A new study published in the British Journal of Nutrition has found equally good health outcomes in dogs eating plant-based and meat-based diets.
For three months, the study (conducted at Canada’s University of Guelph) fed 31 dogs an experimental extruded vegan food, while 30 dogs received a commercial extruded meat-based food. Comprehensive tests were then conducted using blood and urine tests, x-rays, and veterinary examinations.
The results showed that all dogs maintained their health parameters and body weight throughout the three-month period. In particular, the study examined whether vitamin D2 (found in plants) would be as beneficial as vitamin D3 (found in meat). The study concluded that vitamin D2 is efficacious in maintaining dogs’ total vitamin D levels. There was no impact on bone mineral content or density.
This is reportedly the tenth study to find good health outcomes in dogs fed a plant-based diet. In 2022, a study of 1,201 dogs found that owners reported no negative health effects in dogs fed a long-term plant-based diet; in fact, the dogs in the study lived on average 1.5 years longer than those eating meat.
Health and environmental benefits
Since dogs are omnivores, it may not be surprising that they are able to be healthy on a plant-based diet. However, recent research has indicated that vegan diets could even be beneficial for cats, which are carnivores. A study published in September found that cats fed a plant-based diet were less likely to fall ill or need medication, and had significantly fewer health disorders.
Feeding pets plant-based diets could also have huge environmental benefits. Another recent study found that if all cats and dogs were switched to a vegan diet, an area of land equivalent to the size of Mexico and Germany combined could be saved. There would also be very large reductions in water use, greenhouse gas emissions, biocide use, and pollutants.
“This study shows environmental benefits when vegan diets are used to feed not just people, but dogs and cats as well. However, to safeguard health, it’s important that people feed only vegan pet food labeled as nutritionally complete, produced by reputable companies with good standards,” said Andrew Knight of Australia’s Griffith University, the author of the study.