This series of blogs looks at the scientific research into whether vegetarian and vegan dog food is healthy for your dog. This blog summaries at a scientific study published in 2009, in the British Journal of Nutrition by W. Y. Brown et al.
The paper is called “An experimental meat-free diet maintained hematological characteristics
in sprint-racing sled dogs”
A nutritionally complete vegetarian / vegan diet is fine for dogs, even very active dogs like racing huskies. The huskies fed a vegetarian diet had the same blood test results as those fed on a meat diet. They all the dogs did same amount of exercise. Vegetarian and meat based foods have similar ingredients.
Ever wondered “What’s the point Organic food?” It is about health? Or about the environment? Why should I buy Organic pet food, my pet can’t tell the difference… Well here is the lowdown: The Objectives of Organic!
Bryn, our new rescue dog, is starting to settle in well. He likes the cats (okay a bit to much) and he gets on really well with my Mum and Dad’s dogs. He even likes to play Beco-tug with the incorrigible Thea!
He likes sleeping on fluffy warm rugs and being tucked in nice and cosy with blankets. Despite all the progress, he remains a troubled dog and recovery is going to be a long road for him. Here is a little bit of info about the things which are working so far…
In animal sanctuaries there are dogs of all shapes and sizes… and some of them are very old. Milo was, until recently, one such dog. It’s hard for sanctuaries to find homes for dogs like Milo; they are often ill or needy and require a lot of attention and patience. Additionally, many people worry that it will be too sad to befriend an animal who has only a few months left to live. At Ethical Pets, we have cared for a dog like this before, called Beth: we found living with her a wonderful and fulfilling experience, so we have decided to do it again! This time, we are keeping a blog in the hope that maybe others will consider adopting their own little Beth or Milo one day. So, here it is: our record of Milo’s Last Miles.
One of our favourite books, How Bad are Bananas? By Mike Berners-Lee, has some sensational cycling facts. This month, subscribers to our newsletter get the chance to win a copy! You need to sign up for your chance to enter. When you get your newsletter, there will be a question in it, simply reply with the answer, and winners will be picked out of the hat! 🙂 Good luck!
Our favourite fact is that it would be greener to drive a hummer than to cycle after eating air freighted asparagus! Checkout our cool graph below comparing a few bike fuels (food) to some other forms of transport.
Cycling to work
Another interesting fact is that a congested commute in an average car comes in at 2200g CO2e per mile. This is much much worse than normal driving – almost as bad as your air freighted asparagus mile. So, the lesson is that cycling to work is a serious planet saver… so long as you don’t eat asparagus out of season for breakfast!
Food and Carbon Footprints
The carbon footprint of food is always interesting to us at Ethical Pets, with folk claiming we should eat our pets to save the planet, we think its important to show pets can be green too.
In the graph you can see that veg isn’t always greener, but that in general, meat is much more carbon heavy that veg. The same trend is clear in the rest of the book, for example, we learned that a 4 ounce steak makes more carbon than a 6.5 kg bag of carrots! Or, for the same carbon as a 2 kg leg of lamb, you could eat milky porridge every day for 4 whole months. Oats, wheat and even naughty old rice are much lower in carbon than any meat.
The new PAW Report, by PDSA and YouGov, lifts the lid on some of the most concerning pet health and welfare issues facing UK pets today. With sections focusing on Diet, Behavior, Health and Ownership, their is lots to read and talk about. This is our review of Section 1 of the report: Food in Focus.
The statistics which really jumped out at me from this part of the report are that that only 3% of dog owners can identify the ideal healthy shape of a dog when shown a range of images and that 56% of cat owners with an overweight cat believe that their cat’s shape is as it should be. Are you one of them? Despite how many people are unsure about their pets weight, people seem well informed about the consequences of chubby pets – fat related diseases and a shorted life span. Somehow, we have learned that fat is bad, but not what fat looks like: checkout our quiz below to see if you can pick out the pets with a healthy figure.
Another worrying issue is that many Rabbit owners are feeding their bunnies incorrectly: remember, rabbit muesli is just for a treat – bunnies should eat at least their own body size in hay or grass each day for their main course, and then just a little muesli and/or fresh veg for pudding.
Click to see the Paw Report and weight guides for cats and dogs.
Animal Welfare: For Yarrah as an organic pet food company, the most important aspect of organic agriculture is the very high regard for animal welfare. Poultry, cattle and fish form the basis of our premium Nature’s Finest pet food. It is therefore crucial that these animals are treated with dignity and respect. Organic agriculture guarantees that poultry and cattle have room to move and grow at a natural rate in an environment that minimizes stress. Because regulation regarding organic fish do not meet our standards of animal welfare, Yarrah has decided to switch to MSC-fish (read our statement!). Nothing artificial: Yarrah does not add any chemical colorings, aromatic substances or flavorings. We do not use artificial preservatives: we preserve our dry food with vitamin E and rosemary extracts. For our wet food we use precise temperatures for sterilization. These steps ensure that the valuable vitamins and minerals are not broken down during production.
Our natural and organic recipes contain all the required vitamins, minerals, proteins and amino acids a dog or cat requires in the correct proportions. All of our products are made from certified organic materials in compliance with EU Regulations for Organic Products. The Dutch organic hallmark (EKO) issued by Skal is the guarantee for the organic origin and manufacture of the products.
All certified organic ingredients are completely traceable to the source. All the organic materials are constantly monitored from start to finish ensuring they meet our stringent requirements. To be sure all the ingredients are 100% organic, Yarrah buys all the ingredients themselves. To give this 100% guarantee the Quality manager of Yarrah visits the producers personally; the larger ones at least once a year, the smaller once at least every other year.
No animal testing: Yarrah deliberately rejects any and all animal testing. Any palatability tests (to gauge the pets acceptance of the product) are carried out in the pets natural home setting. Yarrah does not allow any of our foods to be tested using either captive animals or invasive testing techniques. This has some consequences for our health claims. We cannot claim that our products have beneficial influences for your pet. Luckily there are many people who are very happy with our products and are willing to tell this to others.
Alternative testing: How do we test our products? Simple: if we want to introduce a new flavour or a new product, we ask about 100 dog or cat owners to feed the new product to their pet. Of course none of the ingredients has a health risk, so it is absolutely safe for the pet to eat the new product. If they like the product, we will adopt the new product. We are proud that we can use the logo of the Dutch Society against animal testing.
Why organic pet food? Is it better for our pets?
Yes, organic pet food is better than conventional pet food because what it does NOT have. A dog in general is not very picky when it comes to food. If the food smells good, the dog will eat it. There is a reason that most if not all dogs will always eat (high end) conventional food, the added chemical scents or fragrances that are applied ensure this.
The second reason that organic is better is the lack of preservatives. Conventional dog food is preserved with chemical preservatives to give the food a longer sell by date. Organic pet food has a short shelf life because no chemical preservatives are applied. Natural/organic antioxidants such as rosemary extracts are used instead.Are these chemical fragrances and preservatives really healthy for dogs? Probably not. Can these chemicals cause irritations in dogs? Maybe, but why risk it when they can be avoided.
Arguing that the organic grain and meat ingredients being better than conventional can be controversial. There are many studies that prove organic agriculture produces higher quality, more nutritious products, but there are also studies that claim there are no differences. What organic pet food CAN guarantee is that there are no chemical pesticide residues, genetically modified organisms or pharmaceutical residues in the food.
Organic pet food, at least in Yarrah’s case, also guarantees that we do not use bones, feathers, hooves, blood or other cheap fillers in our products.
Does organic food improve animal welfare for farm animals and wild animals (too)?
Organic farm animals are treated much better than animals in the conventional farming industry. An organic chicken for instance lives twice as long and has over 16 times more space to live on and is able to go outside. The beef Yarrah uses, are completely grass-fed so no tropical forest have to be cut to grow soy. Organic farmers do not use dangerous pesticides, so also small rodents and useful insects like bees are not harmed. What changes would Yarrah like to see in the pet food industry? Where would you like pet food to be in 100 years?
The first thing other pet food producers should stop doing, is testing their food on animals in kennels. A dogs life should not be used in this way; it has a right to have a normal life among people in a family.
The next step should be informing the customer truthfully about their products and where the ingredients come from. It is a terrible idea that people do not know that they are feeding their pets with meat of animals that are kept in small cages, with no room to live.
In 100 years, but hopefully much sooner, all pet owners will get the message that harming one animal to feed another is not acceptable. They will demand to know what is in their pet food, they will realize that chemical flavors, fragrances and colors are not needed, and will pick their brand of pet food purely on quality standards and not the amount of marketing budget a brand has available.
My daughter and I re-homed Bear after he had 3 previous owners during the first 11 months of his life – he had been returned to the the original breeders and then been bought ‘on impulse’. He was there for 2 weeks before this owner put him up to be re-homed again. He was a nervous little fella, although bonded with my daughter and myself immediately. He showed signs of being afraid of men, and was fiercely protective of us, so we took him for a few sessions with an amazing dog communicator and healer called Julia Meads, who worked wonders – Bear and I both literally floated out of those sessions!
We re-homed Flo when she was 14 weeks old from a really lovely family. They were finding having a puppy around quite stressful following a family bereavement – it was a hard decision for them to make, but at the end of the day they simply wanted her to go to a loving home who could provide her with everything she needed. She adores Bear and they are always together.
Bear will be 3 years old in April and is a big ‘toy and cuddles’ fan. They are best of friends: for example, if you throw a toy for them both, Flo will always get there first but she will always let Bear pick it up! He will return his favourite toy, a soft squeaky bagel (slightly random dog toy, I have to say!), and prod you with it to encourage you to throw it again. He is ‘fluff on a stick’ and has to be groomed constantly which he adores… he only has to spot his brush and he’s on his back! He gets a lot of attention on our walks, children have asked “is he a cat?” and “is he a lion?”!
Flo is now 14 months old and LOVES LIFE! She is full of energy, LOVES her food, she ‘sings’ when excited: she is inquisitive, clever and funny. She will happily sit and watch the television, especially if there are animals on the screen. Her party piece is her ‘commando crawl’ across the floor, always first thing in the morning. She’s a bit of a tease too and often wafts her bum around Bear’s face to get his attention – she has even been seen to do it to our cat, Blackie. She has very long legs, she’s often referred to as Tigger because she bounces up and down – especially when I’m serving up her dinner!
Flo and Bear are just so much fun, so loving… simply perfect companions. They encourage me to get out and about, as they are walked 3 time a day, and we have made some lovely friends this way. They make my day, EVERY day.
Jojo on the Ethical Pets products:
Every day they have a Vegan Mini Toothbrush on return from their morning walk, helping to keep their nashers clean, the cat usually appears at this point too! We have also tried them both on a couple of types of vegan wet food, after attending one of Anna’s inspirational talks on Vegan pets, and seeking her personal advice as they are both pretty sensitive when it comes to what I feed them. The vegan wet food wasn’t 100% successful, a few upset-tummies etc, but the Benevo Vegan Small Dog Dried Food is going okay so far! Also, we love the Wild Olive Tea-Tree Soap Bars – I have had to wash them twice this weekend due to the snow melting – I have never seen them so dirty – but now they both smell divine and their fur feels amazing! It’s much better than the shampoos and conditioners we used to get from the local pet shop 🙂
JoJo, and her daughter Amber Lily, have lived in Abingdon, Oxfordshire for 2 years. She yearned to live in a rural environment, closer to her family and somewhere for Amber Lily to grow up within a friendly, safe community. Jojo works from home as a freelance graphic designer. Once fully installed in the countryside, she seized the opportunity to get a couple of new additions to he family – and now enjoys beautiful river-side and county walks with Amber Lily, Bear and Flo. The dogs are also a big fan of Jojo’s partner John, who they see as their “big play thing!”