A new study of dogs that 'thrive' on a vegan diet, including some with recorded health improvements, is a step towards more sustainable pet feeding plans, its authors say.

A leading academic advocate of the approach has claimed the case for it is 'compelling' following publication of the latest paper in the PLoS One journal.

Meanwhile, the BVA has indicated that the findings of a long-awaited review of its diet policy could be published this summer.

 

Longest study

 

The latest paper from researchers based in California is thought to be the longest study of its kind into the effects of vegan diets on dogs.

A total of 15 participating dogs were fed a commercially available plant-based diet containing pea protein for a year, having been served meat-based alternatives for at least the same length of time before that.

The researchers said that approach enabled the dogs to act as their own controls during the study period.

The analysis found 12 of them had maintained a normal body condition score during the research period, while three that were either overweight or obese when they enrolled reduced theirs.

 

Heart health

 

Vitamin D levels were normalised during the study period, after seven of the dogs initially presented with insufficient levels, while increased presence of L-taurine and L-carnitine was also recorded.

The study further indicated that the use of pea protein as a main ingredient may have improved heart health in some participants, despite recent concerns of a potential link to dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) cases.

The authors said the paper offered evidence-based research of the merits of plant-based nutrition for dogs and was an 'important stepping stone' towards more sustainable feeding plans that they see as necessary on climate grounds.

Lead researcher Annika Linde said: 'Evolutionary adaptations have resulted in a digestive system that enables dogs to maintain health on nutritionally complete omnivorous diets, including those free of animal ingredients.'

 

New evidence

 

She added: 'Our study offers new evidence on outcomes in clinically healthy dogs who thrive without consumption of animal-derived ingredients. Notably, foods produced independent of factory farming are also more sustainable and ethical.'

The paper's findings have also been welcomed by University of Winchester professor Andrew Knight, who has been at the heart of recent calls for a rethink of wider professional thinking on the issue.

He said: 'With 13 studies now demonstrating good health outcomes achieved by nutritionally sound vegan pet diets, and several others demonstrating major environmental benefits, a compelling case now exists for environmentally friendly vegan pet diets.'

 

Stance

 

Amid increasing interest in, and controversy surrounding, the deployment of non-traditional pet diets, the BVA set up a Companion Animal Feeding Working Group to review its stance on the issue last year.

The body had previously declined to endorse either a vegetarian or vegan diet for pets, arguing that their usage increased the risk of pet owners failing to provide an appropriate balance of nutrients.

But, although the group's work is still said to be ongoing, a BVA spokesperson told Vet Times they 'should have something to share' following the next meeting of the association's council in July. Asked whether that meant a final document was likely to be released around that time, she confirmed that was the case although publication after the following council meeting in September was also a possibility.

 

Source: VetTimes.


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