Study: Vegan dogs need less doctor visits

Study: Vegan dogs need less doctor visits

Study: Vegan dogs need less doctor visits

Vegetarian vegan dogs can alleviate the climate.  However, care must be taken to ensure adequate nutrient intake.

Vegetarian vegan dogs can alleviate the climate. However, care must be taken to ensure adequate nutrient intake.

© Inkevalentine / Adobe Stock

The largest study of its kind to date shows that dogs on a vegan diet appear to be healthier than their meat-eating counterparts. And protect the climate

When it comes to climate protection, man’s best friend has long been overlooked. But cats and dogs are real heavyweights in our personal climate balance, along with heating, driving a car and traveling by plane. The reason is quickly explained: four-legged friends eat almost exclusively meat. And meat has an extremely poor ecological and climatic balance.

However, the question of whether dogs are given a plant-based diet, and how much, is debatable. A British study has now shown that four-legged friends who are exclusively fed meat-free have to go to the veterinarian even less often than their conventional counterparts.

The largest study of its kind to date involved 2,536 dogs. More precisely: their owners. During the year, they must document not only the diet of their animals, but also their general health, visits to the doctor, and the 22 most common diseases.

Result: almost half of the animals fed a meat diet, in addition to routine examinations, had to see a doctor during the study period. On the other hand, in the case of vegetarian dogs, it was just over a third.

Small statistical deviations were found in those dogs that were fed raw meat. On average, they were slightly healthier than vegetarian dogs. According to the authors of the study, this could also be due to the fact that they were, on average, a year younger.

But why do conventionally fed dogs get sick more often? “One of the most common health problems in dogs is being overweight or obese,” says Andrew Knight, who led the study. Tests have shown that commercial feed mixes contain more calories than vegetable mixes.

Veterinarians advise caution

However, this does not mean that you can feed your dog a plant-based diet without hesitation. Knight himself acknowledges that the results were not obtained in a laboratory setting. But at least they gave a good idea of ​​whether and to what extent dogs can benefit from a plant-based diet in their daily lives.

The President of the British Veterinary Association also points to a short investigation period. There are currently no reliable data on the vegan diet for several years, she told The Guardian. Even if the Veterinary Association does not recommend a vegetarian diet, it is possible. However, owners will need to obtain detailed information in order to avoid nutritional deficiencies in their animals.

“Theoretically, it is possible to feed adult and healthy dogs exclusively plant-based food,” agrees Volker Wilke from the University of Veterinary Medicine in Hannover. Experiments with a vegan diet — such as those based on peas, lentils, sweet potatoes or soy and supplemented with vitamin A, taurine and other amino acids — have shown no negative effects, he told the dpa news agency.

According to a 2021 study, dogs don’t even have to compromise on taste when eating a plant-based diet. The four-legged friends found vegetarian food just as delicious as regular food.

Maybe they just don’t think much about it.

The numbers show that pet nutrition matters for climate balance: in 2020, there were about 10.7 million dogs living in German households alone. Due to Corona, there should be a lot more today. A dog weighing 30 kilograms produces about one ton of carbon dioxide per year. This is about half of what any person on Earth can produce without destroying the climate.

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