Is Vegan Dog Food healthier for Dogs than traditional Meat based diets? We asked the veterinary experts.
Plant-based and vegan diets for dogs are increasingly being recognised as providing a broad spectrum of health benefits. If your dog is suffering from persistent clinal signs such as itchy or red skin, digestive problems or joint pain then it may be the best time to start considering a nutritionally complete vegan diet.
Today we are going to investigate why plant-based dog food may be better than meat for your dogs health.
So, let's have a look:
Vegan Dog Food Is Naturally Allergy-Friendly (Hypoallergenic)
There have been numerous studies proving that the most common causes of food allergies in dogs are chicken, beef, dairy and eggs. One somewhat surprising fact is that unlike humans, grains are a relatively uncommon cause of food allergies in dogs with just 1% of allergy symptoms related to ingestion of this ingredient. Food allergies are known to generate an extensive range of unpleasant clinical symptoms in dogs such as dry and itchy skin, rashes, vomiting, runny stools, ear discharge, yeast infections and fur loss. Being exposed to these allergies over a period of time can result in a decreased quality of life for your dog and often requires the use of long term symptom relieving medications like steroids. These have their own negative side effects like liver toxicity and weight gain.
Plant-based diets are generally allergy-friendly (or hypoallergenic) because they are naturally free from these problem ingredients. This means that if your dog suffers from meat or dairy allergy they should gets lots of relief on a vegan diet with reduced painful and debilitating symptoms.
Plant-Based Dog Foods are Easily Digestible
Plant-based dog food can help dogs suffering from a whole variety of digestive problems, such as loose stools, constipation and excessive gas. Many dogs have meat intolerances and allergies that can cause diarrhoea and frequent odorous wind production. There may also be chemicals and additives in processed meat diets that can exacerbate these issues and cause your dog discomfort around toileting. Raw meat diets can also be contaminated with harmful bacteria and parasites like Salmonella and E. coli (cooking is essential to get rid of these) which can cause serious symptoms of food poisoning including dehydration, fever, vomiting and diarrhoea.
Plant-based dog food that’s clean label and free from additives and chemicals can be gentle on the digestion system in comparison. This is especially true for dogs with sensitive tummies and those with adverse reactions to meat and animal derived proteins. Its best to chose a vet formulated vegan diet to ensure that all the ingredients are cooked appropriately for maximal absorption of nutrients. Whole peas for instance may not be fully absorbed unless they are cooked and mashed up. When choosing a plant-based dog food always look for products with 2-4% fibre content as this follows FEDIAF recommendations for optimal gut health and a healthy digestive system in dogs.
Plant-Based Dog Foods can help prevent cancer
When we compare highly processed animal-based dog food to premium plant-based alternatives, there are clear benefits in terms of helping to ward of cancer.
Many human studies that have proven that there are direct links between excess consumption of processed meat and cancer. Despite this, and the fact that 1 in 3 dogs will sadly pass away due to cancer, processed meat is still present in up to 91% of dog foods on the market including in dry food, wet food and treats.
The quality of meat going into a lot of pet food is often a far cry from the premium cuts of meat humans eat and typically includes bone meal, feathers, lard and various organs. One way to disguise the source of these less desirable and cheaper animal derived ingredients is to put them through a highly processed production process in which these ingredients are subject to heat, pressure and chemical manipulation.
A premium vegan dog food will often get around this issue by using delicious and wholesome plant-powered ingredients. Sweet potato is sweet potato, there are no undesirable ‘off cuts’ or ‘left overs’ just the good stuff that humans might find at their own dinner table. In addition many plant-based dog foods fortify their recipes with superfoods like blueberries. These tend to be rich in anti-oxidants that have proven cancer preventing properties.
Plant-Based Dog Foods Improve Energy Levels
Changing your dogs diet from meat-based to plant-based food can also give them a consistent energy boost. Traditional meat-based food tends to be filled with cheap fillers such as corn in order to bring costs down. Such, high glycemic carbohydrate sources, result in rapid releases of sugar into the blood stream. This results in short periods of hyperactivity followed by longer periods of lethargy and fatigue (a bit like what you might feel after eating a big pizza). Your dogs body deals with this by releasing lots of insulin, the hormone that regulates blood sugar levels, but this response can become exaggerated over time and can even predispose them to health problems like diabetes.
A vegan dog food that’s high in protein and uses complex carbohydrates like brown rice and lentils is likely to result in more sustainable energy release and an improved feeling of satiety. You might notice that this helps keep your dog feeling happier and more responsive to training and communication. It might even help with your recall in the park, but we can’t promise that of course!
Plant-Based Dog Food Helps Maintain a healthy body Weight
Keeping your dogs body condition lean and fit has proven health benefits in terms of life expectancy and quality of life. Despite this, most meat-based dog foods are sprayed with high levels of animal fat to make them more appetising. Dogs become somewhat addicted to these sprays but they don’t help the growing obesity pandemic we have in the UK with 50% of dogs estimated to be overweight. On top of this, meat-based dog food has on average 12% fat, which is actually quite high.
Many plant-based dog foods have a natural advantage in that they are 100% free from saturated animal fats. They also tend to be lower fat overall at around 7-9% which makes them a natural choice for dogs that may be a little on the heavy side.