Studies on Vegan Dogs
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Studies on Vegan Dogs

Choosing the most appropriate food for your dog can be very confusing and may need lots of research. You might also be confused about switching your dog’s diet to plant-based. Dogs are omnivorous and not carnivorous; credit goes to thousands of years of evolution alongside humans. Dogs have adapted to plant-based foods long early in their domestication.  Dogs can easily get all of their nutrients from plant-based sources. Meat isn’t the only option.

These top studies on plant-powered dogs will put an end to your confusion for sure!

Can dogs lead a healthy life being on a plant-based diet?

The study: Knight 2016. "Vegetarian versus Meat-Based Diets for Companion Animals"

The results:  Based on his own data as well as the growing body of population studies and case reports surrounding plant-based nutrition for dogs, he concluded that dogs can thrive on plant-based diets, given that they are nutritionally complete and balanced, they in fact experience a range of health benefits being on a plant-based diet.

Read the full study here.

Can dogs digest plants?

The studies: 

  • Axelsson et al. 2013. "The genomic signature of dog domestication reveals adaptation to a starch-rich diet"
  • Arendt et al. 2014. "Amylase activity is associated with AMY2B copy numbers in dog: implications for dog domestication, diet and diabetes"
  • Ollivier et al. 2016. "Amy2B copy number variation reveals starch diet adaptations in ancient European dogs

The results: Researcher Erik Axelsson and his colleagues at Uppsala University in Sweden discovered that dogs have around four to 30 copies of a gene, AMY2B, which allows them to digest starch present in plant-based foods. Wolves typically only have two copies. The duplication of this gene in dogs dates back at least 5,000 to 7,000 years. These findings indicate that dogs adapted to relatively starch-rich diets long time ago.

What is the digestibility of starch and grains in dogs?

The studies: 

  • Murray et al. 1999."Evaluation of selected high-starch flours as ingredients in canine diets"
  • Carciofi et al. 2008. "Effects of six carbohydrate sources on dog diet digestibility and post-prandial glucose and insulin response"
  • Cargo-Froom et al. 2017. "227 Apparent and true digestibility of minerals in animal and vegetable ingredient based adult maintenance dog food"

The results: In their 1999 study, Murray and his colleagues looked at the digestibility of corn, barley, potato, rice, sorghum, and wheat in dogs. They found that the digestibility for all was greater than 99%. A subsequent study by Carciofi discovered similar results for rice, corn, sorghum, cassava, brewer's rice, peas, and lentils. The study confirmed starch digestibility to be greater than 98%. In 2017, Cargo-Froom compared digestibility of minerals in dogs on meat-based diets versus dogs on plant-based diets. Their results concluded that digestibility of endogenous minerals is similar or greater in dogs fed diets that are largely vegetable-based. 

What blood test reports of dogs maintained on plant-based diet indicate?

The studies:

  • Brown et al. 2009. "An experimental meat-free diet maintained haematological characteristics in sprint-racing sled dogs."
  • Semp 2014. "Vegan nutrition of dogs and cats"

The results: In 2009, Brown studied sprint-racing huskies fed a nutritionally complete meat-free diet over a period of 16 weeks, including 10 weeks of competitive racing. When blood tests were conducted it was found that red blood cell counts and haemoglobin values were within the normal range throughout the study, and the consulting veterinarian determined all participating dogs to be in excellent physical condition. In a 2014 study, researcher Semp of Vienna Veterinary University hypothesized that dogs fed a complete plant-based diet would exhibit iron and B12 deficiencies, but instead found that there were no significant deviations from dogs fed a conventional meat-based diet. She concluded that plant-based diets, if nutritionally complete, can assure a healthy lifestyle in dogs. 

What about sensitive and allergy-prone dogs?

The study: Mueller et al. 2016. "Critically appraised topic on adverse food reactions of companion animals (2): common food allergen sources in dogs and cats"

The results: Mueller analysed food allergies (including hypersensitivities and food intolerances) in a population of 297 dogs and discovered that the most frequently reported food allergens were beef (34%), dairy (17%), chicken (15%), wheat (13%), and lamb (5%). These findings indicate that the majority of the top food allergens for dogs are animal-based, and that plant-based diets may provide relief for dogs with food allergies and sensitivities. 

Are Dogs Able to absorb Their Nutrients From Plant-based Sources?

The study: Apparent and true digestibility of minerals in animal and vegetable ingredient based adult maintenance dog food.


The result: In a recent study, scientists compared dogs on plant-based and meat-based diets to determine whether digestibility of minerals like calcium, phosphorus, iron, etc. varied. They concluded that digestibility of endogenous minerals is similar or greater in dogs fed diets that are largely vegetable-based.

Read the full study here!

Study by PETA (1994)

In 1994 People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) conducted a systematic survey of the health of 300 vegetarian dogs sourced from 33 US states and Canada via PETA’s newsletter (PETA 1994). Dogs ranged in age from young puppies to 19 years old. 88.7% (266/300) were spayed or castrated, and, of those who were not, 22 were male and 12 female. 52.7% (158/300) were female and 47.3% (142/300) male. 55.7% (167/300) were mixed breeds and 44.3% (133/300) were purebred, with a wide range of breeds represented, although a larger number of terriers (22), retrievers (22), beagles (7), and Dobermans (6) were present. 65.3% (196/300) were vegan (pure vegetarian—diets exclude eggs, milk and other animal products), with the remaining 34.7% (104/300) simply vegetarian (i.e., ovo-lacto-vegetarians).  They had been maintained on these diets for anywhere from less than two, to over nine years, with an average of 5.7 years. The precise diets used, and their level of nutritional adequacy, are unknown. Twenty-eight deceased dogs were included in the survey, with the median age of death being 12.6 years...Over 80% of dogs maintained on vegan or vegetarian diets for 50% to 100% of their lifetimes were reported as being in good to excellent health." 

We hope all these studies are enough to go for plant-based dog food for your pooch and take a step forward in improving your dog’s health, be kind to our planet and other animals.

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