Can dogs go vegan?
A new study has found that a vegan diet may be more beneficial to dogs in comparison to a meat-based one.
A survey of the guardians of more than 2,500 dogs explored links between dog diets and health outcomes, suggesting that “nutritionally sound” vegan diets may be healthier and less hazardous than conventional or raw meat-based diets. The survey’s results and analysis has been published in the PLOS ONE journal.
Many factors may influence dog owners to choose unconventional diets for their pets, including concerns regarding the environment, the treatment of animals used as food, and the health of their pets. However, research into the health effects of conventional vs. unconventional dog diets has been limited. The researchers behind the survey hope to shed some light on this.
Statistical analysis of the survey results suggested that, dogs on raw meat diets appeared to be healthier than those on vegan ones. However, the researchers note several factors that prevent a conclusion that raw meat diets are healthier. For one, in the study, dogs on raw meat diets were significantly younger than dogs on vegan diets, which could help explain why they appeared to be healthier. Additionally, dogs on raw meat diets were less likely to be taken to a veterinarian; while this could be a sign of better health, prior research has indicated that guardians of dogs on raw meat diets are less likely to seek veterinary advice, the team behind the study stated.
“We believe our study of 2,536 dogs is by far the largest study published to date, exploring health outcomes of dogs fed vegan and meat-based diets,” said the authors. “It analysed a range of objective data, as well as owner opinions and reported veterinary assessments of health. It revealed that the heathiest and least hazardous dietary choices for dogs, are nutritionally sound vegan diets.”
The report in PLOS ONE adds that further research is needed to confirm whether a raw meat or a vegan diet is associated with better dog health outcomes. Taking into consideration both the new findings and previous studies, the researchers suggest that a nutritionally sound vegan diet may in fact be the healthiest and least hazardous choice for dogs.
Although vegan pet food is rising in popularity, not everyone agrees with the concept. The British Veterinary Association states that dogs are omnivores, which means that they eat both meat and plant products, and say that whilst it is “theoretically possible”, it does not recommend giving a dog a vegetarian or a vegan diet as it is “much easier to get the balance of essential nutrients wrong than to get it right”.
What are your thoughts? Would you give your pet a vegan diet?