“Dogs, cats and other animal species have a need for nutrients, they do not need meat or any other special ingredient.”
New research has shown that vegan diets for cats and dogs are just as healthy as meat-based pet foods.
University of Winchester Veterinary Professor Andrew Knight said his research shows that a plant-based diet carefully formulated with additional synthetic nutrients is as good or better for dogs and cats compared to their meat counterparts.
His research, which has yet to be published, is part of a larger study into vegan and meat-based pet foods.
Knight’s findings come at a time when UK health officials have warned pet owners that the Animal Welfare Act 2006 requires dogs to be fed an “appropriate diet” and fined £ 20,000 or 51 weeks in prison for those found guilty could.
Although the guidelines do not specifically mention vegan or vegetarian diets, they emphasize that pet foods “must meet all of your dog’s nutritional needs”.
Are vegan dogs Risk of malnutrition?
Justine Shotton is President of the British Veterinary Association (BVA). She said, “We wouldn’t recommend a vegan diet for a dog as it is much easier to get the nutritional balance wrong than it is to get it right, which puts you at risk for nutritional deficiencies and related diseases.”
However, Knight, who wants to differentiate himself, said that plant-based pet foods can be both nutritionally equivalent to products that contain meat, as well as being comfortable for pets to eat.
He told The Guardian, “Dogs, cats and other species have nutritional needs, they don’t need meat or other special ingredients. They need the nutrients, and provided they are fed to them in a sufficiently tasty and digestible diet that is motivated and digestible, we would expect them to thrive. And that seems to be what the evidence suggests.
“The claim that vegan animals inevitably get sick and that it is somehow cruel to maintain them contradicts the scientific evidence in this area and is ignorant.”
Several studies alongside Knight’s have also shown that dogs and cats can “thrive” on a meat-free, nutritionally complete diet.
A 2009 study looked at the diets of highly trained dogs to confirm whether they could stay healthy on a meat-free diet.
The 16-week study included sprint races with Siberian huskies and 10 weeks of competitive races. The plant-based dogs remained in “excellent physical condition”.
Another study led by Knight and published in 2016 concluded: “Such [plant-based] Diets have been associated with benefits such as improved coat condition, allergy control, weight control, increased general health and vitality, arthritis regression, diabetes regression, cataract regression. “
It was also found that “the incidence of cancer, infections, hypothyroidism and ectoparasites (fleas, ticks, lice and mites) has decreased”.
‘Health, Ethics, and Resource Benefits
Dr. Richard Pitcairn, Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) and a co-founder of the Academy of Veterinary Homeopathy – the first professional veterinary homeopathic organization in the United States – said, “I am an advocate of the emphasis on plant-based diets for dogs and cats for the sake of health , Ethics and resource conservation.
“Many of the chronic health problems in dogs and cats are the result of consuming other animals that have accumulated high levels of environmental toxins or who have been given drugs or other substances.
“In addition, the accelerated development of“ factory farming ”has resulted in billions of animals to be killed and eaten suffering very miserable lives. This is unacceptable to those of us who care about all animals. “
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