Yep, you heard it here first: new research has just confirmed what THE PACK has been barking about for years. Dogs chowing on plant-based food are likely to be healthier than those munching meat-based commercial diets!
We’ve howled about the multitude of health-based benefits of vegan dog food and this new scientific evidence backs this up, showing that plant-based hounds live waggier, healthier lives. The study, led by Professor Andrew Knight of University of Winchester and published in reputable journal PLOS ONE, surveyed pawrents of more than 2,500 dogs. Exploring links between dog diet and health outcomes, it found that nutritionally sound (i.e., labelled ‘complete’) vegan diets may be healthier and less hazardous than conventional or raw meat-based diets.
Pawrents in the survey had been feeding either a conventional meat, raw meat, or vegan diet for at least a year. They were asked questions about their dogs’ health which included the number of visits to the vet, what medications their dogs were on, and specific canine health problems. Analysis of the survey results suggested that, overall, dogs on conventional diets were less healthy than dogs on raw meat or vegan diets. Dogs fed raw meat appeared to fare marginally better than those fed vegan diets.
Hold up - dogs on raw meat diets appeared to be healthier than those on vegan diets? This doesn’t seem right, given the health risks associated with raw meat feeding. Well, actually, the researchers noted several factors that prevent a conclusion that raw meat diets are genuinely healthier.
Firstly, in the study, dogs on raw meat diets were significantly younger than dogs on vegan diets. Obviously, a young pup is going to seem healthier than an older world-weathered hound! Secondly, 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 suggests that pawrents on raw meat diets are less likely to seek veterinary advice, probably because they know that vets do not support raw meat feeding.
There’s one more important finding: the study also considered 22 specific health disorders, including inflamed skin due to allergies, itchiness, arthritis and dental problems. Percentages of dogs in each dietary group who had suffered from said health disorders were 49% (conventional meat), 43% (raw meat) and 36% (vegan). Need we say more?
We always want more research on this topic, ideally even bigger surveys that study dogs across their lifespans, using more in-depth veterinary data. Still, based on both these new findings and earlier research, Professor Knight is confident that a nutritionally sound vegan diet is the healthiest, safest choice for dogs:
“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. It analysed a range of objective data, as well as owner opinions and reported veterinary assessments of health. It revealed that the healthiest and least hazardous dietary choices for dogs, are nutritionally sound vegan diets.”
Of course, if you’ve been feeding THE PACK or another complete plant-based diet, this probably isn’t news to you! Those of us with pups living life on the veg can already see how much healthier and happier they are on a meat-free diet. But if you’ve been sitting on the fence, worried about the novelty of vegan dog food, this study shows that a plant-based diet is not just safe, but potentially safer for your dog than a regular meat-based diet. We’ll raise a paw to that!
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