Sydney: A new study from researchers at Australia’s Griffith University has found that dogs that were on raw meat or vegan diets were healthier than their counterparts with conventional diets.
The study, published in the PLOS One journal, was made up from survey responses from 2,536 dog owners on the health and diet of their furry friend.
It found that the healthiest dogs were those that were on raw meat diets, followed by vegan diets, suggesting that those that eat conventional wet and dry dog food products were worse off, Xinhua news agency reported.
“Many factors may influence dog guardians to choose unconventional diets for their pets, including concerns regarding the environment, the treatment of animals used as food, and the health of their pets,” said Professor Andrew Knight from Griffith University and lead researcher on the study.
The study analysed hard data from the pets’ veterinary visits, use of medication, and specific health disorders, which were compared with owner opinions on pet health.
“[The data] revealed that the healthiest and least hazardous dietary choices for dogs are nutritionally sound vegan diets,” added Knight.
Nearly 50 per cent of the dogs with conventional diets presented some health problem compared with 43 per cent on raw meat diets, and 36 per cent on vegan diets.
Dogs on conventional meat diets had markedly higher rates of gastrointestinal diseases, body weight issues and behavioural problems.
Knight and his fellow researchers said this initial study may throw into question popular beliefs in the pet food industry that “vegan diet is not recommended.”
“Consumers should be encouraged to check labelling claims of nutritional adequacy…to ensure nutritional soundness and consistency of their diets,” they wrote in the report.
The researchers flagged the need for further studies but concluded that a well-rounded vegan diet supplemented with regular exercise was likely the healthiest choice for dog owners.