Vegan Dogs: Where’s the Research? (Part 2)
Updated: Dec 11, 2020
We’re asking NEW questions about vegan or plant-based diets for dogs in our past blogs, but today, we’re going to share our research and answer one of the oldest, most asked questions:
Are there studies demonstrating the benefits of a plant-based diet for dogs?
Yes, but we need more. Not because dogs are not thriving on vegan diets. Anecdotally, there are thousands of stories about healthy dogs around the world who are eating vegan or vegetarian.
We need more to grow a database of evidence to support the development of more plant-based formulations for dogs for all stages of life or health issues. This will benefit not only plant-based pet food manufacturers, researchers and the veterinary industry, but pet guardians from all over the world who want to confidently share this healthy choice with their dog.
This means we're at the beginning of a plant-based nutrition era for dogs. We can actually compare this research path to the vegan human nutrition research path that would have started in the early 1990’s from what I recall. The research was limited, but now, there are thousands and thousands of studies demonstrating the power of a plant-based diet for our health, our earth and even our emotional health: our hearts. The plant-based/vegan food industry is one of the fastest growing industries in our world today.
The canine plant-based research is extremely limited. Which is why Virchew's commitment to partner with veterinarians and veterinary nutritionists to produce the long-term, clinical and case study evidence, is critical. (If you want to check out our last post, Vegan Dogs: Where’s the Research? - Part 1, it explains what we feel is behind this limited research.)
When we first started our research over 11 years ago, there was little or nothing significant. And actually, I started looking at ‘vegetarian’ dogs in the late 1980’s when it was all anecdotal. Today, we have a few!
There is one very good study that demonstrated a carefully balanced meat-free diet (100% vegan) can maintain normal hematological values in exercising, sprint-racing dogs.
Another more recent, intriguing study showed the evolution of a domestic dog’s digestive ability vs a wolf. Domesticated dogs have evolved alongside us for thousands of years. Therefore it makes sense their diet has evolved, too.
An interesting University of Guelph, Canada, study.
If you’re a research nerd like we are, you’ll love the details in this article and this article that digs really deep by Dr. Andrew Knight, one of the pioneers behind the research vegetarian dogs and cats (and welfare advocacy).
V-Dog food has a great page citing evidence on their site, too.
In our own veterinarian-guided trials held here in Vancouver with partner veterinarians, we saw very positive results. After several months on our fresh, plant-based foods, the dogs, indeed, thrived and loved the food. However, there’s more work to do. We’re dedicated to long-term research and excited to see what the future will hold. (See more under the FAQ question on our site about Virchew's own research. While you’re there, check out the further discussion on this topic.)
It's important to note that vegan diets for dogs are not new to veterinarians. All veterinarians have these prescription diets and often recommend a vegan option or even a home-cooked option with supplementation if the client is eager to try it. These diets have been typically prescribed for dogs with food sensitivities or intolerances which manifest into skin or digestive issues.
In short, there is more than enough evidence to merit the support of more evidence!
Here's what we do know: When properly balanced with supplementation and developed with a Board Certified Veterinary Nutritionist, a 100% plant-based diet is considered a healthy, safe choice for your dog's health.
It's part of Virchew's mission to bring forth as much evidence-based data from clinical case studies as possible and to share the science with all.
If you're hungry for more on this topic, you may want to hop over to our ‘WHY’ week on Instagram.
*Hey Greater Vancouver! Virchew has just launched Fall 2020! Since we’re not a typical retail brand and we deliver direct to your dog’s door, we're reaching out first to our animal loving, plant-based and/or vegan community to meet 50 dogs. UPDATE: We're oversubscribed and now have a waitlist. Join our mailing list for Virchew availability and updates!
You can still score your dog's free sample - simply visit www.virchew.com/freesample
Peace, love, dogs,
Laura Simonson, Seva (Top Dog!) and the Virchew Crew