Feeding vegan and vegetarian dogs has been a topic close to my heart for a while. My sweet Chihuahua passed away recently. I thought I’d better post now while the information is fresh in my mind.
My Chihuahua, who we will call “C” because of privacy issues, died at 15 years old on April 11, 2021 at around 11pm. I find that extremely interesting because I immediately thought 4-1-1, which in America we translate as “information.” It used to be where I could dial 4-1-1 on an analog phone and get the operator. A lady would answer and I could ask her to give me the phone number to anyone or business in my area. I guess now days you can still call the number, but you get a computerized female voice. But I doubt 4-1-1 gets called much anymore.
Anyway, what was my dog trying to tell me? I want to know! Was she trying to say, “Mom, pay attention, something around you is happening!” It usually takes me years to figure out a message. I will have to meditate on it and speed up the process, hopefully.
She coughed hard the last day. So much so I thought she was going to give herself a heart attack. By night, it seemed like fluid was filling up in her lungs and around her heart. The vet said Chihuahuas often have heart murmurs. No vet ever detected one in C. She was always healthy with strong legs and yes a tad strong-willed as Chihuahuas can be, but pretty sweet. I’ve seen a Chihuahua with a little collar and box for her tracheal tubes.
The day C died she looked at me in the dining room with big eyes that said, “I love you, mom.” So we took her to the vet and because of Covaids we had to sit in the car with her while she died, which I actually liked better than sitting in a cold medical room. My car is so old it’s like home. I took my dogs to the groomer and vets and the beach or park in my car. We tried sitting with her at home and holding her, but she seemed to be “drowning.” The vet was so nice. Long story short after seeing nothing could be done, which I knew because of all my other dogs’ deaths, the veterinarian ran with her inside gave her some medication and brought her back to the car. I held C in my lap in the back seat and told her what a good dog she is and all the other names of my dogs that are now on the other side. Yes, I do believe animals live on. Honestly, I don’t think anyone, Human or Animal, who are part of our family and pass on are far away. They are just a soul and spirit now.
How did my dogs become vegans or vegetarians? When I was a kid, we had two poodles, a yellow lab, and a German shepherd. The white miniature poodle ended up with pancreatitis. My dad asked the vet if it was a good idea to feed the dogs a vegetarian diet. And the vet said yes. In those days, it was the thing to feed dogs lamb, which is too rich for a poodle. Also by this time, we only had the two small poodles. The big dogs had already died.
Now realize we just fed them what made sense at the time. And for some reason it was really easy. I think poodles just do well on people food. My mom would make veggie soup and some white rice. And there was onion and garlic in the soup—maybe not always garlic, but always onion. We also bought the canned vegetarian dog foods that were vegan. As I’ve explained before vegetarian can be an all-encompassing word. Now we know that garlic and onion isn’t easy for dogs to digest so I wouldn’t do that these days. The poodles lived on a vegan diet for the last five and six years of their lives and thrived.
But with my last two dogs they were different. I had a black miniature poodle that we adopted from the pound. We’ll call her B by her initial because she was kind of a B. She was jealous of C and it took a year for her to be nice. It turned out B was a diabetic. It was emotional to find out. The receptionist at the vet’s office said to take her back to the animal shelter. I was like what? No way! So I called my dad who is a diabetic and he said I didn’t need to do the thousands of dollars of testing that the vet suggested and to immediately start the dog on insulin. So well. I tried. It turned out the vet we got that day had just found out her husband is a diabetic. We went back to the vet to learn how to give shots. They wanted us to practice on their cat, “Diablo.” I just couldn’t. I think I gave our dog maybe two shots in all those years. I would break out in a sweat. I felt tingly sort of. I just couldn’t. Some people just don’t understand, but I’m probably an empath so that’s why it’s difficult to do something that even seems painful. So Renaissance Man gave our old poodle, who was 11 years old when we adopted her, shots twice a day for five years. He was really fast and the dog even liked her shots because she knew she was going to get a treat.
If you have a diabetic dog then sometimes you can get a neighbor to give the shots or the vet or the dog groomer can do it, but at some point someone at home has to do it since it’s a commitment. So if Renaissance Man had to go on a business trip my neighbor who was a nurse would give the shots to our dog. It’s one of those things most people don’t understand unless faced with the challenge. My heart goes out to parents with diabetic children, but now they have those insulin pumps. But there are still challenges. I met so many diabetics throughout B’s life. That dog loved me more than anyone else. I was lucky, she died fast too within a day. She had a nice retirement.
I was blessed to have my two dogs go down fast because my parents’ small dog got out of the house a couple of months ago and was torn apart by coyotes. It was devastating for them.
When it came to feeding a diabetic dog I fed her cut lentils from Trader Joe’s with homemade baked chicken. Then I tried Wysong feline/canine vegan dry food. She loved it. The Chihuahua did too. Even the cat was like I want some. It is made for dogs and cats and is tiny for those small teeth. Then I would boil carrots, green beans, potatoes, and peas. Once the veggies cooled, I blended them and would put that on the vegan kibble. I would feed the dogs that for as long as they would enjoy it then go back to chicken and lentils. I think I would put some kibble with that. The two dogs also liked boiled zucchini. The vet said diabetics have to have protein, but I didn’t notice an issue with feeding the diabetic poodle vegan meals for many weeks. She never went into shock. Her blood work came out pretty good, but after two times I refused to have her curve done because it hurts having the ear cut 6 times a day. B went from loving the vet to hating it. I can’t blame her. She cried like a goat when she saw the vet.
As for the Chihuahua she was picky. She didn’t really like a full-time vegan lifestyle. Every dog is different.
Oh yeah and I tried eggs from the farmers market where I knew they treated their small flock of chickens right. I scrambled the eggs but the two dogs and cat didn’t always like them no matter how I made them.
As far as snacks, B loved strawberries and C loved apples, carrots, and lettuce. Every time I made a salad, C would come running. In the end, C loved unsalted Terra yam and carrot chips.
Because I am vegan, at this time, I don’t see myself getting another dog for a long time. I also am not too keen of vaccinations. Sometimes my little dogs didn’t do well on vaccines. My diabetic poodle’s vet told me, they don’t really know if vaccinations work on dogs. The last shots they got were rabies since that’s all my groomer required. Vaccinations are tested on animals. So in the end I stopped vaccinating my dogs.
When we had rabbits, I notice the pellets had animal in them. So I stopped feeding pellets to our rabbits and gave them fresh food only. Rabbits are vegans. I would love to have rabbits again. I had outdoor ones, but would love to have a house-trained rabbit. I think the cat would be cool with it.
I hope you’ll try some vegan options for your pets. Even if some of the food is vegan that’s a life saved. In the end, I do what works best for my family.
Copyright 2021 Melissa Crismon