“Overall, it looked like there were some beneficial shifts…in dogs fed the vegan diets.”
New research has shown that carefully formulated vegan diets can provide adequate nutrition for dogs.
The study was conducted by the University of Illinois and the results have been published in the Journal of Animal Science.
It compared two vegan formulas from Bramble, a company that makes human-grade dog food to a leading brand of chicken-based kibble diet.
The veterinary nutritionist-formulated vegan diets were made of whole foods, such as lentils, garbanzo beans, sweet potatoes, butternut squash, apples, blueberries, peas, and carrots.
The diets were fed to beagles for three weeks, and the researchers evaluated the dogs’ blood chemistry, faecal quality, and microbiome.
According to the researchers, both the vegan diets and the chicken diet were able to meet the “complete and balanced” nutrition standards set by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO).
The blood chemistry reports that indicate health status showed that certain health markers such as blood triglycerides and cholesterol differed between dogs fed a vegan diet and those fed a chicken-based diet. The vegan diet showed a significant reduction in these markers, which could aid in weight management and benefit overweight pets.
They also found that the vegan diets didn’t cause any more or less stool than the chicken diet in the beagles.
“With these ingredients, there’s more fibre and oligosaccharides, which could be good for dogs that need to stay regular,” study co-author Professor Kelly Swanson said.
The team further noted “beneficial changes” in the faecal microbiome and the chemicals produced by those microbes in dogs that were fed the vegan diets.
“The faecal metabolites phenol and indole, both of which contribute to faecal odour, were dramatically decreased in those diets too. It’s still going to smell, but probably less,” Professor Swanson explained.
“Overall, it looked like there were some beneficial shifts from a gut health perspective in dogs fed the vegan diets.”
He further added: “No one had tested the digestibility of these diets in dogs before this. We showed that these vegan diets resulted in desirable faecal characteristics, high nutrient digestibilities, and positive changes to certain blood and faecal metabolites.”
The findings are significant in light of pet owners becoming increasingly conscious of their own diets and values and seeking pet food products that align with those values.
However, while a pet owner can put together a vegan meal for their dog, Swanson cautioned that the diets were created by experts in veterinary nutrition. Therefore, it is essential to note that homemade vegan dog foods might be imbalanced without careful formulation.
“For people who are interested in feeding their pets a vegan diet that aligns with their personal values, the diets we tested are a good choice,” he said.
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