The Best Vegan Dog Food Brands (Wet and Dry) to Buy in 2020

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Whether you’re here because you’re vegan yourself and want to feed your dog(s) vegan food, or your dog has allergies or skin conditions, and a vet has recommended plant-foods, I’ve got you covered.

I spent several hours reading every study on vegan dog food I could find, and looking through all vegan dog food options to find the best vegan dog foods.

The good news is that like humans, dogs are omnivores, so they can thrive on plant diets, as long as they have all the necessary nutrients. They are one of the best pets for vegans.

I get how much your dog means to you, and that’s why I put so much effort into finding the top vegan dog foods that you can feel good about feeding to your best friend.

So let’s not waste any more time and dig in. Afterwards, check out my guide to the best vegan dog treats.

What Makes One Vegan Dog Food Better Than Another?

There are 2 main factors we’re looking for here.

Cost, which is a simple thing to compare.

And nutritional adequacy. Your dog is one of, if not the, most important part(s) of your life. You don’t want to take chances that he or she might get sick on a new food because it’s not good enough for them.

Technically, there’s a third factor too, taste, but that’s a bit tough to test. We can see how other people’s dogs have enjoyed or disliked the taste of foods however.

But the nutritional adequacy is the big factor that can be tricky.

This is where those studies I mentioned before come in.

According to most studies, it’s clear that a vegan diet can be good enough for dogs to thrive on. Dogs often get healthier after switching from traditional dog foods (which vary in quality a lot).

I won’t go over every study, but a favorite of mine is when they tested putting husky sled dogs on vegan diets. After 16 weeks, the dogs were assessed as being in excellent physical condition, with no trace of anaemia or other possible worrying condition.

SUMMARY

Several studies have shown that dogs can thrive and be healthy long-term on a well-planned vegan diet.

Not All Vegan Dog Foods Are Nutritionally Sufficient

There are many good vegan dog foods, but some bad ones as well. It’s gotten a lot better over time. Your dog may not do well on certain vegan dog foods.

According to research, the most common nutrients they lack are:

  • Protein (sometimes specific amino acids like methionine and cysteine)
  • Potassium
  • Vitamin B12 (just like human vegans)
  • Sodium.

In a reasonably recent study (in 2015), a research team examined 24 commercial vegetarian dog foods, made by a total of 12 companies.

Six of the 24 diets (25%) did not meet the minimum amino acid requirements. There were some limitations (only measured 2 samples of each), so it’s possible it was just measurement error. Keep in mind that about 15% of dog foods (non-vegan) in general don’t fully meet requirements.

But this also means that 75% of vegan dog foods were nutritionally complete. So avoid the cheapest ones with low quality ingredients and your dog should be happy and healthy.

Another research team reached out to those companies, and most replied that their foods really do meet AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials) nutritional requirements.

One company in particular (Wysong), actually admitted that its food is not likely to be nutritionally complete:

Wysong does not advocate the singular feeding of VeganTM to carnivores such as dogs and cats. . . .It is designed for intermittent feeding or as a base to add different meats for sensitivities and allergies.

So what does all this mean?

The big takeaway is to stick to trusted brands, and most importantly – rotate your dog foods.

If there is a deficiency in a food you buy, it’s not likely to cause major problems in the short term. If you rotate to another food afterwards, it likely won’t have the same deficiency, so they’ll essentially cover up each others flaws.

If possible, you can give your dog a mix of dry and wet foods to help address deficiencies all the time. Treats and table scraps can also help with variety and covering small deficiencies.

SUMMARY

Not all commercial vegan dog foods have a sufficient amount of essential nutrients. Stick to brands with lots of positive reviews, visit the vet regularly, and consider rotating foods in case any particular food has a deficiency.

Wet Food vs Dry Food: Animal Products Are Often in “Vegan” Dog Foods

I found a concerning study in my research.

They tested several vegan dog foods for animal DNA.

They found that all dry vegan dog food that they tested contained some level of animal DNA. Almost none of the wet food did.

vegan dog food contamination chart with animal dna

They didn’t specify which brands they tested, or how much DNA was found however, so it could be a minuscule amount.

Still, I thought it was worth mentioning.

If you want to be 100% sure that your vegan dog food is actually vegan, stick to wet food.

With all that said, let’s look at the best vegan dog foods, both wet and dry.

The 9 Best Vegan Dog Foods (5 Dry, 4 Wet)

To find the best foods, I collected data of several vegetarian (most were also vegan) dog foods.

I looked at a few main factors:

  1. Cost
  2. Ingredient quality
  3. Amount of protein
  4. Customer reviews

Putting all these together, I determined an overall rating for each food and sorted them.

The foods below this point are all the top vegan dog foods. Some might be a bit better than others, but I would be comfortable feeding a dog any of these.

Again, it might be worth rotating through these options over time.

I took out all the bad options, which is why the overall ratings are pretty high for all these.

Finally, remember to switch over to a new food slowly to avoid stomach issues (gas, diarrhea, etc.). Mix in a bit with their old food, and slowly increase the ratio over a week or two.

I’ve created a comparison table for each type of food, and then I’ve broken down each product in more detail further below the tables.

Dry Food Comparison Table

Brand NameCost (per gram)Crude Protein (%)Rating
Natural Balance$$184.8
V-Dog Kinder Kibble$$$244.8
Nature's Recipe$214.5
Royal Canin$$$$174.3
Halo Holistic Garden$$$$$204.1

Wet Food Comparison Table

FoodCost (per gram)Crude Protein (%)Rating
Natural Balance$$$54.5
Royal Canin$$$6.54.3
AvoDerm$$$7.54.2
Halo Holistic Garden$$$$$5.754.1

The 5 Best Dry Vegan Dog Foods

Dry foods are the cheaper option of the 2 in general, and have the benefit of being easier to store and having a long shelf life.

Let’s go through the top options for dry food in more detail now.

1. Natural Balance Vegetarian Formula Dry Dog Food

natural balance vegetarian dog food

Breed sizes: Small Breeds, Medium Breeds, Large Breeds

Main ingredients: Rice, Oats, Barley, Peas

Cost: $$

What really stands out about Natural Balance is that it’s cheap, despite being high quality (no corn or obvious junk ingredients).

It’s appropriate for multiple breed sizes, and intended for adult dogs.

The food itself is manufactured in the United States, but the ingredients are sourced from all over. This still gives you some confidence and trust in the quality of the kibble.

Every review I’ve seen for this food is great. There are very few complaints about it, and you’ll find at least a couple for any dog food so it’s expected.

Note that while the name of the food has “vegetarian” in it, it is a vegan food.

It’s great for dogs with allergies and stomach issues, like most of the foods in this list.

There’s always a risk that your dog won’t like a new food, but this is arguably the most well liked vegan food I came across. It has a great price as well, so I highly recommend it. You can see my full Natural Balance Vegetarian dog food review here for more details.

2. V-Dog Kinder Kibble Vegan Adult Dry Dog Food

v dog vegan dog kibble

Breed sizes: Large Breeds

Main ingredients: Dried peas, Pea protein, Brown rice, Oatmeal

Cost: $$$

V-Dog is the only brand on this list that exclusively makes vegan dog products.

They really specialize in this, and is a family operated business that’s been running since 2005. There’s been no big controversies or stories of health issues for dogs eating their foods, which is great.

This food is also intended for adult dogs, and has no corn, wheat, soy, or gluten. Note that this one is for large breeds, but they have a mini-kibble for small and medium breeds.

Note that V-Dog doesn’t make canned food, so their dry food is your only option if you like the brand.

It’s great for dogs with meat allergies and skin issues. I’ve even seen stories of it helping reduce inflammation in dogs with arthritis. Overall, reviews are very positive.

The price isn’t cheap, but it’s not on the expensive side either. You can see my full V-Dog Kinder Kibbles review here if you’d like a more detailed breakdown.

3. Nature’s Recipe Healthy Skin Vegetarian Recipe

natures recipe vegan dry food

Breed sizes: Small Breeds, Medium Breeds, Large Breeds

Main ingredients: Rice, Soybean meal, Barley

Cost: $

This is about the cheapest vegan dog food you’ll find, while still being relatively high quality (here are some other ways to get vegan dog food on a budget).

It’s a bit of a risky choice for your first vegan dog food. Most dogs like it, but there’s a decent percentage who just won’t touch it. So if they like it, it’s a great price for you, but there’s a chance you’ll need to return it.

Again this is for adults, and there are plenty of positive reviews of it helping with skin issues like itching, and allergies.

See a full brand and nutrient breakdown of this food in my complete Nature’s Recipe vegetarian dog food review.

4. Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Vegetarian Formula

royal canin dry food

Breed sizes: Small Breeds, Medium Breeds, Large Breeds

Main ingredients: Soy protein isolate, rice, rice flour, vegetable oil

Cost: $$$$

This vegan Royal Canin dry food is specially formulated for dogs with meat allergies and that have sensitive digestion.

It has great reviews, and even helps prevent urinary related problems.

Note that this is a prescription food. You can only order it if you have a prescription from a vet.

Additionally, it’s also pretty pricey. It’s cheaper online at a store than buying it from your vet, but still more expensive than other options.

5. Halo Holistic Garden Vegan Dry Dog Food Adult Dogs

halo dry food vegan packaging

Breed sizes: None specified

Main ingredients: Green peas, Chickpeas, Barley, Oat groats, Pea protein

Cost: $$$$$

Halo makes a wide variety of pet food, and has a great reputation overall.

They focus on nutritious whole ingredients (no corn, rice, or wheat in this food).

These aren’t necessarily bad ingredients in small amounts, but Halo really focuses on having food with a low glycemic index (great if you’re worried about diabetes).

halo glycemic index

In any case, it’s not a bad thing, and it could be a positive.

Most dogs love the taste too.

So why is this only in 5th place here? It’s very expensive compared to the other options (over double the cost of some).

If you’re in the position where budget is not a concern, it’s a great vegan dog food. You can see my Halo Holistic Vegan Dog Food review for more details.

Otherwise, I’ve given you 4 others that are all at least a bit cheaper and still great options.

The 4 Best Wet Vegan Dog Foods

Wet food usually costs a bit more and spoils faster, but is especially good if your dog doesn’t drink enough water.

Most of the wet foods here are made by the same brands that make the dry foods. The ingredients are often very similar, just the wet food has added water or vegetable broth.

In general, wet food costs more (similar per gram, which is what my cost dollar signs are based on, but each gram has fewer calories because the liquid, so you have to feed more).

1. Natural Balance Vegetarian Formula Canned Dog Food

natural balance wet dog food vegan

Breed sizes: Small Breeds, Medium Breeds, Large Breeds

Main ingredients: Rice, Oats, Barley, Peas

Cost: $$$

Again, Natural Balance ends up topping the list.

This is a popular vegan wet dog food that’s intended for all breeds and sizes. There’s no soy or corn, as the main carbohydrate ingredients are rice and oats, with peas for protein.

The price is right in the middle overall (on the low end just for wet foods), and it’s a high quality food that most dogs love.

2. Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Vegetarian Canned

royal canin vegan canned food

Breed sizes: Small Breeds, Medium Breeds, Large Breeds

Main ingredients: Soy protein isolate, rice, rice flour, vegetable oil

Cost:$$$

If your dog is suffering from any allergies (particularly meat ones obviously, but also wheat) or urinary issues, Royal Canin is always a good option.

Most dogs like it, I wasn’t able to dig up many negative reviews or complaints.

The big issue is that again, you need a vet’s prescription to buy this food, whether online or in person. But if you’re seeing health issues, you should see a vet anyways and can ask about Royal Canin.

3. AvoDerm Natural Vegetarian Formula

avoderm packaging

Breed sizes: Small Breeds, Medium Breeds, Large Breeds

Main ingredients: Water, Soybean Meal, Rice, Canola Oil, Barley, Peas

Cost: $$$

AvoDerm is a lesser-known brand than the others here, but this wet food has really good reviews. I always prefer to stick with foods that have been tested more for issues by other people, but AvoDerm still appears to be a solid option.

It has no corn, wheat, or soy, and pretty much every review or story I could find about it was positive.

The price is close to as good as you’ll find for a vegan wet food.

4. Halo Holistic Garden Vegan Wet Dog Food

halo vegan wet food packaging

Breed sizes: None specified

Main ingredients: Green peas, Chickpeas, Barley, Oat groats, Pea protein

Cost: $$$$$

Again, Halo comes up in last place for the wet food category.

However, keep in mind that this is a list of the best vegan dog foods. Even last place on here is very good and I’d be happy to feed a dog Halo’s wet food.

Similar to the dry food version, there’s a focus on having a low glycemic food, made mostly with whole foods. There’s no corn or wheat, which is good for dogs with ingredient sensitivity issues.

The big drawback? Price. This is as expensive as it gets, and a lot of people just can’t afford it. But if you can, it’s a good food to add to your rotation.

What About Vegan Puppy Food?

There’s quite a few options for adult dogs now, but there are virtually no vegan foods specifically for puppies.

Maybe the adult foods are fine, but puppies do have different nutritional needs.

This is where you need to talk to a vet about whether you can feed your puppy a vegan dog food for adults, or if there’s another option they can recommend.

I’m sorry I can’t give you a better answer than that. Hopefully a few companies will come out with foods for puppies and I can update this page here.

How to Feed a Dog With Vegan Food on a Budget

For an equal level of quality, vegan dog food is going to be more expensive than “normal” dog food.

There’s just less demand for it, so companies can’t manufacture it in the same quantities (gets cheaper the more you make).

But you do have a few options to lower the cost.

Monitor Online Stores for Discounts (and buy “damaged” food)

Veggie Pets is a store that sells vegan dog food like V-Dog (one of the best vegan dog foods) that is “damaged”.

vdog damaged food

So the packaging isn’t quite as nice, and maybe some of the kibble will be broken, but it brings down the price.

Almost all pet stores I’ve gone to offer sales on random products regularly. But you need to check frequently, and when vegan dog food goes on sale, buy as much as you think you can go through before it will expire.

Why Is My Dog Not Doing Well on Vegan Food?

If you’ve noticed some issues after making the switch, there are 3 main ways that the vegan food could be causing them.

Regardless if one of them is the culprit, you should always go to the vet to rule out any other serious causes, as the timing may just be coincidental. Please don’t “wait and see” before the problem develops more and can’t be stopped.

With that said, let’s go over the 3 reasons.

1. You Switched Too Fast

dogs eating picture

If you recently switched your dog to a vegan food, it’s possible that you just did it too fast.

A new food should always be introduced slowly, mixing in small amounts with your dog’s regular food.

The more different the new food is, the slower this process should be, often taking up to 2 weeks to fully switch over.

In this case, vegan dog food is very different than most foods that contain animal products, so you really have to take it slowly.

If you did switch too fast, your dog will likely have stomach issues resulting in diarrhea or sometimes vomiting.

2. Your Dog Has Food Sensitivities To Certain Plants

BMC Veterinary Research compiled a research-based list of the top dog food allergens. Here they are below.

AllergenPercentage of Dogs With Reported Reaction
Beef34%
Dairy Products17%
Chicken15%
Wheat13%
Soy6%
Lamb5%
Corn4%
Egg4%
Pork2%
Fish2%
Rice2%

The most common ones are animal products, which is why many dogs get healthier on vegan diets.

However, some dogs have issues with common ingredients in vegan dog foods like wheat, soy, corn, and rice.

These can cause stomach issues, and skin issues like rashes and itching.

If you suspect this is the problem, I’d suggest returning to your dog’s “normal” food, and then try a different vegan dog food with different ingredients. Of course, you should focus on the ones above.

It’s not too hard to find grain-free, soy-free, or corn-free vegan dog foods if you’re specifically looking for one.

3. The Vegan Dog Food is Lacking in An Essential Nutrient

I’ve researched vegan dog food for several hours reading studies and stories.

If your dog is not doing well, go to a vet NOW.

I read too many heartbreaking stories of a dog not getting enough of a certain nutrient and developing serious health problems that lead to death.

Do not mess around, do not Google another article, just go to the vet. It may not even be related to the food, but regardless, go to the vet.

Your vet may conclude that it is the food, and you’ll probably need to go back to your dog’s “normal” food at that point.

If you try to switch again in the future, make sure you’re getting a top vegan dog food that is made by a reputable manufacturer. Getting a cheap food is risky, as many of them lack important essential nutrients (whether an amino acid, or a vitamin like B12).

 

About the author

Dale Cudmore

Your friendly neighborhood vegan from Toronto. Chemical engineer turned semi-professional soccer player and freelance nutrition writer. I've been vegan for years and try to make life easier for others by sharing what I've learned.

1 comment

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