When you’re going plant-based and trying new vegan foods, you may have questions about which ones are safe to share with your dog. Well, I’ve been vegan for twelve years and have had a dog for two—so I’m probably one of the best people to show you the ropes!
Below, I’ll cover the vegan ingredients NOT to feed to your dog, and then I’ll dive into a bunch of these common questions about which vegan/health foods should be off-limits for your pet!
Note: I am not a veterinarian or any kind of dog/pet professional—but I’ll cite more sources along the way to help you sort through the best info online.
Which Vegan Ingredients Are Toxic to Dogs?
We’ve all probably heard that chocolate is bad for dogs. Maybe you’ve heard of other ones, too, like grapes or onions. Well, let’s start with a full list of those harmful foods.
With most of the following foods, it’s not like one crumb will kill your dog. Small dogs will often be more sensitive to small amounts, whereas big dogs can sometimes tolerate more. But my sense is that it’s best to completely avoid all of these foods.
Below is a full table of harmful foods, and this Healthline article includes more details and primary sources if needed.
|Vegan Ingredient||How It Harms Dogs|
|Grapes and Raisins||Can lead to rapid kidney failure and potentially death, even in small amounts.|
|Chocolate (dark chocolate is worst)||Can lead to heart attacks, internal bleeding, and death if severe.|
|Avocados||Can lead to fluid buildup in the lungs and chest, causing various complications and potentially death.|
|Xylitol (an artificial sweetener)||Can lead to a rapid drop in blood sugar and potentially liver failure and death.|
|Caffeine||Can lead to abnormal heart rhythms and lung failure, potentially death.|
|Alcohol||Can lead to lung failure, seizures, coma, and death.|
|Active Yeast (in raw dough)||Can lead to severe bloating and potentially alcohol poisoning and death.|
|Salt (in large enough amounts)||Can lead to water deprivation, fever, tremors, other complications, and potentially death.|
|Macadamia Nuts||Can lead to weakness, vomiting, and tremors.|
|Onions, Garlic, and Chives||Can lead to hemolytic anemia and other problems.|
|Apples, Apricots, Cherries, Peaches, Plums||Can lead to digestive problems via cyanide poisoning from the seeds/pits.|
Note: Milk and dairy products also cause digestive problems for many dogs due to lactose intolerance. But since it’s not vegan, I didn’t include it in the table.
Common Dog Allergies to Food
Keep in mind that many dogs also have food allergies or sensitivities that can also affect them negatively. These are also worth keeping in mind, beyond the toxic foods listed above.
According to WedMD, these are the most common food allergies for dogs (vegan foods are bolded): “beef, dairy, wheat, egg, chicken, lamb, soy, pork, rabbit, and fish.”
So, as we address a bunch of the vegan foods listed below, you’ll want to keep in mind that wheat and soy are problematic for some dogs but not all dogs.
Food allergy symptoms are usually something like the following: chronic ear inflammation, gastrointestinal problems, chronic diarrhea, chronic gas, licking their feet, or itchy rear end. (source)
Can Dogs Eat Tofu?
Dogs can indeed eat tofu. However, it is not recommended as their main protein source, as it does not contain all their essential amino acids. Tofu can also cause problems for some dogs due to soy allergies or gas.
I’ve given my dog little bits of scrambled tofu before. (I don’t include onions in my scrambled tofu—again, onions are bad for dogs.) My dog seemed to like the tofu, and it didn’t cause any problems.
Soybeans are a type of bean, of course. And beans, well, they can give you gas—and that applies for your dog, too.
But personally, I’ve found that tofu gives me much less gas than whole beans, as it doesn’t contain nearly as much fiber. (Read my guide to stop vegan farting for more on the relationship between fiber and gas—it’s really interesting actually how it works.)
So what I’m saying is—I personally don’t think that your dog getting horrible gas from some scraps of tofu is very likely, unless they have an allergy. It’s just something to keep an eye on.
Can Dogs Eat Tempeh?
Tempeh is generally safe for dogs. However, there is a potential risk for allergies whenever feeding your dog soy, and it is not a complete protein for dogs. That said, tempeh in moderation should be fine and healthy for your dog.
Again, I’d start by only feeding my dog little scraps of tempeh. And I wouldn’t rely on it to replace her overall dog food, as it is not specially formulated to fit her nutrient needs. (Also that could get expensive!)
But yes, it should be safe to share some tempeh with your dog!
Can Dogs Eat Vegan Bacon?
Dogs can eat vegan bacon, but I would not recommend feeding them large amounts regularly. Although there are no acutely toxic ingredients for dogs in veggie bacon, it is often quite high in sodium, which can lead to problems. In addition, it is generally not formulated to meet the nutritional needs of dogs.
I included veggie bacon in this section because it’s often made of tempeh. But even if your veggie bacon is made out of seitan, soy isolate protein, or something else, the answer is likely about the same.
With most of these vegan specialty foods, just recognize they are not intended to be dog food, so don’t go overboard.
Can Dogs Eat Seitan?
Seitan is generally safe for dogs. However, some dogs have an allergy or sensitivity to wheat, which is present in seitan. The levels of sodium in seitan are also higher than recommended for dogs, so you should not feed them too much or as a consistent replacement for dog food.
If you want more info about dogs and wheat, check out this post from PetMD. It explains that, for most dogs, there is absolutely no need to cut out gluten or wheat, despite its sketchy reputation in recent public discourse.
You can even make your own seitan at home, which means seitan can be one of the cheapest and potentially more natural, simple mock meats available for you and/or your dog.
Can Dogs Eat Nutritional Yeast?
Dogs can eat nutritional yeast. Some dog health sources even recommend it as a supplement for the B vitamins it contains. Active yeast (and raw dough) should not be fed to dogs, but since nutritional yeast is an inactive yeast, it is healthy and should not cause problems.
I’ve heard that dogs love if you just sprinkle nutritional yeast on their food. Personally, I haven’t tried this because nutritional yeast is expensive, and my dog already likes her food!
But as mentioned above, I have given my dog pieces of scrambled tofu, which I season heavily with nutritional yeast. She liked it, and it didn’t cause any problems.
In fact, there’s a classic book on natural health for dogs and cats by Dr. Richard Pitcairn (Amazon link for the book), and it recommends adding nutritional yeast to your dog’s diet as a supplement!
Keep portion size in mind for nutritional yeast. Aside from the cost, it may have unexpected health effects in large doses. In humans, I know there are concerns about urea/gout when eating too much nooch.
There has also been some detected lead levels in certain brands of nutritional yeast. However, the amount is very low, so it should not be a problem at the levels most people (and dogs) are eating nooch (a few tablespoons at a time or less).
Can Dogs Eat Veggie Burgers?
Dogs can usually tolerate veggie burgers, but it’s not recommended in large quantities or as a regular meal. Some veggie burgers contain onion and garlic, which are toxic ingredients for dogs. Veggie burgers containing soy or cheese may also cause allergies or digestive problems for dogs.
In the book by Dr. Pitcairn (Amazon link) on natural health for dogs, he says that a veggie burger can be a good occasional meal or snack. But let’s address this concern about onions and garlic.
Remember that onions and garlic are toxic to dogs, causing their bodies to attack their own red blood cells. This can lead to anemia. So if you see “onion” or “garlic” in the ingredients list, it’s probably best to just not feed it to your dog.
Will you realistically reach toxic levels of onion or garlic in a single veggie burger? I feel pretty confident saying no… But why take the chance?
According to the American Kennel Club, it takes a full medium-sized onion to cause toxic effects in a 45-pound dog. And their article on garlic reports that it’d take about 2 to 10 garlic cloves to cause toxic effects for most dogs. But they also note that onion and garlic powder can be more toxic than fresh.
So it’s probably best to avoid any onion and garlic when you know it to be present in a given food, including burgers.
Can Dogs Eat Boca Burgers?
It’s not recommended to feed your dog Boca Burgers, due to the ingredients containing a small amount of onion. Onion and garlic can be toxic for dogs, potentially leading to anemia. Some dogs are also allergic to the soy in Boca Burgers.
Realistically, the amount of onion in a Boca Burger may not be likely to cause any problems. But most dog owners would agree, it’s better to be on the safe side.
Can Dogs Eat Veggie Hot Dogs?
It is not recommended to feed your dog veggie hot dogs in significant quantities. Most veggie dogs contain a small amount of onion or garlic, which are harmful to dogs. Vegan hot dogs made from soy may also cause allergies or gas for some dogs.
I looked up the ingredients for several common veggie hot dogs to see if they contained onion or garlic. Here’s what I found for each:
|Veggie Hot Dog||Onion or Garlic?|
|Yves Veggie Dogs||Contains dehydrated onion.|
|Yves The Good Dog||No Onion or Garlic listed. (But contains “spices.”)|
|Yves Jumbo Dogs||No Onion or Garlic listed. (But contains “spices.”)|
|Lightlife Tofu Pups||No Onion or Garlic listed. (But contains “Natural Flavors from Vegetable Sources.”)|
|Lightlife Smart Dogs||Contains dried garlic.|
|Tofurky Jumbo Hot Dogs||Contains onion powder.|
|Field Roast Frankfurters||Contains onions and garlic.|
Note: I did my best constructing this table from ingredients lists, but I don’t have inside knowledge about what the vague “spices” or “natural flavors from vegetables” contain.
As mentioned above with veggie burgers, I’m not saying the amount of onion or garlic found in a veggie hot dog will actually cause problems for your dog. My best guess is that it wouldn’t be an issue. But I personally wouldn’t knowingly feed my dog any garlic or onion, knowing that it’s harmful.
Aside from the garlic and onion, veggie hot dogs just seem quite processed. Even for the ones without garlic or onions, I wouldn’t recommend them as a regular meal for your dog.
I would think these points also apply to vegan sausages, by the way!
Can Dogs Eat Beyond Meat?
Dogs can generally eat Beyond Meat safely, but it’s not recommended as a regular meal or replacement for dog food. It is not formulated to meet the nutritional needs of dogs, and the sodium content specifically may be higher than ideal for dogs.
Judging from the Beyond Meat ingredients lists I’ve read on several of their products, I didn’t see any onion or garlic listed.
So I don’t think garlic or onion will be a problem with sharing Beyond Meat with your pup. But it may be worth checking the ingredients on the specific product you have!
There is “apple extract” in Beyond Burgers, and apples are listed by Healthline as harmful to dogs. However, it’s the seeds that are harmful (due to the cyanide in them). And I wouldn’t expect the cyanide to come through in “apple extract” as an ingredient.
Can Dogs Eat Tofurky?
Dogs can safely eat most Tofurky products, but it’s not recommended as the basis of their diet. Tofurky products containing onion or garlic should be avoided, as those are toxic to dogs. The salt content of Tofurky is also higher than ideal for dogs, so only share it in moderation.
There was a post on AOL.com once about how a woman’s dog ate a whole package of Tofurky vegan sausages and had a “tragic reaction.”
But if you read the post, you quickly realize it’s just a joke about vegans being hipsters. There was no actual problem!
As with most of the products covered in this post, Tofurky should be fine for your dog in moderation. Just keep in mind that it was not nutritionally formulated to be dog food. That applies to their deli slices, veggie sausages, and more!
Can Dogs Eat Vegan Cheese?
Dogs can eat some vegan cheese, but it’s not recommended to be a major component of their diet. Some vegan cheese includes garlic or onion for flavor, and these ingredients are harmful to dogs. Vegan cheese also may contain too much sodium and fat to be ideal for dogs.
If you’re putting just a bit of vegan cheese on something as a treat for your dog, I would be very surprised if it caused problems. It should be safe.
But vegan cheese is generally not that healthy for dogs, so don’t give them too much. (Honestly, most varieties of it are not that healthy for humans, either.)
Nut-based cheeses, such as cashew cheese, are sometimes less processed compared to store-bought vegan cheese. But these still contain a lot of fat and typically a lot of sodium, too. So don’t go overboard with feeding lots to your dog.
As mentioned above in the veggie burger section: For garlic and onion, the small amount in vegan cheese will probably not cause problems for your dog. But I would still avoid feeding your dog any amount of garlic or onion if possible.
Can Dogs Eat Daiya Cheese?
Dogs should not eat too much Daiya cheese. A little bit should be fine, but the fat and sodium content is high for dogs. I would also avoid Pepperjack Daiya and any flavors that contain garlic, as garlic can lead to anemia in dogs (if consumed in larger quantities).
Can Dogs Eat Vegan Ice Cream?
Most dogs can safely eat some vegan ice cream. However, it’s not recommended to feed your dog much, as the sugar can lead to weight gain. Also, be sure it doesn’t contain chocolate or xylitol (an artificial sweetener), as both of those ingredients are toxic to dogs.
When it comes to xylitol, you’re most likely to see it in “sugar-free” ice-cream products. Don’t feed your dog anything with xylitol in it.
As with many other snack and dessert foods, it is not healthy for humans or dogs, and this includes most kinds of vegan ice cream. However, there is one type of “vegan ice cream” that is pretty dang healthy…
Have you heard of “nice cream”? It’s a way of making vegan ice cream out of frozen bananas. You can flavor it with other fruit or additions like peanut butter or even greens (for a health boost!).
I was excited to see that even the American Kennel Club recommended feeding your dog some “nice cream” in their article about whether dogs can eat normal dairy ice cream. They listed it as a good alternative.
If you want to try making nice cream at home, it’s actually really simple and delicious—trust me. You’ll need a decent blender, some bananas, and some plant-milk (like soymilk or coconut milk).
Can Dogs Eat Vegan Butter?
Dogs can eat small amounts of vegan butter. There is no ingredient in Earth Balance or other popular brands that is highly toxic to dogs. Just be aware that vegan butter is not health food, it is high in fat and sodium, and it’s not formulated to meet the nutritional needs of dogs.
I wouldn’t worry about giving my dog something with a little vegan butter mixed in or spread on it.
That said, don’t give your dog full sticks of vegan butter (obviously)! That would be way too much fat and sodium.
Can Dogs Eat Vegetarian Beans (Baked or Refried)?
Dogs should not eat baked beans or refried beans, including vegetarian varieties. Baked and refried beans both usually contain onion and garlic powder, along with a lot of salt. While a small amount of these foods may not cause problems, it’s not recommended to feed your dog much.
If you want to feed your dog some beans, it’s best to feed them plain beans and make sure they’re not overloaded with sodium (salt), as many canned beans are. Here’s a helpful guide on which beans you can feed your dog.
Side note: Another reason some people cite against baked beans for dogs is the tomato sauce. But this article from the American Kennel Club says tomatoes are actually generally safe for dogs—so to me, the real ingredients of concern are the garlic and onion.
Should You Ever Really Feed Your Dog “Human Food”?
Some organizations and professionals will just straight-up tell you not to feed your dog any “human food.” They say you should just give them dog food with some dog treats. No table scraps or anything.
I do think this must be the safest approach. Dog food is formulated to meet the nutritional needs of dogs. Your table scraps are not.
And what happens when you introduce the norm of feeding table scraps to your dog in a household full of kids? Your young kids may feed your dog something toxic like raisins or chocolate without realizing it.
On the other hand, I remember my dad telling me stories about how the dogs of his childhood lived entirely on table scraps (he was part of a big family), and they did just fine.
I also know some vegans who mainly just feed their dog the same meal that they’re having. They just make an extra portion for the dog at most meals!
So there are different approaches that can work. But the more “human food” you feed to your dog, the more risks you’re taking, unless you’ve really done your research. Don’t make the decision lightly.
Should You Buy Vegan Dog Food?
There are vegan dog food options out there. One of the most popular brands, for example, is V-Dog (check out all the positive reviews on Amazon here).
I think these products are great to support. A cool bonus is that vegan dog food can do wonders for clearing up most dog food allergies, too. (Animal products are the most common dog food allergies.)
I haven’t gotten a vegan dog food for my dog yet because (1) I didn’t feel that I knew enough about vegan dog nutrition yet, and (2) Most of the vegan dog foods seemed a lot more expensive than non-vegan options.
But I do want to try getting some vegan dog food soon and see how my pup likes it, at least to mix in with her non-vegan food. It would be great to be buying less meat for her if she really doesn’t need it.
Should You Put Your Dog on an All-Vegan Diet?
Putting your dog on a fully vegan diet can be a controversial decision, but it can definitely be done healthfully. Just like with humans, sometimes there will be a problem that follows the major diet change, but many vegan dogs do flourish.
For more on this topic, check out my big post all about whether dogs and cats can eat vegan! I was so interested to dig into the actual facts of vegan dog nutrition, because so many people assume things or just say “That’s not natural!” But I say let’s look at the actual data and experience of vegan dogs.
Two More Recommendation for Your Vegan Journey
1. This is the best vegan multivitamin I’ve found in 13 years of being vegan. It has vitamin B12, vitamin D, omega-3—and nothing else. Translation: It only has the nutrients vegans are actually low in. Read my full review of Future Kind’s multivitamin here (with 10% discount).
2. This is the best vegan starter kit I know of. It’s a bundle of 9 beautiful e-books that help you transition to a healthy plant-based diet the right way. The advice is spot-on, and it has print-outs and checklists that make it easy to implement. Read my full review of Nutriciously here.