A spokesperson told the Vet Times: “A working group comprising of a range of veterinary nutrition experts has been set up to develop BVA’s position on diet choices for cats and dogs, addressing nutrition, animal welfare, sustainability and public health. The work is expected to be completed early next year.”
Exactly a year ago, the BVA had refused to endorse either a vegetarian or vegan diet for pets, saying that they made it easier for owners not to provide an appropriate balance of nutrients.
But that stance of resistance from the BVA came under pressure from a growing body of research work suggesting dogs on vegan diets could live longer and be less susceptible to a range of health conditions.
Andrew Knight, a vet and Professor of animal welfare at the University of Winchester, said he commended the BVA’s move, but also suggested it was long overdue.
“I hope they will finally move towards an evidence-based position on this issue, reflective of the wealth of recent published studies in this field. Even better would be to talk to researchers such as myself about additional key studies that are forthcoming.
“BVA positions should aim to advance environmental sustainability and animal welfare.”
The latest study by academics from the University of Illinois, published in the Journal of Animal Science in April 2023, tested two mildly cooked human-grade vegan diets on a group of 12 beagles over a three-week period.
It found the diets were “highly palatable, highly digestible, and maintained adequate stool quality, blood metabolites within reference ranges, and other measures of health.” The paper also found a reduction in both serum cholesterol and triglyceride, which it suggested could benefit animals that were overweight.
Co-author Prof Kelly Swanson insisted he was not advocating or opposing any specific dietary programme.
“This study, and others we have published over the past few years, show that as long as scientific knowledge about nutrient content of ingredients and nutrient needs of the animal is used for diet formulation, high-quality ingredients are used, and diets are appropriately processed, a wide variety of diets can be fed to healthy adult dogs.
One thing to remember is that animals don’t have ingredient requirements, they have nutrient requirements. As long as they’re consuming the essential nutrients in the correct amounts and ratios, dogs can be vegan, vegetarian, or meat-eaters.”
Prof Kelly Swanson, Professor of Animal and Nutritional Sciences, University of Illinois.
Prof Knight said further “very exciting” studies in the area were also forthcoming.
Watch this space!
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