It’s natural to wonder if a meat-free diet is a healthy choice for dogs. The science behind the ability of dogs to do well on a meat-free diet is quite straightforward. While their wolf-like ancestors certainly hunted to survive, modern dogs have many traits that make them more omnivorous. Research has shown that some of these physiological adaptations, such as genetic changes that allow them to better digest starch, appear to have developed during the domestication process, but many would have been present in the wild too. An ability to make use of whatever types of foods were available would certain have increased the ability of “proto-dogs” to survive during times when game was scarce.
Of course, dogs still need protein. They are just perfectly capable of getting it from non-meat sources. Here’s why.
When dogs eat protein, their bodies break it down and then reassemble the building blocks (amino acids) into whatever new proteins the dog actually needs—for example, building and maintaining muscle or manufacturing hormones or disease-fighting antibodies. So what’s vital is that the protein in a dog’s diet contain all the “essential” amino acids that he or she needs. Essential amino acids are defined as those that must be supplied in the diet because the dog’s own body can’t make them from other amino acids.
There are 10 essential amino acids for dogs: arginine, histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, and valine. All of these are readily available from animal-free sources of protein like our koji protein.
For further reading and studies, check out our blog post "Yes, you can feed your dog a meat-free diet"