ProVeg International supported a large-scale study into the effects of different types of canine nutrition. Findings show that nutritionally complete vegan diets are the healthiest option and expose dogs to the least food-related hazards. Research was conducted by a team of scientists across the U.K. and Australia. The project was the largest of its kind to date.
More than 2,500 dogs were assessed in the study. Three forms of nutrition were compared: vegan, conventional processed meat, and raw meat dog diets. Results were published in the peer-reviewed science journal PLOS. the conclusion was that a properly balanced vegan diet offers the most health benefits to dogs.
Getting to the bottom of an age-old myth
For years, pet lovers have been fed the idea that dogs need meat and are carnivores. In reality, they are omnivores and can thrive on plant-based nutrition.
“Research on this scale about dogs is the first to be published and clearly demonstrates that the healthiest and least hazardous diets for dogs are nutritionally sound vegan diets,” Professor Andrew Knight, research team leader, said in a statement. “The pooled evidence conclusively dispels the myth that feeding dogs vegan food somehow compromises their welfare.”
2,536 dog guardians provided data about their companions’ eating habits. 54 percent were fed a conventional processed meat diet, 33 percent were given raw meat meals, and 13 percent were vegan. All dogs followed the same diet for at least a year.
Metrics for assessing health included the number of vet visits, any medication use, guardian opinion, and more. Overall, dogs fed raw meat were identified as being marginally healthier than all others, but this demographic was also younger, meaning they were less likely to be ill in general. Looking at specific health issues, the vegan diet-fed dogs were shown to be significantly less likely to fall prey to common disorders, with 36 percent suffering from something, compared to 49 percent of processed meat-fed dogs.
“Accordingly, the pooled evidence to date indicates that the healthiest and least hazardous dietary choices for dogs are nutritionally sound vegan diets,” the study states.
The same research team has previously looked at the likelihood of acceptance of plant-based diets in dogs and the nutritional soundness. Findings concluded that dogs enjoyed vegan diets as much as meat-based ones. It was also revealed that plant-based diets can offer a balanced source of nutrition.
The vegan dog food industry rejoices
The number of plant-based dog food companies is increasing exponentially. New research supporting their formulations will add further fuel to the industry and make it an even more attractive option for investors in the future.
Vet-backed U.K. vegan dog food brand Omni has welcomed the study findings. In particular, it celebrated the use of surveys for data, instead of laboratory conditions.
“Survey based studies have their merits over kennel/lab orientated ones as they can better represent the natural living environment of dogs,” Dr Guy Sandelowsky, co-founder of Omni and veterinarian said in a statement.
The company has announced plans to support the recent findings with controlled lcinical trials of its own, to add extra weight to the conclusions.
Elsewhere, fellow U.K. brands Hownd and The Pack have both released statements welcoming the latest findings and confirming that they have been founded on scientific research to the same effect.
The Pack and Omni both reiterated that vets do not recommend raw meat feeding, due to the increased risk of contamination.
Lead photo by Goochie Poochie at Pexels.