Can a Vegetarian Dog Diet Meet Your Dog’s Needs?

Dogs are omnivores with carnivorous tendencies, but they can thrive on vegetarian food.

Some people choose to become vegetarians. Now, whether or not you would make that choice, I think most people realize that vegetarianism is a perfectly rational choice and vegetarian diets can meet all of a human’s nutritional needs. But what about dogs? Dogs, while omnivores, have much stronger carnivorous tendencies than people.
These days there are a bunch of different formulations for wet and dry dog food that do not contain meat. In fact, most are fully vegan (not containing eggs or dairy products either). There are also a lot of different recipes for making vegetarian dog food at home, although in this post I am focusing on commercial diets.
Vegetarian dog food for allergies

Vegetarian diets are chosen not only for ethical reasons but because some dogs have developed complex allergies to meat or dairy products. In this case a vegetarian diet might be used either permanently, or temporarily, to help determine which animal proteins the dog can eat by selectively reintroducing them to the base vegetarian diet.

Many people claim that dogs fed on vegetarian diets look to be in poor health or not vigorous, even suggesting that feeding a vegetarian diet might amount to abuse. It does seem to me that critics are often projecting their concerns onto the dogs, placing any problems they have onto their diet and making subjective judgments about their energy levels and appearance. But even vegetarian groups seem divided on whether extending this dietary restriction to your dogs is always going to be a good idea.

Some dog owners report that their attempt to move to a vegetarian food was unsuccessful due to the dogs experiencing diarrhea or excessive gas. The same can be true, however, during any attempt to change a dog’s diet from what it has previously been eating. So these reported difficulties may not relate to vegetarian formulations specifically — especially if owners make sudden switches in what they feed rather than gradually mixing the new food into the established food.

If there is any doubt, it is a good idea to take advice from your veterinarian, other experts and people with experience with dogs nutrition issues before you make any changes. But focus on experts with relevant experience and data-based advice, as many people have more doctrinal views that may not be informed by an understanding of the modern vegetarian formulations or your dog’s particular needs.

Minimum standards

There is a certain level of assurance that can come from using reputable commercial products, if you want to ensure that your dog is getting the basic nutrients and the trace elements he or she needs. As a bottom line, any diet must provide the minimum requirements for dogs as determined by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) nutrient guidelines. If they do this, it will typically be stated on the packaging. Keep in mind that vegetarian diets typically have not been the subject of extensive testing, be it a laboratory test or in-home feeding trial.

If you are home cooking a vegetarian diet, I think it is probably a good idea to use a supplement for vital trace elements (such as taurine, l-carnitine, and vitamin B-12), which are hard to provide from basic raw ingredients.


And with the increased competition, the prices from some brands have come down to be almost comparable to meat-based formulations. However, diets meeting multiple requirements (e.g. vegetarian and also organic or GMO-free) can still be very expensive.

As with any products, you need to do some research to be sure you know exactly what you are getting. For example, one company uses “vegan” as part of its name so that the term appears on products that are not actually 100 percent vegan. There are other things to be aware of, including that vegetarian dog foods should not be fed to cats, even if the labeling includes them. Cats are much less omnivorous than dogs and have a higher minimum protein requirement, which many of these foods will not meet. Also dogs can derive vitamin A and taurine from plant sources, whereas cats cannot. Do not immediately trust general claims on dog food labels, check the list of ingredients and check for levels of protein, fat and carbohydrate, and sources and levels of crucial trace elements.

What is a vegetarian diet?

Vegetarian dog foods use the same basic principle as vegetarian food for humans. Complete proteins are provided by a combination of pulses and grains. For example, if you have ever seen the diet pigs are raised on, it is generally ground-up rations of about half soy beans and about half corn, as this will provide the full set of necessary amino acids. Major ingredients in vegetarian dog food tend to be rice or soy but it varies a lot between brands. As a result of their plant ingredients, vegetarian kibbles tend to be relatively low in fat and protein and high in carbohydrates.

However, many owners seem to find their dogs are reluctant to eat the food; basically it does not taste good to the dog. This might be taken as an indication that the diet, while nutritional complete, is not pleasurable for the dog. And I don’t know about you, but I do think food should be a source of pleasure for dogs, just as it is for people

My thoughts

I personally eat a diet that includes some meat and have no reservations about serving dog food that uses animal byproducts. But a responsible owner who wants to feed vegetarian has a lot of options and resources available to them to ensure their dog’s nutritional needs are met. My conclusion would be that many, possibly most, dogs would be able to live and even thrive on a carefully balanced vegetarian diet. And these diets clearly provide a useful tool in narrowing down dietary sensitivities relating to meat and dairy products.

But if you do not have a strong veterinary medical or ethical reason for preferring these diets, they do not offer any benefits to your dog, and there is no reason to use them.

Do you feed your dog a vegetarian diet? Are you considering it? Tell us why in the comments!

Diana Ruth Davidson, Chief Pet Officer and Managing Nanny, Westside Dog Nanny

We offer pet services such as:  Pet Sitting,  In-Home Dog Boarding, Dog Walking, Overnights in your home, Doggie Day Care.
310 919 9372

What Happens to Your Dog In Case of Emergency?

In case of emergency, if you pass away, what happens to your dog.

As a committed dog guardian, you must be responsible and make  arrangements for our pack in the event of an emergency and ultimately, if we are no longer here.

These are questions that must be answered whether you are single or a married couple…because it is very common for dogs to get lost in the confusion of an emergency or to outlive their guardians…

Without proper arrangements many dogs are abandoned or dumped at pounds by friends and family members who do not feel a bond for the dog…or may be simply overwhelmed.


Your best friend is counting on you to care for him now…and in the event you are not here later on

With that as a backdrop let’s take a look at a few easy:

Steps to Protect Your Dog NOW

Find two friends or relatives who agree to be emergency caregivers. Give each a key to your home, feeding and care instructions, veterinarian contact information,  and details about permanent living arrangements

Keep the names and phone numbers of your emergency dog caregivers in your wallet and have them labeled as such

Arrange Permanent Care for Your Dog if You Pass Away

The key here is that you must make formal arrangements...Verbal agreements are worth the paper they are written on and your dog’s life may be at stake…

Work with an attorney to draw up estate planning documentsto provide for the care and guardianship of your dog as well as the money necessary to care for her. 

Your attorney can help you set aside assets or life insurance proceeds for the care of your best pal.


How do I choose a permanent caregiver?

Consider adult children, family and friends who know your dog and LIKE DOGS themselves.

It’s good to have a contingent choice in case they cannot take guardianship later on.

Choose a  person you trust  who will do what is best for your dog

Make sure to direct  your executor to spend whatever funds from your estate are needed for the temporary care of your dog.

MR Bruno

Adopt a Dog- Save a Life

Diana Ruth Davidson, Chief Pet Officer and Managing Nanny, Westside Dog Nanny

We offer pet services such as:  Pet Sitting,  In-Home Dog Boarding, Dog Walking, Overnights in your home, Doggie Day Care.
310 919 9372

7 Cool Facts About Cat Intelligence and Your Cat’s Brain

Cats learn by watching, and their brain structures are twice as complex as those of dogs.

Well, I always thought dogs were supposed to be smarter than cats!  This article proves that this may not indeed be the case.  Interesting read.  Diana Davidson, Westside Dog Nanny

Here are some good reasons for you to geek out about the awesomeness of this essential part of feline anatomy, your cat’s brain.


1. Cat brains are comparatively smaller than ours

In terms of the ratio of brain mass to body mass, a cat’s brain takes up 0.9 percent of total body mass. Humans’ brains occupy about 2 percent of total body mass, and dogs’ brains occupy about 1.2 percent. But when it comes to intelligence, size matters a whole lot less than other factors.

2. Structurally, cats’ brains are more complex than dogs’

The cerebral cortex is the area of the brain responsible for thinking and rational decision-making. Cats’ cerebral cortexes are much more complex than those of dogs, with almost 300 million nerve cells compared to about 160 million in the dog.


3. Cats have better short-term memory than dogs

In an experiment in which cats and dogs were tested to find out how well they could remember where food had been hidden, cats’ short-term memory lasted about 16 hours, whereas dogs’ only lasted about five minutes.

4. Researchers don’t know which species has better long-term memory

Although cats don’t store a lot of information in long-term memory, the people and places cats choose to bank in long-term storage can stay put for many years. Since the cerebral cortex is responsible for storing long-term memory, it could be argued that a cat’s more complex cerebral cortex may lead to better long-term memory.

5. Cats learn by observation

If your cat watches you open the cabinet enough times, he will, like my refrigerator-opening feline housemates, figure out how to do it by himself. Kittens learn by watching their mothers hunt, eat, groom, and so on, and then repeating the behavior themselves until they get it right.


6. Cats’ brain function can decline as they age

Elderkitties can develop a condition similar to Alzheimer’s disease. Feline cognitive dysfunction syndrome is caused by deterioration of the brain and can lead to symptoms such as disorientation, depression, inappropriate elimination and antisocial behavior. But just as with humans, not all cats develop this disease.

7. A cat is a lot smarter than an iPad

You may think your new tablet is awesome: so much processing power, so much storage space, so much speed. But don’t gloat too much, because your cat’s brain can smoke your iPad. A typical iPad has 60 gigabytes of data storage space, but your cat’s brain has about 91,000 gigabytes. In terms of processing speed, your iPad does about 170 million operations per second. Your cat’s brain, on the other hand, does 6.1 trillion operations per second. Unfortunately, your cat doesn’t have wi-fi and 4G data access.

 Jane A Kelley

Diana Ruth Davidson, Chief Pet Officer and Managing Nanny, Westside Dog Nanny

We offer pet services such as:  Pet Sitting,  In-Home Dog Boarding, Dog Walking, Overnights in your home, Doggie Day Care.
310 919 9372

Gum Disease in Dogs? Can You Catch It?

Well, who knew that kissing could be harmful to your health?!  Kissing your dog can transfer germs that may cause you gingivitis and tooth decay.  Diana Davidson, Westside Dog Nanny

They say a dog is man’s best friend, but a new study shows that getting too up close and personal with your furriest family members could be detrimental to your oral health.

A special report in the Archives for Oral Biology found that kissing your dog may lead to tooth decay and gum disease in both humans and canines.

The Daily Mail reported, when Japanese researchers analyzed the germs from 50 dogs and their owners, they found that a potentially harmful oral microbe normally found only in dogs, but not in humans, was discovered in the mouths of 16% of owners. Likewise, oral microbes normally found only in human mouths were found in their dogs.

These microbes can cause gum disease, or periodontitis, an inflammatory disease of the mouth tissue. In fact, a strikingly high number of dogs suffer from periodontitis, making the chances of humans contracting it from their dogs much higher than anyone that loves sweet puppy kisses would like to admit.

Veterinarians say proper oral health for both you can your dog can greatly reduce the risk of gum disease in you both. Regular brushing, flossing, and annual teeth cleanings minimize the risk.

If you want to keep those kisses coming, better keep brushing! Not quite sure how to brush your dog’s teeth? This article will show you how – it’s easier than you might think!

Diana Ruth Davidson, Chief Pet Officer and Managing Nanny, Westside Dog Nanny

We offer pet services such as:  Pet Sitting,  In-Home Dog Boarding, Dog Walking, Overnights in your home, Doggie Day Care.
310 919 9372

Cats, Carbs, Death and Disease: Wet Vs Dry Cat Food

What you feed your cat can help your pet avoid many serious illnesses. Much of what I as a practicing Veterinarian was originally taught about feeding cats– for prevention and treatment of disease – has been shown to be false.

The basis for this is that many ‘experts’ have thought of cats, with respect to nutrition and how they should respond to treatment of various diseases, as small dogs – when this is completely untrue.

Cats are obligate carnivores, meaning they need animal protein to survive. And many of the common cat diseases, such as diabetes, are directly linked to our incorrect assumption of feeding cats the same way we feed dogs.

Most cats are fed:

1.Dry kibble with no water

2.Foods with too high of a carbohydrate level

3.The wrong type of protein at too low of a level

Cats are unique…in so many ways completely different from dogs, yet in today’s modern world we are not treating them that way.

Consider this once uncommon disease…Diabetes.

This was part of an article from The Guardian, in 2007.

Fat cats facing diabetes epidemic as feline obesity takes its toll.Study shows one in 230 at risk from disease

The first UK-wide study of diabetes mellitus among house cats revealed that one in 230 are expected to develop the disease, with the most common species, the Burmese, at a far greater risk, with one in 57 affected.

The findings suggest diabetes is a greater health threat to the animals than over-active thyroid, previously the most common hormonal disorder affecting cats. Of the eight to nine million cats owned nationally, around 40,000 will have diabetes, the study’s authors said.
Researchers believe the numbers mirror dramatic rises in feline diabetes recorded elsewhere, including a fivefold increase in the US over the past 30 years.

Again, cats are obligate carnivores. You’ve heard this …but what does it mean?

Cats have evolved over millions of years into carnivores with unique ways to utilize the food they hunt, including the protein, fats and vitamins in their prey. Think about what cats eats in the wild: lots of protein and fat – not much carbohydrate. They hunt mice, birds etc… this core concept should be at the forefront of cat nutrition and disease.

Protein and carbohydrates

Although cats can use carbohydrates as an energy source, they have no need for
them. Cats have evolved by hunting other animals (high protein, low to moderate fat, minimal carbohydrate). Cats are designed for higher protein metabolism and lower carbohydrate metabolism.

They require much higher protein than dogs. Adult cats need 29% protein in their diet vs. adult canine minimum requirement of 12%.

Lack of Enzymes

Cats lack salivary amylase, further evidence that they are not designed to digest carbohydrates. They have only 5% of the pancreatic amylase activity and 10% of intestinal amylase activity of dogs.

Cats get far more of their energy from protein than most species.

Cats, as mentioned, have a short colon which limits their ability to use starches and fibers through bacterial fermentation (this is seen in humans, and animals such as dogs).

Cats lack the liver enzyme Glucokinase. This is used to breakdown sugar (glucose). Glucose becomes markedly elevated after a large carbohydrate meal – but cats lack the ability to rapidly break it down.

This has serious implications for the increased incidence of diabetes in cats. By flooding your cat’s blood with glucose they can’t break down, we are likely overwhelming the Pancreas – and ultimately seeing a decrease in Insulin production, and subsequently, Diabetes.

On top of Insulin, the new number one treatment for Diabetes is very simple….

1.Eliminate Carbohydrates
2.No longer feed Dry carbohydrate loaded kibble
3.Exclusively feed High protein, canned cat food.

So what should you be doing now?

If your cat is healthy, then first be grateful that they don’t have some type of chronic serious disease.

If your cat is eating only dry, carbohydrate loaded kibble, STOP feeding this exclusively.

Start slowly introducing a quality, preferably holistic canned food– look for food using a poultry based protein ( ie chicken).

This can take time- be patient, and first begin by NOT free feeding the kibble; feed your cat a regular intervals ( ie 3 times/day).

Then substitute canned food only during one of these feeding times.

Again, be patient- eventually and with the right food, your cat will try, and eventually like the canned food.

The pet food companies have made the dry food tasty, addictive, and difficult to quit- so expect some resistance here.

Soft stool can be normal during the transition, and in virtually all cases the stool will return to normal.

Personally I found it very difficult to switch my 2 older cats to a complete canned diet; they love the dry stuff.. What I have done is compromise, and now I feed them both 50% canned, and 50% kibble.

Yes dry food is convenient, easy, and your vet may say it’s OK, but your cat is much more likely to become sick if you feed exclusively kibble.

Start by making the change today.

Dr Andrew Jones, DVM

Diana Ruth Davidson, Chief Pet Officer and Managing Nanny, Westside Dog Nanny

We offer pet services such as:  Pet Sitting,  In-Home Dog Boarding, Dog Walking, Overnights in your home, Doggie Day Care.
310 919 9372

How to Prevent Bee Stings on Dogs


Bees are active in late afternoon. If possible, go for walks before after this time of day.

Bees are attracted to lights… so keep lights low or away from your dog when walking in the evening 

Bees love flowers…so stay away from the blooming floras if possible.

Avoid perfume and cologne- Bees are attracted to these scents as they do those of flowers, so avoid wearing them when out walking with your dog.

Clean up any leftover food and soda bottles, a major bee magnet at picnics.



Dogs love to play in flowers… a favorite hangout for bees


What to Do If Your Dog Is Stung By a Bee


1-Remove the stinger if possible – Your dog may be allergic to the poison in the stinger which could cause anaphylactic shock as in the news story above.

You may be able to remove the stinger with a credit card, library card or a Costco card. DO NOT BREAK THE STINGER. This may cause more poison to seep into your dog’s blood stream. Only use a tweezers if  the stinger is protruding and easy to grab

2-Evaluate your dog’s condition. If you notice problems breathing, weakness, drooling, disorientation, vomiting or diarrhea, itchiness, pale gums, sudden defecation or urination, pale gums or cold limbs….. 


Time is of the essence as shock may be setting in !

4- Make a paste of  baking soda and water and clean the area. This will also help reduce any later itchiness.

5- Give your dog some OTC antihistamine such as pediatric Benadryl provided your vet has been consulted in advance as to dosage for your dog. This will help reduce any swelling and itchy sensation

6-Use a cold pack to help reduce any discomfort or fever.


7-Call your vet and go in without delay. Dogs can have a negative reactions to bee stings, so call your vet and take your dog in without delay as a precaution.   

You may not only provide additional relief but prevent any potentially fatal reaction.

Mr Bruno

Adopt a Dog- Save a Life

Diana Ruth Davidson, Chief Pet Officer and Managing Nanny, Westside Dog Nanny

We offer pet services such as:  Pet Sitting,  In-Home Dog Boarding, Dog Walking, Overnights in your home, Doggie Day Care.
310 919 9372