Dogs are opportunistic feeders — with a long evolutionary history as a domesticated species that sustained themselves on a wide variety of food, both plant, and animal-based. It sparked the interest in the question, can dogs be vegan and healthy?
Since vegan diets are at a new height and peak now, it is almost natural for any dog parent to wonder: do vegan dogs live longer? The short answer is “maybe” since various factors come into play.
Do Vegan Dogs Live Longer?
Given the prevalence of chronic illnesses in dogs (heart disease, cancer, kidney failure, and diabetes), the short-term nutritional benefits and adequacy of a diet are not the only things worth noting. It is necessary to consider its effects on longevity as well.
Can dogs live on a vegan diet? Can they survive longer? There are not enough scientific studies to answer these questions, but there are living proofs and testimonies to back them up.
Vegan diets for pets have been in the dog industry for decades now. Owners are becoming incredibly aware of its health benefits. This diet is also not only beneficial to senior and older dogs — pets on vegan diets usually live well into their teens and even early twenties, even if they are from breeds with a relatively short lifespan.
There’s no better example to showcase the impact of a vegan diet on a dog’s longevity than Bramble, the Guinness Book Title Holder for the world’s oldest living dog in 2002. Bramble is a 25-year-old Vegan Border Collie who eats a wholesome diet of red lentils, brown rice, vegetables, and other ingredients such as yeast extract and herbs.
Bramble’s guardian, Anne Heritage, raised seven other vegan dogs, five of whom lived past 19 years.
Conventional Diet vs. Raw Meat Diet vs. Vegan Diet in Dogs
According to a survey study participated in by guardians of over 2,500 dogs, nutritionally complete vegan diets can be linked to better health outcomes than raw meat or conventional diets. Andrew Knight and colleagues from the University of Winchester shared the following findings to support such a claim.
Conventional Diet in Dogs
To help determine the potential health impact of various dog diets, the researchers analyzed data from 2,536 canine guardians who used either raw meat (33%), conventional meat (54%), or a vegan diet (13%). The survey includes several health-related questions about their dogs, including the use of medications, veterinary visits, and specific dog health illnesses.
Statistical analysis of the survey shows that overall, dogs on conventional diets are typically less healthy than those on vegan or raw meat diets. Conventional diets are meat-based products produced and distributed by commercial pet food companies.
Raw Meat Diet in Dogs
It also turns out that dogs on raw meat-based diets tend to be healthier than those on vegan diets. Though, various factors prevent the researchers from fully concluding that raw meat is the most beneficial of the bunch.
In the study, dogs on raw meat diets are younger than those on vegan diets, which could determine why they appear healthier. Additionally, the dogs on raw meat diets had significantly lesser veterinarian visits. While this could be an indicator of better health, prior studies indicate that the guardians of dogs on raw meat diets are less likely to consult vets for advice.
To compare the health outcomes of raw meat and vegan diet, further research is needed.
Vegan Diet in Dogs
Vegan dog food incorporates cereals, vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, soy, vegetable oils, and other non-animal-based foods.
According to the study, dogs on vegan diets have fewer allergies and health disorders than pets on conventional diets. On average, vegan diet dogs in the study had half the risk of having health issues, like gastrointestinal problems, as dogs on conventional diets.
Dogs can acquire essential nutrients from various plant sources. However, the benefits of providing plant-based diets to omnivorous and carnivorous pets still lack research and data.
What The Scientists Found Out
Knight and his colleagues surveyed more than 2,500 dog guardians regarding their pets’ health and diets. Out of the dog owners who participated, more than half were on conventional diets, one-third on raw meat and the remaining one-eight were on vegan diets.
Dogs on conventional diets fare worse out of the three diets in terms of health. Dogs on raw meat appeared marginally better than those on vegan diets. Despite the results, the researchers added that a raw meat diet is not necessarily better than a vegan diet since prior studies show that the former are more contaminated with pathogenic parasites and bacteria.
The study answers the frequently-asked question, is it healthy for dogs to be vegan with an “it depends”. The study claims that dogs can be healthy on nutritionally sound vegan diets.
Though, it is not to say that all pet parents should start making vegan and plant-based meals for their pets. Instead, the researchers suggest that owners can rely on nutritionally balanced and commercially available vegan dog food from a credible and reputable company.
What Do Veterinarians Say?
Properly balanced vegetarian food for dogs is typically easily digestible. They are rising in fame and popularity due to their ethical and health benefits. Not only do they give good nutritional benefits, but they also impact a dog’s longevity.
Veterinarians have something to say about the topic since it involves dog health and longevity. Is it good for dogs to be vegan? Here are some expert opinions about the matter.
According to Dr. Lorelei Wakefield, VMD, “Pet dogs in India have mostly been vegetarian for thousands of years without developing any health problems or systemic illnesses. Today’s dogs often suffer from obesity, food allergies, or diabetes — most of which are preventable and sometimes cured by vegan diets.”
Additionally, Dr. Richard Pitcairn, DVM, noted a common trend in dog patients. “Dogs frequently visit veterinary clinics because of persistent, chronic, and difficult-to-treat health conditions and ailments. According to current estimates of dogs over the age of two, 50% will develop cancer in their lifetime.”
Benefits of a Vegan Diet For Dogs
Is vegetarian food for puppies and adult dogs advisable? Vegan-based diets offer various health benefits, making them an excellent fit for pets of all sizes, shapes, and ages.
First, plant-based diets are allergy-friendly. They can provide your dog with some relief from chronic symptoms. Vegan diets are also anti-inflammatory, which can help relieve arthritis and joint pains (especially in senior dogs).
Vegan formulas can also help dogs with a wide range of digestive problems, from constipation to loose stools to gas. It is an excellent alternative to meat-based dog foods that are often hard on the digestive system.
Lastly, vegan diets are perfect for dogs with trouble maintaining proper weight as they have lean and easy-to-digest ingredients.
Downsides of Vegan Diet For Dogs
There has been an instance where a dog dies from a vegan diet. That fact alone should be enough to stretch out how dangerous the vegan diet is if taken too far. While soy products are an excellent alternative to raw meat, they do not contain certain essential minerals like iron, calcium, iodine, and high levels of protein. It is why vegan diets need to be supplemented.
Here are some notable downsides of a vegan food plan:
- It takes more time to prepare
- Deficit in nutrients
- Dog owners should learn vegan food knowledge first
- A canine’s digestive tract is not designed for an entirely plant-based diet
Can dogs survive on a vegan diet? The answer is yes — as long as it is regulated and properly balanced.
If you are concerned with your pup’s health and the safety of their diet, you may want to introduce plant-based food to their daily meals. It can provide your dogs with several health benefits and even prolong their lives.
One comment on “Do Vegan Dogs Live Longer?”
Really stupid to say plant based diets lack nutrients. Any type of diet lacks nutrients if made by idiots. Obviously if you’re feeding vegan make sure you have full quota of nutrients. There is no one way to feed vegan. So there is no one vegan diet. Ensure you research nutrition and put all 46 nutrients Dogs need in their food. Many commercial flesh based brands not only lack nutrients but also contain carcinogens and other elements to make Dogs unwell. This is done to provide patients for drug industry. My Dogs lived to 19,20 and 25 years old fed plant based. My Dog food recipe can be found on the FB page ‘ vegan diets for dogs.plant based’. My book Bramble :The Dog who wanted to live forever is on Amazon and Kindle, and explains, as well as plant based food, the elements required to create health and serious longevity in Dogs in your care. Anne Heritage. Brambles butler.