My Vegan Greyhound’s Bloodwork
I 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.