An experimental meat-free diet maintained haematological characteristics in sprint-racing sled dogs

British Journal of Nutrition (2009), 102, 1318–1323

A dog’s nutrient requirements can theoretically be met from a properly balanced meat-free diet; however, proof for this is lacking. Exercise places additional demands on the body, and dogs fed a meat-free diet may be at increased risk of developing sports anaemia. We hypothesised that exercising dogs would remain in good health and not develop anaemia when fed a nutritionally balanced meat-free diet. To this end, twelve sprint-racing Siberian huskies were fed either a commercial diet recommended for active dogs (n 6), or a meat-free diet formulated to the same nutrient specifications (n 6). The commercial diet contained 43 % poultry meal, whereas soyabean meal and maize gluten made up 43 % of the meat-free diet, as the main protein ingredients. Dogs were fed these diets as their sole nutrient intake for 16 weeks, including 10 weeks of competitive racing. Blood samples were collected at weeks 0, 3, 8 and 16, and veterinary health checks were conducted at weeks 0, 8 and 16.

Haematology results for all dogs, irrespective of diet, were within normal range throughout the study and the consulting veterinarian assessed all dogs to be in excellent physical condition. No dogs in the present study developed anaemia. On the contrary, erythrocyte counts and Hb values increased significantly over time (P, 0·01) in both groups of dogs. The present study is the first to demonstrate that a carefully balanced meat-free diet can maintain normal haematological values in exercising dogs.

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The genomic signature of dog domestication reveals adaptation to a starch-rich diet


Nature 495, 360–364 (21 March 2013) doi:10.1038/nature11837 Received 01 July 2012 Accepted 11 December 2012 Published online 23 January 2013


The domestication of dogs was an important episode in the development of human civilization. The precise timing and location of this event is debated and little is known about the genetic changes that accompanied the transformation of ancient wolves into domestic dogs. Here we conduct whole-genome resequencing of dogs and wolves to identify 3.8 million genetic variants used to identify 36 genomic regions that probably represent targets for selection during dog domestication. Nineteen of these regions contain genes important in brain function, eight of which belong to nervous system development pathways and potentially underlie behavioural changes central to dog domestication. Ten genes with key roles in starch digestion and fat metabolism also show signals of selection. We identify candidate mutations in key genes and provide functional support for an increased starch digestion in dogs relative to wolves. Our results indicate that novel adaptations allowing the early ancestors of modern dogs to thrive on a diet rich in starch, relative to the carnivorous diet of wolves, constituted a crucial step in the early domestication of dogs.


– Det finns ju en debatt bland hundägare om hur hundfoder ska vara sammansatt. En del menar att hundar bara ska äta kött eftersom de är släkt med vargen. Men så behöver det alltså inte vara. De är allätare precis som vi människor, säger Kerstin Lindblad-Toh.

(Kerstin Lindblad-Toh är medförfattare till forskningsartikeln.)

Nutritional and ethical issues regarding vegetarianism in the domestic dog

 Recent Advances in Animal Nutrition – Australia, v. 17, p. 137-143 (2009) — issn:0819-4823 — University of New England

Many dog owners wish to feed their dogs a vegetarian diet for the same ethical reason that they themselves are vegetarian. To meet this demand, there are an increasing number of vegetarian diets and recipes available for dogs. However, proof for their claims of nutritional adequacy is often lacking. There is little doubt that a dog’s nutritional requirements can be met from a diet that does not contain meat; however, the difference between the amino acid profiles of plant and animal proteins must be considered. It has been shown that exercising dogs may develop anaemia when fed unbalanced plant-protein diets but will remain in good health if the meat-free diet is correctly balanced. Many plant ingredients contain high levels of non-starch polysaccharides and other anti-nutritive factors, which may reduce the availability of some nutrients. A diet devoid of animal ingredients is also likely to be of low palatability to dogs. All diets should be correctly formulated to meet nutrient requirements based on chemical analysis and predicted or measured apparent digestibility, should be sufficiently palatable to ensure adequate dietary intake and should maintain good health when consumed. If a vegetarian diet meets all of these criteria, then it is a suitable diet for the dog, irrespective of the owner’s motivation for feeding a vegetarian diet.

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W.Y. Brown
Animal Science, School of Environmental and Rural Science, University of New England, Armidale NSW 2351,

Unconventional Diets for Dogs and Cats

Vet Clin Small Anim 36 (2006) 1269–1281

To understand why some people seek alternatives to conventional commercial pet foods, we must keep in mind that food plays a far more complex role in daily life than simply serving as sustenance. How and what a pet is fed can be layered with meaning for the owner, and we must seek some understanding of that person’s knowledge and beliefs about feeding pets to understand her or his motives for seeking an alternative and to be able effectively to persuade her or him to change those practices when it is in the best interest of the pet to do so.

Dog’s dinner was key to domestication

…the study adds to evidence that dogs should not eat the same food as wolves, says Wayne, who points out that dog food is rich in carbohydrates and low in protein compared with plain meat. “Every day I get an email from a dog owner who asks, should they feed their dog like a wolf,” says Wayne. ”I think this paper answers that question: no.”

Vegan nutrition of dogs and cats

1. Preface

Many people enjoy a vegetarian lifestyle today, with its most popular reasons being ethic, moral, economic or religious. There are different types of vegetarianism, each including or excluding specific foods. At its minimum, living a vegetarian lifestyle means abstaining from the consumption of meat and fish (“ovo-lacto vegetarianism”). More restricted diets are known as “Ovo-vegetarianism”, which includes eggs, but not dairy products or “Lacto-vegetarianism”, which includes dairy products, but no eggs. At one of its most restricted forms, all animal flesh and products, including milk, honey, eggs are excluded from the diet, but also by-products of animal slaughter (e.g. leather) avoided. This may even also include vitamin and mineral sources if they are derived from animals. This type of diet is called veganism. The vegan society of America defines it as following: “Veganism is a way of living which seeks to avoid, as far as possible and practical, the use of animals for food, clothing or any other purpose. At the heart of veganism is the core principle that animals are not ours to be used. It’s essentially about respecting other animals, not causing them harm or using them as property.” Other than maybe some years ago, it seems today vegan nutrition has become a more present topic in media, television and newspapers around us.

Vegan restaurants and supermarkets are opening and living a vegan lifestyle generally seems to become a growing trend. Among most people, it is their love to animals and the worry about
intensive farming, as well as the abuse of animals and their intention to avoid any animal suffering, that drives people to the only logical conclusion of avoiding anything that comes with exploitation of animals. This love for animals however often comes with the wish of sharing one's life with a pet. If a carnivorous animal such as dog or cat gets chosen, it might lead to contradictions with ones own dietary philosophy. Vegan pet-owners often reach the point where they ask themselves if it is acceptable to continue feeding their cats and dogs animal derived foods and by doing so supporting the system they actually intend to boycott. Therefore, some vegan pet owners decide to apply their own ideas of a plant based diet on their cats and dogs.
What might have been rather unthinkable a few years ago, or at least more difficult, has become easier and rather quickly implementable. A constantly growing supply of pet foods, specifically composed for this type of diet, paves the way for an uncomplicated change of feed and will therefore gain more and more importance in a veterinary clinic.

Proper nutrition is among the more important considerations in health maintenance and a key to disease management. A basic knowledge of nutrients, requirements, availability
and consequences of deficiencies or excesses is important to feed dogs and cats correctly and give advice about feeding. To feed cats and dogs, who systemically belong to the group of carnivora, on a purely plant-based diet, gives rise to the question if it is a safe and arguable option. Both, plant- and meat-based foods, contain a fair amount of most vitamins and nutrients.
Specific ones, like vitamin B12 however, can not be found in plant products. In this paper the issue shall be addressed, if vegan nutrition meets the nutrient requirements of carnivorous pets such as cats and dogs, and if the supposition of this kind of diet causes a lack of nourishment with certain nutrients. It could be expected that a purely plant based diet, might lack of nutrients like Vitamin B12, iron, folic acid or protein among others and lead to malnourishment of carnivorous pets like dogs and cats.
It is the intention of this paper to provide general information on vegan nutrition of dogs and cats and furthermore to deal with how an adequate nutrient intake can be met with only plant based feeds. Also it will provide information about what there is to be minded and what a lack of nourishment with certain vitamins, essential amino acids, and other nutrients can result in.
In the following, after a short summary of general basic nutrition informations, the paper will elaborate on specific nutritional issues of a vegan diet and take a closer look at commercially produced vegan pet-foods and give examples of recipes used in home prepared vegan diets.

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Vegetarian canine diets


"The health hazards to cats and dogs (and, of course, to ‘food’ animals) that are inherent to commercial meat-based companion animal diets are extensive, and difficult to avoid (see Meat based-diets). Additionally, growing numbers of informed consumers are unwilling to financially support the suffering and death inherent to the meat industry, and the environmental damage it causes. Consequently, growing numbers are exploring vegetarian alternatives.

Regardless of the combination of animal, plant, mineral or synthetically-based ingredients used, diets for cats, dogs, or other species should be formulated to meet the palatability, nutritional and bioavailability requirements of the species for which they are intended. There is no scientific reason why a diet comprised only of plant, mineral and synthetically-based ingredients cannot be formulated to meet all of these needs. In fact, several commercially-available vegan diets aim to do so, and have jointly supported a healthy population of thousands of vegan cats, dogs and ferrets (who are also naturally carnivorous) for many years (Weisman 2004). Regardless of the ingredients used however, sound quality control procedures, including regular laboratory nutritional analysis, should be implemented, to ensure products consistently meet these requirements.

Correct use of a complete and balanced nutritional supplement is essential to ensure the health of vegetarian companion animals, particularly cats. Regular urine pH monitoring is also important to detect and allow prevention of the urinary alkalinisation, with its consequent potential for urinary stones, blockages and infections, that may result from a vegetarian diet in a small minority of animals.

As always, the health status of all animals should be regularly monitored, including through annual veterinary checkups, or more frequently if illness arises from any cause, with screening blood tests at appropriate intervals in old age, or where otherwise clinically indicated."

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Evaluation of the effect of dietary vegetable consumption on reducing risk of transitional cell carcinoma of the urinary bladder in Scottish Terriers.

Raghavan M1, Knapp DW, Bonney PL, Dawson MH, Glickman LT.


OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the effects of vegetable consumption and vitamin supplementation on the risk of developing transitional cell carcinoma (TCC) of the urinary bladder in Scottish Terriers.

DESIGN: Case-control study.

ANIMALS: 92 adult Scottish Terriers with TCC (cases) and 83 Scottish Terriers with other conditions (controls).

PROCEDURE: Owners of dogs with TCC completed a questionnaire regarding their dogs' diet and intake of vitamin supplements in the year prior to diagnosis of TCC; owners of control dogs completed the questionnaire for a comparable time period. The risk (odds ratio [OR]) of developing TCC associated with diet and vitamin supplementation was determined by use of logistic regression.

RESULTS: After adjustment for age, weight, neuter status, and coat color, there was an inverse association between consumption of vegetables at least 3 times/wk (OR, 0.30; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.15 to 0.62) and risk of developing TCC. For individual vegetable types, the risk of developing TCC was inversely associated with consumption of green leafy vegetables (OR, 0.12; 95% CI, 0.01 to 0.97) and yellow-orange vegetables (OR, 0.31; 95% CI, 0.14 to 0.70). Consumption of cruciferous vegetables was not significantly associated with a similar reduction in risk of developing TCC (OR, 0.22; CI, 0.04 to 1.11). The power of the study to detect a 50% reduction in TCC risk associated with daily vitamin supplementation was considered low (25%).

CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE: Results suggest that consumption of certain vegetables may prevent or slow the development of TCC in Scottish Terriers.

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