Vegan food is healthier and safer for dogs than meat, major new study finds

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In recent years, plant-based food choices have grown in popularity in the UK. In fact, a 2021 poll found that more than a third of Britons are now interested in switching to a vegan diet. But what about our dogs? Can they also become vegetarians? A new study suggests that cutting meat from their diet isn’t just possible, it could even benefit their health.

The new research, led by Professor Andrew Knight of the University of Winchester, suggests that nutritionally complete plant-based diets are healthier and safer for dogs than meat-based ones.

For the study, which is the largest to date on this subject, the researchers examined more than 2,600 dogs. For a year, the dogs were regularly evaluated through communication with their guardians. Seven key health indicators were assessed. These included vet visits, medication use, therapeutic diets, and the prevalence of 22 health conditions.

The results

The study, funded by ProVeg, found that only a third of the vegan dogs in the study required non-common medications. But for those on a conventional meat-based diet, it was more like half. The study also found that nine percent of vegan dogs visited the vet four or more times in a year. Seventeen percent of dogs on a conventional diet made the same number of trips.

Although the results showed that dogs on a raw meat diet showed up “slightly” healthier than vegan dogs, with only 8% visiting the vet four or more times, the study notes that there were “statistically significant differences in mean age”. (In other words, dogs fed raw meat were younger, so less likely to have health problems.)

Moreover, as Knight told the Guardian“a significant number of previous studies have also shown that raw meat diets are significantly more contaminated with pathogenic bacteria and parasites.”

Should Dogs Go Vegan?

The British Veterinary Association weighed in on the results. He acknowledges that while they are important, more research is needed on vegan dogs. President Justin Shotton said: “There is currently a lack of solid data mapping the health consequences of eating a vegan diet for large numbers of dogs for many years. We look forward to seeing more research to see if it can meet a dog’s dietary needs long term.

But many are already convinced that dogs on a plant-based diet can be healthy and strong. Looking at anecdotal evidence: Bramble, who once held the record for the world’s oldest dog and lived for 25 years, was fed a vegan diet.

Keeping dogs away from meat-based diets is also good for the planet. A study found that the production of dry pet food is responsible for the emission of 106 million tonnes of CO2. To put that into context, it’s even more than the whole country of Mozambique, Africa.

More and more people are trying plant-based dog food. In 2020, the global vegan pet food industry reached a value of $9.6 billion. By 2030, it is estimated to reach $16.3 billion.

Judy Nadel, co-founder of vegan dog food brand THE PACK, said Plant Based News that she thinks the new study is “a game-changer.”

“It shows that plant-based dog food offers a clear solution to the health crisis affecting dogs,” she continued. “The high-meat dog industry is making our furry friends and the planet sick. At THE PACK, our mission is to create products that not only taste fantastic, but also improve the health of dogs, we giving more healthy years with our dogs.”

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