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My Vegan Greyhound’s Bloodwork

Img_934I hesitated to brag until now, but it’s official: Violet Rays, the half-blind, diabetic greyhound with glaucoma and a detached retina, who raced for several years and was a champion (probably due to all the steroids and the cocaine, but we won’t tell her that), and who’s a vegan, has spectacular bloodwork. In fact, at 7.5 years old, she’s spectacularly healthy.

A year ago, I was feeding her a raw diet, having fallen for the spiel that dogs are descendant from wolves and need to eat a diet of raw meat and bones–with no grain–because that’s what wolves do.

Meanwhile, the average domesticated dog’s life is nothing like that of a wolf: they get their meals handed to them, they live in a house, and their livespan is like five times that of a wolf in the wild. Therefore, the comparison between my greyhounds and wild wolves isn’t logical. Their lives are more like that of people, who spend lots of time lying around and only limited time outdoors (to exercise, and maybe lie around some more), and they have access to all kinds of foods (because we do).

Furthermore, dogs are not obligate carnivores, like cats. They don’t have to eat meat (and many people have had great success with female cats on vegan diets, so it turns out that not all obligate carnivores have to eat meat).

After trying some higher-end vegetarian and vegan foods, I switched to a version of home cooking and haven’t looked back. Over the past year, I’ve learned (through trial and error), that:

  • Nearly 4-year old Charles Hobson Booger, III cannot eat a lot of grain. No more than 25% of a meal, and it shouldn’t be heavy in oats (I use Dr. Harvey’s Canine Health. I like that Dr. Harvey’s, which is a meal base, suggests you add your
    own protein, and in the list of proteins is lentils and soy. In other
    words, they don’t think your dog must eat meat to thrive.). Charles does very well with veggies, but not as well with fruit (so I changed from Preference, which has honey so it’s not a vegan product, to Dr. Harvey’s Veg-to-Bowl). He loves tofu, but soybeans give him gas. Red lentils are his favorite source of protein, pureed and mixed with coconut oil and pumpkin. He is 80 pounds and gets nearly 2 cups of the protein puree, 1.5 cups of the veggies, and 1/2 cup of the Canine Health (which has some veggies, as well). His coat is magnificent and he has firm stool for the first time (decreasing the grain and cutting out the fruit did it). His bloodwork is next, but he wasn’t the problem child, except for the poop, so I think he’s fine).
  • 7.5 year old Violet Rays tolerates grain better than Charles. She also doesn’t do well with mixes heavy in oats. She’d eat veggies all day given the opportunity, but she has difficulty keeping weight on (she’s 60 pounds), so too much veggie mix is a problem. She doesn’t like fruit. She’d pick it out of the Preference mix. She does fine with tofu, soybeans and lentils. One meal for her (they both eat twice a day) is 1.5 cup of Veg-to-Bowl, 1/2 cup Canine Health, and 1 cup of protein goop (with the coconut oil and  a scoop of pumpkin).

Canine Health and Veg-to-Bowl must be added to boiling water and simmered for 8 minutes. When they’ve cooled, I add VegeYeast (1 tbsp/dog/meal), VegeDog (1.5 tsp./dog/meal) and some Green Vibrance, which has probiotics (as does Prozyme, which is a digestive enzyme/probiotic blend used by many dog owners. I add some digestive enzymes just before I serve their meals). The lentils take about an hour to cook, and I make enough for a couple of days. There’s no need to puree them, but I do it anyway, adding the coconut oil and pumpkin. It’s like mousse or pudding and they love it!

At first, I thought there was no way I’d be able to get all of this together and find the time to prepare it all, but I do it twice a week and it takes an hour and a half (because of the cooking), but about 15 minutes of actual work. I’ll take a photo of the food today and post it later.

There’s a handful of health issues greyhounds tend to have (and Violet had), including hypothyroidism, arthritis, baldness (particularly on the back end), and bad teeth. Violet has none of the problems anymore. I brush her teeth regularly, she no longer cries as she lies down (because of arthritis), and my traditional vet (NOT the homeopath), who did the bloodwork and other tests, said she’s in perfect health and that whatever it is I’m doing, I should keep doing it. I told him what I feed her, and he had no objections. After all, he had the proof that she is healthy.

So for all of you who watched that Oprah episode and are convinced that dogs must eat meat (and raw, no less), or your breed group is convinced that your dog’s breed has a particular need for animal flesh (greyhound people are notorious for claiming that greyhounds need more flesh than other breeds), or you think home prepared meals are too much of a hassle, go to the links for the food and supplements above and read about making the switch. Monitor your dog’s poop, skin, coat, breath, and energy level, and after a while get a full blood work-up.

Your goal is a happy, healthy dog for years (and years) to come; it isn’t to replicate the diet of his ancestors.

Good luck!

4 Comments Post a comment
  1. John #


    I was thinking about trying out Dr. Harvey's Canine Health…just sent away for a couple of samples. I didn't see on their website about lentils or soy included as a source of proteins to add to the mix…which is not a big issue but I was wondering how much..say red lentils to you use when feeding Charles or Violet Rays? Currently I've been feeding my 11 yr. old greyhound, Billy, Natural Balance Vegetarian for the last 2 years which he likes and has done very well on. Sometimes I'll sprinkle some ground flax seeds, hemp powder or maca powder on top also. In one of my other comments I mentioned he has osteosarcoma affecting his left shoulder which was pretty much diagnosed 6 months ago but he's still hanging in there..with pain of course. I guess what I'm looking into is what I may be feeding my next grey…whenever that may be. I almost feel a sense of guilt when thinking about my next greyhound when Billy is still with me!

    Love reading you blog!


    June 26, 2009
  2. mary #

    I didn't end up loving Dr. Harvey's because the chunks of vegetable are large and dogs don't chew. And they come out the other end, virtually undigested. Preference is SO much better, except for the honey. Monzie's grain mix is great. A cup of lentils (cooked) is fine. for Charles, who it turned out had a bit of a problem with grains, I'd feed more lentils or tofu and also more fruits and veggies, and I found that certain grains were better for him than others.

    Funny, I think about what I'd feed my next grey, too. Right now, I soak their Natural Balance for a couple of hours and add organic, shredded coconut to Charles' and that helps firm up his stool.

    And their treats are bananas, strawberries, blueberries, and on walks I take quinoa dog treats (vegan) I get from whole foods.

    Thanks for reading!

    June 27, 2009
  3. Patty #

    My greyhounds do well on Natural Balance Vegetarian kibble. NB just recently came out with a canned vegetarian formula which is vegan. It is good for when I get lazy and run out of the homemade lentil/quinoa/veggie mix, and my greys love it. Also, it has no soy. One of my girls is allergic to soy.

    To John: My heart goes out to you; I lost a greyhound a few years ago to osteosarcoma. I still miss her today.

    June 27, 2009
  4. John #

    Thank you so much for sharing your feeding choices and experiences! Wow I shop at Whole Foods and have never seen the quinoa dog treats, guess they don't carry it at that particular location. My wife will sometimes cook up a big batch of vegan dog treats, nothing can beat homemade if you have the time! I guess Natural Balance Vegetarian didn't earn the top spot amongst dogs for nothing!

    June 28, 2009

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