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Veganism: The future for dogs?

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The University of Winchester’s recent study highlighting the environmental benefits of dogs adopting vegan diets is currently making waves in the national press. However, it’s also worth remembering that the university had previously delved into the specific, positive impacts of how veganism directly affects dogs’ health.

The university’s 2022 study involved over 2,500 owners sharing details about their dogs after they had been fed a meat-based, raw meat, or vegan diet for over a year. The study looked at 7 health signs (such as number of trips to the vets), and also 22 typical dog health problems (such as dental issues, dermatitis and arthritis).

When it came to the 7 health signs, raw diets were top dogs. However, it was noted that the dogs on raw meat diets were younger on average, which generally means better health outcomes. But for the 22 specific health disorders, vegan diets stood out: only 36% of vegan dogs had health troubles. Meanwhile, 43% of dogs on raw meat diets and 49% on traditional dog meat had issues.

Andrew Knight, Professor of Animal Welfare and Ethics and Founding Director of the Centre for Animal Welfare at the University of Winchester, said at the time: “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.

These findings may have come as unsettling news for the veterinary industry plus the ‘Big 3’ manufacturers of pet food – Mars, Nestle and Colgate Palmolive – who account for almost 90% of global sales, owning brands such as Royal Canine, Purina and Hills. The close relationship between these 2 parties has been scrutinised and criticised for some time. For a deeper dive into this relationship, click here

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