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Scientists have found that a vegan diet is not only safe for dogs, it actually has health benefits.
A new study from researchers at the University of Winchester wanted to determine whether there is a benefit to a vegan diet for our four-legged friends.
The researchers studied the diets of more than 2,500 dogs to understand the link between diet and health outcomes.
Their findings suggest that vegan diets may be healthier and safer for dogs than conventional or raw meat-based diets, contrary to a lot of the information we have previously believed about dogs.
'Vegan diets are among a range of alternative diets being formulated to address increasing concerns of consumers about traditional pet foods, such as their ecological "pawprint", perceived lack of "naturalness", health concerns, or impacts on "food" animals used to formulate such diets', the researchers stated in their study, published in PLOS ONE.
The researchers claimed that our understanding that dogs "need" meat due to their hunter-gatherer origins and the assumed nutritional requirements of the animal is ill-founded and unsupported by evidence.
'Critics have asserted, albeit, without evidence, that biological and practical challenges in formulating nutritionally adequate canine vegan diets mean their use should not be recommended.' the research states.
The study found that dogs on a 'raw meat' diet were also very healthy, however, the limitations of the study were that all of the 'raw meat diet' consuming dogs, were younger than all of the vegan dogs. Thus, the age of the dogs is a variable that prevents an accurate comparison.
The study found that the vegan dogs were far less likely to be on medications, visited the vet less, and had other 'health points' compared to dogs consuming meat.
Future studies would need to analyse the health outcomes of dogs all of the same age on different diets to offer a fairer outcome.
So the jury is still somewhat out, but if you were considering a vegan diet for your dog, it would seem that it is safe to do so. However, you should consult with a vet before embarking on any major changes to your pet's lifestyle.
Keen to introduce more vegan products into your dog’s diet? Start with these nutritious, delicious, meat-free snacks:
Note: Any changes to your doggo’s diet should be undertaken under advice from a vet with in-depth nutritional knowledge.
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