Frequently asked questions about plant-based dog nutrition


Switching your dog’s food can be a big decision - will your dog like the new food? Is this formula appropriate for my dog’s age and health? How should I transition my dog to a new food? Is there anything in particular about plant-based nutrition that I should be aware of? In this blog post, we will be sharing answers to some of our most commonly asked questions. You can see our full FAQ page here. Still have questions? No problem, feel free to reach us anytime at

My dog has never tried a meat-free product before. How do I know if they will like this plant-based food and flavor?

The main flavors in Petaluma’s adult food are roasted peanut butter and sweet potato, two foods that we have found most dogs go nuts for (pun intended). We have many customers who tell us that their dog preferred Petaluma over their meat-based food, and we definitely encourage reading through our product reviews for even more examples.

However, we know that making a switch is a big investment and you want to at least know that you dog enjoys the taste before buying a full-size bag. We offer free samples on our website - fill out this form to get a sample sent anywhere in the continental U.S.. One sample per household, please. 

What is the right serving size for my dog’s age and weight?

Providing your dog with the appropriate amount of calories is a proven way to prolong their life. Dogs that maintain a healthy body weight live 5-10% longer than overweight dogs. Calculating the right portion is critical, as feeding just ½ cup more per meal is the equivalent of feeding your dog an extra 6” sub sandwich every day! 

We encourage all of our customers to use our Portion Calculator to find the ideal serving for their pup. You can also use the below chart as a reference.

Portion calculation table


Can I feed this to a puppy?

We do not recommend feeding our adult diet to puppies. Petaluma offers one complete diet for adult dogs (and will soon launch a formula specialized for senior dogs). The U.S. organization that regulates pet food, AAFCO, has separate nutritional profiles for growth-stage and adult dogs that differ in terms of recommended amino acid profile, minerals, and vitamin content. 

We are big believers in feeding your dog an age-appropriate diet, and we hope to offer a growth-stage diet in the future. For more information about feeding puppies, check out this blog post

How is baked food different than typical kibble?

Our food is baked for over 10 minutes in a convection oven. All ingredients are mixed into a dough, molded into small bites, and slowly travel through a 100+ ft. oven on a conveyor belt. They are allowed to cool and then filled and sealed into our bags. The production date is stamped onto the bag to ensure you know when your pup’s food was made.

This approach is significantly different from traditional pet food, which is rapidly pressure-cooked in an extruder. The high pressure - usually 400 - 600 psi (or ~40x our atmospheric pressure) - allows for faster cooking and more efficient production, but compromises some of the taste and nutritional quality. Extruded food is often sprayed with fat and flavoring powder after cooking to make up for the loss of flavor during steam-cooking.

Baked food preserves a lower glycemic index, reduces oxidation of omega-3 and omega-6 fats, and preserves the natural flavor and aroma of the ingredients. We are proud to smell and see the difference, and most pups love the roasted flavors. Curious to see more? We have a video on our YouTube page showing a real production run of Petaluma’s adult food, from the mixing bowl to oven. 

What are the protein sources in Petaluma?

We use a variety of plant-based protein sources in Petaluma, including organic peanut butter, pea protein, organic chickpeas, and organic flaxseed, to create a balanced amino acid profile that aligns with and complements a dog’s nutritional needs. Each cup of Petaluma has as much protein (~33 grams) as a serving of steak or 4 glasses of milk.

Plants create most of the world’s protein, and an entirely plant-based ingredient list can provide more than enough protein to meet a dog’s nutritional needs. Diets designed for adult dogs without health issues should have 20-30% protein as a percentage of dry matter weight (i.e., if the food was fully dehydrated), or ~50-70 grams per 1000 kcal of food energy. For reference, 1000 kcal of chickpeas contains ~53 grams of protein and peanut butter is ~25% protein by dry matter weight.

Adding additional protein beyond a dog’s metabolic requirement is not healthier, as protein cannot be stored for later use. Excess protein is stripped of the amino acids, converted into energy (glycogen), and stored as fat tissue in the same way that energy from carbohydrates and fat is. Amino acids are the fundamental ‘building blocks’ of proteins, and a dog’s diet also requires specific, “essential” amino acids that their bodies do not synthesize. Plants also create and provide all the essential amino acids in different ratios. 

Does Petaluma have a complete amino acid profile?

Yes. We balance different sources of plant protein to create a complete and balanced amino acid profile. Potato protein is one of richest sources of essential amino acids, with a higher percentage than milk or eggs. Potato and pea protein make a perfect combination, as potato is rich in the amino acid methionine while peas are packed with lysine. We also supplement with a highly digestible form of taurine, a critical building block of heart health.

If you’d like to learn more about amino acids, we recommend checking out this blog post on essential amino acids for dogs. 

Is Petaluma AAFCO-certified?

AFCO is the U.S. regulatory body that sets standards for animal/feed diets. As a regulatory group, AAFCO doesn’t not certify any dog foods - it’s a matter of whether any given formula meets the AAFCO guidelines or not.  Each state licenses dog food separately and relies on AAFCO’s guidelines and list of approved ingredients to issue licenses. The most that Petaluma (or any other pet food company) can say is that our diet meets AAFCO guidelines as a complete and balanced diet for adult dogs and is licensed as a complete adult dog diet by the states with licensing programs. 

Petaluma’s adult formula is therefore considered “AAFCO compliant” which means that it meets the nutritional criteria for an adult dog diet. There is an AAFCO nutrient profile for “adult weight maintenance” - i.e. most adult and senior dogs - and a separate set of standards for “growth stage” dogs (puppies and nursing dogs).

We chose to share the results of the laboratory nutritional testing of all essential nutrients in our food to provide some additional transparency as AAFCO does not perform any certifying themselves and state regulators are generally relying on pet food companies to “self-certify.” All of our laboratory test results are available on our Nutrition page

My dog loves Petaluma - how can I spread the word and earn rewards?

This is our favorite type of question! If you’re an existing customer, check out our Kale program. We use a platform called Kale to collect videos and photos on social media and re-share them on our account with your permission. We also offer rewards for sharing content, like cash back and sneak previews of new products. Otherwise, we are always extremely grateful for reviews.

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