Plant-based pet food? Vegan diet healthiest for dogs, study suggests

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WINCHESTER, United Kingdom — Forget giving the dog a bone, pet dogs would be far healthier sticking to a vegan diet, according to a new study.

The findings of a survey of more than 2,500 dog owners, looking at links between dog diet and their well-being, suggest that “nutritionally sound” vegan diets may be healthier and less hazardous than conventional or raw meat-based diets.

Researchers say that 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, studies of the health effects of conventional pet diets compared to unconventional ones have been limited until now.

To help clarify the potential health effects of different dog diets, Professor Andrew Knight and his colleagues analyzed survey data from guardians of 2,536 dogs fed either a conventional meat, raw meat, or vegan diet. The survey included questions about the dogs’ health, including the number of veterinary visits, use of medications, and specific dog health disorders.

Yet dogs on raw meat diets are healthier?

Prof. Knight says the results suggest that, overall, dogs on conventional diets are less healthy than raw meat or vegan diets. However, dogs on raw meat diets appeared to be even healthier than those on vegan diets. Despite those findings, researchers say there are several factors that prevent the conclusion that raw meat diets are definitely healthier. For example, dogs in the study on raw meat diets were significantly younger than dogs on vegan diets, which could help explain why they appeared to be healthier overall.

Dogs on raw meat diets were also less likely to go to a vet. The team adds that while that could be a sign of better health, previous research indicates that the owners of dogs on raw meat diets are less likely to seek veterinary advice. Prof. Knight, a veterinary professor of animal welfare at the University of Winchester, says further research is necessary to confirm whether a raw meat or a vegan diet leads to better dog health.

The research team suggests that large-scale studies of dogs, maintained on different diets, which utilize data such as results of veterinary clinical examinations and veterinary medical histories, could yield results of greater reliability.

Previous studies have found links between raw meat diets for dogs and increased risk of pathogens and nutritional deficiencies. In light of both the new and previous findings, the researchers suggest that a nutritionally sound vegan diet may in fact be the healthiest and least hazardous choice for dogs.

“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. It analyzed 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 study authors conclude in a media release.

The findings appear in the journal PLOS One.

South West News Service writer Stephen Beech contributed to this report.

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  1. Do you realize that your headline and the article contradict each other?

    Headline: “Vegan diet healthiest for dogs, study suggests”

    Article: “However, dogs on raw meat diets appeared to be even healthier than those on vegan diets.”

    1. And it’s from a survey, they are trying to stop folks from feeding dogs chicken and such with food shortages. They want us all vegan and unhealthy

  2. So in other words, it was a poorly designed study that could not draw any real conclusions since the dogs had a wide array of ages, and the study did not follow the effect of the diets on dogs from infancy through adulthood, and even though the results showed raw meat diets were healthier by the standards set by the study, they are going to draw a contradictory conclusion to what their own study showed because other studies have shown raw meat diets create health risks?

    1. That times 1000 to start.
      Companies feed humans processed crap. Can you imagine what’s in processed dog food. Garbage.
      I make my dogs food and feed a wide variety of things. They are the epitome of health and vitality. It’s that I feed them real food not whether it’s vegan or raw.
      This is common sense. Most people food is garbage and most dog food is.
      No study needed.

      1. What passes as science these days is a joke. Scientists have made themselves about irrelevant as congress.

  3. This ‘study’ relied on owner reports, acknowledges that the dogs in one group (raw meat) were younger than the dogs in the other groups, and also acknowledges that the dogs in the different groups did not have the same level of vet check ins.

    Participant opinion reporting is the least reliable form of a scientific study and is only even remotely useful when studying how people feel – something that cannot be measured objectively by observation.

    Given the number of studies done correctly on this same debate that come to very different conclusions this isn’t a study it’s an attempt to manipulate opinion.

  4. A little research will reveal that Professor Andrew Knight is, himself, a vegan. So, no conflict there, right?

  5. Bull crap. Dogs are predators designed to eat flesh. The study is flawed because the bias was there to begin with.

  6. Agreed, horrid science. From the article:

    “Previous studies have found links between raw meat diets for dogs and increased risk of pathogens and nutritional deficiencies.”

    In other words, “rotten and improper” raw diet is worse. I thought the comparison assumed you were feeding “safe” food.

    Really…. smart folks there…. but they compare it to a vegan perfect diet… evidence be damned…. maybe they should feed em rotten veggies coverded in bugs to match the assumptions they are making about raw meat diets.

    “It revealed that the heathiest and least hazardous dietary choices for dogs, are nutritionally sound vegan diets,”

    What they mean to say is that humans, as just dumb apes, cant serve safe raw food, so Vegan is better.

    By the way, my Whippets clock in at 35 an 40 mph, shed very lightly, never smell bad and rarely toot. They dont get sick either. Thats right… they visit the vet once a year on schedule. No other need.

    The vet said these were some of the healthiest dogs she had ever seen THEN asked what I fed em’. After telling her they ate a raw diet I got the lecture… “solmonella, disease, nutritional deficiency” she said they discouraged it for sanitary reasons but that its true… my dogs are show quality in appearance but happy family dogs in reality.

    Why do vegans think killing plant life for food is more humane than killing animals… plant life feels and connects with other life too. Maybe they are anti-plant scientists… haha they should study “vegan superiority complex”

  7. My last Lab lived to be 14 and only died because of cancer. She got meat every day along with dry dog food.
    Meat is how dogs and humans advanced. You don’t see any cow scholars.

  8. This seems closer to an infomercial rather than a study. I’d love to see the data and methodology.

  9. These comments are crazy. Moat People Are so stupid!!
    Plants feel equal to sentient animals? Are u serious. Cow scholars? These are most definitely the end of days! Fracking morons left and right!

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