In the world of pet nutrition, the question of whether dogs and cats can thrive on vegan diets has been a subject of considerable discussion. It's a topic that resonates with many pet owners who seek to align their values with their furry companions' diets. A few studies, including one that was published just last week provides fresh insights into this very question.
New Study suggest that Cats May be Healthier on a Plant-Based Diet
A recent study published in PLOS One, lead by professor Andrew Knight and his researchers from the UK and Germany, shed a light on the dietary choices and overall health of cats by surveying 1369 cat guardians. 1
Among the participants, 1,178 cats were nourished with conventional meat-based diets, 64 were on a raw meat diets, while 127 on vegan diets. This diverse group allowed for a comprehensive assessment of feline health across various dietary preferences.
The study examined seven key indicators of feline health, surrounding factors such as the frequency of vet visits, medication usage, and the transition to specialized prescription ("therapeutic") diets. What emerged from this investigation were promising trends among vegan-fed cats.
Reduced Vet Visits
Vegan-fed cats generally required fewer vet visits, indicating a potential advantage in overall well-being.
The study revealed a decreased reliance on medications among vegan cats, highlighting their potential for a healthier lifestyle.
Vegan cats were less likely to transition to specialized prescription diets, suggesting a lower incidence of dietary-related health issues.
As we can observe, vegan cats displayed favourable outcomes in several health indicators. The cats on a vegan diet exhibited a tendency to require fewer vet visits, experienced less dependence on medications, and were less likely to transition to specialized prescription diets. These findings suggest that vegan diets for cats can indeed offer a path to robust health.
A note in the study's abstract mentioned: “Considering these results overall, cats fed plant-based diets tended to be healthier than cats fed meat-based diets. This trend was clear and consistent. These results largely concur with previous, similar studies.”
Longevity Study on Cats
These recent findings goes hand-in-hand with this 2021 study conducted by the researchers from University of Guelph (Canada), including Dr. Sarah Dodd, that explored the lifespan of cats on a plant-based cat food and meat-based cat food. The results were very optimistic: cats fed a plant-based diet had the same life span, if not longer, as cats who have been fed conventional diets.
In addition, the study indicated that "fewer cats fed plant-based diets reported to have gastrointestinal and hepatic disorders. Cats fed plant-based diets were reported to have more ideal body condition scores than cats fed a meat-based diet". 2
Dog-related Nutrition and Health Study
Another 2023 published study echoed the same results in regards to dogs on a plant-based diet: Over a 12 month period, dogs, who were eating a 100% plant-based maintained good health (from being fed meat previously). 2
At quarterly physical exam, along with monthly client reported surveys, the findings confirmed that all dogs remained clinically healthy while fed commercially plant-based kibbles over twelve months.
While the debate on plant-based diets for cats and dogs continues, these groundbreaking studies opens a new chapter in our understanding of pet nutrition. It highlights the potential for carefully crafted plant-based diets to offer our furry companions the nutrition they require while potentially improving their health and well-being.
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1. Knight, A., Bauer, A., & Brown, H. (2023, September 13). Vegan versus meat-based cat food: Guardian-reported health outcomes in 1,369 cats, after controlling for feline demographic factors. PLOS ONE; Public Library of Science. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0284132
2. Dodd, S., Dewey, C., Khosa, D. K., & Verbrugghe, A. (2021). A cross-sectional study of owner-reported health in Canadian and American cats fed meat- and plant-based diets. BMC Veterinary Research, 17(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12917-021-02754-8
3. Linde, A., Lahiff, M., Krantz, A., Sharp, N., Ng, T. T., & Melgarejo, T. (2023, February 21). Domestic dogs maintain positive clinical, nutritional, and hematological health outcomes when fed a commercial plant-based diet for a year. bioRxiv (Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory); Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. https://doi.org/10.1101/2023.02.18.525405