Do dogs really need to eat meat?

It may come as no surprise that at Grub Club, we’re firmly not on Team Meat. But hey, we like to think we’re decent people so we’re here to give you a balanced argument when it comes to choosing the best option for your dog (because we’re always Team Dog).

However before we get started, it is worth noting that our pets account for a whopping 20% of the world’s meat and fish consumption. Yes, really. Meat production can have harmful effects on the planet’s water and land resources and is one of the biggest contributors to global warming. Scary stuff.

Do dogs really need to eat meat?

The myth: Dogs are like wild wolves and need a hunky meat-based diet. 

The reality: Dogs are more than capable of surviving (and thriving) without any traditional meat at all. *louder for those in the back* Dogs do not need to survive on meat to have a nutritious diet. 

Is a meat free diet healthy for dogs?

In short, yes. Here’s why:

  • A meat free diet contains less allergens. Did you know some of the most common food allergy triggers for dogs are beef, dairy, eggs, chicken and lamb? A meat-free diet is a great alternative for dogs that suffer with sensitive tummies and itchy skin after eating meat protein.
  • A meat free diet typically contains less fat content and calories so it is better for obese dogs. 

When opting for a meat-free diet for your dog, you predominantly have two options: a vegan/vegetarian diet or making the switch to insect protein instead. Let’s explore the pros and cons of both. 

Is it okay to feed your dog a vegan diet?

A vegetable-based diet for dogs is generally well tolerated by our canine pals. Dogs can happily live on a vegan-based diet due to it being naturally low in fat (great for dogs suffering from obesity) and rich in fibre (wave goodbye to runny poops). It’s also a much cleaner way to feed your pooch (no bacteria lying around from raw meat) and it is far more sustainable for the planet.  

Just like humans, every dog is unique and in very few cases, there may be dogs allergic to certain vegan food products. For example, a very small percentage of dogs may be allergic to ingredients such as sweet potato, pea protein and fruit such as blueberries. However, allergies relating to vegan/vegetarian ingredients are far less common than allergies linked to animal products.

Warning: vegan diets can be nutritionally incomplete

When shopping around for dog food, you might see the term ‘nutritionally complete’. This means the dog food provides balanced nutrition for everyday feeding. AKA… You don’t need to feed your dog anything else other than their dog food to provide them with the nutrients they need to keep healthy.  

Many vets and animal nutritionists suggest that vegan diets for dogs can carry a significant risk of potential dietary deficiency. The six basic nutrients your dog needs are water, proteins, fats, carbohydrates, minerals, and vitamins. These essential nutrients are required as part of the dog’s regular diet and are involved in all of the basic functions of the body. A lack of a nutritionally balanced and complete diet can have lasting effects including heart issues for larger breed dogs, such as canine dilated cardiomyopathy. 

Dietary deficiency can be avoided with careful planning and preparation. Whilst there are some vegan kibble brands around (good for busy lifestyles), surviving on just vegetables and fruit alone can put your dog at risk of malnutrition. 

Insect protein: what are the benefits for dogs?

  1. Insect protein is naturally hypoallergenic for dogs. Like vegan diets, insect-based dog food is a really good alternative for dogs that suffer with allergies to meat and grains. That means less itching and scratching and much rosier farts (from the dog that is).
  2. Unlike vegan diets, Insects are incredibly high in protein, providing up to two times more protein per 100g when compared to beef. Holy cow! Better still, insect protein is much easier for dogs to digest than meat.
  3. Fussy dog? It’s official. Bugs taste best. We tried over 20 recipes, ran lots of tests (let’s say we weren’t short of four-legged volunteers) and when compared to other meat-based treats, 90% of dogs chose Grub Club every time. Insect protein has officially been approved by Reggies, Berties, Bellas and Teddys, all over the UK. 
  4. We’re about to throw some stats at you here. Insect protein is incredibly sustainable. It requires 47 x less land, 25 x less CO2 and 25 x less water than farmed meat - because big carbon footprints are soooo 2018.

What insects are used in dog food?

The insects mostly commonly used in bug-based dog food are crickets and fly larvae.

Here at Grub Club, we use the larvae from the Black Soldier Fly (Hermetia illucens). As one of nature’s most efficient up-cyclers, these grubs are a much-needed sustainable protein source for an ever-expanding human population as well as all our furry friends. What’s amazing is that, in one year, a single acre of black soldier fly larvae can produce more protein than 3,000 acres of cattle. Each grub is effectively a little protein powerhouse.

We feed our grubs on organic plant-based matter. This process is incredibly efficient and requires a fraction of the land area and water that traditional livestock would need. It’s also completely zero waste.

UK and EU legislation permits the inclusion of insect protein in pet diets and our BSF larvae are recognised by the British Veterinary Association for use in pet food. And no, it doesn't look like bugs! Just your ordinary kibble (with insect protein superpowers). 

Is it better to feed dogs meat or dog food?

Either way, if your dog enjoys the taste, your chosen method of feeding is nutritionally complete, and your dog does not suffer with any allergies relating to their food, then great. Happiness and health is what we all want for our dogs right?

But feeding your dog raw meat can carry significant risks to both human and animal health due to potential for bacterial and parasitic infections such as salmonella, campylobacter, mycobacteria and toxoplasma - to name a few. You can pick up these nasty bugs by contamination of surfaces, food bowls and through your dog licking your hands and face. Yuck!

Feeding your dog meat can also be typically more expensive than feeding your dog kibble and it’s time consuming to prep and clean afterwards. Oh and did we mention that our pets account for a whopping 20% of the world’s meat and fish consumption?

Ready to move your dog to a hypoallergenic, more sustainable yet equally as nutritious diet?