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A multimodal investigation into the suitability of plant-based diets for companion dogs and cats

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Title: A multimodal investigation into the suitability of plant-based diets for companion dogs and cats
Author: Dodd, Sarah
Department: Department of Population Medicine
Program: Veterinary Science
Advisor: Verbrugghe, AdronieDewey, Cate
Abstract: Dogs and cats were domesticated from wild carnivores, though some owners feed plantbased diets. The impact of excluding animal-derived ingredients from the canine or feline diet is not currently well known. The research presented here included three studies investigating the sufficiency of plant-based diets for dogs and cats: a survey of owner perception of health and wellbeing in dogs and cats fed plant-based or animal-containing diets, analysis of nutrients in commercial plant-based diets available in Ontario, and a diet trial comparing an experimental plant-based diet to a conventional commercial animal-containing diet in client-owned dogs. Responses from 1,413 dog owners and 1,325 cat owners across Canada and the USA revealed similar results for both dogs and cats. Owners reported fewer perceived health disorders, specifically with respect to gastrointestinal and hepatic conditions. More owners of cats fed plant-based diets believed their cats to be in ideal body condition and very good health. Lifespan of dogs fed plant-based diets appeared to be longer, no difference in lifespan was reported for cats. Analyses of 26 commercial plant-based diets revealed sulfur amino acids, taurine, arachidonic acid, EPA + DHA, calcium, phosphorus and vitamin D to be consistently below industry recommendations. Four products labelled for adult dogs met minimum recommendations for canine maintenance, no diet met minimum recommendations for feline maintenance or growth of puppies or kittens. All 61 dogs completing the diet trial maintained body weight and composition, and measured indices of health and wellness. Reductions in platelet count, branched-chain amino acids, creatinine, blood urea nitrogen, cholesterol and ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids were detected in dogs fed the plant-based diet, though values were maintained within the normal reference ranges. A shift from vitamin D3 to D2 metabolites occurred, though total vitamin D analogues, ionized calcium and bone mineralization were unaffected. The findings of this research provide veterinarians with insight into the perspectives of pet owners to improve communications regarding pet health and nutrition, and demonstrate to nutritionists areas requiring improvement in this industry niche. Finally, further investigations of impacts of plant-based diets on canine health are proposed.
Date: 2022-01
Rights: Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International
Related Publications: Dodd SAS, Dewey C, Khosa D, Verbrugghe A, 2021. A cross-sectional study of owner-reported health in Canadian and American cats fed meat- and plant-based diets. BMC Veterinary Research 17, dog:10.1186/s12917-021-02574-8Dodd SAS, Shoveller AK, Fascetti AJ, Yu ZZ, Ma DWL, Verbrugghe A, 2021. A comparison of key essential nutrients in commercial plant-based pet foods sold in Canada to American and European canine and feline dietary recommendations. Animals (11)2348, dog:10.3390/ani11082348

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Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International Except where otherwise noted, this item's license is described as Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International