What Do Vegans Feed Their Pets?

Embracing a plant-based lifestyle may start with what’s on your plate, but whether you’re vegan for health, humane, or environmental reasons, for lots of people it’s not just a diet, but a way of life. Being vegan can affect nearly every purchasing decision, so it’s only natural to think about how it affects pets’ diets. 

So, what do vegans and vegetarians feed their cats and dogs?
Due to the distinct differences in their physiology, we have to look at dogs and cats separately. Dogs are omnivores. Thanks in part to living with us for thousands of years (and enjoying food that “falls” off our plates), dogs’ digestive systems have evolved to support a more starch-rich diet. Dogs have a dietary requirement for specific nutrients. Those nutrients can come from meat or they can come from plant-based sources. So, many people who choose not to eat meat choose to feed their dog vegan dog food, like Halo’s Garden of Vegan.

What about vegan cat food?
Unlike dogs, cats are obligate carnivores, meaning there are nutrients cats need that they cannot get from a vegetarian diet. So, from a health standpoint, real, whole meat cat food delivers the nutrients they need. But what about pet parents who are concerned about the treatment of our life-giving animals and the environmental impact of pet food? In the U.S., dogs’ and cats’ diets are responsible for “25-30% of animal production in terms of the use of land, water, fossil fuel, phosphate, and biocides,” according to a 2017 study.

That’s why Halo commits to ethical and sustainable agricultural practices. Our promise of OrigiNative® sourcing means we work with farmers who treat animals with respect and help maintain a regenerative ecosystem by using original animal husbandry and farming practices and rearing animals in their native environments. To ensure the OrigiNative® philosophy is followed, Halo’s meat proteins are GAP (Global Animal Partnership®) certified humane, and our fish is MSC (Marine Stewardship Council®) certified sustainably caught. Plus, all of the fruits and vegetables Halo uses are non-GMO.

Vegans, vegetarians, and other animal lovers and advocates who want pet food they can feel good about can find great choices with Halo. Through our mission to change the way companion animals are fed and farm animals are raised…for the better, we offer canned vegan dog food, dry vegan dog food, and vegan dog treats, as well as dog food and cat food made with third-party certified humane and sustainable proteins.

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Not-so-still Life with Cats

 

Living with a cat has so many benefits. Of course we enjoy the company of these always-adorable, sometimes-cuddly, often-independent creatures. And of course, living with a cat has its challenges, too, challenges that require cat owners to have a certain type of strength.

The extent of cats’ curiosity, spontaneity, dominance, and skittishness can keep us pretty busy. It also takes some serious devotion and patience to live with a family member who is bent on terrorizing rolls of toilet paper, swatting objects off shelves, dueling with dogs, and, this time of year, eviscerating Christmas trees.

There’s also research that shows self-identified cat people tend to be pretty open, which researchers tie to intellectual curiosity and artistic creativity. And if you’ve had to outsmart a cat at Christmas-time, you know what we’re talking about.

But no matter how ornery our cats are, they still purr themselves back into our hearts when they’re done. And like the good pet parents we are, we’re there to love and treat them.

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Brothers in flight

Clavo, front, and Quest running after the ball. They are both litter-mates and are pretty fit and athletic. They are only 8 months old.

Natural History

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Wolves have driven the evolution of antler retention in North American elk

We don’t really think of antlers as being practical weapons. No species of deer that has them has them year round, and in only one species, caribou/reindeer, do both sexes have antlers.

We tend to think of antlers as being used to attract the opposite sex and for ritualized combat between conspecifics, usually just competing males during the rut in all species but caribou/reindeer. In that species, the females retain antlers well into the winter, which they use fight for preferential feeding areas, a great asset in feeding the calves they carry through the long northern winters.

But we don’t normally think of them as weapons to be used against predators. After all, predators are a problem that plagues deer all year, not just during the rut, and if they were widely used in fighting off predators, one would think they would evolve to hold onto them permanently or at least for longer periods of the year.

Well, a recent paper in the journal Nature examined how these factors work with regard to elk living in Yellowstone, where wolf predation is a significant factor in elk survival.

The authors found that bull elk that lose their antlers relatively early tend to be in better physical condition than those that retain them, and those that lose their antlers early tend to grow larger antlers than those that retain them, simply because they have more time to grow their new antlers in the coming year.

The authors found that there is a massive trade-off for how long elk hold onto their antlers. Those bull elk that lose their antlers are preferentially targeted by wolves. Yes, even though they are in better physical condition than those that retain them, the wolves go for elk that lack antlers as weapons.

Predation from wolves could be driving elk in Yellowstone to hold onto their antlers longer, and it could explain why elk in general hold onto their antlers long after their breeding season.

This study has some interesting implications, because wolves could indirectly be selecting for smaller antler size in elk, simply because the elk that lose their antlers sooner tend to have bigger racks in the following year. Further, because the elk hold onto their antlers longer when they are in poorer physical condition, the wolves could be selecting for weaker elk that are much poorer foragers than they might otherwise be.

These questions were not addressed in the paper, but I’m sure the questions did arise as the researchers looked at their data. More work is going to have to be done, but it is clear that wolf predation is a lot more complex in how it selects for fitness in the elk population than we might have assumed.

Natural History

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The Redundancy of Canis familiaris

It’s not unusual for people who are trying to deny evolution or promote creationism or both, to come up with a common question:

“If evolution is true, then why don’t dogs have something that isn’t a dog every once in a while?”

This question would not be so much of a problem if we, who think we know better, would stop trying to create a species called Canis familiaris.

Canis familiaris made sense when we didn’t know what dogs were derived from, and it might have made sense if we thought there were hard and fast reproductive barriers between dogs and wolves.

But it turns out that they really aren’t such distinct animals. We’ve learned this when we’ve performed more complete assays of domestic dog and wolf genomes. Since then, we’ve found that the majority of Eurasian wolves have some domestic dog ancestry, and black wolves in North America got their black coloration as the result of a single cross with a black dog that mated with a wolf thousands of years ago in the Yukon or Northwest territories.

A recent genome comparison study of wolves and dogs that attempted to put together a phylogeny of the species clearly states:

[W]ithin the Old World clade, wolf and dog represent sister taxa. Therefore, suggestions that the dog or dingo are a separate species (Canis familiaris) (e.g., Crowther et al. 2014) would cause gray wolves to be a polyphetic taxon; and consequently, our results support dogs as a divergent subspecies of the wolf. This result has societal significance as legislation in some countries and regional governments consider wolves and dogs as distinct species restricting the possession, interbreeding, or the use of vaccines and medications in wolves or dog–wolf hybrids if they have only been approved for use in dogs. In this sense, analysis of evolutionary history informs law and veterinary practice, as dog lineages are nearly as distinct from one another as wolves are from dogs, and the justification for treating dogs and wolves differently is questionable.

The monophyly of the species is one thing that I think everyone should agree is worth preserving in any taxonomic system, but the genomes clearly show that if we create a special species for the dog or the dingo, we wreck the monophyly of Canis lupus.

I would also contend, perhaps a bit more controversially, that in light of a similar study of North American wolf-like canids’ genomes, that the coyote is also part of Canis lupus. This study found that gray wolves and coyotes have exchanged genes across North America and that gray wolves and coyotes last shared a common ancestor only around 50,000 years ago. That ancestor was probably an ancient Eurasian gray wolf that came into North America and evolved for a more generalist, jackal-like niche in the mid-latitudes of North America.

When someone claims that dogs are not wolves, they can only mean it in the same way that pugs are not Siberian huskies or that Great Danes are not dingoes. They are not wild Canis lupus, but they clearly are within that species, if we wish to keep the species monophyletic.

The reason why people want to claim a special species for the dog is because of Raymond Coppinger’s ideas still hold a lot of sway with people who wish to be learned about dogs. It’s not that everything that Coppinger said was wrong. It is what he was wrong about seems to be all that people know.

Coppinger argued that domestic dogs were obligate scavengers and thus must be placed as their own ecological species. An ecological species is the best argument for Canis familiaris. But it has limits for our understanding of evolution, and it can be turned into an absurd concept. For example, there are two sharp-tailed grouse subspecies that live in slightly different but adjacent habitat but do not readily interbreed. If we were to adhere to the same sort of species concept, then these two subspecies would have to be distinct species, even if it busted up the entire monophyly of the sharp-tailed grouse species.

Coppinger is ultimately quite wrong about the obligate scavenger status for domestic dogs. In India, for example, predation by feral and free-roaming domestic dogs is a major conservation issue. And Italian wolves are big time dump denizens. So both dogs and wolves can be predators or scavengers based upon available prey and refuse resources.

Because the ecological species concept is muddled when comparing wolves to dogs and keeping an arbitrary Canis familiaris species destroys the monophyly of Canis lupus, it would make more sense to drop Canis familiaris entirely.

One could raise dogs to Canis lupus familiaris, but Raymond Pierotti and Brandy Fogg have argued in their book, called The First Domestication: How Wolves and Humans Coevolved, that there is no set of behavioral, physical, or physiological traits that define all dogs as a taxonomic entity. They instead argue that we should just call them “domestic Canis lupus,” in which they also group the dingo, which is “feral domestic Canis lupus.

I remain agnostic about what we should call dogs, but Pierotti and Fogg’s quibbles are difficult to ignore. Perhaps we could have the subspecies for the dog, but there must be some acknowledgement that all we are doing is defining a domestic and feral population of a species.

If this blog post looks familiar, I wrote almost this exact same post in March, but I sometimes feel that I have to explain the very real scientific reasons why we don’t say that dogs are a unique species. It is not anti-science to do so, despite what Facebook dog experts tell you. If we want a monophyletic Canis lupus, then dogs have to be part of it.

Natural History

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Using CBD Hemp Products for Your Dog’s Cancer Pain

This post is sponsored by Innovet. As always, we only share products with you that we use with our own pets! It’s often said in business that the best products are often discovered when the…



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DogTipper

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The (Therapeutic) Power of Dogs


The mere act of owning a pet means we have at least one someone in our life we have to think about and take care of besides ourself. That alone requires at least a little effort on our part, and supports our mental and physical health—like petting, walking, feeding our dog. But researchers across the country have found many more reasons why living with a dog may be quite good for us.

• Kids with family history of allergies and asthma who, from birth, grow up with a dog, are less likely to develop eczema and asthma.

• Kids who grow up caring for dogs have higher levels of empathy and self esteem. And kids who practice reading to a dog improved their reading skills 12% compared to kids who didn’t read to a dog (and showed no improvement).

• Teens in households with dogs are more physically active than those who aren’t.

• People who walk their dog regularly have one third the risk of getting diabetes.

• People who walk with a dog walk faster than with a human buddy or alone. They walk farther too, and they’re more likely to stick to their fitness plans.

• The physical activity we do with our dogs also helps keep stress levels down. Plus, just petting a dog can lower our stress. Dogs help reduce agitation and anxiety in people with dementia.

• The act of petting a dog reduces blood pressure. Of people who experienced heart attacks, those who owned dogs had a better one-year survival rate.

• People recovering from surgery who regularly petted dogs needed 50% less pain medication.

• Elderly dog owners need 20% less medical care than those who don’t own dogs.

So for all they do for us, the least we can do is feed them with unconditional love, and toss in an occasional treat to make sure they always know who’s a good dog.

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How to Help Your Dog Feel Comfortable with Holiday Guests

This post is sponsored by CEVA Animal Health, makers of ADAPTIL® for dogs. All statements and opinions are entirely our own. As always, we only share products that we use with our own pets! Let’s be…



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DogTipper

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Hola From Mexico!

Hey friends! After nonstop activity around here the last few weeks, you may have noticed that the blog has been pretty quiet this week. That’s because we’re in Mexico for the week, and guys, it’s glorious. We are here for Robbie’s job (the band he Stage Manages puts on an annual festival; you may remember us going to the Dominican Republic for it in the past), so he is pretty busy. But the kids are having so much fun (thank goodness; Essley got super sick again this year right before we were supposed to leave), the weather is amazing, and we’re with some of our favorite people. And after a few 70+ hour work weeks, I was so ready for a little getaway.

The blog will remain quiet for a few more days, but head over to my Instagram to follow along on our adventures here. See you next week!

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Bubby and Bean ::: Living Creatively

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10 Holiday Traditions My Kids Love

10 Holiday Traditions For Kids

Thank you Amazon for sponsoring this post. Give the gift of reading this holiday season with Prime Book Box!

When I think back to the holidays of my childhood, it is the family traditions that stand out most in my mind. Those activities we did every year felt so magical! And to this day, they remain some of the most special memories of my life. Holidays with kids are so full of wonder and excitement, and I knew from the moment my little ones were born that I wanted to create traditions for them as well. This year feels especially fun, because they are both at ages (almost 5 and almost 3) where they are able to remember holiday activities we did in previous years, and are asking to do them again. We’re truly establishing traditions together, which is wonderful in every way.

Today I thought I’d share with you some of the holiday traditions my kids most love. Some are borrowed from my childhood and some are new. Some are commonplace and some are unique. But each of them is adored by my little ones – and by their mama and daddy too.

1. Doing an advent calendar. There are so many incredible creative ideas for this on Pinterest, but we just buy the old fashioned ones with chocolate inside like my husband and I had as kids, and our children absolutely love them. They are genuinely thrilled to open a new window each day starting on December 1st.

2. Making our own ornaments. If you’re a regular reader, you may have seen the handmade ornaments we created last week. This is the second year in a row we’ve done this, and is something I did with my mom growing up as well. I can’t wait to fill our tree with them over the years.

3. Reading together. This is another favorite tradition carried over from my childhood. Every evening, we turn on the Christmas tree lights, curl up together under a blanket (often with hot chocolate, Christmas cookies, or candy canes), and read books as a family. This season we’ve been reading books from our Prime Book Box. (Current favorites are Elmore, Kitten’s First Full Moon, Mother Bruce, and The Friend Ship.) Prime Book Box is a subscription program, exclusively for Prime members, that is perfect for future book lovers, pre-readers, and readers, from age 0 to 12. Each box contains 2 hardcover books or 4 board books that were hand selected by Amazon editors, so kids are ensured to receive books they’ll want to read again and again. We love ours so much! Learn more about the awesomeness that is Prime Book Box right here.

4. Seeing a holiday show. This year we’ve seen two holiday movies as a family (which I think totally counts!), but for us, our main holiday show tradition is the Nutcracker Ballet. My daughter is a dancer and it is her dream to perform in it (she will be old enough to audition next year!). She, my mom, and I go see it every year.

5. Creating a holiday collection. When I was growing up, I collected miniature Santas. Each year, my parents would let me choose a couple of new ones to add. I still have them all (close to 50!), and display them proudly every year. As I mentioned above, my daughter loves dance and the Nutcracker Ballet, so she decided to start collecting nutcrackers this year. It makes my heart swell!

6. Decorating the Christmas tree. Okay, so this isn’t exactly original, but I couldn’t not include it. This year we went and picked out our tree the day after Thanksgiving and decorated it that weekend. I think we’ll do the same from now on. So much fun!

7. Giving a gift that truly keeps on giving. While the choosing of this gift itself is a tradition that is more for my husband and me, the opening of it by the kids on Christmas morning is something really cool that I hope to continue each year as they grow up. So many of the presents my kids receive for the holidays, while appreciated, ended up being quickly forgotten. My husband and I decided that giving them something they can receive throughout the year would be both practical and special. Prime Book Box is a perfect example of this. With Prime Book Box, any Prime member can give the gift of reading for the holidays, and because it is a subscription service (that delivers hand-picked, hardcover children’s books  – the best!), your child can enjoy it throughout the year. And what’s really cool is that you can choose how often you want it to come (every 1, 2, or 3 months), and also have the option to customize the books from a list of curated selections. Each kid also gets to see his or her own name on the box when it’s delivered, which is really fun.

8. Taking holiday light drives. Every year we load up into the car, turn on the holiday music station, get hot chocolate to go, and drive to look at different light displays. My kids think it’s the most magical thing ever.

9. Writing letters to Santa. This was one of my favorite parts of the holidays as a kid! Our park district has a program where you can register for letters from Santa by filling out a form with questions, having your little one write a letter to Santa, and then taking it to a special decorated mailbox at the community center. The letter that comes back is personalized on fun holiday paper.

10. Helping those in need. My daughter is at an age where she is beginning to understand this, and we talk a lot about how kindness and generosity are the things that most embody the spirit of the season. Last year, we had the kids choose toys they no longer played with to donate. This year, my daughter used money from her piggy bank to buy some in addition to this. It’s such a great way to teach children about the importance of giving to those in need because they also see it as a fun tradition. And I’ve found that even really little ones feel good when they give to others!

Thank you for letting me share my children’s favorite holiday traditions with you. I’d love to hear about your family’s traditions as well! And, again, if you’re looking for a unique holiday gift that can be appreciated all year long, I can’t recommend Prime Book Box enough. You can’t get much better than a gift that inspires a love of reading in kids, and the hardcover books contained in each box are just fantastic. It’s priced right too at just $ 19.99 per box. (Prime members can save up to 40% off List Price! That’s pretty great!) Click here to learn more about Prime Book Box, and subscribe today!

Happy holiday traditions, friends!

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Bubby and Bean ::: Living Creatively

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