New research from the University of Winchester has found that a
nutritionally-sound vegan diet provides better health outcomes for pet dogs
than a conventional meat diet.

The study, Vegan versus meat-based dog food: guardian-reported indicators of
, examined the wellness of 2,639 dogs and is one of the first large-
scale studies to explore how health outcomes vary between dogs fed meat-based
and vegan diets.

For the research, dog owners provided information about their dog, fed either
a conventional meat, raw meat or vegan diet for at least one year.

The researchers looked at seven general indicators of ill health in dogs
including unusually high numbers of visits to the vet and whether the dog took
medication, and dog owners were asked to report their own opinion of their
dog’s health and what they believed their vet’s assessment to be.

The findings show that dogs fed conventional meat diets appeared to be less
healthy than those fed either a raw meat or a vegan diet. They had poorer
health indicators in almost all cases.

Dogs fed raw meat diets appeared to fare marginally better than those fed
vegan diets. However, the effect sizes were statistically small, in every

Additionally, the dogs fed raw meat were significantly younger on average,
which has been shown to have protective effects, improving health outcomes.
Factors unrelated to health may have also improved apparent outcomes for dogs
fed raw meat, with the proportion of dogs who had not seen a vet in the last
year markedly higher in this group.

If ages were equalised and non-health related barriers to visiting the vet
were accounted for, the researchers say it is not possible to conclude that
dogs fed raw meat diets would be likely to have better health outcomes to
those fed vegan diets.

The researchers also looked at the prevalence of 22 specific health disorders,
including problems with their skin/coat, dental issues, allergic dermatitis
and arthritis. Percentages of dogs in each dietary group considered to have
suffered from health disorders were 49 per cent for conventional meat diets,
43 per cent for raw meat diets and 36 per cent for vegan diets.

Adding further endorsement to the vegan diet, previous research indicates that
raw meat diets are often associated with dietary risks, particularly pathogens
such as bacteria and parasites.

Andrew Knight, Professor of Animal Welfare and Ethics and founding director of
the Centre for Animal Welfare at the University of Winchester, said “Pooled
evidence to date from our study and others in this field indicates that the
healthiest and least harmful dietary choice for dogs among conventional, raw
meat and vegan diets, is a nutritionally-sound vegan diet.

“Vegan diets are among a range of alternative diets being developed to address
increasing concerns of consumers about traditional meat-based pet foods,
including their environmental ‘pawprint’, their perceived lack of
‘naturalness’, health concerns, or impacts on those animals in the food chain
used to formulate such diets.”

Dr Hazel Brown, co-author of the study at the University of Winchester, said
“Alternative diets and pet foods offer benefits to both environmental
sustainability and the welfare of farmed animals which are processed into pet
foods, but many pet owners worry that they may harm the welfare of pets. There
is no evidence that biological and practical challenges in formulating
nutritionally adequate canine vegan diets mean their use should not be

Written by Danielle Bowling

Originally published on:

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Tagged: Vegan

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