We know from years of scientific research that humans get a ton of benefits from plant-based diets, including stronger hearts, lower risk of diabetes and healthy weight loss. On the flip side, research has linked meat-eating with nasties like cancer, obesity and heart disease. Given that dogs and humans have comparable biology, it’s no leap to expect that vegan dog food would have similar benefits – and meaty dog food similar risks - for our four-legged friends.
What does the science say?
Veterinarian Andrew Knight’s website is packed with evidence showing that plant-based diets are the healthiest food for dogs. He links to research that shows vegan dog food can:
- Improve overall health and vitality (wagginess)
- Help prevent cancer
- Fight infections
- Reduce risks of hormonal disease hypothyroidism
- Prevent fleas, ticks, lice and mites
- Give pups thicker, shinier coats
- Control allergies
- Help dogs lose weight and reduce diabetes
- Reduce arthritis
- Heal cataracts
He’s not fat. He’s just a little husky!
Let’s dig a little deeper into ‘help dogs lose weight’. We’re in the middle of a pet obesity crisis: vets confirm that 51% of dogs in the UK are overweight or even obese. Overweight dogs are at risk from diabetes, arthritis, hypertension, kidney disease and cancer.
What’s more, research has found that those extra pounds can reduce a dog’s lifespan by 20%. Yep, a chunky dog is likely to live up to two and half years less than a dog at a healthy weight.
What’s making our pups fat? Meat. High meat diets are generally high-calorie diets, and calories count most when it comes to lifestyle causes of weight gain.
A recent report showed that 44% of busy pawrents walk their dog for less than 30 minutes at a time but these dogs still gobble up at least two – almost always meat-based - meals a day. Do they really need all those meaty calories? Of course not. Switching to plant-based food means more years chasing squirrels, more energy to play fetch and more cuddles on the sofa. Healthy waistlines, happy wags!
No more ruff dog food
Discovering cancer in our dog is every pawrent’s worst fear and scarily this is now the leading cause of death in dogs. Statistics vary, but it’s estimated that 1 in 3 pet dogs will develop cancer, the same incidence as among humans. The good news? We can do something about it!
A growing number of vets are linking high cancer rates to meat-based pet foods, dogs suffering from the subtle, long-term damage of bioaccumulation. What does that mean? Well, chemical toxins in the environment build up (bioaccumulate) in animals the higher we move up the food chain. When our pets eat other animals, they also consume the toxins those animals ate. In 2015, the World Health Organization (WHO) warned that processed and/or red meat consumption is linked to cancer in humans, urging us to reduce the amount of meat we eat.
Although there’s less research on the animal side, certain cancers have been explicitly linked with high-meat dog foods. On the flipside, a scientific study of 300 vegetarian dogs found that no dog who had been ‘vegan’ for more than five years had cancer. All this suggests that if we take the meat out of dog food, we reduce the risk of cancer. It’s that simple.
What do pawrents say?
You might have heard about Lewis Hamilton’s bulldog Roscoe, who switched to a vegan diet after his arthritis got really bad. On plant-based dog food, Roscoe’s coat became softer, his swollen paws healed up, his joints improved and he could bounce with his dog squad in the park again.
Roscoe isn’t alone: humans with 'vegan' dogs describe their shiny coats, cleaner stronger teeth and, wait for it, better poop! Turns out that taking animals out of your dog food keeps them regular and, while nobody's claiming your pup's poo will smell like roses, it's a whole lot less stinky without meat. Pawrents with dogs living on veg have seen their pets’ skin problems clear up, renewed energy and just general enhanced wagginess. Bramble, a 27-year-old Collie who once held the Guinness World Record for being the oldest living dog, ate – you’ve guessed it – a vegan diet. The plant-based revolution is here and it’s hungry!
Don’t take our word for it. Here’s the research:
- On lack of exercise for dogs (2019)
- On obesity in dogs in the UK (2019)
- The results of the study of 300 veggie dogs (PETA, 1994) in detail here
- A summary of the evidence supporting vegetarian over meat-based diets for pets in Animals (2016)
- A list of articles showing the problems with meat-based pet food on website sustainablepetfood.info
- That 2015 WHO warning about the link between red meat and cancer.
Start your plant-based dog food journey today with THE PACK!