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Animals, People, & the Earth

Yes, Dogs CAN Thrive on a Plant-Based Diet!

We're proud to say that Wisdom Air-Dried From the Seed Recipe is the only air-dried plant-based dog food on the market— but can plant-based diets actually support the nutritional needs of dogs? Our Co-Founder and Head of Product Development, Dr. Bob Goldstein, weighs in on why we created this new option for dog parents.

Are dogs carnivores?

While science indicates that dogs have descended from carnivorous wolves, it also proves that dogs evolved alongside humans for thousands of years and have adapted to eating new foods— including grains, vegetables, and fruits— along the way. Dogs are biologically omnivorous like bears and humans, and they can digest and derive nutrients from both plant and animal-based sources. The question beyond digestibility, however, is whether they can thrive on a plant-based diet?  The answer is yes! When carefully formulated to include all of the essential nutrients they need, our canine companions do exceptionally well on a plant-based diet.

The most recent study (1) was the first to test the digestibility of an all-plant-based dog food against a leading meat-based pet food. Plant-based protein digestibility was as high as animal protein, and plant fat absorption was even higher. Notably, dogs who were fed plant-based food had better blood analysis results along with improved gut health. Dr. Kelly Swanson, Professor of Animal and Nutritional Sciences at the University of Illinois, who ran the study, says, “Dogs have nutrient requirements, not ingredient requirements.”

In another study (2)
the researchers discovered that feeding dogs a plant-based diet resulted in improved health and vitality as well as excellent blood analysis results. Another study (3) authored by Dr. Knight addressed consumer concerns about the possible health risks associated with dogs eating a plant-based diet. This study by Dr. Knight “indicated that the healthiest and least hazardous dietary choices for dogs, among conventional, raw meat and vegan diets, are nutritionally sound vegan diets.” In his latest study (4), Dr. Knight examined the negative environmental impacts of meat-based diets on our planet.

Common allergies in dogs stem from feeding chicken, beef, dairy, corn and wheat. A study (5) on these allergens found that dog parents can help reduce adverse food reactions by replacing many animal proteins with plant-based proteins.

“The most common food allergies continue to be meat and poultry sourced from factory farms where the animals are being fed inferior, cheap ingredients and fillers,” says Dr. Bob Goldstein, Co-Founder and Head of Product Development for Earth Animal. “Agriculturally raised animals are fed a GMO type of diet for rapid growth which can influence a dog or cat’s overall health and sensitivities. In other words, it’s not necessarily a specific protein but the quality of the ingredient that is important.”

“In addition, food allergies develop when a dog has been fed the same food (protein) year after year,” Dr. Goldstein explains. “Diversification is crucial in helping to prevent allergies. Earth Animal’s Wisdom Air-Dried From the Seed plant-based dog food is a neutral food consisting of specially sourced ingredients that do not invoke inflammation or allergic reactions. These plant sources include lentil, potato, sunflower seed and alfalfa proteins and do not contain allergy producing plants such as wheat, corn and soy” says Dr. Bob Goldstein.

Most plant-based dog foods on the market are highly cooked and processed kibble. “The high heat of traditional processing can denature proteins into large chunks of amino acids which are foreign to the dog’s body and can incite the allergic response,” says Dr. Bob. What differentiates our plant-based Wisdom is our proprietary, gentle, air-dried cooking method of whole food ingredients. Formulated by Dr. Bob Goldstein with a team of pet food nutritionists, food scientists, and top experts in plant-based foods, Wisdom Air-Dried From the Seed is the only air-dried plant-based dog food on the market, making it nutritionally superior to other plant-based dog foods.

A smiling dog waits patiently to be served a bowl of Wisdom Air-Dried Dog Food

But do dogs actually like the taste?

The results have been overwhelmingly positive. While an abundance of high-quality ingredients contribute to the great taste, we added a nutritious human-grade yeast extract that carries an aroma and flavor similar to beef, making Wisdom Air-Dried From the Seed a highly palatable food option for dogs.  In fact, in our own palatability testing, From the Seed showed a strong acceptance relative to our other flavors.

The truth is that the best diet for any dog is one that is derived from whole food ingredients and also provides: 

  • Sufficient protein (containing all of the ten essential amino acids)
  • A variety of bioactive superfoods
  • All essential fatty acids

To ensure a balanced diet, From the Seed includes the following key nutrients: 

  • Lentil protein, quinoa protein, sunflower seed protein, alfalfa protein and potato protein, which together contain all of the essential amino acids for muscle development and maintenance of health. “We selected a wide variety of plant-based protein sources to ensure a complete amino acid profile. These are the same ingredients I recommended in my integrative veterinary practice for folks who wanted to home cook or add to kibble to enhance its nutritional value”, says Dr. Bob.
  • Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids from sources such as flaxseed and algae, which support brain function, skin health, and a healthy inflammatory response. These fats are crucial for a dog’s overall health and well-being.
  • Carbohydrates and phytonutrients from whole fruits and veggies, which provide antioxidants, energy, fiber and digestive and metabolism support.

Wisdom Air-Dried From the Seed is nutritionally balanced equal to a meat-based diet.

These plant proteins when combined together, contain all the 10 essential amino acids required by the dog for optimum health. Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins necessary for a complete and balanced diet. Skeptics of plant-based diets for dogs, should review the mounting scientific evidence supporting the feeding of a properly formulated and balanced plant-based diet.  Also, Wisdom Air-Dried From The Seed is equally as palatable as meat-based diets!

We made Wisdom Air-Dried From the Seed knowing the plant-based dog food market was lacking a high-quality, nutrient-dense option. The resulting formula is nutritionally complete and contains all the necessary ingredients, vitamins, minerals, and amino acids (protein) needed to help dogs thrive. All of this makes for a great option not just for plant-based dogs but for any dog parent hoping to rotate a variety of protein options into their dog’s diet.

Try this recipe here.



(1)    Leah J Roberts, Patricia M Oba, Kelly S Swanson,  Apparent Total Tract Macronutrient Digestibility of Mildly Cooked Human-Grade Vegan Dog Foods and their effects on the blood metabolites and fecal characteristics, microbiota, and metabolites of adult dogs, Journal of Animal Science, Volume 101, 2023, skad093, 27 March 2023, https://doi.org/10.1093/jas/skad093

(2)    Annika Linde,  Maureen Lahiff, Adam Krantz,   Nathan Sharp, Theros T. Ng,  Tonatiuh Melgarejo, Domestic dogs maintain positive clinical, nutritional, and hematological health outcomes when fed a commercial plant-based diet for a yeardoi: https://doi.org/10.1101/2023.02.18.525405

(3)    Knight A, Huang E, Rai N, Brown H (2022) Vegan versus meat-based dog food: Guardian-reported indicators of health. PLoS ONE 17(4): e0265662. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal. pone.0265662 Editor: Simon Clegg, University of Lincoln, UNITED KINGDOM Received: September 8, 2021 Accepted: March 6, 2022 Published: August 31, 2023 https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0291214

(4)    Knight A, (2023) The relative benefits for environmental sustainability of vegan diets for dogs, cats and people. PLoS ONE. Published: October 4, 2023 https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0291791

(5)    Ralf S. MuellerThierry Olivry,and  Pascal Prélaud, (2016) Critically appraised topic on adverse food reactions of companion animals (2): common food allergen sources in dogs and cats. National Library of Medicine
Published: Online, 2016 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4710035/

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