Can Golden Retrievers Be Vegetarian? A Truth You Won’t Like

There is a whole lot of controversy about the vegetarian diet for dogs right now. Many dog owners want their dogs to get on the vegetarian diet for one reason or the other, while other dog parents are screaming at them that dogs can’t be vegan and that what works for us doesn’t necessarily work for our dogs.

This has got me thinking, what about my dear goldens? Can they be vegetarian? I have done a lot of digging and asking around, and arrived at a final conclusion that I’m quite happy with.

Let’s start with the short answer;

Can Golden Retrievers Be Vegetarian? Yes, Golden Retrievers can be vegetarian but while they may survive on the vegetarian diet, they will not thrive on it. It’s possible for dogs to live a healthy life on a vegetarian diet but it requires too much effort, time, and money to keep them as healthy as they should be.

So, there you have it. My recommendation? Do not put your dog on a vegetarian diet. You probably don’t have the time or money that is needed for the micromanagement of this diet to make it as healthy as they would be on a normal diet.

To understand why your golden retriever should not be on a vegetarian diet, keep reading…

Can Goldens Live on The Vegetarian Diet?

The short answer is yes, Golden Retrievers can live on the vegetarian diet. Dogs are actually omnivores even though they belong to the Carnivora order, and their bodies have the ability to transform some amino acids into others.

Amino acids are the building blocks of protein, and since your body has the ability to transform some of these amino acids from one form into another, they can get their basic needs of proteins from vegetables without the need for meet.

This means that if we look at the question from the nutritional side of things, there are no challenges that stop dogs from getting the basic nutritional needs from a vegetarian diet.

Can Golden Retrievers get their protein on a vegetarian diet?

Yes, Golden Retrievers can get their protein from a vegetarian diet, but it requires some work. Out of all protein sources, it’s eggs actually that have the highest biological value.

What is a biological value? A biological value of a food is its ability to supply the individual amino acids that your dog’s body needs. Eggs make for an excellent source of protein for dogs for this reason.

Can Golden Retrievers Be Vegan?

Yes, surprisingly, golden retrievers can be vegan, but it’s even harder to keep your golden retriever healthy on a vegan diet than it is with a vegetarian diet.

If you don’t know, the difference between a vegetarian and a vegan diet is that in the vegan diet, no animal products are allowed, so eggs are no longer allowed. Surprisingly, this means that your dog can get their proteins on a diet that doesn’t have any meat or eggs.

Where Can Dogs Get Protein on a Vegetarian Diet?

While dogs can’t get all their protein needs from vegetables alone, they can get their proteins from sources other than meat still.

Other sources for protein on the vegetarian or vegan diet includes:

  • Eggs
  • Beans
  • Corn
  • Soy
  • Whole Grains

As well as other plant-based sources for amino acids. Even without eggs, dogs can still survive on a vegan diet if their diet contains enough plant-based protein sources and the owner can constantly maintain their diet balanced and complete. This is much harder than it sounds, and it’s the primary reason I don’t recommend the vegetarian or vegan diet for dogs at all.

Why Your Golden Retriever Shouldn’t Be Vegetarian

While your golden retriever can survive on a vegetarian diet, it’s really hard for them to thrive on it. Surviving and thriving are completely different things, and the one thing that matters when taking decisions on your dog’s diet is their health irrelevant of your own thoughts and beliefs.

Dogs belong to the carnivora classification and are natural scavengers, meaning they are adapt to surviving on plants alone if they are hungry enough and no better options are allowed, but if they have access to meat, they will prefer it every single time.

Need more proof? let’s get scientific!

If we look at the dog’s evolution, we’ll see elements that tell us that dogs are not designed to thrive on plants and grains alone.

5 Reasons Why Dogs Shouldn’t Be Vegetarian:

  1. Their Digestive Tracks are short
  2. Jaws and teeth designed for meat consumption
  3. Grains hurt their guts and cause serious problems
  4. Dogs Need Animal “Bits”
  5. Dogs Expect to eat meat

Let’s start and quickly go over each of them one by one:

Their Digestive Tracks are short

Credit: Dogs Naturally Magazine

As you can see from the image above, dogs have much shorter digestive tracts than us. This means that your dog’s gut can’t digest, discard, and process the waste of plant-based foods as efficiently as humans can.

Do you want a proof? Give your dog some vegetables – like a chunk of raw carrot – and see what comes out the other end. It comes out very similar to its original form, meaning your dog wasn’t able to digest it properly and couldn’t absorb any nutrients from the carrots.

Jaws and Teeth Designed for Meat Consumption

If you look at your dog’s body, they are clearly built to consume meat and not vegetables.

While our teeth are flatter and wider to be able to crush vegetables, their teeth are pointy and sharp to tear meat and bones apart relatively easy.

Dogs also have very strong jaws, which enable them to easily crush cartilage and bones, something which is near impossible for our weak jaws.

Your dog’s digestive system is also much less acidic than ours, and that’s because the meat they’re adapt to eat is acidifying in itself while most of our plants are alkalizing so our digestive system needs to be

Grains and your dog’s Gut

According to Dr. Julie Ann, proteins found in the un-sprouted ad GMO grains are very damaging to your dog’s gut because they contain unacceptable amounts of phytates and lectins, which are nutrient blockers or anti-nutrients.

Anti-nutrients are natural or synthetic compounds that are found in grains, beans, legumes, and nuts and their main job is to protect the plants from pests. However, these anti-nutrients bond to vitamins and minerals and makes them unabsorbable.

These anti-nutrient damage your dog’s health and impair their ability to properly assimilate nutrients by derailing the digestive enzymes.

They also make your dog’s gut inflamed, which then impairs the gut’s junctions ability to block toxins and undigested nutrients from entering the bloodstream. As toxins and undigested nutrients enter your dog’s blood stream, they can cause a plethora of health problems including allergies, chronic inflammation, and even autoimmune diseases.

For a full list of dangerous foods on dogs, check out my list for human foods your golden retriever should never, ever eat.

Dogs Need Animal “Bits”

Credit: Dogs Naturally Magazine

First off, what are the bits?

The bits are the parts of the animal’s body that are usually thrown out. However, these are actually great for your dog.

The bits include:

  • Skin
  • Brain
  • Eyeballs
  • Testicles
  • Feet
  • Hooves
  • Feathers
  • Thyroid
  • Uterus

These parts can have tremendous nutritional value for your dog, and they contain nutrients your dog can’t get anywhere else.

Some of the nutrients found in these bits:

  • B Complex Vitamins such as B12
  • Minerals including iron, copper, and Zinc
  • CoQ10, an antioxidant and crucial for energy production
  • Vitamin K2
  • Vitamin E
  • Vitamin D
  • Quality Fats

Dogs Expect to eat meat

If you are planning on switching your dog to a vegetarian diet, you should know that you are in for some resistance. Dogs expect to eat meat or for their meals to have some sort of meat in their food.

If they are already used to meals with meat in it, they may refuse to eat meals with no food at all. Most probably, though, you will try a couple of vegetarian recipes before you find something your dog enjoys.

Unfortunately, you will then face a much more serious problem; their bodies also expect meat, and can’t get the same nutrients out of their new diet.

This can lead to health issues quickly. For example, a diet change could cause excessive hair shedding in golden retrievers. It can also stress them out and cause them to become anxious or aggressive.


While Golden Retrievers can be vegetarian, it’s not recommended to put your golden retriever on a vegetarian diet as it can impact their health negatively.

In conclusion, there is not enough scientific evidence to support vegetarianism for dogs, and most of the scientific research we do have shows that dogs were evolved to thrive on a balanced diet that contains both vegetables and meat.

Related Questions

Can Golden Retrievers Eat Grapes?

No, Golden Retrievers can’t eat grapes. Grapes and raisins are dangerous on golden retrievers even in small amounts. Feeding golden retrievers – whether adult or puppy – raising or grapes can result in serious complications such as severe acute kidney failure and death.


Can dogs Be Vegetarian? PetMD

Can Dogs Be Vegetarians? Dogs Naturally Magazine


Hey there, I'm Matt, the author behind With a deep love for dogs and a dedication to strengthening the bond between owners and their retrievers, I've created a hub of resources for enthusiasts like you. Through engaging articles, training guides, and product reviews, I aim to provide practical advice that makes a real difference in your life as a dog owner. Whether you're a seasoned pro or new to the world of retrievers, my approachable and informative writing style ensures that you'll find valuable insights. Join me on this incredible journey of discovering what makes retrievers tick, unlocking their potential, and creating an unbreakable bond with your furry companion. Let's embark on an adventure of dog ownership together. Thank you for visiting and being part of our vibrant community.

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