I receive so many questions about Finn – where he was adopted, why rescue, how to deal with the negative and unfair misconceptions about pit bulls, but the question I get the most is what so I feed him. Finn’s journey to plant based was definitely not a linear one, nor was it rooted in my own ethical choices. It was a very lengthy, bumpy and frankly, frustrating process, but I laid it all out for those who are interested in his story.
John and I adopted Finn in October 2013 from a small foster based rescue in New Jersey called Homeless Paws. The night we brought Finn home, we noticed he had some gastrointestinal (GI) issues. We initially brushed it off, attributing it to his little puppy belly adjusting to new food, however we soon realized this was not the case. He was painfully itchy and I kid you not, the 12 pound pup could clear the entire room with his gas.
We took Finn to a handful of veterinarians in several different states – they were all unsure what the issue was. Over the course of the next 6-8 months we were prescribed shampoos, ointments, sulfur dips (if you aren’t familiar with a sulfur dip, it’s as horrible, stinky and uncomfortable as you may imagine) and a slew of antibiotics and steroids. As new and nervous puppy owners, we naively said yes to everything without questioning. After far too many vet bills, no relief and then a doctor trying to prescribe us a drug for $500, we decided to seek out alternative healing methods.
We enlisted the help of a holistic vet who diagnosed Finn’s symptoms as allergies. She suggested some immune boosting supplements and switching up his food. And so, we began the very lengthy process of slowly weaning Finn on and off of different foods including but not limited to turkey, chicken, salmon, white fish, duck, lamb, limited ingredient, gluten free, soy free and even raw. At this time I was vegetarian and let me tell you, there was nothing quite like slicing up raw, bloody duck twice a day. I’m selfishly glad that one didn’t work out!
Almost a year later, still struggling to manage Finns symptoms, we reluctantly started him on a newly released prescription drug for allergies called Apoquel. Thankfully it helped a great deal to relieve his incessant scratching which would leave him with swollen, bloody wounds. Next we decided to do allergy testing which revealed to us that Finn is very allergic to dust, pine and bayberry. It was a relief to know the environmental sources of his discomfort but definitely a challenge as he is exposed to most of these everyday. Along with the test results, we were given serums and told to administer daily allergy shots. By this time, Finn was at least 60 lbs and solid as a rock – so needless to say, pinning him down for shots was torture for all of us. It only lasted a handful of times before we gave up. On top of all of this Finn was also battling chronic ear infections.
A year or so later and stumbled upon V-Dog Food while scrolling through Instagram. It piqued my interest and spurred me into some research. I knew how a plant-based diet benefitted the human body, environment and animals – but could dogs be vegan too? Dogs are omnivorous by nature, know this because of their anatomy and especially their jaw structure. But it turns out dogs actually can not only eat and thrive on a plant based diet, but it can be extraordinarely helpful for alleviating allergies, infections and a range of other health disparities.
Because of Finn’s severe allergies and poor success with just about every prescription, ointment, bath and animal based food, we figured why not give this diet a try. Before switching his food, John and I consulted with our vets and without hesitation, all gave us the green light.
Now, before people go biting my head off, please understand that this may not be for everyone and I am not trying to influence you in any way. As I mentioned, I get lots of questions about what I feed Finn as an ethical vegan but honestly, the choice was not based on my own personal beliefs but rather Finns health issues – it just so happens that they lined up in our favor. I feel it’s important to share our experience because I know many other pet owners, have searched high and low for anything to alleviate their pups itchiness, chronic ear infections, GI problems etc. and a plant based or mostly plant based diet could bring your fur friend some relief.
It’s now been 2 years and Finn is loving the veggie life! No more gas or ear infections (unless he has been bobbing for seashells and his ears aren’t dried properly after he is rinsed) and while he still experiences some itchiness from dust and seasonal allergies, his scratching has significantly decreased and his GI issues are so much better! My friends and family now get a kick out of how he begs and whines for the craziest foods like red cabbage, collard greens and kale.
One thing I recommend to anyone, no matter the food your pup eats, is to incorporate more plant foods to your fur baby’s diet (bananas, carrots, apples, leafy greens). Dogs should be eating plant foods in some capacity anyhow! Keep in mind you can always give your dog a blend of plant foods and animal foods. If you are interested in trying V-Dog food or treats you an use code: PLANTBASED to get 10% off your first V-Dog purchase! My parents dog who is a super picky eater and exclusively eats animal products actually loves this food too!