Fido might not like this news, but a new peer-reviewed study concluded that vegan dog food diets are healthier than omnivorous ones. The analysis of 2,500 canines found that vegan dogs take fewer medications and require fewer veterinarian visits.

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Dog owners completed surveys which were analyzed by the study’s authors. Funded by ProVeg, an organization advocating for reduced consumption of animals, the study was published in the journal PLoS ONE. A little more than half of the survey participants fed their dogs a conventional meat-based diet. A third of the dogs dined on raw meat, and the other 13% were vegan.

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Of the ordinary dog food dogs, 17% visited the vet four or more times over the year of the study. Nine percent of the vegan dogs and 8% of the raw food dogs saw their physicians that frequently. Reports showed that 49% of dogs with a conventional diet had health disorders compared to the 43% on a raw meat diet and the 36% with a vegan diet.

The raw meat dogs scored slightly better in some areas than the vegan dogs but were also about a year younger on average. Study leader Andrew Knight, of the University of Winchester, U.K., mentioned that prior studies have revealed that dogs on raw meat diets usually suffer from more pathogenic bacteria and parasites than other dogs.

“Our study is by far the largest study published to date,” said Knight, as reported by The Guardian. “It revealed that the healthiest and least hazardous dietary choices for dogs are nutritionally sound vegan diets.”

However, Knight said more research is needed. “The key limitation of our study is that we didn’t have a population of animals locked up in a research facility and fed one specific diet without any alteration,” he said. “We studied what real dogs in normal homes ate and their health outcomes. It gives us a good indication as to what the outcomes are for dogs in the real world.”

The British Veterinary Association doesn’t want pet owners storming the tofu aisle yet, though. Justine Shotton, the association’s president, warns that more research needs to map the health consequences of a vegan diet on a large number of dogs over many years before drawing conclusions.

Via The Guardian

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