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Dog Nutrition - Separating Fact from Fiction in Dog Nutrition

Can a dog live on a vegan diet?

The simple answer is yes, dogs, unlike cats, can get their protein from plant-based diets. They do not have to have meat. However, I don't generally recommend a vegetarian diet for a dog. There are very few instances that I would recommend that. They can exist on a vegetarian diet though.

Dr. Damon Padgett
Clements Ferry Veterinary

Is wet food more nutritious than dry dog food?

Wet food is not necessarily more nutritious than dry dog food. The composition makeup is different and dogs will eat a different amount than dry food to get the same nutrients. But in general, there's not a difference in the nutritional makeup of them.

Are prescription diets better for my dog?

Prescription diets are only recommended for specific illnesses and diagnoses. A healthy dog does not need a prescription diet, nor would we recommend that for most dogs. A prescription diet is like a prescription antibiotic. We only prescribe it when there's an actual need for it.

If my dog eats grass, does that mean they are missing something in their diet?

Not necessarily. A dog might eat grass just because they like it. However, a dog with an upset stomach will definitely go and eat grass more readily than usual. But just because a dog eats grass, does not mean that there's a problem.

Will human food make my dog overweight?

No, unless we feed too much of it. Dogs that get a lot of people food or table scraps usually get more food in general. Therefore, if a dog eats the right amount of it, it won't make them overweight. But this does have a tendency to make them overweight because they usually always get their pet food as well.

Will free choice feeding make my dog overweight?

For the most part, yes. Most dogs will get overweight from free feeding. Some dogs self-regulate and maintain a healthy weight, but most will eat too much if given the chance. So I do not recommend free feeding for most dogs.

What are some other myths about dog nutrition that you hear as a veterinarian?

The two that come to mind are grain-free and raw food diets. It's very uncommon for dogs to have a grain allergy. The general allergies that dogs have are to one of the major meat proteins. Studies show a correlation between grain-free diets and a heart condition called dilated cardiomyopathy. The other one is raw food. I am not a fan of raw food diets just because of the contamination risk. They do not need a raw food diet, and I think that the risks outweigh the benefits of feeding those.

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