Natural Balance Vegetarian (Dry)


Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Natural Balance Vegetarian Dog Food receives the Advisor’s second-lowest tier rating of 2 stars.

The Natural Balance Vegetarian product line includes one dry dog food, a recipe claimed to meet AAFCO nutrient guidelines for adult maintenance.

Natural Balance Vegetarian Formula

Dry Dog Food

Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content

Protein = 20% | Fat = 9% | Carbs = 63%

Ingredients: Brown rice, oatmeal, cracked pearled barley, peas, potato protein, canola oil, potatoes, tomato pomace, vegetable flavoring, calcium carbonate, dicalcium phosphate, flaxseed, potassium chloride, choline chloride, taurine, natural mixed tocopherols, spinach, parsley flakes, cranberries, l-lysine, l-carnitine, Yucca schidigera extract, kelp, vitamin E supplement, iron proteinate, zinc proteinate, copper proteinate, ferrous sulfate, zinc sulfate, copper sulfate, potassium iodide, thiamine mononitrate (vitamin B-1), manganese proteinate, manganous oxide, ascorbic acid, vitamin A supplement, biotin, niacin, d-calcium pantothenate, manganese sulfate, sodium selenite, pyridoxine hydrochloride (vitamin B-6), vitamin B-12 supplement, riboflavin (vitamin B-2), vitamin D-2 supplement, folic acid

Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 4.4%

Red items indicate controversial ingredients

Estimated Nutrient Content
Guaranteed Analysis18%8%NA
Dry Matter Basis20%9%63%
Calorie Weighted Basis19%21%60%
Protein = 19% | Fat = 21% | Carbs = 60%

The first ingredient in this dog food is brown rice, a complex carbohydrate that (once cooked) can be fairly easy to digest. However, aside from its natural energy content, rice is of only modest nutritional value to a dog.

The second ingredient is oatmeal, a whole-grain product made from coarsely ground oats. Oatmeal is naturally rich in B-vitamins, dietary fiber and can be (depending upon its level of purity) gluten-free.

The third ingredient is barley. Barley is a starchy carbohydrate supplying fiber and other healthy nutrients. However, aside from its energy content, this cereal grain is of only modest nutritional value to a dog.

The fourth ingredient includes peas. Peas are a quality source of carbohydrates. And like all legumes, they’re rich in natural fiber.

However, peas contain about 25% protein, a factor that must be considered when judging the meat content of this dog food.

The fifth ingredient is potato protein, the dry residue remaining after removing the starchy part of a potato.

Even though it contains over 80% protein, this ingredient would be expected to have a lower biological value than meat.

And less costly plant-based products like this can notably boost the total protein reported on the label — a factor that must be considered when judging the actual meat content of this dog food.

The sixth ingredient is canola oil. Unfortunately, canola can be a controversial item. That’s because it can sometimes (but not always) be derived from genetically modified rapeseed.

Yet others cite the fact canola oil can be a significant source of essential omega-3 fatty acids.

In any case, plant-based oils like canola are less biologically available to a dog than fish oil as a source of quality omega-3 fats.

The seventh ingredient is potato. Potatoes can be considered a gluten-free source of digestible carbohydrates. Yet with the exception of perhaps their caloric content, potatoes are of only modest nutritional value to a dog.

The eighth ingredient is tomato pomace. Tomato pomace is a controversial ingredient, a by-product remaining after processing tomatoes into juice, soup and ketchup.

Many praise tomato pomace for its high fiber and nutrient content, while others scorn it as an inexpensive pet food filler.

Just the same, there’s probably not enough tomato pomace here to make much of a difference.

After the vegetable flavoring, we find calcium carbonate, likely used here as a dietary mineral supplement.

From here, the list goes on to include a number of other items.

But to be realistic, ingredients located this far down the list (other than nutritional supplements) are not likely to affect the overall rating of this product.

With three notable exceptions

First, flaxseed is one of the best plant sources of healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Provided they’ve first been ground into a meal, flax seeds are also rich in soluble fiber.

However, flaxseed contains about 19% protein, a factor that must be considered when judging the actual meat content of this dog food.

Next, we find no mention of probiotics, friendly bacteria applied to the surface of the kibble after processing to help with digestion.

And lastly, this food contains chelated minerals, minerals that have been chemically attached to protein. This makes them easier to absorb. Chelated minerals are usually found in better dog foods.

Natural Balance Vegetarian Dog Food
The Bottom Line

Natural Balance Vegetarian is by design a meatless dog food.

So, although we do recognize the need for some dog owners to provide (for whatever reason) a completely meat-free diet, we also respect a dog’s natural carnivorous bias.

For this reason, the highest rating awarded any vegetarian dog food found on this website can never exceed 2.5 stars.

That said, and before we determine our final rating, it’s still important to estimate how much plant-based protein might be present.

The dashboard displays a dry matter protein reading of 20%, a fat level of 9% and estimated carbohydrates of about 63%.

And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 44%.

Below-average protein. Below-average fat. And above-average carbs when compared to a typical dry dog food.

Bottom line?

Natural Balance Vegetarian is a plant-based dry dog food using modest amount of potato protein as its main source of protein, thus earning the brand 2 stars.

Not recommended.

Please note certain recipes are sometimes given a higher or lower rating based upon our estimate of their total meat content and (when appropriate) their fat-to-protein ratios.

Natural Balance Dog Food
Recall History

The following list (if present) includes all dog food recalls since 2009 directly related to this product line. If there are no recalls listed in this section, we have not yet reported any events.

You can view a complete list of all dog food recalls sorted by date. Or view the same list sorted alphabetically by brand.

To learn why our ratings have nothing to do with a product’s recall history, please visit our Dog Food Recalls FAQ page.

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Each review is offered in good faith and has been designed to help you make a more informed decision when buying dog food.

However, due to the biological uniqueness of every animal, none of our ratings are intended to suggest feeding a particular product will result in a specific dietary response or health benefit for your pet.

For a better understanding of how we analyze each product, please read our article, "The Problem with Dog Food Reviews".

Remember, no dog food can possibly be appropriate for every life stage, lifestyle or health condition. So, choose wisely. And when in doubt, consult a qualified veterinary professional for help.

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Have an opinion about this dog food? Or maybe the review itself? Please know we welcome your comments.

Notes and Updates

05/18/2017 Last Update

  • Cathy Koh

    I am vegetarian but feed my dog a meat-based diet. Meat is healthier for dogs while plant is healthier for humans. I also have a guinea pig and i feed her a strictly vegan diet. Point is, feed what is biologically appropriate for the species. Also I did not say dogs were carnivores, when i say meat-based is because majority of the diet is made of animal products. I still feed my dog some healthy fruits and veggies, but no grains or high glycemic vegetables.

  • Cathy Koh

    I used to foster a puppy that was allergic to all meats except krill, brushtail and crocodile. However, her new owner couldn’t afford all those fancy novel meats. So she fed the puppy a diet of egg, high calcium low-lactose cheese, and commercial pet milk along with carrots and peas and white rice. All the animal-derived products override the plant derived products. The new owner emailed me a week ago and said the puppy is doing well.

  • Cathy Koh

    Because your dogs are a VERY SMALL MINORITY of the dog population. My dog is older than me and older than your dog and she thrives on a meat-based diet. Most dogs thrive on a meat-based diet. Even my vet quit her endorsement with Hill’s Science Diet because of how many of her patients thriving on a meat-based diet.

  • haleycookie

    Im in college going for a degree in animal nutrition and biology and eventually a vet nutritionist maybe. Not ten but thanks I wish I could be ten again. But seeing how corrupt the world of dog food and vet business is kinda turns me off tbh.

  • anon101

    Recent!y, one of the posters disclosed that she was 10 years old.
    Just saying, something to keep in mind when responding to comments.
    As long as your dog checks out well at annual exams (by a veterinarian) then whatever you are doing, diet, etc. is working.

  • haleycookie

    Not biased. Dogs are more carnivores according to scince then they are vegetarians. Whether you want to believe it or not or wether your dog doesn’t do well with meat doesn’t mean anything. There are more dogs that do better on a higher quality meat based foods than not.

  • haleycookie

    You can actually just order it online and it’s delivered straight to your door. You don’t even have to leave your house. Chewy carries zignature kangaroo and only natural pet carries wild calling alligator food. Your lack of willingness to keep your dog on a biologically appropriate food is telling enough of what all you’ve probably not tried yet. But as I said if your dog does fine on this food then by all means keep feeding it. You’re clearly blinded by your assumption that the meat industry is brain washing the world and apparently you the way dogs are designed so nothing I say is going to change the way you feel.

  • haleycookie

    Because your dog is one in a hundred thousand? Just because your dog can’t eat meat doesn’t mean a vegatarian diet is best for every dog. I’m sorry it’s not. Your dog is likely sensitive to certain proteins that he would otherwise thrive on if he were a healthy dog. Your dog is an outlier to the rest of the dog population.

  • Gail Taraschuk

    So you assume I haven’t done most of that ???? And I don’t have to feed my dog alligator etc… I’m supposed to run all over the world looking for the stuff ? If I can’t find my dogs food in the actual store then I am not buying it. This food is an option . Secondly if you read the comments from people who have had their dogs on it for many years and they’re doing fine , better , healthy, more energetic, healthy coat etc… I am sure if the dog wasn’t doing fine the vet would have told them especially after that many years of being on the vegetarian dog food . So until you can prove beyond a doubt and show me dogs who have suffered horribly from being on a vegetarian dog food then I suggest you be quiet .

  • Gail Taraschuk

    Then please explain to me why EVERYTIME my dog eats very lean meat with nothing else he ends up with horrible diarrhea and a sore stomach ???

  • Gail Taraschuk

    My dogs on a meat-based diet because I didn’t know there were other options until now . And secondly if you read my other comment she would see that I’ve tried my dog and every type of meat food and he hasn’t been doing well . I am right now considering I’m trying him on the vegan vegetarian dog food !!!! And this review is biased !

  • InkedMarie

    This is not a biased review: type “how we rate dog food” in the search and read the article. Funny that you feed meat based dog foods yet say you’re shocked at the review? LOL.

  • haleycookie

    That’s fine. If you’ve tried ever limited ingredient food (kangaroo, alligator, etc) and then after that any vet diet for dogs with protein sensitivities then I think this food is fine. It’s not the best but if your dog simply can’t have any meat protein then it’s fine for keeping your dog alive.

  • haleycookie

    Dogs are not humans and they are not designed to be vegetarian. They can survive on a vegetarian diet but these reviews are based on the science that dogs are mainly carnivores and do best on a carnivorous (or atleast omnivorous) diet.

  • Gail Taraschuk

    It’s a lot like how meat eaters compare vegan meat alternatives to meat. They feel if it is not exactly like meat then it’s not good enough . When Actually the meat alternatives are healthier. These people are completely brainwashed by the meat industry it is literally engrained in them . That’s why wanna comes to dog food there extremely closed minded and have meat on them on their brain

  • Gail Taraschuk

    Some dogs just don’t do well on meat protein ! If someone’s dog is doing better not being on it then there’s nothing wrong with that . Dogs are omnivores. Therefore if they do better eating plant-based food it’s not going to harm them . As long as they get the right varieties to get all their nutrition they will be fine . You are also shoving your believes on people !

  • Gail Taraschuk

    This site is very biased ! My dog is eating meat based dog foods and treats now..Organic and non gmo .He still get runny, hard poop on and off . I have tried homemade food with the most expensive meat ( grain fed ) and my dog still got runny poop. He gets allergies also. Dogs are NOT strictly meat eaters ! My dog LOVES fruits ! My dog loves mangos and will even eat a dish of chickpeas … He scoffs them up fast ! People that are closed minded and brainwashed by the meat industries etc… refuse to look at facts and up to date studies that show we can do better off of meat and dairy. These same people refuse to accept that there are many dogs that can and are healthier eating vegetarian/ vegan foods ! Shocked at this biased review ! Maybe they are sponsored etc.. by the meat industry ???

  • John Mooter

    A ridiculous rating for a high quality food. My rescue poodle has been plant-based for 4 years, since I got him. He is now 12. The vet is impressed with his health at 12.Don’t believe everything you read, especially if it has no science behind it. Some of the oldest dogs have been plant-based.

  • haleycookie

    Yes dogs lean towards a more carnivorous diet based on their digestive track and teeth shape. Neither are that of a herbivour. If you put a slab of meat and a bowl of rice and oatmeal in front of a dog they’ll pick the meat every single time which is the reason why I would never shove my beliefs onto my mostly carnivorous animal. this site rates on the fact that dogs are mostly carnivorous. They may have had a tendency to scavenge whatever else hs humans had during their domestication but biologically they are better suited to eat a carnivorous or at least omnivorous diet. There’s nothing outdated about it. It’s just science.

  • Selina Lee

    This website is outdated in that dogs are carnivores and the highest rating a veg dog food can get is 2.5 stars. Super bias. I won’t recommend this website. My 2 dogs are vegetarian since they were babies and are healthy at 8 years old. My friends shihtzhu is a healthy 15 year old, also vegetarian. So no, dogs are not just carnivores.

  • Shari

    My dogs are thriving on Natural Balance Vegetarian. Theyve been eating it for years. I have 2 9 year olds and a 6 year old and they love it and are in perfect health. Per thier veterinarian. He also clarifies, dogs are omnivores, not stricly carnivores.

  • Shari

    My dogs have been eating Natural Balance for years and have been thriving on it. My Rat Terrier has serious allergies and mysteriously it got tremendously better when we changed from Natural Balance meat based options, and Bill Jac options, to Natural Balance Vegetarian.
    My put, my poodle, and rat terrier all love it and are in 100% perfect health. They are THRIVING and love the taste. Dogs are omnivorves, not strictly carnivores, so your article needs adjusted accordingly.

  • Heinz59

    Halo and V-Dog may work, as well.

  • Another “fill-in-the-blanks” article by Dog Food Advisor. As I have asked on the review of V-Dog, why would one review a plant-based formula as if it were meat-based?

  • Shadow

    Then what do you feed him?

  • theBCnut

    It may be animal proteins, but unfortunately with dogs with multiple sensitivities, they often react to plant proteins too. As an example, my dog reacts to all bird ingredients, including eggs, all grains, flax, tomato, and alfalfa.

  • Shadow

    We don’t feed him dog food, it was always home cooked food. We’ve tried every form of chicken, goat and lamb possible; including just the offal, just the fat, a combination of all 3 in varying ratios. I mentioned about salmon as well, but we’re currently trying if it is just salmon or all fish. In hopes of him gaining some weight we switched to Royal Canin for Labs (since he’s a Lab and Bull mix, or at least resembles them most, he is a mutt), but one feeding of RC ended with him getting a rash on his paws and ears. I do not live in a country where Rabbit, turkey or venison is readily available fresh, or I would have tried that too. The only dog food that doesn’t give him a rash is Pedigree Vegetarian, but he hates the flavour of it, so feeding time is a struggle.

    We’re now planning on shifting him to a hypo dog food for a couple of months and really figure out what ingredients he is allergic to. We’ve consulted 4 different vets and they all say it is animal protein, I believe I will take your advice now and see if I can get allergy testing done in my country.

    But, I wanted to know if any good vegetarian food or egg based food is available for him that could be a back up, if nothing works out.

  • InkedMarie

    First, how do you know your dog is “allergic to animal protein”? You said you tried chicken…in what form? Dog food containing chicken? There are many dog foods out there with other proteins such as beef, turkey, lamb, rabbit, venison etc.

    I suggest you have allergy testing done before you do anything. Chances are it’s an ingredient in the food and may not be the meat protein.

  • Shadow

    So My dog loves meat, and honestly we don’t mind feeding it to him, the only issue is that he is allergic to animal protein. We’ve tried chicken, which is the main culprit, he cannot even consume it in treats, Lab and goat also does not suit him, with these three his skin break out in rashes near his groin and his eat becomes flaming red with constant itching and inflammation on the inside.

    In an attempt to give him some form of protein (since he’s not a big fan of eggs) We attempted to give him some salmon and rice, unfortunately this ended in him hyperventilating for about 3-4 hours, so much so that we had to take him to the vet.

    Now, he’s always been a picky eater, even when he was a pup, but never to such an extent. He does not eat bread or grains of any kind, he does not eat oatmeal, no veggies. He sometimes eats eggs, and only boiled. He likes curd, but thats about it. We’ve tried non veg dog food and he loved it, would relish it, in fact. But we can’t feed that anymore.

    We’re not looking for a vegan dog food, just a vegetarian of low protein option that would work for him in the long run. What would you suggest we buy?

  • Julia Vu

    I’ve attempted to have my dog, a 3lb chih-shih, on a normal and regular diet.. I’ve tried cheap kibble, expensive kibble, softening the kibble, canned food, meals in gravy, raw meat, boiled chicken/rice.. All of which he either did not bother to eat or his stomach disagreed since mucousy diarrhea followed (even when slowly transitioning). I continued to feed him a meat-containing kibble that he barely ‘survived’ on.. For starters, he has been skinny all his life.. Not to the point where his ribs showed, but just not fat (his appearance is considered ‘healthy’ in the guidelines, not too fat, not too skinny). He would just pick at his kibble, never loved it, was never excited for it. I realized one day that he loves carrots and watermelon and other veggies- he gets super excited over it. But never over his kibble.. So how could I change that? The one thing I never tried was vegan kibble- it was always in the back of my head as a vegan (yes, I’ve been vegan for a year but I never felt obligated to change my dog’s food because of the backlash one receives and just because I wasn’t too sure). However, knowing that humans can thrive off a vegan diet and dogs can, too, with the proper amount of nutrients provided- I finally mustered up the courage to go out and buy it, keeping in mind that I’d return it if my dog didn’t respond well to it or at all. I kid you not, I was very skeptical but tbh because I had already tried everything else that was recommended, I did not see any harm in trying the vegan kibble. Either he likes it or not.. And I had a suspicion he would not.. But I was very wrong. My dog, Chester, he loves it.. I’ve never seen him so excited and interested in his kibble.. He golfs the whole thing down. I used to only be able to feed him only once a day, RARELY twice (some days he didnt eat at all and would puke white/yellow foam- stomach fluid).. He’s been eating this Natural Balance Veg formula for 2 weeks and he now lovingly eats 3 times a day (I feed him smaller portions so that he doesn’t get dog bloat). I’m shocked.. I thought it might not taste good.. But he is showing me that it does and that he is excited about it. If anyone can offer me an explanation, I’m eager to listen because I would’ve never guessed it would turn out this way… His food was an ongoing issue since he was a pup; he’s now 3 years old and he is no longer ‘surviving’ off his kibble- he is clearly thriving! He’s not as skinny as he was before, even though he’s only been eating this for 2 weeks.. I believe he’s gained some healthy weight and is looking ‘fuller’.. Never before have I seen such an improvement last this long. I know this is the best kibble I’ve ever put him on and Chester is a hell of a picky eater. I don’t want to come off as biased because of my own personal choice to be vegan but this is not something that I expected for my dog.. And this is also not something that I expect for all dogs either. This just works exceptionally well for Chester and I would definitely recommend it to others who are having issues finding the right food.. Of course, I’ve only been feeding him this for just 2 weeks but the sheer fact that NOTHING else has provided this kind of result for us is the reason why I am quick to rave about it. This is the ideal situation that I have been looking for but to no avail. The thing is no one really considers going meat free.. The ever so popular appeal to nature fallacy is widespread.. But evolution occurs and things change over many decades so there is not just one solution. We are all unique and have different needs due to evolution and how our bloodline has come to be. What works for one dog may clearly not work for others, as in any case with humans, in the diet AND medical realm, dare I say. Each and every body structure will generally function the same, but not in every way.. And while Chester’s case is anecdotal, it has been the best option yet and there is no arguing against that if you’ve been through the roller coasters of dog foods and only found ONE that works far better than others 🙂 FYI I still add in his old meat-containing kibble to the vegan one- he eats the vegan kibble first and doesn’t bother with the old one..! If there is ever a change in his eating habits, I will absolutely update this review.

  • LabsRawesome

    Awe what a cutie. She is lucky to have such a caring momma. 🙂

  • Marcie ONeall

    I got my girl Sasha 7 years ago from a poodle rescue and I am sure one of the reasons she ended up there was because of her allergies. Her skin and hair were a mess. She would scratch and chew herself until she was bloody and keep scratching. I am surprised she is not scarred from all the lacerations. I tried everything for 3 years and then, thankfully, I took her to a dermatologist. She has both environmental allergies and food allergies. She takes Apoquil now for her environmental allergies and eats Natural Balance Vegetarian for her food allergies. She also has a medicated bath once a week. She is allergic to every kind of meat you can think of, well I haven’t tried snake or alligator. I even tried Kangaroo to no avail. She is a picky eater and turns her nose up at all kibble so I have to have canned food and Natural Balance Vegetarian is a life saver. I make sure and let Petco know when they are getting low on it as well. She actually loves it! This is Sasha, she is 13 years old.

  • Amparo Sofia Romero

    In our case, we did the whole allergy test set. She can eat fish, turkey and pork but not chicken or beef.

  • Amparo Sofia Romero

    For us it was a great help. Our Bull Terrier is allergic to both chicken and beef. And she had a bad case of pancreatitis last year, so we needed to reduce the fat content of her diet considerably. Unfortunatedly, most low fat alternatives include chicken.
    This particular food, supplemented with white fish for more protein, has proven to be quite good for her. She is now healthy and happy.

  • Dave Clennon

    Thank you for telling this story. DogFoodAdvisor seems to share the prejudices of many veterinarians who have not seriously considered vegetarian options.
    Veterinary training seems to place a low value on the study of pet nutrition. So vets repeat the mindless mantra, “A carnivore is a carnivore!” Every nutrient in a dog’s meat diet can be supplied — naturally — with a plant-based diet.

  • Crazy4dogs

    Ashley, dogs are scavengers, who will eat anything to survive, but they would pick meat first.

  • Ashley

    Jamie, he is actually correct. Dogs eat an omnivorous diet and are not obligate carnivores (i.e. they do not need meat to survive). The confusion on this often arises from the fact that dogs are biologically classified in the order carnivora. Animal species in the order are sometimes mistakenly referred to as carnivores which is true of many, but not all species that make up this order.

  • thinkflowers

    Hanna, is our very sweet, long hair German Shepherd. To make a very long, years long saga short, we took her to Vet after veterinarian because of itchy skin and our poor girl pulling her own hair out due to the itching, she was tormented by the itching. We even had her blood tested, and she spent 5+ years on steroids, allergy meds and medication for the infractions that plagued her. She was so sad to see and we didn’t know what to do to help her. We got recommendations to put her on a prescription diet, a raw meat diet and on and on. We were told that there were allergens in the foods we tried. She hated all of these food choices and after a day would pass without eating, she would be so hungry, she would eat it and then purge most of it. We were not happy and neither was she. FINALLY, I found a review online that could have been written by us mirroring our poor girls predicament and with the recommendation of Natural balance vegetarian food, both wet and dry – applauding this food as a miracle. We thought at that point we needed a miracle and I ordered it but wasn’t sure what to expect. When we put it down in front of her, she ate it and immediately after she stopped biting and scratching. Within a few days, her hair started growing back. As it turns out it appears that she is allergic to all animal proteins. She has had numerous tick bites and we think possibly, like people sometimes experience, she became allergic to animal proteins. Discovering this food is truly a miracle. Today, 3 years later we groom her beautiful long coat again and she is a happy girl. We are so grateful that she is no longer on any medication and that we discovered this food in time for her to have a wonderful life. Also, because of the logistics of trying to feed two large dogs separate foods, we feed both dogs this same formula. They are both healthy with gorgeous coats and teeth.

  • Mark Bong

    Nobody cares about your foking dogs or what you feed them………..

  • Jamie Schwartz

    This food is a good option for dogs who have allergies to just about any meat protein they are put on. Once the owners have exhausted all other protein options only then should they feed this. Natural Balance has so many protein options so it’s a good food for allergy dogs and in almost all cases we are able to match the dog up with one protein that agrees with them. This shouldn’t be fed because the owner thinks their dog should be vegetarian – that is not fair to the dog, whose nutrient needs are best met with meat. Dogs can survive on a vegan diet but will not thrive they way they should. This should only be a last resort as a food source for your dog.

  • Jamie Schwartz

    This is simply not true.

  • Pj J

    This food helped my dog . My dog has been so sick and could not eat anything without getting sick for almost 4 months and the pounds kept dropping. She was skin and bones . I took her to the vet and got some fancy hypoallergenic food and it still made her sick. So come to find out she can’t digest meat or dairy . So I tried this stuff and it was like day and night . Her energy sky rocketed and her weight is finally coming back . Her poops are solid and normal . If it wasn’t for this food and prayers I’m sure she would have died . Thankyou God and natural balance:)

  • wennyrsmitt

    I have five small dogs ranging in age 2-15 yrs., all of whom have been fed Nat. Bal. Vegetarian kibble for several years. They are all in excellent health, their coats are luxuriant and shiny. I do make my own “doggie stew” with vegetables, oats and organic or free range meats and fish oil. I add less than a quarter cup of it to each bowl of dry food per day. So it’s hard to know, really what maintains my dogs’ excellent health for sure. But I find that NOT buying a product made from tortured farm raised animals is a GOOD thing. And I find NO deleterious effect from using a primarily vegetarian diet for my dogs.

  • Shawna

    Hi magda,

    I understand your point but there’s a lot of buts…. One but already mentioned—–but Bramble ate an organic, whole food diet not kibble. From what I can gather, she also lived outside the city limits in “clean” and toxin reduced environment as well as got plenty of exercise.

    But my biggest but — could most folks formulate a balanced vegan diet using whole foods? Bramble ate rice and rice, fed in abundance, can cause mineral deficiencies unless “properly” prepared by sprouting or long soaking. My guess is that Bramble’s humans knew how to “properly” prepare rice (and lentils) to make them as nutritious as possible. This is something our grandparents (or their parents) knew about foods that has been lost in our modern, industrialized world.

  • magda

    yeah my point was that dogs don’t need meat to live a long, healthy life. she never ate meat and that’s a fact.

  • Shawna

    I just read something interesting on this a few weeks back. Bramble is actually not the oldest living dog on record….two dogs outlived Bramble.

    I don’t remember the original source but here’s some info on one of those two — “While 27 is an incredible age for dog, Bramble is not the longest lived
    dog in the world. That honor goes to Bluey, an Australian Cattle Dog
    who lived to be 29 years 5 months old. So, what did Bluey eat? Kangaroo
    (as one might expect since he lived in Australia) and emu.”

    I think two very important things Monica mentions in her article are 1. both Bramble and Bluey ate living, whole foods. 2. We don’t know much about their histories — how was the food prepared. Example, were the grains Bramble ate sprouted – which makes them healthier than the grains eaten today? How much exercise did the dogs get? How “clean” was their environment? Lots of factors to consider other than diet alone when looking at longevity.

  • magda

    i find it funny that my comment was removed when there are so many really offensive ones adressed towards veg*ns here… you prioritize certain cute animals over others when they feel pain and fear just like your beloved dogs. you talk about ”nature” when there is nothing natural in having a dog and a dog living in your house in the first place, you are all hilarious. you want to talk about nature then go on, release your animals into the wild and they can hunt their own food just like all carnivores do (: i’m really curious how long they would survive and how many animals they would kill. heh.

  • magda

    ever heard of the world’s oldest dog named bramble? she was on vegan diet her whole life and lived for 27 years. she didn’t eat commercial food though, her humans cooked for her. she is in the guiness book of records.

  • USA

    Well said

  • Susan

    Finally someone has mentioned LECTINS, Lectins are probably the cause with some dogs having Stomach & Bowel problems…

  • Darlene Vegan

    ”A true animal lover accepts all of mother natures wonderful creations for what they are and doesn’t try to change them.”

    What a load of BS. Forcing your dog to stay indoors for hours at a time while you are at work IS changing them. Forcing your dog to have shots every year IS changing them. Forcing your dog to have medical treatment IS changing them. Forcing your dog to eat the dead animal of YOUR choice that you bought from a store IS changing them. Forcing your dog to wear a collar and forcing them to walk on a leash IS changing them. Forcing your dog to hold in his/her urine and poop for hours instead of allowing him/her to go whenever and wherever (including on your bed, furniture) IS changing them. So it appears that you have no problem changing dogs when it suits your dog and/or you but when it comes to taking an action that might benefit other animals who have as much right to life as your dog, all of a sudden, you want to act like you are concerned about “mother nature.” Typical, brain-dead, animal-killing speciesist. What is more illogical than all of this how you hypocrites shamelessly claim to be “animal lovers” and dare badmouth michael vick when you, too, are an animal killer just like him. And vegans do not need you to respect them or their actions. They need you to respect animals. Also, your photos of your dog eating a whole bird is pathetically passive-aggressive where you think it will make vegans want to die on the side and slit their throats or something. Vegans have watched the documentary “Earthlings” and have seen the type of animal cruelty that you do not even know exists yet fund and demand several times a day everyday so try harder if you want to get to a vegan, you animal killer. P.S. I would tell you to kiss the butts of my 2 dogs who ARE thriving on vegan dog food but you are not worthy of kissing even their crap.

  • TraceyMush

    Dogs are not carnivores. They are omnivores.

  • Ellen

    We followed their elimination protocol faithfully. But my dog kept deteriorating. As a last resort, my regular vet prescribed a vegetarian diet. The Natural Balance was similar in composition and substantially cheaper. My dog has been on it ever since and completely recovered. We live in NYC and my dog has a talent agent. She’s been featured in ads. She looks really good!

  • DogFoodie

    Did they/you attempt to find a single animal protein with which an elimination diet could be performed?

  • Ellen

    We saw a traditional vet and a holistic vet. They both concluded that my dog could not tolerate meat.

  • DogFoodie

    If you recall all of the foods you’ve fed her, have you compared each and every ingredient to see if they had anything in common?

    Glad you’ve found something that helped.

  • Ellen

    My Italian Greyhound developed weeping ulcers between her toes that wouldn’t heal–a reaction to her food. We tried steroids, antibiotics, antihistamines, along with a prescription hypoallergenic diet. That didn’t work. We tried novel protein diets-kangaroo, ostrich, etc.–those didn’t work either. By then, my dog was painfully thin–even for an Italian Greyhound. We would have to put ointment between her toes and put booties on her feet everyday and she’d limp in pain. Out of desperation, we tried Naturai Balance Vegetarian food. All of her sores healed within a week. and she began to put on weight again. We are grateful for this food. It has alleviated my dog’s suffering and saved us countless dollars in vet bills. I didn’t WANT to put my dog on a vegan diet; I thought it was a crazy idea. But in her case, it has worked miracles. And I’m not about to put her on a meat-based food ever again.

  • natalie

    My yorkie/schnauzer mix has a sever food intolerance to meat products, leading to vomiting and bloody stool. So I had a difficult time trying to find what worked. I tried purina’s hypoallergenic food but that didn’t help at all. We lived in South Korea at the time and they don’t have as many choices as the US so I had resort to feeding him rice, fruits, and veggies. When we finally moved back to the states, I purchased natural balance vegetarian food and he has finally gotten some meat on his bones and is a lot healthier and happier. And since I’ve never fed him meat, the only time he ever begs for table scraps is when i’m eating a salad or fruit.

  • Amy

    I use this food as well as some homemade food (mixture of beans, vegetables, and rice or oats), and my dogs are extremely healthy. My dog is going to turn 15 yrs old in a month, and she as spunky as ever before! Most people think she’s no more than 5 years old when they meet her. I would highly recommend supplementing dry food with fresh, real food. Ours as well as these animals’ systems will not thrive off of highly processed food. We and they need real food! My girls are doing great with a mix of this and their homemade food.

  • Dog Food Ninja

    Oh, and if your dog does have a yeast infection, this super high-carb food will undoubtedly exacerbate it.

  • Dog Food Ninja

    To the folks suggesting your dog is allergic to all meats… while this food may seem to keep your dog from being sick, I doubt very much that he or she has a legitimate allergy. I bet you your dog has a leaky gut situation from either damage from the glutens and lectins in grains or as the result of a raging, uncontrolled yeast infection. When the stomach lining becomes porous, animal proteins can slip undigested into the blood stream causing a host of allergy like autoimmune responces. That is why hydrolized proteins are medically effective… they have already been broken down into their various amino acids, so whole protein cannot leak into the blood stream. All I’m saying is look into leaky gut.

  • USKiwi

    Thank you for your post VeganObjective.

    I’m curious if you could provide more details that support your perspective. I understand that you believe dogs “need to get certain things from meat.”

    Could you please elaborate on what these things are and why they cannot get them from a plant based diet? (If it is amino acids you’re referring to, which amino acids in particular and why they are addressed better by a meat based diet)

    I would also be curious what your thoughts are on what % of calories a dog should get from protein. My research suggests 10% is sufficient for the vast majority of dogs, while this food has 19% of its calories from protein.

    I have a hard time buying that we should feed our dogs a meat based diet as it’s their “natural diet” as you suggested. A cave man’s natural diet was also likely to be largely meat based, but that doesn’t mean it’s the healthiest option in modern society.

    Thank you in advance for your thoughts.

  • Char

    They block around the clock and mock

  • Charlieee the cllowwn

    They chased all the good people away and make the bad people atay

  • Charlieee the cllowwn

    Shawwnnaass high pproteinn diet is proven wrong I could sing a song. They liee about the studies and act like buddies.

  • Charlieee the cllowwn

    We dont want the attention we just want the truth to be mentioned.

  • Charlieee the cllowwn

    All that meat is not neat. They put us insppaamm thats a acccaamm. We did not lie so I wonder why.

  • Charlieee the cllowwn

    I don’t know how Mikeee sleeps at night his information is not right

  • Charlieee the cllowwn

    My dog turned into a frog after eating Shaawnnnas meat thats not neat

  • Charlieee the cllowwn

    Shawwnaaa or how about potatos, gluten or tomatoes?

  • Charlieee the cllowwn

    Shaannaaa-on my kees please give me some peas

  • Rachael_dawn_de

    Thanks for your post, your situation is just like mine! My 11 year old Boxer has serious, serious food intolerance problems. He can only eat soy protein now.

  • Rachael_dawn_de

    I would like to add an underrepresented voice here, the medical side of needing a vegetarian diet for your dog. My 11 year old Boxer developed food intolerance issues and cannot eat any protein source found in dog kibbles, not even the hypoallergenic options. I almost lost him, and then I found a vegetarian recipe soy protein based dog food. I really wish there were more choices in vegetarian dog foods for my situation. Please keep in mind that there are some situations in which you have no choice but to feed your dog a vegetarian diet. My dog is happy and healthy again, thanks to vegetarian kibble.

    It is difficult to find reviews of vegetarian dog foods because reviewers tend to compare them to normal meat protein foods and not to other veg foods. For those dogs who must eat plant proteins for medical reasons, reviews of veg foods that were designed specifically for special-needs dogs and not compared to normal foods for non-special needs dogs would be very helpful. I would agree with many that vegetarian dog foods aren’t the best nutrition for normal, healthy dogs. But for those of us who have no other option, special reviews would be greatly appreciated!

  • keystone1

    My American Foxhound has severe food interolerances to most meat products. He tolerates Royal Canin Anallergenic and Hypoallergenic (containing hydrolized protein) best, but I cannot afford their very high price tags. I have tried him on numerous limited ingredient foods with a moderate to poor success rate. His stool was more formed than most other food, but he had a large quanitity of poop everyday. Sometimes going as many as 5 to 6 times daily. I saw a marked difference when I switched him to the Natural Balance Vegetarian dry food. He now has just 2 to 3 formed bowel movements daily. This food may not be the best for other dogs, but it really works well for him. I would recommend this to anyone with a dog with a similar condition. Thanks for your insightful reviews. It has helped me to make informed decisions on food for my other dogs.

  • Pattyvaughn

    Um, they didn’t create Iams and Eukanuba, they bought them out too.

  • Kriss M

    I would be very careful with EVO. Them, California Natural, Innova and Healthwise, were bought out by P&G, creators of such beloved gems as IAMS and Eukanuba

  • LabsRawesome


  • Jell

    And as a someone who works with dogs professionally for 25 years, I’ve had that exact experience numerous times with:

    Meat based kibble fed dogs
    Raw fed dogs
    Vegetarian Fed dogs
    High quality kibble fed dogs
    Crap-In-A-Bag quality kibble fed dogs
    Home prepared diet fed dogs


    It is apropos of absolutely nothing. A single piece of “evidence” from a random anecdote is valueless.

    I have fed the highest kibble out there
    I have fed the highest canned out there
    I have fed a carefully prepared raw diet
    I have fed a carefully prepared home cooked diet.

    And I am presently feeding vegan.

    Some dogs will respond best to one or several forms of feeding and poorly to others. My dog now did poorly on a raw diet that my last dog thrived on. Yet this same dog is thriving on a vegan diet.

    Meeting one dog in ill health in a dog park is pretty meaningless as far as information goes.

  • Jell

    Plus you were correct in terms of the science., Aimee.

    And yes, I have kept a dog and a cat with kidney disease for many years.

  • Shawna

    Hi Iris,

    As the owner of 12 toy breed dogs, over the years, and a foster parent to 30+ toy and small breed dogs, I have to whole heartedly disagree with you (for the record I have eight toy breeds right now – a 4 pound Chihuahua, two 5 pound Pomeranians, a 7 pound Shih Tzu/Poodle mix, a 9 lb Chi/Poodle/Boston Terrier mix, two Papillons weighing 12 and 14 lbs and a 12 lb Terrier mix. My others were a Poodle, another Chi and two Yorkies. I foster Papillons and Boston Terriers.

    Okay, ALL of mine eat a HIGH protein diet. In fact, they eat significantly more protein than what’s in Orijen as I raw feed most of them and top the others high protein kibble with raw.

    The 9 lb Chi mix has had kidney disease since birth and she too eats a high protein diet (45 to 54% dry matter). She’s been on this same diet for seven years and is in great health. She is unmedicated, never goes to the vet, has never had sub q fluids etc. The “quantity” of protein is far less important than the “quality” when it comes to the kidneys and the health of the dog. And vegetarian and vegan foods are of lower quality protein when it comes to kidney disease. I would NEVER feed my kd dog a veg diet even with meat toppers. I wouldn’t feed her kibble for that matter as kibble protein is of lower quality, esp if from plant sources, than cooked or raw.

    Kibbles are compliant with AAFCO guidelines for complete and balanced but many feel they are not truly balanced as we simply don’t know all the nutrients in foods or if we do they are too hard to add back in. Take vitamin E as an example — there are 8 forms of vitamin E (4 tocopherols and 4 tocotrienols). They only add the tocopherols back in to the diet but the tocotrienols are just as important for optimal health.

    I will caution you to only add 20% or less lamb to their kibbled foods as meat is high in phosphorus and needs to be balanced with calcium. If you add more than about 20% you risk unbalancing the calcium/phosphorus which can, over time, have very bad consequences.

    Toy breed dogs have the very same digestive tract and dietary needs as their larger brethren. Yes their tummies are smaller but that just means they eat the same food but less of it. 🙂

    PS — my 4 lb Chi is 16 years old and going strong. She is blind in one eye but her hearing is great, no arthritis, coat is fantastic etc. No signs of any internal issues. She’s been on HIGH protein raw since we adopted her 7 years ago. One Pap and the Terrier are 13 and 14 and they too are in excellent health to date.

  • Pattyvaughn

    Small dogs don’t have less of a requirement for protein. Some small breeds are more predisposed to pancreatitis from too much fat, but that is hardly a reason to feed vegetarian food. All breeds, regardless of size can have coat issues from their food. The majority of these have to do with the food not having enough Omega 3s or intolerance to certain ingredients, grains are chief among the causes for intolerances. Your dogs having soft stools on high protein foods was probably because they need a little higher fiber and/or probiotic and digestive emzymes for a while while they transitioned to a new food. That is a sign of an unhealthy gut, not too much protein. BTW Royal Canin is nearly a vegetarian food. My JRT eats about 50-55% protein and 25% fat. She is 11 years old, has perfect blood work, and is very healthy and active.

  • Iris

    Hi Everyone,
    I just wanted to add some useful information for all of you who own a toy breed dog (under 7lbs). I have two Pomeranians. Most if not all commercial diets are manufactured for ALL breeds (lets leave out the vet foods), which can be too rich for toy breeds (even with feeding guidelines I still believe it’s too rich for the small dogs). A lot of people who own toy breeds often complain of runny stool, allergies, dandruff, skin issues, hair issues (especially Pom owners), etc. The list goes on…at the end of the day how big can their stomachs and organs be to process commercial dog food loaded with a lot of vitamins/minerals/animal proteins etc. How much can their kidneys reaaaaally tolerate?

    I bought Halo Vegan Kibble as well as Natural Balance Vegetarian and cook my own Lamb which I add to the kibble. I recently had blood work done on both pups, and the vet was extremely impressed. Also, their “allergies” improved BIG time as well as their stool. Before doing this diet I tried Ziwipeak, Acana, Royal Canin, Blue Buffalo, etc etc. For now, I’m quite pleased and my pups enjoy their meals. I don’t think I would have them ONLY on a veg diet, they need meat (bottom line they are dogs, no matter how small). But given the fact that almost all treats I give them have meat and then they get their lamb topper, I don’t want to overload their tummies with too much protein. FOR toy breed, IMO, the simpler the better when it comes to diet. Fruits and veggies are FRUITS and VEGGIES, they will not harm your dog and at least mine are doing exceptionally well on vegetarian kibble with cooked Lamb as a topper. To add, keep in mind that Halo Veg and Natural Balance Veg foods have all of the nutritional requirements for your dogs…otherwise it wouldn’t be “dog food”. (P.S. the lamb I buy is from an organic butcher. Please buy only organic meats for your dogs!).

  • aimee

    Shawna, I apologize if my post angered or offended in any way as it was not my intention. My comments about how protein quality is evaluated where never meant to imply anything about your care of Audrey if that is how they came across. I can provide references to any of the concepts I introduced if you desire them.

  • Shawna

    I started to reply to this but your post is so proposterous in my opinion that I really am not willing to waste my time. I don’t mean to be cruel or rude but all I can say is nonsense. I’m actually a bit angry right now…

    When you’ve kept a dog with kidney disease alive AND HEALTHY for seven years we can talk more.

  • aimee


    My understanding is bioavailability refers to the digestion and absorption of the AA into the body. I would think this would vary with the source, the processing and the consumer.

    Biologic value is one way to measure the potential utilization of the AA in a protein. It is only applicable if a sole source is protein being fed.

    It is incorrect to say that “x” percent of the AA fed will become waste based on a BV when proteins are mixed as they are in most diets. The rate limiting AA in one protein may be supplied by the other. Theorectically, two proteins with a BV of 0 when fed together could have a BV of 100.

    Additionally the BV of a protein fed decreases with increasing protein levels in the diet. If egg is fed at minimal protein levels the BV is 100 as all AA are being used. When egg is fed in excess of needs the BV drops to say 70 or 50 as not all AA fed will be utilized.

    So you see protein quality becomes most important when feeding a limited amount of protein, as in late stage kidney insufficiency, where the goal is to match the AA needs of the animal while preventing feeding excess or unusable AA that will become waste.

    When AA are supplied in excess of need, as when feeding Audrey a high protein raw diet, it is immaterial that the AA are in perfect balance as long as the AA needs of the animal are met. The rest will all be metabolized and the waste filtered by the kidney.

    A preferred method of protein evaluation is the PDCAAS. The highest value on this scale is 1 which is what soy protein is rated.

    DHA and EPA are plant based FA that are incorporated into animals that consume the plants that contain them. A vegan dog can utilize plant based EPA and DHA.

    I agree nutritional disasters can occur with vegetarian fed dogs, just as they can and do occur in dogs whose diets based in meat.

  • Another person that I don’t think understands the difference between “surviving” and “thriving”.

    There are plenty of cases of humans living much longer than the average person, yet they spent most of their lives smoking a pack of cigarettes a day. Does that mean it’s okay for another person to smoke like that? Of course not. It just means that one guy that lived a while got lucky.

    If you want to take that chance… fine. Good luck.

  • Shawna

    It’s really not an assumption John. Yes, plant proteins definitely cab provide all the required amino acids but it goes beyond that.

    I have a dog that was born with kidney disease. She showed symptoms as early as six weeks old but wasn’t officially diagnosed until her one year blood work. Anyhoo, in learning all I could to keep her alive (AND healthy) “quality” of the protein came up over and over and over again in my research. The quality of the protein is how well the amino acids are used on a cellular level. The better the overall protein amino acids is used on a cellular level (aka the bioavailability) the less amino acids there are to be converted to urea (which is a waste product of protein digestion that basically poisons dogs in late stage kidney disease).

    In humans (no studies on dogs that I am aware of yet) egg has a bioavailabilty of 100% — meaning every single amino acid in an egg gets utilized by the body. Obviously, this is ideal. Different charts have slightly different numbers but in all the charts animal sources of protein have a higher bioavailability than plant sources. Here’s some examples. Fish is 83% (based on this particular chart linked below), chicken 79%, soy (which is a complete protein) has a bioavailability of 59%, beans 49% etc.

    So looking at fish versus soy — 17% of the amino acids in fish become waste the body has to filter out. While 41% of amino acids in soy become waste. And that’s of what gets digested. Plants, unless “properly prepared” have anti-nutrients like phytates and enzyme inhibitors that prevent proper digestion of proteins.

    Back to my dog with kidney disease — she will be seven years old in three months and is still EXCEPTIONALLY healthy. Not on any medications, doesn’t require sub-q fluids etc. She has been eating a HIGH protein raw diet her whole life. If I fed her a plant protein based diet her blood would be toxic from all the excess unused amino acids and she would be ill. Yes a dog with kidney disease is an extreme but it does demonstrate the importance of the “quality” or bioavailability of protein not simply the inclusion of all essential amino acids.

    Additionally, adult dogs are not capable of converting the ALA omega 3 amino acid from plants (like flax) into DHA. DHA is necessary for eye, brain and heart health. A dog not getting animal sources of EPA and DHA is going to be at a disadvantage.

    Of course there are going to be long lived dogs on vegetarian and possibly even vegan diets but there have been some major disasters too. Vegetarian Vet Dr. Martin Goldstein talks about one such disaster in his book “The Nature of Animal Healing”. There was also a gal with a vegan fed dog here not too long ago that had some MAJOR issues with her pup.. It was quite sad really…

  • John Mayer

    There seems to be an assumption in all analyses that meat protein is “superior” to plant proteins, assuming a fact not in evidence. This sentence is a bit humorous in describing a vegan dog food: “However, peas contain about 25% protein, a factor that must be considered when judging the actual meat content of this dog food.” Dogs, unlike humans, ARE natural carnivores, but, ultimately, all they really require are their essential amino acids, which can be obtained from plants. I do still feed my dogs foods containing meat (one lived to 22 on a mostly Pedigree [not listed here] diet, a long life for a large dog such as he was. But I have a friend who manages to keep dogs to ripe old ages on a vegan diet.

  • Marie

    Hahahaha, okay man whatever. Eat what you want, but I’ve done my research and vegan diets are not healthy in the long term at all.

  • brad

    Marie, you have no idea what you’re saying. If you actually did research on a healthy vegan diet, you’d actually be educating yourself. Research Robert Cheeke, Brendan Brazier, Scott Jurek, ect.

  • InkedMarie

    If I had a dog that could not eat any meat nor any fish and by this I mean a dog that has been tested for these allergies, not just the uninformed dog owner who assumes this, I would be working with a veterinary nutritionist to design a diet that is not lacking.

  • Ginger

    As other said, dogs are opportunistic carnivores; they prefer to eat meat when they can get it but they are capable of surviving on nearly any food source they can get their paws on. In contrast to cats who are obligate carnivores and cannot get all the nutrients (specifically taurine) they require to survive without consuming meat.

  • Ginger

    Some (few) dogs require vegetarian diets for medical reasons. While I agree that they are not biologically appropriate, what do you do when a dog is allergic to all tested meat proteins (including more unusual ones like Kangaroo, bison, and duck)? The reasoning for the two stars, is, I believe, because not all vegetarian dog foods are created equal, and in fact some are better than others (but are not better than a meat-based food for the majority of dogs who are able to tolerate and should eat meat).

  • Susan

    Also the ones highlighted in red “tomato pomace, rice, oil are also found in Medi-Cal. So who do you trust and who controls this? I am switching from Medi-Cal to Natural Balance.

  • Susan

    Interesting break down yet if you read the ingredients of Medi-

    Cal vegetarian prescription diet only available at your vet the first ingredient is Oat flour, rice, potato protein, vegetable oil, natural flavour, dried beet pulp etc.. I compared the ingredients of both brands (Medi-Cal and Natural Balance) and Natural Balance actually appears better than the Medi-Cal.

  • Let me rephrase that:) more knowledge of pet food than the average joe..I myself like to stay as educated as possible on the matter and I’m sure anyone reading this post does as well or you more than likely wouldn’t be here.

  • Really??

    When in doubt Do Not ask a veterinarian! So tired of hearing people say that. Your typical veterinarian has no more knowledge of pet food than you or I. They are sold their opinions more often than not by companies like science diet. What’s interesting and also very telling is that science diet, being one of the priciest and hardest pushed pet foods available, is also one of worst pet foods available. A good way to tell a crappy dog food is to read the label. If the any of the first three ingredients include the words bi- products, bone meal, corn, wheat or soy, put it down. Your pet will gain no nutritional value from this food and will more than likely die prematurely of an easily preventable disease. Next time you go to the vet and see science diet displayed as their star player read the label and you’ll know what I mean.

  • losul

    hehe. I thought the third pic looked like some jumbo frog legs.

  • aimee

     In that study rabbit was chosen because it was found to be the primary prey item of  feral cats with other prey being only a minor component of the overall diet.( Molsher, 1999)

    Similarily I posted on another thread deer made up 95% of the Minnesota wolf diet. There isn’t always a  lot of protein rotation in nature.

    I’ve wondered if freezing and thawing played a role in the resulting taurine deficiency as  taurine is a free AA and may have been “lost” in the drippings???

  • aimee

     Hound Dog Mom,

    I have only had my hands on three vegetarian dogs that I can recall, two were owned by the same person. All three had great coat, great muscling, clean white teeth, odorless breath etc. etc. etc.

    Over the years I have had my hands on many dogs on many different feeding strategies: raw, home cooked vegetarian, high end kibble, low end kibble, etc.

      In every group ( well except for the vegetarians as I can only recall  three and all looked great) I have seen dogs whom I felt were glowingly healthy and others that well…. weren’t : (

     I’ve seen raw fed dogs who looked terrible and Ol Roy fed dogs that looked great and visa versa. This is why I said I can’t tell what a dog is eating by looking at it.

    I’m in no way trying to say or imply that raw fed dogs may look healthy but are not. I used that example only to show I understood that you can’t judge health based on how an animal appears, which was what veganobjective was cautioning me against. In that example the cats were evaluated by professionals and  the animals appeared healthy, looked lovely, but that external picture didn’t reflect their internal health.

  • Ktriemstra

    Hound Dog Mom, Love your post, but why does does the 2nd picture of your dog look like he is eating a severed hand and the third look like he is munching on a large rodent. I may have to start hanging with the hippie dog food chick after seeing those and how do I erase these images from my mind?

  • Hi Labs,

    I’m so sorry you’re still having problems. I just noticed your note on Facebook. And once again, I again found your posts in the Disqus filter.

    Not sure why this is happening. However, I can assure you, this is certainly not intentional. And unfortunately, you’re not alone.

    If this happens again, just send me an email or a message through he “Contact Us” page accessible by a link in the footer of any page.

    I monitor my email via my iPhone more regularly than I do my Facebook page.

    Thanks for letting me know.

  • Shawna

    Hi HDM ~~ I too have seen AMAZING results with my own dogs and with my foster dogs when put on better quality kibbles and either entirely raw or even raw as a topper.

    I think aimee left something out in her post that is an important factor — I believe I remember her bringing up that study in cats once before and a BIG factor to the outcome, in my opinion, was that the cats were only fed rabbit…  Educated raw feeders do not feed one protein source.

  • LabsRawesome

    Dr. Mike, sorry to bug you again, but only like half of my posts are
    posting. The other half are still disappearing. Am I on the naughty
    list?? LOL. — LabsRawesome

  • Hey Guys,

    After watching this brisk debate for the past day, I decdied to create a Vegetarian Dog Food forum.

    You certainly don’t need to move this discussion – as this is a perfectly reasonable place to have a lively debate about vegan feeding.

    However, this new forum might be a good place to build an easier to follow history about this always controversial topic.

  • Hound Dog Mom

    Aimee, I’m assuming you were responding to me. It’s quite possible you and I judge “heath” in different ways and have different criteria for what it means for a dog to be thriving. To me a dog that is “thriving” will have good coat quality, bright eyes, no detectable breath odor, white teeth, high energy levels, low stool volume, no need for chemical flea & tick preventatives and, of course, no nutritional deficiencies. I have never seen a vegetarian fed dog that met these criteria. If I met one maybe I’d think differently – there may be some out there but I have yet to see one. The vegetarian dogs I’ve seen (admittedly, I’ve only met two) have had extremely poor coat and dental health. I judge by what I see and what I’ve seen has shown me dogs need a diet consisting of primarily quality animal-based ingredients. I have seen my senior male go through the entire transformation. He started as a puppy on grocery store brands, moved to “premium” performance brands (some of your favorites, like Pro Plan), then switched to “holistic” grain-inclusive, then to high protein grain-free with canned, then to dehydrated grain-free with canned and now to a balanced raw diet. I can say, definitively, he was not as healthy on any of these other foods as he is now on raw. I saw with my own eyes his health get better with each transition. He looks healthier now at nearly eight years old than he did at four when he was eating Purina. This has convinced me dogs need meat based protein and fat to be their healthiest. I have no motives to make these claims other than wanting the best for my animals. To be honest, aside from seeing my dogs healthy, home-preparing a raw diet is not fun for me in any way shape or form – it’s expensive, it’s time consuming and at times it’s downright gross. I only do it because I know my dogs would not be as healthy as they are now if they were eating kibble, especially not a vegetarian kibble. By using the cardiomyopathy example you seem to be implying that while raw fed animals may look healthier, they truly are not. While this may be true in some cases in which uneducated owners jump into raw feeding, this is not the case when it is done properly. After my vet voicing concern over homemade raw diets not being nutritionally adequate after one year on a raw diet (one with no synthetic vitamins and minerals, I might add) I had bloodwork and a urinanalysis done on my dogs to test for any sub-clinical abnormalities – everything came back a-okay. So I’m going to keep doing what I’m doing and voicing my opinion hoping that other pet owners will do the same. 🙂

  • aimee

     Oops… I didn’t mean to give the impression that you can judge a dog’s health solely on appearance. That point was driven home by the Winn study where the whole prey raw fed cats were felt to have better coat and stool quality than the commercial fed cats…. yet when one of the raw fed cats died from cardiomyopathy it was found that most of the raw fed cats had the same condition.  

     I was only replying to another poster who said it is easy for her to tell  the difference between a raw fed and vegetarian fed dog. I can’t.

  • VeganObjective

    You’re definitely right…everything, even Taurine and Carnosine, can be made from plant based sources. It’s a tough call because at some point it becomes a question of whether it’s better to get your nutrition from concentrated supplements that have been added to food versus getting them from the food in it’s whole form initially.  I feel that dogs and cats require more supplements like this in their diet if they’re to be vegan/vegetarian and so I decide to opt for the more whole food based diet for them. I would caution not to judge an animals health by how they can’t see slow renal failure or bladder infections for example.

  • Ktriemstra

    Animals and humans need protein their is just no argument about that. That’s why we have those two longer sharp teeth strangely enough called “Canines”. Just because many people eat and feed their pets meat does not mean they condone processing plants where they kick chickens around like soccer balls. Those Killer Whales you see on the Discovery Channel are not ripping those baby seals into confetti because the ocean ran out of seaweed no, they want those floating meat bags that are swimming around. Their was a woman in the news recently who got her dogs taken away from her because the only thing she fed them was vegetables thinking she was doing a good thing. Those poor dogs looked like they just dug themselves out of a grave. 

  • VeganObjective

    I’m a vegan and I do find it a moral dilemma to feed our dog and cat meat products.  However, my partner and I are both scientists and we’ve studied nutrition for ourselves and our pets and we believe it’s healthiest and fairest for them to eat their natural diet. It’s a fact we’ve accepted as both vegans and also pet owners. We mediate our dilemma by purchasing from pet food companies that offer the most ethical, non factory farm raised, and high quality meat/fish components like Orijen, Acana, Evo, and Merrick.  Cats and dogs don’t synthesize the same amino acids we do and they need to get certain things from meat. Yes, you can feed them a vegetarian food that has the necessary vitamins and yes they will be alive.  But, it’s not optimal and they could have serious problems in the future with their organs. Kind of like how people who eat McDonalds and “fortified” cereals are still alive, but they are not “thriving”.  It’s hard to tell if a dog or cat is not thriving because they are happy go-lucky all the time, that’s why they’re so great to have around! I think that if you want a vegetarian or vegan animal, you should get a guinea pig, a goat, a cow, etc…something who’s natural diet is already vegan.

  • aimee

    On an objective basis what nutrient is it that is required in a dog’s diet that is only available in meat?  I can’t think of one.

     As long as the vegetarian diet is correctly balanced to provide the all the nutrients the dog needs in an available form the dog will thrive.
    I’ve only known several vegetarian dogs and all had great coat and muscling. I haven’t been able to tell a raw fed from a kibble fed from a vegetarian fed dog.

  • Shawna

    Hi VeganBeing ~~ it is true that kibble has plenty of pitfalls.  However, feeding a home prepared diet (be it meat based or plant based) that is not balanced is much worse than kibble.  If you’re going to do home prepared make sure to use a recipe or use a website like

  • Dave’s Hounds


    I understand why you are a vegan. I also love animals and believe in animal rights but dogs need meat – they are not like humans. It is not right to do that to you dog. You should get a rabbit.

  • Hound Dog Mom

    “I don’t see how all you so called animal lovers get past the moral contradiction.”

    Sorry VeganBeing, while I respect your beliefs, I feel morally obligated to feed my dog what food mother nature designed it to eat. Feeding a dog a vegan diet is going against what mother nature planned. Believe me, if a dog could thrive on veggies I’d switch my dog to a vegetarian diet in a minute – it’d sure save me tons of money. But unfortunately this isn’t the case, dogs are carnivores plain and simple.If you want to see a dog that’s truly thriving, check out a dog that’s fed a prey model raw diet. I’ve seen some vegetarian fed dogs – dogs that that had owners that insisted they were “thriving” – and it’s very easy for me (someone that feeds a raw meat based diet) to see that these animals are in no way thriving, merely surviving on this unnatural food. A true animal lover accepts all of mother natures wonderful creations for what they are and doesn’t try to change them.

  • VeganBeing

     Even if eating plants only gave me cancer, diabetes and heart disease, I would still eat them, because a I’m an animal lover – ethics is a good enough reason for me. Luckily these are diseases of meat eaters. I love my dog, i can see loving other animals if I got to know them. Keep talking about nutrition incessantly, I don’t see how all you so called animal lovers get past the moral contradiction.

  • VeganBeing

    Organic soy is neither pesticide laden nor gmo. Most gmo corn and soy is fed to livestock which humans eat. Breast milk of a meat eating woman contains 35 times the amount of pesticides than a vegan women breastmilk.

  • VeganBeing

     Because I’m an animal rights activist I have met well over 50 vegan dogs. I never met one that wasn’t thriving. I guess it could happen if you gave them a poorly planned or incomplete vegan diet.

  • VeganBeing

     I totally agree with you. The value we afford different classes of animals are arbitrary. Pigs come when you call their name and nuzzle and play much like a dog does. They test as more intelligent than dogs. A true animal lover calls into question the ethics of meat animals vs pets. 99% of meat animals come from “confined animal feeding operations” or CAFOs that deprive animals of nearly all opportunities to practice natural behavior and subject them to hyper-confinement and mutilations (teet cutting, castration, teeth pulling, branding, horn docking) without anesthetic. They generally become “meat” sometime around adolescence. Human, pig, cow or dog, we all have attachment to life and freedom. Like my dog, I’m an animal. As they say, animals are my friends, I don’t eat my friends (and either does my dog). I think meat eaters push their ethics on their pets as much as I do. Instead of vegetarian ethics they push carnist/speciesist ethics.

  • VeganBeing

    very interesting. I liked your post very much. My dog is vegan for the most part (sometimes she gets meat treats from other people). I feed her Natures Balance wet vegetarian formula , v-dog and mix lentils and vegetables in. I’m learning alot from the posters here like that kibble isn’t so great. It’s motivating me to make more homemade food her. If my dog is given a choice between meat kibble and homemade hot mixture of vegan yumminess, she will choose the later in a heartbeat.

  • VeganBeing

     That’s because their governments don’t provide subsidies to meat and dairy like ours does. I’ve heard if those subsidies were taken away meat would cost $33/lb. They have less of an oligarchy/plutocracy. But you right in that the less money people have the less meat they eat (most of the non-industrialized world eats about 1/5 the amount of animals we do here in the US). The highest consumer of animals as food is Denmark (US is a close second).

  • LabsRawesome

     FYI, Jess was talking about RAW feeders, he does not like them period. One can only hope that you will keep this promise, but unfortunately we have heard that one at least 10 times before.

  • LabsRawesome

     Yes, melissa Jess loves to argue. LOL

  • melissa


    As HDM said, this is a dog food site, not a kibble site. While I have no interest in feeding the majority of my dogs raw, I do feed it to one. I also feed dehydrated on a regular basis to all. Just because I do not feed something today, does not mean that  tomorrow will not be another day. I like the fact that should I decide to feed a different style of food, that I can come here, see reviews and ask people questions that may be more familiar with something than  I am.

    And “Three Toes”, me thinks you like to argue as much as the next person.

  • Andrea

    I believe that it is clear, like other people pointed out, that I never said those things and Hound Dog and LabR statements are completely false. I never said, as you all can read my posts that my dogs are vegetarians or that my dogs have bad digestion on Merrick canned food. No more comments on this subject is needed because obviously the statements are nothing else than defamation of character as everything else regarding their statements against ‘me’. I actually agree with Jess that there are some ‘regulars’ on this forum who argue everything and believe they know everything. They can’t allow people’s different point of view and have to make them wrong at all costs. This keeps happening and I have to say, this website is a great website, but it is ashame that these people are allowed to blog in such negative ways on a daily basis. I personally want to keep my life positive as I have other things to do.No more posts from me for that reason.

  • Hound Dog Mom

    Jess, I don’t think you’ve looked at this site too much. There are reviews of 29 raw dog foods. It’s not a “kibble” site, it’s a dog food site. And yes, I’ve fed kibble in the past. I have experience with several of the 4 and 5 star kibbles and dehydrated foods on this site in addition to the raw foods. Just another one of your many rude and false statements. 🙂

  • Jess

    Andrea, I have noticed some posters “”here”” only read part of the post’s made and enjoy auguring, “just to argue”. Trying to prove they are the smartest, most knowledgeable person in the world. Many of the posters here are hurting this site more than they will ever know. It has always been a mystery to me why raw feeders would post on a kibble site. For the most part they really have no clue about kibble because they don’t fed it, so they have zero experience with these products. I believe they are like bible thumpers, trying to prove they are just that much smarter than everyone else. Reminds me of the basketball player, banging on his chest after dunking.

  • LabsRawesome

     Oh Andrea, you must have meant come UP to my level. I have never posted under 15 or more different identities, YOU are the one that did that. And YOU are the one who is deceptive & fraudulent. Also, you are the one that left a comment to me first, I was just replying.

  • melissa


    Please re read her postings. She has stated NUMEROUS times that her dogs eat meats, fresh veggies etc. As a matter of fact, one of her comments says “I don’t think I would have success with a 100 vegetarian diet” Just because she argues that a dog could/can do well on a vegetarian diet, does not mean her dogs are on one(again, read the numerous times she has mentioned the MEATS her dogs eat). Can you show/tell me WHERE on this site she states her dogs are vegtarians? Perhaps I missed that?


    Actually, she said that their digestion was not great on the Merrick either(after the Wellness comment). since dry foods were being discussed, I have to assume she is referring to the dry. My dogs do NOT do good on Nutrisource grain free, but they can handle Nutrisource grain inclusive. They do NOT do well on Merrick dry foods(any of them) but they LOVE the various canned products. Just becaue she did not clarify dry vs canned does not make her a liar or confused.

  • Andrea

    Hound Dog and LabsRawsome, I believe both of you should improve your reading skills as your statements are incorrect, false and based on defamation of character-
    No. 1 I never claimed that my dogs are vegetarian dogs-I indeed stated that I don’t believe I would be successful having my dogs on a vegetarian diet, but will add some meat substitutes.

    No. 2 I still like Merrick canned food while I believe I’m allowed to change my mind if I chose, but HAVE NOT, I love MERRICK CAN FOOD, and if I don’t like them anymore tomorrow or in one year from now on I’m allowed to do so. I have not. On my post on Rachel Ray I never stated I did not like Merrick, your statement is a complete falsehood. I have stated that my dogs don’t have the best digestion on Merrick, and what I meant was the dry food, not the canned food. I still like the canned food and would not tell anyone not to use Merrick, be it canned or dry. The person had issues with digestion, that is why I posted I believe that other foods might be better. I also like Acana and Orijen, I have not listed those as they can cause issues in some dogs with digestion, I have never seen it on the foods I have listed such as Horizon, Fromm or Annaemat. I listed foods which are safe for digestion from my own personal experience.

    The person was having digestion issues with Merrick, and I have had similar issues on Merrick dry food.

    I also never said Merrick is giving my dogs bad digestion, I said that they have some digestion issues, but what I meant was not the canned food, it was the dry food. The digestion is not bad, but there are some issues, issues doesn’t necessarily mean bad digestion, just not the very best. What I meant was the stool was not solid, I never indicated ‘bad digestion’.

    No. 3 I’m wondering what your true intentions are. If you would read my posts with a bit discernment and actual ‘read the english’ you would refrain from making such false claims.

    I won’t comment on any of your future posts of yours as I won’t go down to your level.

  • LabsRawesome

     Hey Hound Dog Mom, I noticed that too. lol  🙂

  • Hound Dog Mom

    Hey labs, another inconsistency I just noticed…In the quote by “Andrea” you just posted she said “[canned food] I give only Merrick.” She just posted on the Rachael Ray thread earlier and said she doesn’t like Merrick and it gave her dogs bad digestion. She can’t seem to make up her mind lol

  • LabsRawesome

     I guess your dogs are recent (within the last few days) converts to vegetarianism, because this is a recent post of yours from the Fromm thread. There are also many others, mostly on the Fromm thread.
    Andrea Collapse
    always went back to Fromm, after trying other brands. Most of other
    brands cannot beat the taste and quality of this food! I think the Four
    star game bird might be good for digestion, so should be the Four star
    duck and the pork. You can also add yogurt and probiotics. I have never
    seen this food giving digestive issues. But since I give them extra
    probiotics they do so much better anyhow. I also find it is great to
    rotate between several lines and brands. I personally feed the Fromm but
    also feed some Orijen and Annaemat for variety and health. Also I cook
    them a lot and give them some raw as well. I also add some K9raw which
    is excellent food also. I also tried the Pinnacle and liked it also. I
    think it is a good brand, and I’m very picky.Can food I give only
    Merrick, as they are the only ones I know which are BPA free.                        Hmmm, not one mention of vegetarian dogs in this recent post. You seem to change your food preferences based on whatever thread you’re on. And the reason I said to ignore you is, you showed up on this site, posted under about 15 different identities (male/female) and intentionally used deceptive posting practices. For some unknown reason. (everyone had a different profession) Veterinarian, Doctor, Pet store owner, & numerous others. Because of that I can’t take anything you post seriously, and I can’t figure out why you haven’t been banned from the site.

  • Shawna

    “The compounds found in food are formed when creatine (a protein found in muscle tissue), other amino acids, and monosaccharides, are heated together at high temperatures (125-300o C or 275-572o F) or cooked for long periods of time. HCAs form at lower end of this range when the cooking time is long; at the higher end of the range HCAs are formed within minutes.[3] The most potent of the HCAs, MeIQ, is almost 24 times more carcinogenic than aflatoxin, a carcinogen produced by mold.[1]

    HCA formation during cooking depends on the type of meat, the temperature of the cooking surface, the degree of browning, and the length of cooking time. Meats that are lower in fat and water content show higher concentrations of HCAs after cooking. More HCAs are formed when pan surface temperatures are higher than 220oC (428oF)such as with most frying or grilling. However, HCAs also form at lower temperatures when the cooking time is long, as in roasting.”

    “Is there acrylamide in food? Researchers in Europe and the United States have found acrylamide in certain foods that were heated to a temperature above 120 degrees Celsius (248 degrees Fahrenheit), but not in foods prepared below this temperature (1). Potato chips and French fries were found to contain higher levels of acrylamide compared with other foods (2). The World Health Organization (WHO) and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) stated that the levels of acrylamide in foods pose a “major concern” and that more research is needed to determine the risk of dietary acrylamide exposure (2). ”
    Researchers in Europe and the United States have found acrylamide in certain foods that were heated to a temperature above 120 degrees Celsius (248 degrees Fahrenheit), but not in foods prepared below this temperature (1). Potato chips and French fries were found to contain higher levels of acrylamide compared with other foods (2). The World Health Organization (WHO) and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) stated that the levels of acrylamide in foods pose a “major concern” and that more research is needed to determine the risk of dietary acrylamide exposure (2). ”

  • Toxed2loss

    Not Shawna, but…

    “What are heterocyclic amines and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, and how are they formed in cooked meats?

    Heterocyclic amines (HCAs) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are chemicals formed when muscle meat, including beef, pork, fish, or poultry, is cooked using high-temperature methods, such as pan frying or grilling directly over an open flame (1). In laboratory experiments, HCAs and PAHs have been found to be mutagenic—that is, they cause changes in DNA that may increase the risk of cancer.

    HCAs are formed when amino acids (the building blocks of proteins), sugars, and creatine (a substance found in muscle) react at high temperatures. PAHs are formed when fat and juices from meat grilled directly over an open fire drip onto the fire, causing flames. These flames contain PAHs that then adhere to the surface of the meat. PAHs can also be formed during other food preparation processes, such as smoking of meats (1).

    HCAs are not found in significant amounts in foods other than meat cooked at high temperatures. PAHs can be found in other charred foods, as well as in cigarette smoke and car exhaust fumes.

    What factors influence the formation of HCA and PAH in cooked meats?

    The formation of HCAs and PAHs varies by meat type, cooking method, and “doneness” level (rare, medium, or well done). Whatever the type of meat, however, meats cooked at high temperatures, especially above 300ºF (as in grilling or pan frying), or that are cooked for a long time tend to form more HCAs. For example, well done, grilled, or barbecued chicken and steak all have high concentrations of HCAs. Cooking methods that expose meat to smoke or charring contribute to PAH formation (2).

    HCAs and PAHs become capable of damaging DNA only after they are metabolized by specific enzymes in the body, a process called “bioactivation.” Studies have found that the activity of these enzymes, which can differ among people, may be relevant to cancer risks associated with exposure to these compounds (3–5).”

    Other adverse factors are involved with long cooking times. Bottom line the bad guys you’re referring to are “char buddies” incomplete burnt carbons like PAHs. Think smoke, fumes, burnt.

  • Shawna

    The article you referenced by Dr Dressler had two other links to further information but neither the Dr or the two articles he linked to delineated the specific circumstances that Polyacrylamide or the Heterocyclic Amines are produced by, except to say they are produced by high heat. Do you know what constitutes “high heat”?

    I think I remember reading some time ago it was in the range of 350 degrees F. Any idea if that’s the case? I also wonder if there is a time element. Does it matter if the meat is cooked at 350 f for 10 minutes or 30 minutes?

    I also vaguely remember something that connected the browning of meat, toast, or any food to these things. Seems it was the high temperatures at the contact point of the meat or other food with the hot pan or flames. 

    I think its important to quantify the temperatures that produce these destructive components because if it’s below 200 F then we’ll all get cancer and if it’s at 350 F then that would make a substantial difference.

    I think a point could be made about the cooking process as well. If you cook meat all day in a Crock pot at 300 F you could ostensibly be OK. But if you take a piece of meat and sear it in a frying pan at 400 F plus until there is a browned skin then you have create these nasty buggers on the surface of the meat even though the inside of the meat is cool and rare.

    Common sense would look down on the meat cooked all day but the seared meat would actually have problems whereas the stuff that spent all day in the Crock pot wouldn’t.

    Have I sufficiently muddied up the discussion to obfuscate what I’m trying to find out or can you help me clear these things up? (I KNOW you can)

  • Shawna

    I don’t have time to reply to your whole post (just actually read the first paragraph).  Will get to the rest later.

    BUT,  raw apple cider vinegar is EXCELLENT for digestion!!  Totally agree with you!!  My father is a Naturopathic Doctor and Master Herbalist.  He and mom take raw acv with every meal :)..  I prefer capsule as I can’t tolerate the taste.  I also give acv to my dogs.. 🙂

    More later.

  • Andrea

    Hi Shawna,
    thanks for your comment. I believe that the health benefits of lentils exceed your concern, as the great health benefits of lentils are very promising-I would not want to miss them because of the concern as you have listed. I did alot of nutritional seminars in Europe and learned to add some vinegar to the lentils for digestion. Now you probably will have a bunch of people arguing why vinegar is bad…

    I understand your concern about kibble. Just they are so convenient and there are many people going to the vet and make their own dog food who end up with a sick dog because the dog has deficiencies. I would always tell them, add some kibble, so you have the food better balanced. I think it is difficult for the average person to balance the home-made meals properly. Not for you, but alot of people I know know only little about nutrition. Reg. picking the right kibble:What I always heard from people in the field, they said stick to the good companies, in general they are honest and do things right-ingredients in itself don’t tell you the entire picture.

    And it can create issues when food is processed, esp. very much processed. I also believe that soy is hard to digest, be it in humans or dogs, tofu and Quinua are better, and you probably will have people disagree with me on that again. 

    I grew up with all that healthy food, I grew up with herbs and then people say this or that has side-effects or isn’t good. I think you can take it into consideration, but alot of times, these health benefits exceeds some concerns, or there can be practical reasons why to use certain products.

  • Johnandchristo


    That was a great post . I thank you for your insightful
    information. Your posts, and toxed. Helped me to choose Brother’s, just for the reasons/facts you report
    in your post. freshness is paramount, ingredients ephemeral, no matter how good. and there is one way to do it the right way. People like you and Toxed make it harder for profiteering corps to pull the wool over the eyes of consumers. keep on rocking in the free world, lol.      

  • BryanV21

    As long as a person is making sure their dog is getting all the vitamins and minerals that it needs, then I’m perfectly okay with them feeding a vegetarian diet. We carry NB Vegetarian food, and I always check that those buying it are adding other things to give their dog the complete diet it needs.

    Unfortunately some people don’t understand that the dietary needs of their dog are not the same as their own.

  • Shawna

    Hi Andrea ~~ I agree with you on many points.  Dogs do fabulously on veggies and fruits.  I don’t like lentils because of the lectins and anti-nutrients in them though. 
    Kibbles (be it vegetarian or meat based) really are not “great” products though.  Please let me explain.
    1.  Most (but not all) kibbles are carcinogenic due to the high heating of both proteins and carbs.  Dr. Demian Dressler of the Dog Cancer Blog discusses it in his article — “Dog Food: Is there a Cancer Risk”
    2.  Science tries to duplicate nature but they aren’t great at it.  Example — in nature there are 8 forms of vitmain e (beta, alpha, gamma and delta tocopherols and the same four in tocotrienols).  Dog food manufacturers add back “mixed tocopherols” (may must be two of the four or may be all four — we don’t know).  But they don’t add ANY tocotrienols.  They now know that it is one of the tocotrienols that is anti-carcinogenic not alpha tocopherol.  Also synthetic ascorbic acid is identical to its natural counterpart BUT it is not the actual vitamin.  It is a co-factor and actually protects the actual vitamin.  In nature it is NEVER found isolated like it is in supplements.  Can it still be beneficial — of course.  But is is not “natural”.  Omega 3 fatty are VERY sensitive.  Have to be stored in the fridge, taken with vitmain E, come in dark colored bottles (or caplets) etc.  I find it hard to believe that they remain stable in most dog foods.  If they are not stable, they are rancid..  Rancid fats are damaging.
    3.  Kibble is harder to digest over raw foods simply because the natural enzymes in the food have been destroyed by the heat.  Requires more effort from the body to digest.
    4.  Many amino acids are damaged by heat.  Lysine, as an example, starts degrading at only 110 degrees.  A protein (be it animal or plant) is only as good as the amino acids it supplies.  Raw (or LIGHTLY cooked) provides more natural amino acids.
    Bioavailability of the amino acids is what its all about.  If the amino acids are not highly bioavailable then the body can not utilize them efficiently.  Egg is 100% bv (human numbers) while soy is about 57%.  So 43% of the amino acids in soy aren’t utilized and become blood urea nitrogen (BUN).  In a healthy dog this is not a major issue.  In a dog with kidney disease (which can be caused by vaccinations, medications, hereditary, trauma etc) soy is going to create A LOT of waste or BUN.  BUN is what makes the dog SICK.  Since kidney disease can not be identified until at least 70ish % of the kidneys are damaged — feeding incomplete or low BV proteins can be very destructive to a seemingly “healthy” dog.  Yes, soy can be partnered with another plant protein but it still is going to create an ecess of certain amino acids.  All the while supplying less for the needs of the body.  Every cell in the body requires amino acids.  Enzymes (including those that prevent cancer) are even constructed from amino acids.

  • Thanks for your answer.

  • Andrea

    I posted on this forum under Andrea only.

  • Andrea

    Thank you Mike. I’ve seen similar posts against other people on the vegetarian topic. 

    I believe I have always used my personal email address which I don’t want to disclose on this forum. But the email address contains my real name on yahoo. I am not sure if someone else used the same email address on this forum or not or perhaps if my husband ever posted. We do share sometimes our email addresses. My email address contains my name and I don’t believe I posted under a different name on this site, maybe a very long time ago, years I can’t remember, I am not sure, but will check into it.

  • Andrea,

    Even though I don’t believe it’s appropriate for anyone to extend their own personal eating philosophy onto another species in their care, I do want you to know I respect your vegetarian point of view.

    What’s more, since none of your comments so far appear to violate our community commenting rules, I must respectfully ask others who may disagree to please be more courteous to Andrea.

    However, according to Disqus posting records, you are using the same email address as did 102Sparki – who was asked to leave this website for fraudulent behavior just weeks ago.

    Can you please explain to me why you are posting under different identities?

  • Andrea

    in Switzerland, for instance, everything is more expensive, but in all of the countries as listed, people eat more healthy than in the US. If you feed a dog meat, that is fine, but I believe it should be fresh, and I believe it is healthy do add other things such as vegetables, blueberries, lentils, etc. even though Wolfs don’t eat them as dogs are domesticated animals. But the US has great dog foods, amazing food, just amazing products, I don’t think other countries can beat those.

  • Andrea


  • Andrea

    Why do you want ‘that person’ go away? Noone forces you to read my comments on a vegetarien diet. I won’t hope you go away because you used to feed your dog the Diamond brand and are not a vegetarian, you and your dogs eat meats from animals which are raised in mills who experience all of their lives animal cruelty.

  • Andrea

    I decided to post ‘one final word’ on the subject:I have read other comments on this site purs. to other vegetarian products, and found the same or some other people making similar hostile comments against people who recommended a vegetarian diet for dogs. One of the biggest arguments are that as an animal lover, you don’t want other animals being killed so that you or your dogs have meat. I believe that this is a true valid argument and everyone who loves animals has to live with his or her conscience to eat meat and their approach to meat. While the health benefits of a vegetarian diet is well-known in humans and dogs, others have argued that dogs are 98% wolfs (not 100% though). Some people argue one should not push a vegetarian diet on a dog who wants to eat meat. My dogs don’t just want to eat meat, they like chocolate, ice cream and cookies, and I don’t feed them those either. Some other people claimed that Dr. Pitcairn recommends raw meat, while in the book feeding Tofu to dogs has been recommended. I believe providing the dogs healthy happy lives with lots of walks, play, attention, good nutrition and love is more important than feeding them a 80% meat-based diet.

    Fact is that the oldest dog pursuant to the Guinness Book of Records was 27 years old, in England, a Border Collie, who had a vegetarian diet consisting of lentils, vegetables and rice. Other examples are present as well of vegetarian dogs which lifes’ span is larger than an average dog. Another example was a dog in the US who was fed a home-made diet and lived to be 25 years old.

    These facts of cases of many vegetarian dogs who lived very long healthy and happy lives contradict peoples’ findings that a dog MUST eat meat. Even if people disagree with a vegetarin diet, because they believe in eating meat for whatever reason, a vegetarian diet is medically not harmful for a dog  while cats need Taurine and need meat, dogs can live without. The only issue is one has to balance a vegetarian diet properly, but a meat-based diet also has to be balanced just as well, you cannot just feed a dog meat and rice, it is not enough.

    My dogs are spoiled rotten and picky eaters, I don’t think I would have 100% success with a vegetarian diet, but I will feed them more meat substitutes in the future as I have been, such as Tofu, Quinua and Lentils, for instance, and I’m certain it will prolong their lives. I hope other people won’t feel discouraged by this site trying a vegetarian diet or any meat substitutes.


  • LabsRawesome

     No worries, Addie. I just thought if everyone ignored that person, maybe they will go away?  🙂

  • LabsRawesome

     LOL! It’s still funny, even the second time!

  • Jess

    Andrea, LOL I spent many years in Europe and the facts IS. that meat is like gas over there,, it is very expensive and that’s the reason they eat less meat. Plain and simple, it comes down to one thing,, MONEY.

  • Toxed2loss


  • doggonefedup

    It wouldn’t let me post as Herpes…oh well I tried ;0}

  • Herpes…….

    Hey labs,
    you can ignore me..and I may disappear but I’ll never go away!!  ah hahahahaha ROTFLMAO

  • Addie

    Normally I do, I just hate knowing vegetarians are going to come on here and see all her/his comments, and take them for fact. I could care less if people are vegetarians, but it annoys me a lot when they push it on their dogs. I’ll back off though, sorry. 

  • Andrea

    I already did.
    Australia and Switzerland have very good health care. I’m an american-swiss citizen, born and raised in Switzerland. I have to say, in Switzerland people eat way more vegetables than in the US and they don’t eat as much meat as americans, sorry, it is simply not true. They might eat more high quality meat such as expensive steak etc.; rich countries have more meat consumption, but you have to look at the entire picture. People in Switzerland drink herbal teas and eat vegetables and salads every day. Countries I have been, such as Greece, Japan, India, South America; and dozens of more I have visited or lived-I cannot name you a place where people are so mislead about nutrition and eat that much junk food as I have seen here-sorry, it is getting better, but if you want to eat healthy eat fresh fruit, vegetables and salads every day-that is how I have been raised-I love this country, but nutrition wise people have a lot to learn-and there are great dog foods here; US is one of the leaders world-wide. In Japan people live very long lives because  they eat a lot of Fish, and Fish is very healthy for many reasons I don’t need to explain. They also eat alot of healthy foods such as fresh vegetables, salads and they drink green tea. People who live very long lives are in HongKong, and they blame it on rice, vegetables and tofu-all of these long lives have to do with vegetables and other healthy meals, not meat-based diets. It has also to do with great health care among other things, not eating meat.
    I base my claims based on facts. I won’t comment anymore on any hostile comments.

    And I’m not Sparki and Alex, I’m not going to mention  it again or comment any further on a forum where people can’t allow for other people’s opinions and points-of view. 

  • Johnandchristo


    Dont  feed the trolls.

  • LabsRawesome

     Hey Addie, sometimes if you ignore someone, they go away.  🙂

  • Addie

    Please show me your case study with thousands of people, since the link you provided consisted of 1900 participants. That doesn’t equate to thousands of people. Australia is number 6 on countries with the longest life expectancy, yet they’re ranked number 3 on countries that consume the most meat. Japan is number one for the longest lifespan, despite regularly consuming fish. Switzerland is ranked number 3 for countries with the longest life expectancy, yet they set a record for the decade in their consumption of meat per person last year. This to me does not necessarily equate vegetarianism to a long life. I have in no way insulted you. If you’re insulted by being called sparki102, perhaps you shouldn’t have that name linked to comments you’ve made in the past. I can’t see how being called by a name you once used is in any way an insult.  

  • Andrea

    I accidentally ‘liked’ your post twice, just to let you know I don’t appreciate these words (calling me sparki whatever)

  • Andrea

    I also would like to see case studies of 1000s of animals, some on a regular high-end kibble diet with occasional home-cooked meals and other with raw foods, and see rationally which dogs really live longer. Then I would like to compare these findings to vegetarian dogs and see who lives longer. Of course you then have to take into consideration who lives in the city, vs. the country, who eats organic foods, vs. commercial foods, who eats polluted raw meats vs. non-polluted kibble etc. It can get really complicated. I believe common sense dictates take all of the findings into consideration and do the best you can, but don’t be a fanatic. I would say stay away from low-grade kibble (below 4 stars) and give the dogs fresh foods every day, in addition to kibble, if you give kibble. If they like raw and do well on it, give raw, if not that is fine too. If a dog likes a mainly vegetarian diet, and the dog does well on it, I don’t see anything wrong with that.

  • Andrea

    Addie,I read your study and it doesn’t disprove my study. My case study shows clearly that you have people dying much sooner who eat regularly meat than vegetarians. Your article is not a case study of 1000s of people. I took statistics in a master degree class and when you want accurate results the bigger the sample the more accurate the results of statistical analysis will be. I think the results world-wide in many of these studies are pretty clear. Of course if you eat healthy and eat meat once a week also you probably have great results too. 
    Please refrain from further insults in the future, as this forum is designed to express different points of views. I base my statements on facts based on accurate scientific studies. Of course every study has flaws, but I believe the studies do point rationally a certain picture which support my claim.

  • Addie

    Andrea/102sparki/whatever other names you want to go by: For every link you have, there’s links proving otherwise, which is why you can’t claim science supports otherwise

  • Addie

    There’s more non-vegetarians than vegetarians, so obviously more omnivorous people die than vegetarians. It’s called probability. Your same article also says that occasional meat eaters lived longer than vegetarians and vegans. Most vegetarians tend to be more health conscious when picking out their food than the average person, so I’d love to see a study comparing a healthy omnivorous diet to a healthy vegetarian diet. I would also love to see all these sufficient study cases that prove dogs live longer on high quality kibble than on low grade kibble. If that were the case, wouldn’t everyone obviously be feeding high grade kibble? I also don’t think certain dogs not liking raw can be considered a medical fact, unless you also consider it a medical fact that some kids don’t like veggies? 

  • Andrea

    Below is an article about a study in Europe explaining that vegetarians live longer-For every 100 death in the general population, only between 52-59 death are reported in vegetarians. Similar studies all over the world support this claim-I believe people are wrong that meat-eaters live healthier lives, it is simply not supported by science!

    I don’t eat GMO soy as I eat only organic, mostly from my own garden on the coast here in Oregon. My dogs get blueberries directly from the farm, humanly raised meats and organic vegetables and eggs.They also get lots of herbal remedies and other healthy stuff.I’m sure my dogs eat more healthy than an average dog. And so do I-I know I eat much more healthy than an average American.

    In terms of vegetarian dogs -there is no scientific evidence which supports that a vegetarian dog doesn’t live as long as a dog that eats meat. I believe that there are sufficient study cases to support that low quality dog food makes dogs not live as long-high quality kibble is much better and recommended-in terms of raw-it is medically a fact that there are certain dogs who either don’t like the raw or it is not as healthy for them-some dogs with a sensitive stomach might not tolerate it-others do, it all depends. Of course, since my dogs want to eat meat, I find that they should eat meat, but it doesn’t mean I can’t feed them some meat substitutes. It has been medically and scientifically proven that when you digest meat, it takes your body up to 5 hours to digest it while Tofu is digested within a couple of hours.When the meat doesn’t get digested properly toxins can build up in the body. A lot of illnesses, such as heart disease, many types of cancer, such as colon cancer for instance, arthritis, rheumatism occur much less or don’t happen at all to vegetarians.

    Additionally, we are talking about killing animals and eating them-sometimes me, as an animal lover don’t like to do or support.

    I’m not going more into details as some people on this forum  will argue everything I say-even though these facts are science-based.

    My name is by the way Andrea and not Alex.

    No more comments needed.

    Please wait…

  • LabsRawesome

     Hey Shawna, if you expand Andrea’s profile, and scroll down to “load more comments” you will run into the old posts with “Alex” trying to deny any “wrongdoing” lol. The “I come happen to come from the medical field” comment in Andrea’s post below,tipped me off, one of the aliases of Alex used to claim that, but with the 15 different ones, I can’t remember which. lol.

  • Shawna

    How on earth do you figure this stuff out Labs??

  • LabsRawesome

    Hey doggonefedup, ROTFLMAO!

  • doggonefedup

    Maybe next time Andrea/Alex will come back as Herpes!  irritating, annoying, lesions, rash, etc. you can treat the symptoms and make it go away for a while but you can never really get rid of it. It just keeps coming back again and again and again….. 

  • Hound Dog Mom


  • LabsRawesome

     Hey everyone, “Alex” is back, and now posting under “Andrea”. Just wanted to give you guys a heads up. So you know who you are talking to. You guys remember Alex, the guy with like 15 identities.

  • Addie

    I think it’s funny because a lot of vegetarians/vegans avoid meat saying it’s filled with too many chemicals/hormones, then go on to eat soy, which is one of the biggest GMO crops in the US, and has been proven to contain pesticide residue. I don’t really have any issues with a vegetarian lifestyle, but I definitely think people should do more research on what their options are before consuming soy, and thinking it’s so great. I can think of 5 restaurants that only serve vegetarian/vegan food within 5 miles of me, so it’s definitely growing in popularity. 

  • Dog Food Ninja

    Actually, andrea, if you read some of the interesting research being done on the subject that wasn’t conducted by Mosanto funded vegan crusaders, you will find that many of the concocted foods vegetarians regularly eat as their soul source of protein and energy are horrible for the human body. Soy, wheat, corn, tofu, vegetable oil, white potatoes, beans… All full of crappy antinutrients, lectins, and blood-sugar spiking starch. If you eat a balanced diet that includes clean, organic meats and a variety of vitamin rich veggies, and skip the grains, sweets, and legums, i’ll bet your body would respond most favorably. Many vegans in particular wind up ill and either never acknowledge that it was deficiencies in their diet, or they do acknowledge it and it’s called a failure to thrive. Take a look at

  • Addie

    You chose to be a vegetarian, so why not give your dog the option of choosing between a bowl of meat vs a bowl of fruits/veggies every day. Trying to apply human science to dogs is a stretch- yes, it’s more difficult for humans to digest raw meat, but where did you read it’s more difficult for dogs? Anything against raw I’ve ever seen has only been related to the bacteria present in raw meat; I’ve never seen an argument saying it’s harder to digest. If vegetables are so healthy for dogs, why then can you clearly see pieces of undigested carrot in their stool when they eat them? That to me shows it’s not easy to digest, and is the reason why raw feeders usually puree/lightly cook veggies given to dogs. 

  • Shawna

    Hi Andrea ~~ raw vegetables are harder for dogs to digest because they don’t make cellulase..  Cooking OR fermenting or running through the food processor will break down the cellulose and make the food digestible.

    I do agree that a kibble diet is better then an unblanced raw diet but not all raw diets are unbalanced.  Raw is DEFINITELY easier to digest then kibble..  I’ve had several foster dogs with digestive issues that prove that point quite effectively.  One would vomit due to stress or excitement.  He would vomit kibble 12 or more hours after eating it.  However, I insited on feeding him raw because of the vomitting — he would vomit chyme within 4 hours on the raw diet.

    I have a dog born with kidney disease.  Polyuria and polydipsia noticed at 6 weeks of age.  She was officially diagnosed at her 1 year checkup when bloodwork was done.  Dogs with kd are suggested to eat “high quality” protein — because of biological value and BUN — highest quality is raw.  Audrey has been eating 45 to 54% raw since weaning and just turned 6 the end of June.  She is unmedicated, never required sub-q fluids or even vet visits.  The only thing she gets is vitamins and whole food nutraceuticals.

    I know of three vets that are also themselves vegetarians.  All three feed their dogs raw.  Two of them feed high protein raw and the third adds carbs (but in his book states he adds the carbs for environmental reasons not necessarily for the health of the dog).  Those three vegetarian vets are Dr. Pitcairn, Dr. Karen Becker and Dr. Martin Goldstein.

  • Hound Dog Mom

    1. A person eating a vegetarian diet is ALOT different than a dog eating a vegetarian diet.

    2. No one here is supporting unbalanced homemade diets. Obviously any diet that’s unbalanced is going to be less healthy than a balanced diet. Most of the people on this site that support raw are very educated and knowledgeable about the nutritional needs of dogs and know what they need, don’t need, and in what quantities. I agree that for most people a balanced raw diet isn’t possible, for that reason a pre-made raw diet or a high quality, grain-free, high-protein kibble should be fed.

    And to me it’s common sense that dogs should not have grain due to the fact that they don’t even have the enzymes necessary to digest grains and dogs never ate grain until it was introduced to them by people. To me it’s common sense that dogs should eat raw when the have digestive systems identical to a wolves and wolves eat raw. You can’t try to use principals that apply to human nutrition on dogs – dogs are an entirely different species. The big problem is many people fail to recognize dogs for what they are – meat eaters.

  • Andrea

    This discussion reminds me when I became a vegetarian-30 years ago and everyone said I will die-in the mean time, science has proven people wrong; the ‘science’ back then which believed we humans need meat to survive.I guess in 30 years from now on people will understand that dogs won’t life a longer life with a 80% meat-diet-to me it is common sense that dogs should not have grains or too much grain-they should have quality foods-from organic meats and vegetables, I believe that antioxidants, such as in blueberries, and probiotics are good for them-and it is a fact that there are numerous cases at a vet’s office where dogs have a deficiency from raw- or home-cooked meals feeding- I rather have someone feed kibble and add some fresh meats and vegetables and have a balanced diet- or have a vegetarian dog without deficiency than having a dog eating raw with  possibly deficiency. It is not easy for the general population to balance home made meals. Raw vegetables and meats are more difficult to digest- I happen to come from the medical field, be it in humans and dogs. Some dogs need cooked meals, because they have a sensitive stomach-and almost all of my dogs by the way don’t like raw-I tried it-inspite of their ‘wolf’-instincts.

  • Johnandchristo


    Sorry cant agree, Dogs are 98.8 % wolf , in that respect. Dogs are very smart and will from curiosity or need, from time to time try some thing new, but make no mistake they are carnivorousness. Evolution does not work that fast.  I dont raw feed , but I do feed a high protein /fat low carb diet. With meat added. If I had the time and money I would feed raw. Grains are simply not good for dogs. Hound dog mom and  labs are very right . Even if a dog did do good on a species
    inappropriate diet,it does not mean the dog would have not done better on the right food . and there are a lot of foods that are really bad for dogs.If you know of a dog that lacked meat/bone  it still does not mean a thing empirically. not proven or scientific . If you really look into it dogs are still wolves. peace.

  • Hound Dog Mom


    Yes, dogs have changed slightly from wolves. However, the only things that have changed are their external appearance and temperament. Their internal anatomy and physiology remains unchanged. Domesticated dogs possess all the appropriate enzymes to digest a raw diet. Kibble is harder to digest than raw for two reasons: 1) it’s high in carbohydrates and dogs don’t possess the enzymes and gut flora to properly breakdown carbohydrates (they are carnivores) and 2) raw foods possess enzymes for digestion, cooking kills the enzymes. Dogs have antibacterial properties in their saliva, short digestive systems, and strong stomach acid – all indicative that they are meant to handle the bacteria present in raw meats. So saying that dogs cannot digest raw foods would be false. The dog has a physiology of a predatory carnivore. Dogs have not been domesticated long enough for evolution to take place, all that has taken place is adaption. Dogs have adapted to eat the carbohydrate-laden processed foods people feed them. Just because dogs have adapted to tolerate these foods doesn’t mean their true dietary needs have changed. The examples that dogs that eat poor quality commercial food live long lives really means nothing. Each dog is an individual. Different breeds have different lifespans. Good genetics can often trump good nutrition. It’s really impossible to compare two dogs and justify why one lived longer than another. I don’t in anyway believe raw is the “only” healthy way to feed a dog, however I do believe it is the healthiest. Every species is healthiest when fed what they are designed to eat – and everything about a dog clearly proves it’s not designed to eat carbohydrates or cooked meat. It’s not possible for everyone to feed raw for various reasons and there are several other high quality options out there – dehydrated, grain-free high protein kibble, etc. but dogs should be fed a diet as close to the ancestral diet of wolves as possible.

  • Addie

    Chimpanzees are in no way herbivorous animals. They regularly hunt and eat small monkeys, baby mammals, and even other chimps, not to mention all the insects they consume. Since I’ve personally known more dogs who have lived long lives on Iams/Purina, than an all vegetarian diet, should I assume Iams and Purina are quality products? It all comes down to the individual dog. My step dad had two dogs live to be 14/15 on Gravy Train, but there’s not a chance I would recommend it. Dogs were clearly designed to have meat in their diet, so why push vegetarian beliefs on animals that can’t make the choice themselves? 

  • Andrea

    I think Lab and Hound Dog are not 100% correct. Dogs are NOT 100% Wolf per DNA and are indeed domesticated animals and have been around humans for thousands of years. I believe that their bodies have adopted to different food, than the food Wolfs eat. An example is one of the oldest dogs in the world has been fed lentils all of his life. Dogs (unlike cats) can actually survive without meat and can live long healthy lives. I totally disagree with people on this forum who believe raw meat and vegetables are the only healthy foods for dogs. There are numerous of examples of dogs who cannot digest the raw food or examples of dogs being fed raw their entire lives and when they get older they cannot digest the raw anymore; as long as you give your dogs some fresh food, be it cooked or raw, with the kibble, like meat, vegetables and/or fish you will be fine. I in fact know a dog who ate all of his life (‘bad food’)purina, and left-overs from the table-he is 19 years old and doing well! Other dogs I know who ate raw all of their lives died when they were 15 years max.-Humans are genetically close to Chimpanzee, and obviously are not vegetarians for the most part and don’t climb on trees; all humans’ genetics are more identical with each other than dogs vs. wolfs and yet, look how everyone looks so different. There are humans who can drink a lot of coffee and smoke cigarettes all of their lives, and never get cancer- like my grandpa, he smoke 2 packages of cigarettes all of his life- and the reason he died when he was 88 years old was a car accident- he was alive and well, while my mother-in-law got lung cancer from smoking cigarettes by the age of 55-everyone is different. Some dogs do well on a lot of meat, others don’t. You cannot make some people wrong-right for having certain diets which work for them, I’m not saying smoking cicarettes is ok, but I take a vegetarian dog who eats lentils and vegetables all his life over a dog who eats Iams.

  • doggonefedup

    Alex Strain,
    So what you are saying is that dogs are omnivores just like bears? I think this conversation happened a week ago. Dogs just like the wolf are an opportunistic carnivore. They will eat grasses and berries mostly for the taste. That’s kinda like saying a single glass of wine would make you an alcoholic………

  • LabsRawesome

     Alex, you are wrong. In my opinion the review is too lenient, vegetarian dog foods deserve 0 stars, because they are not species appropriate. But you can feed them to your bunny.

  • Hound Dog Mom

    Alex Strain: I think you need to do a bit more research. 🙂

    Edit: Dogs are, by nature, scavenger-like carnivores. However, even if one was to falsely classify a dog as an omnivore, an omnivore is NOT an herbivore. Meaning a dog would need meat any way you look at it.

  • You are biased as you even state that no vegetarian food can exceed 2 stars. Dogs are not carnivores. They are omnivores. 

  • Dog Food Ninja

    Lassie’s mom, if you are that worried about antibiotics and such in the meat source, then feed your dog fish based foods. Vegetable protein is a very bad ingredient with a low biological availability for dogs (and people). Plus, the process of removing the protein from the vegetables results in processed free glutamic acid. Also, regarding this food, there is very little protein to speak of at all. It’s all grains and legums full of lectins and antinutrients and sugar. Plus, these aren’t organic ingredients. For all we know, they are grown with petrochemicals in china. Dogs are primarily carnivores. I’d rather feed a dog a diet high in average meat than high in processed grains and hydrolized vegie protein.

  • Lassie’s Mom

    Hmmm…Mr.Sagman, I usually trust your judgement and ratings of dog foods, but could you perhaps rate vegetarian/vegan dog foods separately from meat-based foods? To not rate a top-notch vegetarian dog food more than two stars is a little unfair. I personally do believe dogs are meant to eat mostly meat, however it is unfortunate that in today’s society finding organic, humanely raised meat in at least somewhat affordable dog food is next to impossible. I have been feeding my dog Wellness Core (a 5 star kibble) for years, but I have asked the company several times where they get their meat from with no reply…something I find to be irresponsible and suspicious. If even an excellent dog food uses poor or average meat sources, where can one get better food? I think that a dog can do just fine on a vegetarian diet as long as it contains enough protein as well as L-Carnitine and Taurine, which this food does.

  • Bigfoot Vs Ninja

    The two longest lived canines on record had two completely different (both non-typical) diets. One ate raw kangaroo meat in Australia, and the other was strictly vegan. It’s an interesting topic to be sure. 

  • Dog Food Ninja

     Hello, Seriously?.  I should explain a little further.  I certainly do not mean to imply that people eating S.A.D. (Standard American Diet) are healthier than vegetarians.  Not by a long shot!  And the reason most vegetarians, as a group, are healthier than people eating S.A.D. has nothing to do with a lack of animal protein.  It has to do with quality of food.  Most folks who are vegetarians are into healthy eating and seek out organic and/or natural products (even though those products include grains and legums).  The typical “meat eater” you are referring to is probably eating fast foods, processed foods, antibiotic and hormone laden corn-fed meat from industrial CAFO’s, refined grains and sugars, legums, soda, and everything else under the sun that comes in a pretty wrapper and is loaded with chemicals.  No doubt, the average health-conscious vegetarian is healthier than these people.  The problem is, with a vegetarian diet, you have no animal fat and protein to give you the need calories, so you are left dependent on legums and grains for you protein and energy, and these to concocted “foods” are just the worst thing for you.  They are loaded with anti-nutrients, lectins, glutens, excitotoxins from refinement (don’t fool yourself, all grains and legums must be refined to some extent to be edible), have a high gylcemic index, and all kinds of other problems.  What we DON’T have in our current statistics of “meat-eaters” is a more fair and balance comparison between JUST vegetarians and true Paleo eaters.  If you could get the health figures on a large sample of people who eat grass-fed meats, game meats, wild fish, leaf veggies, some tubers and fruits and nuts, and NO grains, legums, dairy, added salt, vegetable oil, or processed foods, I am willing to bet the Paleo group would come out ahead of the veggie folks who are eating the phytic acid, free glutmaic acid, and phytoestrogens in their inferior plant-based protein tofu.  Please have a read at  It is a site that is maintained by a practicing vegan who is urging other vegans and vegetarians to stop using pseudo-science and false claims about their lifestyle and concede that what they are doing is a choice, in spite of the science that shows we are evolutionarily dependent on animal protein.  Many former vegans have gone Paleo, eating only humanly raise, grass-fed meats as their protein, and are healthier for it.  At least look into it. 🙂        

  • Marie

    I might actually agree with you there- vegetarian people can thrive quite well. * Vegans*, not so much.

  • hounddogmom12

    Vegetarian dogs do not thrive, not vegetarian people.

  • Seriously?

    ‘Most Vegetarians Eventually Experience Failure To Thrive’? Really? Please do provide me with the 4-1-1 on this because vegetarians not only thrive, they live longer than meat eaters, have lower rates of cancer, heart disease and diabetes.
    Failing to thrive is kind of crazy to say cuz I don’t think Carl Lewis, John Salley or Dave Scott ever dealt with this ‘failure to thrive’ issue nor has the majority of the population of India.
    If you want to say ‘vegetarian dogs’ may not thrive then by all means do but vegetarian people? Come on, stop spreading nonsense please.

  • Jan_Mom2Cavs

    I’m not a vegetarian (could be, though!) and I wouldn’t go to this food for a “normal” dog, but it is good to have alternatives for dogs with special needs.  This is a testament to “not all dogs do well with the same or all foods” mantra!  I’m glad you found something that is working for you and your dog.

  • KimberlyJ12

    Harley was very sick when I rescued him and I stopped at nothing to find the right food for him.  All meat made him throw up and get itchy bumps on his skin.  I was hesitating to put him on a vegetarian diet but when nothing helped him we had to try it.  After putting him on this food, he’s like a brand new dog.  His quality of life has improved, and mine too for that matter!  I am grateful for this Natural Balance food and Harley has been thriving on it for two years now.

  • LabsRawesome

     Totalvegetarian, A Liver dog, is a dog with Liver disease.

  • Totalvegetarian

     OK I am kind of confused, Please forgive my ignorance. What is a Liver Dog?

  • Dog Food Ninja

    Jennifer, your dogs are remarkable creatures and they may appear, just as you will, to be healthy for a while on a vegetarian diet. But don’t be fooled. Most vegetarians eventually experience a “failure to thrive” because our and our dog’s bodies evolved using animal fat and protein for energy and cellular repair. The protein in grains and legums are harmful and have a low biological value, and these concocted foods provide too many Carbs that raise blood sugar levels unnaturally. Please have a look at the website and read the article about the late roll of grains and legums in human development. And then, consider how even less appropriate such things are for a dog.

  • Dog Food Ninja

    There is no reason to feed a carnivore a meat free diet. The long term effects of glutens and lectins in the grains and legums will probably ruin a dog’s energy transfer system. I bet you won’t have “tear stains” with an all meat raw diet. Give it a try…

  • Roanne

    I breed and show bulldogs and find this is so far the only food that reduces tear stains almost completely….After 2 weeks on this food you can see a noticeable difference and keeps reducing them till gone.  I don’t feel however that it is enough protein.  Is there anything you could suggest to help with this?
    Thanks you
    Roanne Rist

  • Anonymous

    Two of my dogs are on this Vegetarian dog food and are doing great.  The ingredients are basically what I eat – as I am also a Vegetarian.  Natural Balance makes quality products and we have been buying this food for years with no complaints.  Dogs have lots of energy and stool is regular. 

  • Suzie

    Indeed I am.  I am way overwhelmed and just need peace and happiness which eludes me.   🙁

  • Anonymous

    Yes, you are probaby going a little crazy.  I would too.  I do not have a liver dog.

  • Suzie

    Thanks Sandy, you are a doll.  Please keep in touch with you if you would like.  My addy is [email protected]  Do you have a liver dog? I think you do.  To be honest, I have talked to so many people, I cant keep everyone straight plus I am on 3 yahoo liver boards.  LOL  I am one mixed up mama! 

  • Anonymous


    If you look through the posts from the “Suggested Low Protein Food” list there are posts about the Whitefish & Sweet potato for the liver.  It’s intermixed with posts regarding kidney issues.

    The whitefish produces less ammonia as do a few other foods.

  • Suzie

    Hi Sandy

    Great to hear back from you!  Thank you so much.  I have heard about the liver cleansing diet with Dr. Dodds but I dont want to cook…so maybe will try the Wellness one you mentioned.  If you find out any more, will you let me know?  I would appreciate it so much!   Thanks!


  • Anonymous

    There are some posts (don’t know where) about peolple using the Wellness Whitefish & Sweet Potato for their liver dogs.  It also comes in canned.
    There is also Dr Dodd’s Liver Cleanse Diet.

  • Anonymous

    Suzie, if the vets are saying “no” to the canned vegetarian formula then who told you “no meat”?  I agree that I wouldn’t feel comfortable with SD or RC. You also say that you’ve joined groups supporting liver issues in dogs.  What do they feed their dogs?  I’m sure there are ways to feed your dog meat if it has a liver issue….I’m no expert and I’m not advising, but maybe there are supplement you can use that would support the liver while still feeding a lower protein food.  What did your vet say exactly….besides feed SD or RC?  Perhaps you could find a food that mimics (as closely as you can) the ingredients in the SD or RC.  Ask the vet what it is you are trying to accomplish with the food.  Again, I’m not a vet, but I do know there are lots of people that have dogs with liver issues and I’m sure someone here will have and idea of how to feed your pup.  

  • Hi Suzie… I’m so sorry to hear about your dog’s liver condition. And as a fellow pet parent, I know how desperate you can feel.

    Since I’m not a veterinarian and due to the biological uniqueness of each pet, it would be inappropriate for me to provide specific health advice or product recommendations.

    However, in situations like yours, I’d be more inclined to follow the professional advice from your vet and feed a prescription dog food.

    I truly wish I could be more help.

  • Suzie

    I am desparate and am sick over what to feed my dog who might have liver issues.  He has mildly elevated bile acid test results.  I am told no meat so I have tried the canned formula of this food.  But the vets say no to this and so do the groups I have joined. 
    I dont feel comfortable feeding him Science Diet l/d or Royal Canin Hepatic.  Again he wont eat dry food…
    Can someone please help me?  I have an ulcer, literally over this. 
    [email protected]

  • Suzie0


    I would love to get in touch with you.  From the sound of it, your dog has liver issues?
    My 6 year old dog has some mildly elevated bile acid test results and I am a nervous wreck in wondering what to feed him.  He is currently on the canned formula as he wont eat dry food. I am horrified of the science diet and royal canin hepatic.
    How can we email each other?  I hope you get this email.  My email is [email protected]

  • sandy

    Sounds good. Glad to hear a success story.

  • Sunnyside

    Cooky has Humallin N and I did full bg curves at home every two hours for few weeks to adjust bg level. And now I check her bg level twice a day to see her progress. Her bg level used to fluctuate with Natural Balance Vegetarian formula and now her bg level is within low 100’s and stable in the range. Also, she used to have 7 units with NB dry food and now she takes 5 units and doing well so far. I will keep you posted with progress. Thanks again.

  • sandy

    Great to hear! Keep us informed on how her BG keep doing on these foods. What type of insulin and have you needed to adjust her dose?

  • Sunnyside

    I finalized on Weruva canned and Nutrisca dry for my diabetic dog and she is doing great with her bg level which is very stable so far.

  • Sunnyside

    Thanks so much. It helps me to know that low carb is more important than the fat content for my dog-it was my biggest question. Thanks again.

  • sandy


    Dogswell Nutrisca is a low glycemic food. Along with certain Merrick cans. Another choice is raw food. Raw food is very low in carbs. I think the “low carb” portion is more important than the “low fat” portion since it is the carbs that affect the blood sugar. Also fiber can be added to a food. You can put in some ground psyllium, sugar free, color free.

    There are also other foods like Nutrisca that use legumes as a binder which would affect blood sugar less than a potato based kibble. Also tapioca based kibbles are slightly lower in glycemic index than potato kibble.

    Examples: Amicus/Horizon Legacy, Back to Basics, Earthborn Holistic Grain Free Great Plains, Instinct, Premium Edge Healthy Weight Reduction (not completely potato based), Wysong Epigen, EVO Weight Management.

  • Sunnyside

    Dave, I think Wellness Core for dry food sounds very good. Thanks.

  • Sunnyside

    Dave, Yes I have looked at Wellness Core canned food but it didn’t indicated that it was reduced fat on canned food. I found out that Core chicken has 36 fat content and I am concern if this is considered high fat or not for diabetic dog.

  • Dave M

    Have you looked at Wellness Core Reduced Fat?

  • Sunnyside

    I have a 10-year-old Min Pin and fed Natural Balance Vegetarian formula for years after Wellness didn’t work for her. My dog did great with vegetarian formula and she always had full of energy, shinny coat, no skin problem and more. However, she diagnosed with diabetes almost year and half ago and her vet suggested to have high protein, low fat, low carb, and high fiber which it’s impossible to come by. I’ve been researching everyday for few weeks and I having no luck with finding food that has all of requirements met. I am so sad to give up this vegetarian food but I guess I don’t have choice but look for high protein diet for my dog.

  • ShamelessRawFoodie

    Melissa (cruelty-free) – Very interesting that you’re feeding your dogs a 63% carbohyrdrate diet. But yet dogs don’t have a carbohyrdate requirement. Maybe that’s not so strange when compared to what we humans eat that we don’t require either! But look at what we humans have become by consuming poor quality species-inappropriate food. No wonder the majority of our human population has a health affliction and are on Rx for chronic and acute illnesses. So many of us are surviving, but not thriving.

    Like Shawna, I’ll quote some more of Veterinarian Karen Becker, “We voluntarily picked predators as companions and must accept them as such!” and “Feeding your pet incorrectly because you don’t agree with the food source is not fair to the pet.”

    More at this link:
    There are plenty of comparative anatomical studies demonstrating the biologic parallels of big cats to little cats, dogs to wolves. Painful as it sounds, our pets are still designed to tear, rip, swallow and digest raw flesh. We voluntarily picked predators as companions and must accept them as such! Trying to convert herbivores to carnivores or vice versa is best left to Mother Nature and Father Time; they do a much better job. Feeding your pet incorrectly because you don’t agree with the food source is not fair to the pet. Knowing what each specie’s nutritional requirements are before buying the pet is imperative. Some of us may decide to house rabbits after this lecture, just don’t try to convert them to a meat diet!#
    Proteins are the foundation of a carnivorous diet.
    Dogs and cats need fats.
    Dogs and cats do not have a carbohydrate requirement.#

  • Shawna

    I wanted to point something out — pancreatitis is inflammation of the pancreas.. Look at the inflammatory factor of the below foods take from nutrition

    1 cup of 85% lean raw ground beef has an inflammation factor of -2 (mildly inflammatory).

    1 cup of, pure fat, lard has an inflammation factor of -46 (mildly inflammatory)

    1 cup of medium grain brown rice has an inflammation factor of -161 (moderately inflammatory)

    Imagine which of these foods is going to cause the most inflammation throughout the entire body? Top that off with the FACT that they know complex carbs are not required by the dog and cat..

    When a pancreatic attack happens, fat has to be reduced because the digestive enzyme lipase leaks through and into surrounding organs where it starts “digesting” them.. Amylase leaks through too but there is no carbs in the surrounding organs for the amylase to digest so it does not cause the symptoms that lipase causes — hence the reduction of fat. This is also why symptoms are associated with the eating of fat — the lipase digesting organs. The fat does not cause the inflammation that damages the pancreas to begin with though — inflammation does.

  • Shawna

    A LOT of dogs eat fat too melissa and yet look at how many of those fat eating dogs don’t get pancreatitis 🙂 Some raw feeders feed really high fat diets… Hmmmmm

  • melissa


    While I do not feed vegetarian, I can appreciate your moral/ethical choices and say if your dogs are doing well, then wonderful. Remember, every thing here tends to be ones “opinions” on various subjects, and even frequently links given are merely opinions of others including vets. I have never seen carbs be the source of pancreatitis, nor do I believe that kibble is the main cause of it-afterall, most dogs do eat kibble, and the majority of dogs do not have this issue-

  • Antonio


    While I don’t personally feel that a vegetarian diet is appropiate for dog, there have been many cases proven to show that dogs do survive and thrive on such diets, so it’s a debatable issue. But as for humans many vegetarian diets actually do encourage the avoidance of grains, and promote the eating of raw vegetables and fruits, with the addition of some legumes.

  • Melissa, I think it would be pertinent for your health and the health of your dogs to take a look at some other information regarding vegetarianism. The vast majority of the calories you eat from a vegetarian diet comes from grains and legumes, both of which do notable damage to the body. Both are incredibly unnatural foodstuffs that are concocted and require processing and other unnatural efforts to use. For your health, and your dog’s, have a look at the evolutionary diet of ours and theirs.

  • I just came across this review because I was looking for a place to sing my praises about this dog food. Natural Balance Vegan/Vegetarian Formula ROCKS. I am the owner of 3 chihuahuas all adopted from ages 2ish, 7ish and 11ish. I am a vegetarian myself and thought about switching my dogs to a vegetarian diet as well but obviously was worried that it would not be good for them. Came to find out that many dogs not only survive on a vegetarian diet, they outright thrive on one. The Oldest Dog In The World according to Guinesses Book Of World Records is/was a vegetarian and she lives/lived to be like 26 or something crazy like that. After speaking with the people at Natural Balance and being assured that this dog food is well rounded enough to sustain my dogs activity and health levels I decided to try it out. That was almost a year ago and I could not be happier. My oldest dog has so much energy, it is nuts. She is more active, happier and just seems to be healthier. All of their coats are super shiny and the best part is, no more nasty dog breath. They do not smell funky anymore. The kibbles seems easy to eat, my dogs never rejected them and I have to say they love it so much they RUN their morning walk just to get inside to eat.
    This is just my personal experience with my 3 vegetarian Chihuahuas. Sure my choice was a personal and ethical one but from what I hear this food is amazing for dogs who have allergies and sensitive stomachs as well.
    5 stars from me.

  • Christine

    Thank you!
    As soon as she gets feeling better first and can go through the surgery I will transition her to this first and add in some light home cooked meat. We will see if she can tolerate small stuff first. I do not want to make huge leaps with her, but this would def be better for her in the long run. I can add things to it if I have to. I know she may have a proble higher protein for life depending on how her liver responds. We will take it one day at a time with her.
    I just wish I could get her off of the vet stuff, but I do not want to upset things anymore right now
    I will get on the pugvillage now.

  • sandy

    For sure, sounds better than RC, KD, & LD!! I’ve joined You might be able to find some support from other puggie people there.

  • Christine

    This is the way I may have to go as well after Daisy’s surgery of Portosystemic Shunts. As of now she cannot tolerate any animal protein because it affects her neurologically. I do not want to keep her on a vet dit, so I though I may begin with this after she gets better and add some light homecooked meats to it after….if she still cannot tolerate that, then NB Veg it is!

  • Mary

    This food helped save the life of both my pugs. They were terribly allergic to the other brands and we tried everything! My Mattie had horrible anal gland issues, ear infections, and etc. Switching her to the vegetarian food cleared those issues completely. I recommend it to all dog guardians… by the way, my pugs are 12 and 14 years old… I know they would not have lived this long if I had kept them on the other foods.

  • Jonathan

    Vicki, why not start with Natural Balance LID sweet potato and Bison? I mean, if they react to a two-ingredient formula with a meat they probably never had before, then you really have a problem! Plus, there is very little actual Bison in it. Much of the protein comes from potato protein. But at least, with bison present, they are getting the amino acids and such that they need.

  • Anna

    Wow, well my Chinese Crested Male just spit up a little Hill’s Science Diet food or some treat propylene glycol or something. What I’m feeding him is not our normal norm anyways. When my female Jack Russell goes back to a new home, we’ll go back to our By Nature and Exclusive talk we were doing before. I did try Natural Balance at a time when I had a Pomeranian and him. He threw up that or only liked certain pieces though. It wasn’t very good. “I remember. I had to look at the shape, texture, color et al, and only give him what he would eat. Duh!!!!!!”

  • vicki emmons

    I am trying this food for one of our rescues from Belize, having come from a very poor area where dogs are mainly living on bark, cocnut and rodents, if that, and having skin issues and flea sensitivity. Finding the right food for this boy and his sister has presented huge issues, as they are overly sensitive to everything!! I have started with vegetarian base and will add certain meat proteins to see what is tolerated – figure a kibble w/o meat, etc will give us a better place to start from w/o suspect protein sources. The ingredients seem much better than other veget. kibbles than Wysong and others that have corn and other poor choices for dogs.

  • Andrea

    My 10 1/2 year old German Shepherd has been eating Natural Balance dry vegetarian for two years now & is thriving. After suffering for years with terrible itching & all kinds of treatments, we found she is allergic to any animal or dairy, & like Helen’s dog, suffers terribly if she gets even a taste. Natural Balance is the only dry vegetarian food that does not contain soy – something else our dog is allergic to. Beware of canned Natural Balance Vegetarian as it does contain soy.

  • Mike P

    Good for you Helen for saving your girls life !!!

  • Hi Helen… Thanks for sharing your story. Sorry to be so harsh on vegetarian foods. Obviously, this food deserves a 5-star rating for your little girl. In any case, we wish your miracle dog a very Happy Birthday next month. 🙂

  • We have 8 dogs. Seven of them eat frozen raw meat/bones, etc. Mostly we feed Primal, the organic Instinct and Stella and Chewy’s frozen raw.
    However, one of our dogs suffers from severe IBD (inflammatory bowel disease). She is completely intolerant of ANY animal protein at all. She becomes deathly ill if she gets even a pea sized piece of animal protein (meat, fish, dairy or eggs – chicken being the worst for her).
    When she was 4, the specialist told us if we did not put her on heavy steroids and immune suppressants, she would be DEAD in six months! I chose to make her a vegan instead and feed Natural Balance Vegetarian dog food. She will turn 11 next month and she is thriving on their food! Her symptoms disappeared on Natural Balance Vegetarian dog food!
    I see more and more dogs that can’t eat animal protein so please don’t knock this food! It has kept my dog alive and well for many years!

    Helen King
    Excuses Prevent Advancement
    So do big fat egos
    “Breeding to the standard will not preserve function. All it can preserve is appearance.” ~ Dan Belkin, Ph.D.
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