A new study from the University of Guelph found that pet owners are interested in feeding their furry friends a plant-based diet.
Researchers at University of Guelph, along with colleagues in New Zealand, conducted an online survey of 3,673 dog and cat owners from around the world to learn about what kinds of foods they fed their pets and themselves.
The survey found that 35 per cent of owners whose pets ate conventional diets were interested in switching their animals to a vegan diet. Fifty-five per cent added that certain requirements needed to be met before they would make the switch. Those requirements included needing further evidence that a plant-based diet would meet their pets’ nutritional needs, wanting approval from their veterinarians and wanting plant-based pet foods to be easily available.
Just under six per cent of the survey respondents were vegan and more than a quarter (27 per cent) of them reported they already fed their pets plant-based diets.
Among the rest of the vegans, a full 78 per cent were interested in helping their pets to switch to a plant-based diet if one were available that met their needs.
“That percentage, 27 per cent, might sound like a small number, but when you think of the actual numbers of pets involved, that’s huge, and much higher than we expected,” said lead author Sarah Dodd.
In total, 1.6 per cent of the 2,940 dogs in the survey and 0.7 per cent of the 1,545 cats were being fed a strictly plant-based diet; only vegans and one vegetarian chose to exclusively feed plant-based diets.
Another 10.4 per cent of the dogs and 3.3 per cent of cats were intermittently fed vegetarian diets or plant-based foods.
Of the 3,673 pet owners surveyed, six per cent were vegetarian, four per cent were pescatarian, and nearly six per cent were vegan.
Previous studies have also shown that pet owners tend to offer the same kind of diets to their dogs and cats that they adopt for themselves.
“So, while only a small proportion of pet owners are currently feeding plant-based diets to their pets, it is safe to say that interest in the diets is likely to grow,” said Dodd.
However, there has not been much research on the nutritional suitability of vegan diets for dogs and cats, nor on the health benefits and risks of plant-based diets in these animals, said Dodd.