WHAT ARE THE REAL HEALTH BENEFITS OF A PLANT-BASED DIET?
We’ve seen the evidence of improved health and wellbeing in humans as more of us have switched to plant-based foods or flexitarian diets. Now research is showing the huge health benefits of introducing more plant-based foods to our pets too.
Did you know… that a vegan Collie called Bramble lived until they were 25 - one of the longest-living dogs of all time, according to The Guinness Book of Records?
● Studies have shown a link between commercial meat-based pet food
and increased risks of diseases from kidney failure and liver disease to
musculoskeletal disorders, neurological diseases, bleeding disorders
and birth defects
● Raw meat diets can introduce disease-causing bacteria such as E. coli and Salmonella into your pet’s digestive systems, according to the British Small Animal Veterinary Association and the FDA (Food and Drug Administration)
● Research has shown a decrease in incidences of cancer and infections when dogs are fed a plant-based diet, as well as arthritis and diabetes regression, cataract improvement, healthier teeth and gums, reduced eye discharge and other health benefits
● Studies have shown that many allergies in our dogs are caused by a reaction to animal protein in pet food
● There’s been a history of toxins and harmful ingredients creeping into commercial meat-based pet foods because of poor quality control
● Our dogs may be eating a whole host of animal by-products – from pulverised feathers and beaks, to horse meat contaminated with barbiturates
● Dogs aren’t wolves; they can quite happily thrive on a plant-based diet
IS IT OK FOR A DOG TO BE VEGAN?
Contrary to popular myth, it’s absolutely fine for a dog to be fed a plant-based diet. In fact, it can be a much healthier choice for your dog than a pure meat diet. Dogs aren’t wolves. It’s a misconception that they are carnivores that need just meat. They have been human companions for centuries and have lived off the scraps from human diets – be that meat or veg. Unlike cats, which are obligate carnivores (cats need nutrients found in meat to survive), dogs can draw the nutrients they need from animal or plant sources. Switching your dog to a plant-based diet, or going flexitarian where you mix regular meat-based meals with some vegan, can really benefit your dog’s long-term health. Research is showing more evidence of the benefits of plant-based foods for dogs with vets endorsing it and more owners, concerned for their pet’s long-term health - as well as for ethical and environmental reasons - turning to it.
HOW TO HELP YOUR DOG LIVE A LONGER LIFE
Nutrition can play a vital role in your dog’s lifespan and research has shown
that plant-based diets can make all the difference. How?
HELP MAINTAIN A HEALTHY WEIGHT
Obesity is a growing problem with humans and dogs alike. Studies have linked meat-based diets to obesity.
The reality is that overweight dogs live shorter lives than lean dogs and are at higher risk of certain diseases from arthritis, diabetes, and cancer to kidney and heart disease. A life-time study of Labrador Retrievers found that the life expectancy of even moderately overweight dogs can reduce by nearly two years. Another study by the University of Liverpool of 50,000 dogs across 12 popular breeds, revealed the lifespan of dogs that were overweight was up to two and a half years shorter when compared to ideal-weight dogs. Of course, exercise can help, but when it comes to weight-management, nutrition is fundamental.
Transitioning overweight dogs to a balanced plant-based diet can often reverse the ill effects of meat consumption, enabling weight loss and improved weight maintenance, as well as improved mobility and energy levels. A vegan Collie called Bramble lived until they were 25 years, almost double the life expectancy of a Collie - one of the longest-living dogs of all time, according to The Guinness Book of Records. Five of Bramble’s vegan siblings also lived to beyond 19.
A recent study published by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine has found that plant-based diets can improve insulin sensitivity and beta-cell function in overweight adults.
Why is a plant-based diet so effective for weight control? – because fruits and vegetables provide highly-nutritious options, with far fewer calories than traditional meat-based dishes. Vet Dr. Lorelei Wakefield, a leading expert on vegan dog and cat nutrition, says she has yet to see an obese vegan dog.
Studies have shown a link between commercial meat-based pet food and increased risks of diseases from kidney failure and liver disease to musculoskeletal disorders, neurological diseases, bleeding disorders and birth defects. Raw meat diets have their downfalls also as they can introduce disease-causing bacteria such as E. coli and Salmonella into your pet’s digestive systems, according to the British Small Animal Veterinary Association and the FDA (Food and Drug Administration).
Research has shown that plant-based pet food diets can be supremely health protective. A leading study by vet Dr Andrew Knight, President of Animals Count, linked plant-based diets to decreased incidences of cancer and infections, as well as seeing regression in arthritis, cataract resolution, healthier teeth and gums, reduced eye discharge and other health-related benefits. Dogs can thrive on a nutritionally complete and balanced plant-based diet. Vet Dr Richard Pitcairn advocates a vegan pet diet in his book the Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs and Cats after seeing the improvement in dogs’ conditions that stemmed from their transition away from meat-based diets.
RELIEVE ALLERGIES AND SENSITIVITIES
Again, as with humans, allergies and sensitivities are on the increase amongst
our furry friends. Studies have shown that many are caused by a reaction to
animal protein in pet food, and not grains. Food sensitivities can lead to
diarrhoea, vomiting, digestive issues, rashes and itchy skin, yeast infections,
joint pain and arthritis. One study found that animal- based ingredients
including beef, dairy, chicken, lamb, eggs, pork, fish and rabbit - were
responsible for 236 cases of food allergies in dogs.
Many vets now acknowledge that a plant-based diet can help address the
underlying causes of these conditions by eliminating allergens that our dogs
have been exposed to.
Why do vegan diets cause less allergies and irritation? Because plant-based foods are easily digestible, hypoallergenic and naturally anti-inflammatory, which can bolster our dogs’ immune systems, reduce the risk of infection and relieve the need to scratch and lick.
IF IT’S PLANT BASED, IT’S SAFER
There’s been a history of toxins and harmful ingredients creeping into
commercial meat-based pet foods because of poor quality control through
inadequate regulation. In 2018 alone, over 100 million units of pet food were
recalled in the US. Foreign ingredients found in pet food have included rat
poison, sawdust, animal microchips and even plastic ID tags, and one particular
contamination in 2007 led to the deaths of over 13,000 pets in the US.
Also, meat, bones and other animal products such as milk and cheese contain more toxins that other food sources. The reality is that much of the ‘meat’ included in meat-based pet food comes from animals that are diseased, disabled, dying, or dead on arrival at the slaughterhouse - as well as expired human retail meats - and it’s often contaminated with faeces, blood and other bodily fluids. Experts agree that such meat may present a potential health hazard to those who handle it and even to the animals that consume it.
When dogs eat these animals, they also consume the toxic chemicals, supplements, growth hormones and antibiotics fed to those animals to keep them alive and growing in often crowded and unsanitary conditions. It’s also often unclear what sort of meat is in commercial pet food. Our dogs may be eating a whole host of animal by-products – from pulverised feathers and beaks, to horse meat contaminated with barbiturates - which do not need to meet the same strict standards as meats intended for human consumption.
Some vets have voiced concerns that the lack of quality control in the pet food industry and the risk of contamination may have contributed to the significant increases in incidences of cancers, kidney failure and degenerative diseases among pets over the past few decades.
Plants-based pet food is derived from natural plant sources that don’t pose such contamination risks, so they’re safer for your dog to eat. Evidence shows they’re linked to lower levels of disease, fewer allergies, reduced inflammation and better weight management, not to mention improved mobility, higher energy levels and above all, greater longevity.
THE CHOICE IS YOURS – AND YOUR DOG’S
If you’re concerned about your dog’s health and the safety of the food you
feed them, or want to help regulate their weight, you may want to introduce
some plant- based foods to their diet. It will also give you peace of mind; with a
plant-based diet you will know what your dog is eating and its origin. You can
do this gradually; you could still feed some meat-based food and then
transition to a fully plant-based diet, or keep a flexitarian mix – whatever suits
you and your dog.
It’s important to remember that any canine diet must be nutritionally complete and balanced, comprising the recommended levels of fats, protein, carbohydrates and other macronutrients recommended by canine nutrition experts. These macronutrients can all be sourced exclusively from plants.
Scientific evidence shows that plant-based foods can provide all the nutrients, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that dogs need to stay healthy, whilst offering a clean, transparent and sustainable alternative to meat-based diets …it could be a great first step in helping your dog to a longer life and better health.
THE HOWND PROMISE
HOWND creates products that help keep dogs happy and healthy for life, while encouraging others to live a planet-kind, cruelty-free lifestyle. We believe the world would be a better place if more people embraced the power of plants.
Our products are kind to our precious planet and the animals that inhabit it. That’s why dogs and their humans love HOWND.
We are convinced that dogs can thrive without compromising the welfare of other animals. Since day one, HOWND pet care has been certified by Cruelty-Free International and is accredited by The Vegetarian (Vegan) Society, PETA Cruelty-Free and The Ethical Company Organisation.