover all important nutrients.

Because of this, it is advisable to choose a ready-made dog food. In the meantime, there are some vegetarian alternatives on the market that are in no way inferior to the nutrient balance of meat-based food.

Dogs whose diet is based on a conventional dog food only get the leftovers anyway, which are not allowed to be sold for humans. Overall, it is always important to pay attention to the composition of a dog food, whether it is meat-free or contains meat.

For which dogs is a vegetarian diet suitable?

There are some dogs for whom a vegetarian diet is particularly suitable. These include dogs with a sensitive digestive tract, as the reduced fat content of the food makes the vegetarian diet more digestible. In addition, vegetarian food often has an improving effect on the pet's skin and coat.

Above all, dogs with allergies to animal protein benefit because they can still get all the important nutrients from the meat-free alternative. In contrast, pregnant bitches and newborn puppies have a much higher demand on the nutrients contained in the food.

In the case of the sensitive needs of these dogs, it is difficult to meet these requirements with a purely vegetarian diet.

What are the advantages of meatless pet food?

In addition to the benefits already mentioned, such as skin and hair improvement, a vegetarian food source also reduces your pet's bad breath.

Advantages
  • Hardly any bad breath
  • Better for skin and coat
  • Suitable for dogs with allergies or sensitive digestive tracts
  • Climate protection
Disadvantages
  • Supplements may be needed
  • Not suitable for every dog

In addition, a conscious diet and reduced meat consumption contributes to climate protection.

What is the best way to change my dog's diet?

A change of diet takes time. Many dogs reject new food as a matter of principle because they have become very accustomed to their previous food.

To change the diet, you could first mix the vegetarian food with the usual food and gradually replace it. If you are unsure or want to make sure, it does not hurt to consult your vet.

How can I tell if my dog tolerates the vegetarian diet?

After you have changed your pet's diet to vegetarian food, you should observe whether your dog's health changes. You may notice positive as well as negative changes in your pet's general well-being or in external characteristics such as the shine of the coat, the quality of the skin or the fitness of your dog. In the event of a deterioration in any of the listed characteristics or other worrying abnormalities, a veterinarian must determine whether these changes are related to the vegetarian diet.

As soon as you are unsure whether you have chosen the right food for your dog, you should discuss this with a specialist shop or your vet.

Are there alternatives to a pure vegetarian diet?

If you only want to reduce the amount of meat in your dog's food, a veggie day is a good alternative. This way, your four-legged friend does not have to eat meat every day, but still benefits from some of the advantages of a vegetarian diet.

A conscious diet can also be supported by high-quality organic meat. Organic dog food is a little more expensive than normal food, but it clearly stands out in terms of quality and composition. Various organic quality seals tell you whether the food is a quality product.

Can I make vegetarian dog food myself?

Although feeding your dog raw food, for example, is not advisable, you can make your pet's dog food yourself. However, you should use cooked foods to ensure that your pet gets all the important nutrients from its food.

The ingredients must be cooked in a way that preserves vitamins, and you must find out whether the recipe for dog food covers all the necessary vitamins, minerals and other nutrients. The biggest advantage of home-cooked pet food is that you know exactly what the vegetarian meal contains.

Decision: What types of vegetarian pet food are there and which is right for your dog?

There are different types of vegetarian dog food. Primarily, the two categories of dry and wet dog food differ from each other. In addition, there is the question of whether the food is organic or conventional.

What distinguishes vegetarian dry food and what are the advantages and disadvantages?

The advantages of a dry food are mainly that smaller portions are sufficient to satiate the dog.

Advantages
  • Satisfying in smaller portions
  • Strengthens teeth
  • Less odour-intensive
  • Uncomplicated storage
Disadvantages
  • Does not taste good to every dog
  • Low water content in the food

In addition, dry food needs to be chewed more intensively, which strengthens your pet's teeth, and dry food is less odour-intensive than moist food. Storage of dry food is straightforward, it does not need to be refrigerated and can be stored in a bag or bin.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of vegetarian wet food?

Wet food is convincing in that it is most palatable for most dogs. It also has a high water content, so the dog has an additional source of fluid intake. If your dog has dental problems and difficulty chewing, the soft wet food is more suitable.

Advantages
  • Popular with most dogs
  • High water content
  • Suitable for dogs with dental problems
Disadvantages
  • Intense smell
  • Elaborate storage

Nevertheless, wet food smells very strong, so you might find the penetrating odour unpleasant. This is especially a problem because the quickly perishable starting tins have to be stored in the refrigerator and thus leave an unpleasant smell there as well.

What distinguishes organic vegetarian dog food and what are the advantages and disadvantages?

At first glance, you might think that organic quality is especially important for food containing meat. However, organic food includes much more. For example, the contents are free of pesticides and no preservatives or the like are added to the dog food.

Advantages
  • Sustainability
  • naturalness
Disadvantages
  • Often more expensive than conventional food

The focus of an organic food is sustainability and naturalness. Consequently, this dog food relies on environmentally friendly processing, from production to packaging.

In addition, it is free of artificial additives and therefore healthy and well tolerated. However, these advantages entail a comparatively higher purchase price.

Buying criteria: You can use these factors to compare and evaluate vegetarian dog food

As there are many different types of vegetarian pet food, the following criteria should help you to get a better overview. These should help you to compare and evaluate the different types of vegetarian dog food. Here is your overview:

  • Type of food
  • Composition
  • Price
  • Age of the dog
  • Packaging

What these criteria mean in detail and how they can help you find the most suitable dog food for your pet will be described later in the article.

Type of food

In the previous section, we distinguished the three main types of food in detail. You can choose between dry and wet food and look for the attribute "organic". Which vegetarian food is right for your dog depends on various aspects. The following is a brief summary of the most important features. You can find a detailed report under "Decision".

Hundefutter Trockenfutter

Dry food is the less complicated food, while wet food is tastier. (Photo: Kai Kalhh/ Pixabay.de

In many respects, dry food is the most uncomplicated option, both in terms of portioning and storage. Wet food, meanwhile, tastes best. Vegetarian products with organic quality score points for ecological sustainability and natural ingredients.

Composition

When it comes to the composition of vegetarian dog food, you should pay attention to the necessary nutrients. The most important factor is the amount of protein, since a meat-free diet eliminates a source of protein. Large dogs need about 2g of protein per kilogram of body weight, while small dogs need 3g. Furthermore, the fat content is a key aspect of the assessment.

Fat has the highest energy density, i.e. the most calories. Now, as a dog owner, you should therefore not go crazy and focus on a low-fat diet, as dogs need to take in sufficient essential fatty acids through their food. Healthy fats are unsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids. The proportion of these in the total fat content of the food is usually marked in the nutritional value table.

The fat content in dry food should be around 10-20%, while in wet food it should be around 3-7%. The value of wet food is low because the dog can absorb the fats better due to the high water content of the food. In addition, the portions of wet food are larger.

Protein content Fat content
2-3g/ kilogram body weight 10-20% for dry food, 3-7% for wet food

Flavours are a special feature here. Although you have chosen a vegetarian dog food, it may, for example, have the flavour "beef". Especially for picky dogs, such a food can be an alternative.

However, you must bear in mind that these are artificial flavour enhancers. The naturalness of the product suffers from these additives.

Price

The price varies depending on the manufacturer and the quality of the food. Organic dog food often has a higher price than conventional dog food. There are no major price differences between dry and wet food, only the quantity is decisive here. Dry food usually requires smaller portions, which is why it can be classified as cheaper than wet food.

Age of the dog

With regard to the age of the dog, it is worth looking at the labels "Junior", "Adult" and "Senior". These indicate which age group the food is suitable for.

Classification Age of the dog
Junior Up to approx. 12-24 months, depending on the size of the dog breed
Adult Up to approx. 8 years
Senior From approx. 8 years

For adult dogs, for which the dog food "Adult" is suitable, you should be able to change the diet to a vegetarian diet without worrying.

Young as well as ageing four-legged friends have more specific nutritional requirements, similar to pregnant bitches and puppies. For this reason, the composition of the "Junior" and "Senior" food types requires closer monitoring.

Packing

There are many different areas where one can pay attention to more sustainability. Especially when dealing with food, there is often a lot of unnecessary waste. The most environmentally friendly way to package your dog food is to use your own containers.

If you have decided to make your own pet food, you can use reusable containers without worry. Grocery shops are increasingly offering the option of filling products in their own containers. However, this trend has not yet caught on in dog shops. Therefore, you should pay attention to some criteria if you value a sustainable type of packaging. The biggest difference is between dry and wet food.

Dry food is usually filled in plastic or paper bags. Normally, both types can be recycled without any problems, with the paper version being more environmentally friendly. It is problematic if the material is a mixture of paper and plastic. In this case, the waste separation plants cannot separate the individual components and the bag ends up in an incineration plant.

Wet food can be bought in tins, as these preserve the moisture in the food. This material can also be recycled. However, the waste must be carefully separated for this. The cans do not belong in the residual waste bin so that they can be recycled, but in the scrap metal collection.

Facts worth knowing about vegetarian dog food

Finally, we would like to ask you a few important questions about vegetarian dog food. You will find out whether vegan dog food is also available, what hypoallergenic food is and much more.

Is there also vegan dog food?

Vegan dog food is pet food that has been produced without animal testing and does not contain any animal components. There are already some vegan food varieties on the market, but the risk of malnutrition is even greater here.

Therefore, you should also discuss a vegan diet with your vet beforehand and pay careful attention to the composition of the vegan food.

Is vegetarian cat food also available?

Just as vegetarian food has become established for dogs, some meatless cat foods have been developed. Cats have gone through a similar domestication process as dogs and face similar risks and benefits from a vegetarian diet as dogs. Because of this, the requirements for a cat food are very close to those for dog food.

What is hypoallergenic food and which dogs is it suitable for?

Hypoallergenic food is free from as many allergenic substances as possible. An intolerance is also very unpleasant for dogs, as symptoms such as itching can also occur.

The most common food allergy is to animal protein. This protein allergy can already be very well contained by a vegetarian diet. However, if other intolerances occur, such as gluten intolerance, a grain-free diet should be chosen. If the allergens accumulate, a hypoallergenic food is the first choice, as it can resolve several intolerances at the same time.

What are vegetarian dog treats?

Vegetarian treats can come in many different forms. You can either buy them ready-made or make them yourself. The latter has the great advantage that you can rely on natural products and know what is in them. On the one hand, you can bake vegetarian dog biscuits and biscuits yourself, on the other hand, you can help yourself to your own fridge.

Snacks such as cheese or cream cheese as protein sources or crunchy vegetables such as carrots are suitable for in-between meals. Raw food can extract fewer nutrients from the dog's digestive tract than cooked food, but carrots are good for your pet's teeth as a substitute for chew sticks of animal origin.

Pets of all kinds love rewards. Even as a vegetarian, your dog doesn't have to go without treats. (Photo: Kai Kalhh/ Pixabay.de)

If you buy vegetarian treats, you should pay attention to the composition of the dog snacks, but they are more likely to be used as a reward than as a full meal, which makes covering all the nutrients secondary. However, if your food is deficient in certain ingredients, it can be supplemented with vegetarian dog snacks.

What is cold-pressed dog food?

Cold-pressed dog food is a special production method for dry food. It is particularly gentle and thus preserves many of the nutrients.

This makes the food easier to digest and is considered very healthy. Especially if your pet is on a vegetarian diet, this is a recommended method of production, as the dogs are dependent on a complete food due to the lack of a protein source.

(Image source: unsplash.com / Caleb Stokes)

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