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Los Angeles Shelter Dogs to go Vegan?

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  1. Casey

    A vegan diet would kill my dog. Seriously, he’d scratch himself to death. This man is sadly misinformed. And I guess that all the insects, mice, rabbits, groundhogs, and foxes killed through farming monocultures of plants is totally cool by him.

    Surely they can do more to help shelter dogs than make them vegan?

    1. Aj

      Animal agriculture requires far more plant based feed than a “vegan” dog food (or vegan humans) could require. So even if lots of animals were killed by non animal farming (most animals would run away when a harvester comes rumbling along) it is still less damaging to animals and the environment to eat vegan than not.

      1. Susan Thixton Author

        Vegan pet ‘feed’ is far different than a human food vegan diet. They are not the same thing. Feed can be (and often is) contaminated with all types of toxic things. Just to be clear, I personally have no issue with a human choosing a vegan diet – I commend that. However a vegan pet feed diet for dogs is something I cannot get on board with.

      2. Jeri

        Feeding a species-appropriate diet is more important to me than the “environment”, frankly. I won’t feed a carnivore a vegan diet. That’s just cruel. Nor would I recommend one anymore than I would insist that herbivores be fed meat. Susan is spot on. Nutritional concerns aside (which are many), the “feed” part is concerning in and of itself and frankly this looks like a move to feed the cheapest garbage possible to shelter animals, while pretending it’s all for some noble cause. Our carnivorous shelter pets deserve so much better.

  2. Donna Muse

    I am a vegan who cooks for her two dogs and to try to make them vegan is unadulterated BS. They eat meat, fish and eggs along with vegetables, carbs and eggshell powder for calcium. I would never try to impose a human diet on an animal-enough stupid is enough. The mentality in this nation has gone to hell due to the Internet and all the misinformation purported on it. Stop the Voodoo medicine in the vet world.

    1. Jeri

      The voice of reason! Thank you!!!

      1. Ten Year Follower


        14 oz. 90% lean ground beef (or 93% lean)
        2 tsp hempseed oil or 3 T ground hemseeds
        ½ Tsp Carlson’s cod liver oil, or 2 sardines
        ½ Tsp ground ginger
        ¼-1/2 Tsp. kelp powder (provide 0.2 mg iodine)
        1 egg
        ½ eggshell
        1 oz. beef liver
        1 oz. broccoli
        1 oz. red bell pepper
        1 oz. spinach

        Mix together. Can be heated or served raw.

  3. Cheri Fellinger

    Just insane.

  4. Tiana Vandestaan

    Vegan diet for dogs? How many idiots exist in our country who have their say in ours or pets’ health? Because of those degenerates our cats and dogs have so many cases of diabetes and other deadly problems with health.

  5. Dan Bilancio

    All I can say is…Only in California!

    1. Lynn

      you mean Kalifornia

  6. Sandra Short

    It’s just wrong…

  7. Pegg Bauer

    Susan: NO ONE on the board is going to read an email of that length and complexity. It needs to be one or two VERY SHORT comments or sentences — something that they can glance at and get the meaning. .

    1. Susan Thixton Author

      You don’t have to use my example letter – it is just there as example.

  8. Audree Berg

    This sounds like something from the Onion News Network!

  9. Katie Rainey

    This is a ridiculous concept. Shelter diets have no relationship to shelter euthanasia rates. Canines are not herbivores. Human’s keep attempting to correlate their dietary choices to animals. Dogs are omnivores. Increases in adoption rates have no correlation with Shelter dog’s diets. So, the shelter boxes a potential adopter into a diet which is not they may not be able to keep up.

    If you want do a radical dietary change because you feel your current shelter diet is not having the dog’s gain adequate weight, and not yielding the body conformations you want. IF LAAS wants to make radical changes in nutrition Then maybe LAAS should start a Veterinary kitchen and consults with a company like “just Food for Dogs.” Consult with Company’s that don’t Co pact their foods. Company’s that have their own plants and oversee their own product. Choose a Company free of recalls.

    Research the number of Food recalls and Food Contamination incidents in the US within the past 3 years. Pay attention to the Contamination incidents from non animal foods sources.(spinach, packaged salads, humus etc). Being non meat does mean the food source is safe. Being non meat does not protect from contamination. A high number of Food contamination’s occur due to processing equipment.

    Therefore, do due diligence in investigating and researching. I strongly recommend.
    Please consult with Veterinary Nutritionalist before implementing nutritional changes. This was response to the LAAS email contacts you provided.

    However, LAAS is the City of Los Angeles Animals Services. Not the Los Angeles County Animal Care and Control (LACACC).

    Katie Rainey DVM

    1. Jane Doberman

      Dogs are not omnivores either. They are carnivores, not obligate carnivores like cats, but the PRIMARY source of their nutrition is from meat. A very small percentage of their diet comes from fruit and the contents of their herbivorous prey’s intestines. The digestive system of carnivores, like dogs, cannot handle large amounts of carbs that they would get from any vegan or vegetarian diet. It’s diabetes waiting to happen.

  10. Caron

    This is horrifying. Dogs are omnivores. I’m tired of the cult of veganism determining what animals should eat. I have no problem with humans being vegans, and I was a vegetarian for 10 years. But this is anthropomorphism at its worst.
    Thank you for letting us know. I will send my letters.

    1. Jane Doberman

      Dogs are not omnivores either. They are carnivores, not obligate carnivores like cats, but the PRIMARY source of their nutrition is from meat. A very small percentage of their diet comes from fruit and the contents of their herbivorous prey’s intestines, but this is like 2%.

  11. Sometimes a Player

    The first rule of government is that NOTHING is ever done for the good of the population unless an ulterior motive serves the better interests of the government! The trick here, is figuring out what’s really in it for LAAS.

    1. Did Canidae agree to a cheaper supply feed contract if they could exclude meat?

    2. And is LAAS is trying to sell the opportunity to avoid bad publicity?

    3. Somebody crunched the numbers to determine how much meat protein is in the volume of feed sold to the Shelter. And therefore how many animals it took to manufacture that protein. Of course they’re not calculating that it’s really waste protein anyway. But the theoretical question is, how would not using those animals, be backed up the supply chain?

    4. Does it mean the livestock industry has agreed (or would) to NOT slaughter that many animals in response? Which means they’re also willing to take a loss?

    5. LAAS is referring to the humane treatment of *all* animals, except how do they justify feeding contaminated feed, not only to Shelter animals, but to all animals period, including those in the livestock supply chain? Shouldn’t they be questioning PF manufacturing practices, AAFCO, FDA, USDA and the failure to enforce existing regulations??

    No doubt PETA is behind this idea, selling it both an affordable opportunity to LAAS and to progress their ultimate goal of eliminating (not only the inhumanity of factory farming) BUT the elimination of companion pet ownership. Don’t believe it, read the history of PETA’s core philosophy. And remember politics is often at one end of an extreme. While there’s nothing wrong with noble causes and a higher purpose, the implementation of one extreme (irrationality) at the expense of the majority must be examined. Which, given the climate of this country, makes compromise and common sense, very unlikely!

  12. Jacqueline White

    It’s a great idea for dogs to go vegan. I have many FB friends and other friends whose dogs are and have been vegan for years. Done properly there is no reason why it’s a bad idea. Dogs do not need animal products to live or thrive. Because of your attitude towards this issue I will no long subscribe to your emails. Go Vegan!

    1. Jeri

      The vegan diet to carnivores assumes that all protein is equal. It is not. Not even remotely. Dogs do need animal protein. It may not fit your worldview and may not be what you wish to hear, but it is the truth.

    2. Kristen

      If you knew anything about canine biology and physiology, you would know canines NEED a mostly meat diet to thrive. They have a SHORT digestive track and teeth that slice meat and crunch bone for a reason. They don’t have multiple stomachs for fermentation, they can’t move their jaws in any direction but up and down (can not chew), and they lack the amount of specific enzymes to properly digest large amounts of carbohydrates and plant matter. Those are just a small handful of reasons.
      Please stop pushing human moral ideals onto our meat eating animals. If left to their own devices, they will prefer meat and go after live prey and scavenge carcasses. They are not herbivores. If you want a vegan pet to feed a vegan diet to, get a rabbit or a cow.

    3. Kristen

      ““Dogs are considered “facultative” carnivores, meaning that they are true carnivores (flesh eaters), but they need not depend solely on animal matter to meet all of their nutritional needs. They can **survive** on other sources of food, such as plants and insects, **for a time** or **as a supplement** when meat is scarce.””

    4. Jane Doberman

      Is canine diabetes a bad enough idea for you? Any vegan diet is going to be way too high in carbs. Not all protein is equal. The digestive system of carnivores, including dogs, is very short and designed to break down animal protein, not carbs. Feeding your carnivore a vegan diet is very bad for them!

  13. Woofielover

    Not to mention that Canidae is made by Diamond Manufacturing, the leading pet food recall manufacturer in the country. Canidae, Natural Balance and other pet foods producing a “vegan” pet food absolutely do not care about the well-being of the carnivore eating their products. These products are a money grab.

  14. Woofielover

    Dogs are NOT omnivores, they are carnivores. The fact they will eat something forced upon them because they have no other options or will occasionally consume a fruit or veggie makes them facultative and smart enough to choose life over death by eating what’s presented. In order for a dog to thrive, meat is REQUIRED. Just look at the digestive tract, jaws and physiology of dogs to glean what they NEED to eat. It’s bad enough that they’re fed kibble while in a shelter system. Removing meat is inhumane.

    1. Jeri

      Well said. Choose what you wish to eat, but feed a diet appropriate to the species to them. Pretending that dogs are thriving on a veggie/plant matter only diet is ridiculous in itself. There are amino acids which are only available in meat. Period. Not all protein is equal, folks. Stop forcing your dietary philosophies on carnivores!

      1. Lisa Marie

        And legumes by the way, which make up a large percentage of that silly Halo Vegan crap for dogs, legumes are high in lectins which can cause inflammation.

    2. Lisa Marie

      Exactly Woofielover, very well said. I would say it even borderlines as animal abuse – imposing a vegan diet on a carnivore. A dog in its’ natural habitat would not be hunting for legumes and potato protein.

    3. Kristen

      Thank you. The omnivore thing is old and outdated, yet most people still swear by it. More people need to look up the meaning of Facultative Carnivore.
      Taken straight from the main google answer:
      “Dogs are considered “facultative” carnivores, meaning that they are true carnivores (flesh eaters), but they need not depend solely on animal matter to meet all of their nutritional needs. They can **survive** on other sources of food, such as plants and insects, for a time or as a supplement when meat is scarce.”

      1. Jeri

        The reason so many people believe the omnivore myth is that we have been brainwashed as a nation into believing they are courtesy of the pet food industry and the krapple they produce (which is mostly grains, fillers, and species inappropriate carbs and starches). If dogs were unable to adapt to what we have been feeding them they would be dead. As it is, they are not living longer, higher quality lives and have a plethora of health issues which once plagued only the very old (cancer, for example). We need to get them back to the diet they were meant to consume: real food, including animal protein. High quality protein and ingredients which do NOT include what is in the bags or cans found on grocery shelves.

      2. Debbie

        Agree. The people that started the omnivore thing was the pet food companies. That was the only way to get people to buy their crappy food. Dogs need meat..but a small small portion of raw pureed veggies is beneficial for nutrients. They cannot digest whole pieces of veggies.

    4. Debbie

      agree completely

    5. Jane Doberman

      People are confusing facultative carnivores with omnivores. Not all carnivores are obligate like cats, but all carnivores prefer and need meat as it is the primary source of their diet. Omnivores don’t have a biological preference between meat and plant-based foods, since they are equal. I agree, removing meat from a carnivore is inhumane.

  15. Kathryn

    Beyond belief!!! This man and his ‘staff’, Board, Commissioners, etc., are blooming Idiots! but, in all respect for those of you that DO live in California, it’s IMPO something that is not beyond the pale for the citizens of that state.

  16. Lisa Marie

    Oh good God no!!!!! A dogs pancreas doesn’t produce enough amalyse to digest all those carbs, it’s bad enough with the carbs in the processed meat diets, shame, shame, shame on those who want to impose a vegan diet on our carnivore friends!!! I will contact those you have listed, I also hope that vets such as Dr. Becker, Dr. Royal, Dr. Judy Morgan, etc., will also contact the names you have listed, how awful.

  17. Eve

    Beurcracy gone barking-mad. Forcing dogs in fact any carnivorous species specifically designed by nature to ingest a vegan diet is abuse. After 25 years in animal care with veterinary background of both domestic and wildlife I can assure the unbiast educated people that a Vegan diet wi ultimately set your pet up for dis-rase bkth physiologically, emotionally and psychologically. I knew this time would come. I myself am Vegan and have been for 6 years. I detest animal cruelly. And yes Im fully aware of the strong debate between animal slaughter cruelty to feed a pet – I agree it is with internal conflict; but humans chose this fate. Humans domesticated dogs and cats and so we as a species have through reaching spirituality have opened our awareness to all living beings as we are all connected share equal valueof ones life and emotions. Growing laboratory meat could be a valid option it is grown without harming animals and our land planetary resources, however, it is GMO and this is where I havw grave concerns for pets. As I mentioned carnivores digestive system their complete biological systems are not designed to ingest GMO meat this in itself is just another form of animal abuse….no different from force feeding carnivores vegan feed! I strongly oppose the vegan diet its ripe with abuse and illness. We all wish we could gently sing euthanisia lullabys to the cattle who are forced to endure such attrocities but until we reach that state of consciousness we must choose to do whats biologically correct for our pets.

  18. Mary

    I just sent my grievance. Thank you for notifying us! Insane of them to do this…..

  19. Ellen

    Several years ago I corresponded with the nutritioinist PhD for V-Dog. You have to supplement the food for any type of complete nutrition, especially for their feline line of foods.

    While I respect Nathan Winograd for promoting No-kill, his insistence on visiting his and his wife’s vegan philosophy on their cat is insane. I wonder if he’s still alive. This shelter move is either on the heels of this or driven by PETA. Both of which should scare the 💩 out of all of us. Please send your letters of disapproval to all the board members.

    One thing bothering me about your email is the comparison of two degenerate foods. What would prompt anyone to maintain the crappy “meaty” food if it’s as bad as the plant based? I would stick to carnivore, meateating animals, what their teeth are designed to do, and the switch back after adoption. Dogs need meaty bones to clean teeth, and an all plant based diet will cause plaque and tartar and lack of teeth/gum stimulation.

    Than you, Susan, for jumping on this.

    1. Debbie

      Does he really? His cat is being fed vegan? Cats MUST have meat or they will die. OMG.. I agree with you Ellen. Glad to see people here that know what they are talking about.

  20. chris

    I am on facebook and help rescue dogs from the LA area (mostly German Shepherds) because most of their shelters are high kill shelters. Most of the shelters there do not do what is best for the dogs to begin with -leave them with wounds untreated, neuter them without pain medication, label a lot of dogs aggressive because they are scared in the shelter. This would just add to the problems that LA shelters already have. Right now at least they get dog food and then when they are rescued , people try to do better by them. I personally think that Los Angeles is a bad area just because of the celebrity status down there and that a lot of people think pets are throwaway. Lets hope this does not get passed.

  21. Sandra Schermerhorn

    My dog’s are vegan and still act like puppies. One is 12 and the other 13. They have no health issues what so ever. Too many of my friends dogs have died from tainted meat.

    1. ellen dorfman

      I have heard many good things about v -dog food. PRocessed dog food the meat is so bad I think they are better off without it. I dont know why V dog food is so spendy, its not organic but clearly vegetable sources of protein are much less contaminated than meat sources.

  22. Heidi Greene

    All animals need to be fed a biologically appropriate food for whatever species they are.
    You can’t turn a zebra into a lion by wishing it so. It’s so illogical that I’m practically speechless.
    If they go ahead and feed the animals that way I hope they are sued for abuse and neglect of every animal in their possession.

    1. Dianna

      Now THAT is a great idea. Unfortunately, how many dogs would have to get sick and/or die for a lawsuit to pound some sense into these idiots?

  23. Dr. Oscar Chavez

    Susan, very interesting, thanks for sharing. Where can we read the scientific proof that a ketogenic diet can cure cancer? I clicked on your links you provide here but they didn’t point to a peer reviewed paper or study (or maybe I missed it). I would be interested in reading about this.

    Also – interesting that there is now compounding scientific evidence in humans (published, peer reviewed studies) that eating meat increases cancer rates in humans, for specific types of cancers. This is fueling groups in human nutrition that advocate for plant based diets. I wonder if they are transferring that logic to dogs?

    I’m with you – dogs need meat. They likely don’t need the excessive amounts of meat found in most modern raw and low carb recipes. It’s a nutritional fact that once they meet their amino acid needs, all dogs do the same thing with excess protein: 1) they excrete it in the urine, or 2) they store it as fat. Dogs actually meet their protein requirements quite early, at only 25 grams per 1000 kcals, per the NRC 2006. Many modern foods are many times this – making the diet unnecessarily high in protein and (worse for the pet parent) unnecessarily expensive. I always wondered what happens to the liver and kidney after many years on these “species appropriate” foods.

    I agree we should feed dogs species appropriate foods. I simply disagree with the group on the links you provide that a high protein food is appropriate for a dog. They are not cats, they are not wolves. Species appropriate (for a dog) means a rounded diet with modest to moderate protein levels – not too dissimilar from our own balanced meals.

    1. Ten Year Follower

      Dr, Chavez, I believe I’ve met you in person at a conference hosted in Sacramento. And also used Sabine’s nutritional services long ago when JFFDs was beginning. Thank you for writing this comment! Which basically addresses moderation. I wonder whatever happened to the old fashioned concept of rotation diets too. I’ve read that dogs, in the process of being domesticated, were opportunistic feeders. Existing off of, or in conjunction, with populations who depended upon their foraging/hunting skills, meaning dogs were never handed a dish of nicely prepared balanced food. But scrapped off of leftovers, which could be a variety of non-perfect food stuff. The difference between then and now, is that the food wasn’t artificially processed, preserved, GMO’d, sprayed with pesticides, or cultivated in excessively contaminated agricultural areas.

      Dogs raised by our grandparents and older generations were fed household food scraps, usually home grown, again a varietal and seasonal diet! Also wondered why Vets prescribe a bland, combination diet of rice, cottage cheese and low fat protein to help support recovery. And seldom is the recommended diet a plate of pure, raw, fatty veined stew meat. In the wild, I’ve read dogs wouldn’t feed solely and only on the meat carcass, but also scavenged on the fermented contents the dead animal’s stomach and intestines, particularly after larger game had their fill of prime cuts.

      Somehow the myth has been perpetuated by PF manufacturers that pet diets should never be changed, or changed so slowly as in taking weeks. When actually the pet’s natural ability (via enzymes and a strong metabolism) to benefit from variety has been depleted due to not having enough, fresh, wholesome, variety in their diet in the first place! I feed combination food (turkey or minimally cooked beef, steamed veggies, cottage cheese, hardboiled egg and other goodies) but just make sure to add a balanced kibble, or digestive enzyme and pet kelp. And keep the excessive fat content to a minimum.

      PF Supply owners often sell those highly rich, all protein “raw” diets because they seem like an expedient “solution” to so many of their customer’s pet’s eating problems! When actually it’s the poor ingredient quality of commercial PF and the excessive use of trendy “pea” starch in so-called “grain-free” diets, which is not a natural food for dogs either. Nothing wrong with occasional raw food, or any other aspect of varietal feeding, just as long as the nutrient content is accumulated over time (from species appropriate) all wholesome, healthy and richly bio-available sources.

    2. Jane Doberman

      Only about 2-5% of a dog/wolf’s natural diet is from plant sources, generally from scavenging fruits or the contents of their prey’s intestines. The rest is from meat, but it’s not all muscle meat which provides the protein. This includes offal and bone matter, so one of the first things you’ll learn when researching a BARF (biologically appropriate raw food) diet is that you need the right percentage of muscle meat, organ meat, fat, and bone. But a 95% meat diet is not excessive for a dog, it’s actually appropriate as long as it’s balanced. Humans are omnivores, and realistically we only need 3-5 ounces of meat in a meal, when in reality we generally consume 2-3 times as much. That and the meat source is from feedlot-style production which is unhealthy compared to grass-fed pasture-raised animals which is actually healthy. So the human cancers you’re referencing are more a result of the source and amount of meat in our diet, rather than meat in principle.

      So yes, dogs don’t need excessive protein (it actually leads to kidney disease), but their diet should be almost all meat, with a small percentage of fruits/vegetables added. None of their diet should come from any grain, corn, or soy product. Excessive carbs leads to diabetes and cancer in dogs.

    3. Jane Doberman

      Also, not all vegetables are created equal. Potatoes are empty calories and full of unhealthy starch, for example. Peas and other cheap veggies that are often found in dog foods are also not great, especially in excess. Leafy greens and carrots, blackberries and blueberries, are the sorts of things that dogs should be eating, in addition to balanced meat sources.

  24. Reverend Jane Eagle

    I sent this letter (followed by yours):
    I adamantly disagree with the potential decision to move LAAS shelter dogs to a vegan diet.


    I would love to put my dogs on a vegan diet, so I have researched it as extensively as possible. I would never do this to any predator who I cared about.So far there is no hard evidence that dogs can be healthy for the long term on a vegan diet.

    If you truly care about the welfare of animals in your care, then please start by instituting a No Kill policy immediately; and this does not mean that you can classify dogs as “unadoptable” just because they have been there longer than you want, as my local shelter does. For steps to accomplish this, see: ;

  25. Debbie

    Dogs are neither omnivores or herbivores. They are Carnivores. Basically this place is trying to KILL the dogs before they ever get started. I agree with Heidi Green above. Anyone feeding vegan should be ashamed of themselves for ever doing a dog this way. It is NOT healthy..I don’t care what they say or think. SAD that they think this acceptable without talking to some of the largest experts on the planet about why a dog should NOT be fed vegan diets. Its inhumane. Healthy my A$$! Ha! Tainted meat..thats YOUR fault for feeding tainted meat.

  26. Dianna

    Did it. Thanks for making this so easy to do, Susan. Just when you think that people who should know better couldn’t be less informed, they come out and surprise us. If they fed these animals FOOD grade meat, they would solve a lot of the problems they say they have and would save money in the long run. I’m sure tainted meat poisoning animals is costly for shelters. I wonder just how much the “budget” has to do with this??? Follow the money, they always say.

    1. Jane Doberman

      Undoubtedly it has everything to do with the budget. Plant-based proteins are WAY cheaper than meat-based ones, and the only reason things like corn and soy have found their way into dog food is because of cost.

  27. maxie

    while peta kills with an injection, it’s a quicker way to die, a vegan diet will kill them slowly, that’s a horrible way to die. neither is acceptable for any healthy animal’s life to end. canines are not plant eaters and I have read many reports of people forcing their cats/dogs to eat vegan and the animals had many health issues because of it. kill them with kindness? I think not, make them so ill that they will need to be put down, and what happens when a person does happen to adopt/buy one of these shelter animals and they start feeding them a normal diet again? hopefully, they do it slow enough for them to get their systems back to functioning normally again without any medical issues. dumb, ignorant, uneducated on the shelters part to even want to do this.

  28. Sandra Murphey

    Unfortunately I just saw this, only one day before the vote. But I jumped into action by posting a question on Quora, which asks what people think of this….. Then I requested answers from specific dog people, so hopefully it will have more visibility. Facebook is next.

  29. Sammi Maon

    Ugh, I’m late on this, but sent an email anyway. Does anyone know what the result is?

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