New research addresses alleged benefits of a vegan diet for dogs

vegan diet for dogs
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Associations between feeding dogs a vegan diet and owner perceptions of their health are likely to be minimal, according to a new study by UK researchers. 

Scientists at the University of Liverpool reinvestigated data that had been used to claim that a nutritionally-sound vegan diet is “the heathiest and least hazardous dietary choice for dogs”. The findings from this new analysis do not support those earlier claims, with associations between owner perceptions of dog health and feeding a vegan diet instead being minimal.

The previous research, published in April 2022, utilised an online survey of dog owners to gather information about them, their dogs and the type of food they fed to them. Owners were also asked to recall details of their dogs’ veterinary care and to give an overall opinion about their dogs’ health. The results of this original study implied that dogs fed either a raw meat or vegan diet appeared to fare better than those fed a conventional diet.

However, the new analysis by researchers—published in  PLOS ONE—offers further insights.

The researchers conducted further statistical analyses on the original study dataset, utilising different modelling techniques to investigate one outcome variable from the original study, owner opinions of dog health. They tested the effects of owner and dog diet, as well as other owner and dog variables, while some models also included veterinary care variables.

Owner opinions of dog health were most strongly associated with the age of the dog, with other variables (such as owner age, owner education, and breed size) also featuring. Model fit was improved when veterinary care variables were included. However, in all best-fit models (with or without the veterinary care variables), the association between owner opinions of health and feeding vegan dog food was minimal.

“We know how seriously owners take their pet’s health,” Dr Richard Barrett-Jolley said.

“By revisiting and further interrogating these data, we have been able to draw more nuanced insights. Crucially, we cannot draw a firm conclusion as to what diet type is actually best for dogs; this was never possible given the nature of the original dataset and study design. 

“However, we can conclude that variables other than dog diet are more strongly associated with owner opinions about the health of their dog.”

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