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OVC study finds more than one third of owners open to vegan pet diets

The survey examined what pet owners ate and what they feed their pets

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An Ontario Veterinary College (OVC) study has found 35 per cent of pet owners are interested in feeding their pets vegan diets.

Conducted in collaboration with researchers in New Zealand, the international online survey of 3673 dog and cat owners looked at what kind of food they fed themselves and their pets.

Of the 35 per cent of owners, 55 per cent said they would require proof a vegan diet would meet their pets’ nutritional needs, would want endorsement from their veterinarian, and would want the pet food to be easily available.

“While only a small proportion of pet owners are currently feeding plant-based diets to their pets, it is safe to say interest in the diets is likely to grow,” says lead author, Sarah Dodd, currently a PhD candidate at OVC’s department of population medicine. “People have been hearing about how vegan diets are linked to lowered risks of cancer and other health benefits in humans.”

The survey also found the following:
• A little under six per cent of owners were vegan and more than 27 per cent of them already fed their pets a vegan diet; and
• Seventy-eight per cent of vegan pet owners were interested in getting their pets to switch to a vegan diet, providing it met their needs.

In total, 1.6 per cent of the 2940 dog owners and 0.7 per cent of the 1545 cat owners surveyed said they fed their pets a vegan diet. Further, 10.4 per cent of dogs and 3.3 per cent of cats were found to have been fed vegetarian and plant-based diets occasionally.

According to Dodd, it is unclear whether there are any health benefits or risks involved with vegan diets in pets. “This study shows there is a clear need for further research in this area,” she adds.

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