Vegan diet a bit ruff on dogs

A VEGAN diet has become so popular every man and his (or her) dog are trying it out - literally.

The number of people inquiring about the controversial diet was enough to prompt one Brisbane vet, who feeds her own dog primarily vegan, to start holding workshops.

Holistic vet Dr Malina Fielder teaches pet owners to make vegan meals at monthly workshops which attract groups of 10 to 12 people at a time.

"People tell me I'm doing harm to dogs and it's unsafe," she said.

"They don't know I'm offering a complete and balanced diet, with all the nutritional values meat-based food contain. If anything, it should be more popular. It is the healthiest diet."

For protein, Dr Fielder recommends substituting meat for non-genetically modified tofu, lentils, rice, mushroom, quinoa and vegetables. For iron, she suggests almonds, tahini, leafy vegetables and non-commercial peanut butter.

"While humans can get everything they need from food, this is not the case for dogs," Dr Fielder said. "If it's not supplemented with minerals and irons, you shouldn't offer it to your dog at all."

Dr Malina Fielder with Violet the shar pei tucking into a plate of fruit and vegies. Picture: AAP/John Gass
Dr Malina Fielder with Violet the shar pei tucking into a plate of fruit and vegies. Picture: AAP/John Gass

Lisa Thorn, 25, of Burpengary, has fed her three border collies a strict vegan diet since they were eight weeks old.

"It's not in my dogs' nature to hunt and kill a pig for food, so why would I feed them something they wouldn't naturally go for?" she said. "On the other hand, when faced with a vegie garden, they would eat it all."

Animal nutritionist Ruth Hatten urged owners to be careful of what they feed their pets.

"You can't just feed your dog pasta and vegetables. That wouldn't be sufficient," she said. "Some dogs simply won't thrive on a vegan diet. It's not a one-size-fits-all."

Both Dr Fielder and Ms Hatten feed their own dogs a combination of a meat and vegan diet.

"If a diet is providing all the nutrients the dog needs, then it is healthy and safe," Ms Hatten said.

Animal Welfare League Queensland vet Dr Karishma Dahia said she would not recommend a vegan diet for dogs.

"Proteins derived from animal sources, or a meat diet, are impossible to get from a vegan diet," she said.

"Vegan protein derives from soy, which is safe for humans, but can be damaging to animals."