THE SCIENCE IS ALL RIGHT HERE - LAP IT UP!
We understand that the idea of a plant based pup is totally new for a lot of people and can be a little daunting (especially in NZ with our massive animal agriculture industry), so we totally get it if you want to make sure you have all the facts before you give it a go. That’s why we’ve created this Science page. There are hundreds of studies which champion plant-based chow for dogs (and cats) - you could read for days! But we’ve chosen what we believe are some of the most compelling and trustworthy articles to share with you. We certainly encourage you to do your own research and talk to professionals (after all, that’s what we did!).
Vegetarian versus Meat-Based Diets for Companion Animals (2016)
A comprehensive review of four published studies on the nutritional adequacy of vegetarian diets for cats and dogs, plus a survey of 12 pet food companies found that both species can thrive on a veggie diet if nutritionally complete and well balanced.
An experimental meat-free diet maintained haematological characteristics in sprint-racing sled dogs (2009)
This study set out to learn if highly active dogs (not just pets) were disadvantaged by a plant-based diet. Half the Siberian huskies were fed a meat-free diet with the same nutrient specifications as the other half who were on a commercial diet recommended for active dogs. Over 16 weeks of this diet, including 10 weeks of competitive racing, with regular vet checks and blood samples taken, the results concluded that dogs in both groups were in normal range for bloodwork and in excellent physical health.
Vegan versus meat based dog food (2022)
Vegan diets are healthier and safer for dogs than conventional meat-based diets, according to the largest study to date. The diet and health of over 2500 dogs were followed for 1 year and assessed on multiple factors including visits to vets, common illnesses, and general health indicators.
Canine Food Preference Assessment of Animal and Vegetable Ingredient-Based Diets Using Single-Pan Tests and Behavioral Observation (2017)
Using 8 adult Beagles, this study determined whether dogs display a preference for animal ingredient-based diets when compared with vegetable ingredient-based diets, and examined whether dogs experience neophobia (fear of novel/new foods) when presented with a novel diet. Results showed no preference for animal or vegetable ingredient-based diets that mimic commercial formulas. But the dogs did show neophobia at the beginning of the study for both animal and vegetable diets, suggesting that pet owners should not be discouraged if their dog appears to dislike their new food during the first few days of feeding. It is apparent that several days are required for dogs to overcome neophobia.
Vegan versus meat-based pet foods: Owner-reported palatability behaviours and implications for canine and feline welfare (2021)
This study surveyed pet guardians of 2,308 dogs and 1,135 cats to gauge the importance of palatability and animal welfare with a vegan diet. Results indicate that vegan pet foods are generally at least as palatable to dogs and cats as conventional meat or raw meat diets, and do not compromise their welfare, when other welfare determinants, such as nutritional requirements, are adequately provided.
The genomic signature of dog domestication reveals adaptation to a starch-rich diet (2013)
Results from conducting whole-genome resequencing of dogs and wolves indicate that genetic adaptations in early modern dogs allowed them to thrive on a diet rich in starch, relative to their carnivorous ancestors - wolves.
Amy2B copy number variation reveals starch diet adaptations in ancient European dogs (2016)
This study investigates the timing and expansion of the Amy2B gene in the ancient dog populations across areas of Europe and Asia. This expansion allowed dogs to thrive on a starch rich diet, especially within early farming communities.
Amylase activity is associated with AMY2B copy numbers in dog: implications for dog domestication, diet and diabetes (2014)
This study looks at high amylase activity in dogs which results in a drastic increase in copy numbers of AMY2B - the pancreatic gene that allows for the digestion of starchy foods. The development of this enzyme likely allowed early domestic dogs to thrive on a starch-rich diet alongside their human companions. AMY2B copy numbers vary widely within the dog population, but all dogs have more copies than their wolf ancestors, hence why wolves are carnivores and dogs can be omnivores.
Environmental impacts of food consumption by dogs and cats (2017)
This US-based study determines the impact that the 163 millions cats and dogs Americans keep as pets have on the environment as a result of their animal-based diets. Results show that through their diet, US cats and dogs constitute about 25–30% of the environmental impacts from animal production in terms of the use of land, water, fossil fuel, phosphate, and biocides. This level of animal product consumption is also responsible for release of up to 64million tons of CO2-equivalent methane and nitrous oxide, two powerful greenhouse gasses.