Attention all canine foodie enthusiasts! Get ready to bark with excitement as we dive into the science behind the ON!ST vegan pet food revolution. Hold on to your tails, because on this page you will find the almighty overview on all the scientific knowledge that we sourced per topic category on vegan & dehydrated pet food. Basically we're serving up a feast of knowledge that'll have you wagging your tail in no time.

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01 Vegan Health 

vegan diets are the healthiest and least hazardous diets for dogs

Studied 2,536 dogs fed vegan or meat-based diets for at least one year. Being a very large-scale study, these results confer a high degree of statistical reliability. Included were guardian opinions of health – which are not always reliable – as well as a range of more objective data, such as prevalence of medication usage. Many different indicators of health were pooled.

Link to article : Knight A, Huang E, Rai N, Brown H (2022) Vegan versus meat-based dog food: Guardian-reported indicators of health. PLOS ONE 17(4): e0265662.


clear health improvements after switching to vegan dog food

Surveyed 100 dog guardians who had switched to a nutritionally complete vegan dog food designed by UK veterinarians. Clear improvements after 3-12 months were reported in coat glossiness, dandruff and erythema (skin inflammation), itchiness (scratching; pruritus), external ear canal crusting (otitis externa), stool consistency & frequency, flatus frequency and antisocial smell, anxiety, aggressive behavior and coprophagia (stool consumption).

Link to article : Davies M, (2022) Reported Health Benefits of a Vegan Dog Food – A Likert Scale-type Survey of 100 Guardians. bioRxiv.


higher protein profile in dogs after 12 weeks of a plant-based diet

The objective of this study was to assess the short-term amino acid (AA), clinicopathologic, and echocardiographic findings in 34 client-owned dogs fed a commercial extruded plant-based diet (PBD) in which pea protein was the primary protein source and 4 control dogs fed a commercial extruded traditional diet (TD). All essential AAs, except methionine, were higher in dogs after 4 weeks on the PBD compared to baseline. Taurine (plasma and whole blood) was also higher after 4 weeks on the PBD compared to baseline. There was no statistical evidence of difference between the 2 groups of dogs for any of the echocardiographic parameters at baseline or at 12 weeks. Essential AA or taurine deficiency was not observed in this cohort of dogs fed a commercial extruded PBD.

Link to article : Cavanaugh SM, Cavanaugh RP, Gilbert GE, Leavitt EL, Ketzis JK, et al. (2021) Short-term amino acid, clinicopathologic, and echocardiographic findings in healthy dogs fed a commercial plant-based diet. PLOS ONE 16(10)


vegan dogs have superior health

This research has shown that the long-term vegan-fed dogs showed the same number of nutritional surpluses as the conventional meat-fed control group (all were detected for iron). The meat-based fed control group showed 11 deficiencies (four folic acid, four vitamin B12, two calcium and one iron), while the long-term vegan fed category presented only two deficiencies in total (lower than recommended folic acid values, explained by a giardia infection during the blood collection. When comparing the groups (plant- and meat-based), the mean differences in protein, calcium and magnesium showed no statistically significant difference (p > 0.05); the results showed statistically significant differences in iron, vitamin B12 and folic acid (p < 0.01). The physical examinations did not raise any suspicion of nutrimental-related issues.

Link to thesis : Kiemer L. (2019) Vegan diet and its effects on the dog’s health. Master thesis. Faculty of Veterinary Medicine. Lithuanian University of Health Sciences.


equal performance between vegetarian and non-vegetarian dog athletes

Hematology results for all dogs, irrespective of diet, were within normal range throughout the study and the consulting veterinarian assessed all dogs to be in excellent physical condition. No dogs in the present study developed anemia. On the contrary, erythrocyte counts and Hb values increased significantly over time (P,0·01) in both groups of dogs. The present study is the first to demonstrate that a carefully balanced meat-free diet can maintain normal hematological values in exercising dogs

Link to article : Wendy Y. Brown1 et al. (2009) An experimental meat-free diet maintained haematological characteristics in sprint-racing sled dogs. British Journal of Nutrition (2009), 102, 1318–1323.  


vegan dogs live up to 1,5 years longer

Researchers at the University of Guelph (Canada) compared the diets of more than a 1.000 dogs and found that on top of an extended life expectancy, dogs eating plant-bases also had a lower chance of contracting liver, gastrointestinal, and/-or eye related diseases! 

Link to article : Dodd S. et al. (2022) Owner perception of health of North American dogs fed meat- or plant-based diets. Research in veterinary Science volume 149, December 2022, Pages 36-46.


vegan diet decreases risk of cancer, infections, hypothyroidism, and obesity

In conclusion, the 1994 PETA study of 300 vegetarian dogs found that a longer duration on a vegetarian or vegan diet is associated with a greater likelihood of overall good to excellent health, with veganism being more beneficial than vegetarianism. The study also suggests that a vegetarian or vegan diet may decrease the risk of cancer, infections, hypothyroidism, and obesity. However, regular monitoring of urine pH and supplementation of L-carnitine and taurine may be necessary to prevent health issues related to urinary alkalinization and dilated cardiomyopathy. The study also highlights the benefits of incorporating nutritional yeast and garlic in a dog's diet and avoiding soy products, which may cause allergic reactions. However, the study did not perform statistical significance tests, so these results should be interpreted with caution.  

Citation of unpublished survey: People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). Dog health survey. Unpublished. 1994. 


no difference in nutrition found in blood test between vegan and conventional fed dogs 

In this study, 20 dogs and 15 cats underwent a clinical examination and blood assessment. Inclusion criterion to undergo blood assessment was a minimum length of 6 months of exclusively eating a vegan diet for both cats and dogs, with the extra requirements for cats to live indoor only. During clinical examination of participating vegan cats and dogs, no abnormalities were detected that were to be associated with the individual diet. All examined dogs and cats appeared happy and bright. No diseases could be found that were directly and obviously relatable to a plant based died. Results of blood assessment showed no significant differences in all tested parameters in dogs compared to dogs that were fed a conventional diet. Expected significantly lower values of iron and vitamin B12 in vegan dogs could not be observed. Two dogs out of the 20 participating were fed on a home prepared supplemented diet and neither showed any significant deviations. Expected significant lower values of iron protein or vitamin B12 in vegan cats could not be observed. In the main, examined vegan diets fulfilled cats and dogs nutritional requirements. 

Link to thesis:  Semp K. (2014) Vegan Nutrition of dogs and cats. Veterinarian medicine University Vienna. Master Thesis.


exceptionally old vegan dog cases

Bramble the Border Collie (25 years): Border Collies normally live to be 14-17 years. Bramble was fed vegetables, lentils, rice and other plants exclusively. His brothers and sisters (also only fed vegan) live to 19 and 21 years old.

Joy the all-breed dog (+20 years): This dog came into the veterinarian Dr. Schoen's office for their first check-up ever when she was 20 years. She was full of life and health. She was always fed an vegan & organic diet.  


plant-based cancer prevention

Cancer is the leading cause of death in dogs over 10 years, with 50% of older dogs developing the disease and approximately one in four dogs eventually dying from it. A plant-based diet usually provides a low intake of saturated fat and cholesterol and a high intake of dietary fiber and many health-promoting phytochemicals. This is achieved by an increased consumption of fruits, vegetables, whole-grains, legumes, nuts, and various soy products. As a result of these factors, vegans typically have lower body mass index, serum total and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels, and blood pressure; reduced rates of death from ischemic heart disease; and decreased incidence of hypertension, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and certain cancers than do meat-eaters. Vegans consume considerably more legumes, total fruit and vegetables, tomatoes, allium vegetables, fiber, and vitamin C than do omnivores. All those foods and nutrients are protective against cancer . Fruit and vegetables are described as protective against cancer of the lung, mouth, esophagus, and stomach and to a lesser degree some other sites, whereas the regular use of legumes provides a measure of protection against stomach and prostate cancer. In addition, fiber, vitamin C, carotenoids, flavonoids, and other phytochemicals in the diet are shown to exhibit protection against various cancers, whereas allium vegetables provide protection against stomach cancer, and garlic against colorectal cancer. Foods rich in lycopene, such as tomatoes, are known to protect against prostate cancer.

link to article about dog cancer numbers: Davis BW, Ostrander EA. Domestic dogs and cancer research: a breed-based genomics approach. ILAR J. 2014;55(1):59-68

Link to article plant-based pet health advantages: Winston J Craig, Health effects of vegan diets, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Volume 89, Issue 5, May 2009, Pages 1627S–1633S


plant-based ingredients known to help prevent crystal formation (urinary alkalinization)

Asparagus, peas, brown rice, oats, lentils, corn, brussel sprouts and yeast, may be included in vegetarian cat food, and are all urinary acidifiers. Also Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) is a urinary acidifier. Recommends a dosage of 50-80 mg/kg every 24 hours for cats and dogs. As previously mentioned, the amino acids Methionine and Cysteine can additionally be used to acidify an alkaline urine, thus preventing struvite formation.

Link to book: Peden J. (2011) Vegetarian cats & dogs. Harbingers of New Age. 3rd edition.


switch to vegan dog food improved health vitals and resolved obesity

Linde et al. (2023) studied 15 dogs fed vegan diets for one year after previously being fed meat-based diets. They evaluated clinical, haematological (blood cells etc.), and nutritional parameters at 0, 6, and 12 months, including complete blood count (CBC), blood chemistry, cardiac biomarkers, plasma amino acids, and serum vitamin concentrations. All dogs maintained their health status. Three who had been overweight or obese lost weight. Blood results confirmed the diet provided all essential amino acids, and for several nutrients blood levels increased. In some cases previous deficiencies reversed, without supplement use. 

Link to article: Linde. A et al. (2023). Domestic dogs maintain positive clinical, nutritional, and hematological health outcomes when fed a commercial plant-based diet for a year. BioRxiv.


books about natural vegan pet health

Pitcairn, Richard & Pitcairn, Susan. Dr. Pitcairn’s Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs & Cats. Emmaus, PA: Rodale Press.1982: 28.

 Lisette Kreischer & Rick Scholtes (2020), Dog.Eat.Plant. de Vrije Uitgevers.

Mary L. Wulff, Gregory L. Tilford (2009), Herbs for Pets: The Natural Way to Enhance Your Pet's Life.

Ann Martin (2001) Protect your pet. troutdale, OR: NewSage Press,11.


02 Allergy Prevention

meat most common allergy aggressor

In dogs and cats, after a period of dietary restriction leading to the complete remission of clinical signs, food challenges to diagnose CAFR should begin with beef and dairy products, the most commonly recognized food allergens in these two species.

Link to article: Mueller RS, Olivry T, Prélaud P. Critically appraised topic on adverse food reactions of companion animals (2): common food allergen sources in dogs and cats. BMC Vet Res. 2016 Jan 12;12:9.


synthetics and meat are the root causes of pet allergies 

The prevalence of companion animal allergies is increasing, possibly due to the widespread use of artificial dyes, flavorings, preservatives, stabilizers, and adulterated slaughterhouse products in commercial meat-based pet foods. According to veterinarian and allergy expert Dr. Alfred Plechner, animal products are the primary cause of allergic reactions in pets, with beef being the most common allergen for both cats and dogs. Switching to another commercial meat-based pet food typically doesn't resolve the issue because of the similarity of ingredients used. To address these allergies, several meat-free prescription diets have been developed that incorporate novel vegetarian protein sources. The most common symptom of a food allergy in companion animals is itching, although other symptoms such as vomiting, coughing, or wheezing can also occur.

Link to book : Alfred J et al. (1986), pet allergies: remedies for an epidemic. Very Healthy Enterprises. 1st edition.


top 10 allergens for dogs: beef, dairy, wheat, egg, chicken, lamb, soy, pork, rabbit and fish

The top 10 allergens for dogs are beef, dairy, wheat, egg, chicken, lamb, soy, pork, rabbit and fish. Of which the two plant food allergens "soy" and "wheat" van be explained because in almost all cases soy is highly processed and  genetically modified and wheat is likely to come from moldy, stale, infested, or low nutrient discards from the food industry. Not comparable to whole, fresh prepared grains and legumes on which dogs and cats do thrive.

Link to book: Pitcairn, Richard & Pitcairn, Susan. Dr. Pitcairn’s Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs & Cats. Emmaus, PA: Rodale Press.1982: 28. p. 17.


preservatives cause allergies and worse

Standard practice is also to add preservatives to keep the dry food from spoiling for a long time such as ethoxyquin. Ethoxyquin is a chemical that was first developed for the use of insecticide and pesticide. Later also used in pet foods. The FDA received several reports that the chemical causes allergic reactions, skin problems, major organ failure, discoloring's of the liver, changing liver enzyme levels, behavior problems and cancer.

Link to book: Ann Martin (2001) Protect your pet. troutdale, OR: NewSage Press,11. p. 41.


03 Dehydrated & Human-Grade Pet Food

*Drying or “dehydrating” food is a method of natural food preservation that removes enough moisture from the food so bacteria, yeast and molds cannot grow.


highest nutrition at low temperature drying

The effect of vacuum packaging on nutritional compounds and quality parameters of dried galega kale, using three air-drying temperatures, was analysed during twenty weeks of storage. The higher drying temperature (70°C) resulted in lower concentrations of all nutritional parameters, whereas the lowest tested temperature (40°C) yielded higher values. Packaging using vacuum did not add value to the dried product, since similar or better results were obtained for most nutritional parameters using the samples packaged at normal atmosphere. All nutritional compounds decreased during the storage period, with vitamin C being the most affected. In relation to the colour properties, similar results were obtained for both packages at all drying temperatures, allowing concluding that packaging without the need of vacuum provided the attainment of a dried product with a visual aspect analogous to the sample packaged using vacuum.

link to article: Ana C. Araújo, Sara M. Oliveira, Inês N. Ramos, Teresa R. S. Brandão, Maria J. Monteiro, Cristina L. M. Silva, "Evaluation of Drying and Storage Conditions on Nutritional and Sensory Properties of Dried Galega Kale (Brassica oleracea L. var. Acephala)", Journal of Food Quality, vol. 2017, Article ID 9393482, 9 pages, 2017.


heat processing destroys vitamin A & E

The oxidative changes that accompany the beginning and development of rancidity in unsaturated animal fats tend to destroy vitamins A and E. It is generally accepted that vitamin A as found in butter fat and cod liver oil is easily destroyed. Heating and aerating these fats for a short time or exposing them to air at room temperature for a longer period usually deprives them of every trace of vitamin A. During such treatment the fats absorb oxygen and a long series of partial oxidation products is recognized as accompanying the more or less undefined condition of rancidity so developed. However, vegetable oils have the opposite effect. Since vegetable oils, especially wheat germ oil, although having as high or higher iodine numbers, contain more hydroxy compounds than lard, cod liver oil, butter and other animal fats, they delay autoxidation in fats and thereby prevent accompanying destruction of vitamins A and E.

Link to article: Mattill h. The oxidative destruction of vitamins a and eand the protective action of certain vegetable oilsJama.1927;89(18):1505–1508.


heating process increases cancer risk

When foods are being processed or cooked at high temperature, chemical reaction between amino acids and reducing sugars leads to the formation of Maillard reaction products (MRPs). Depending on the way the food is being processed toxic MRPs can be produced. For example, acrylamide has been classified as a probable carcinogen, A carcinogen is a substance, organism or agent capable of causing cancer by the International Agency for Research on Cancer

Link to article on Maillard reactionTamanna, Nahid; Mahmood, Niaz (2015). Food Processing and Maillard Reaction Products: Effect on Human Health and Nutrition. International Journal of Food Science, 2015(), 1–6.

Link to article on acrylamide cancer risk: Cancer IAfRo, IARC Monographs on the Evaluation of the Carcinogenic Risk of Chemicals to Humans. Overall Evaluations of Carcinogenicity: An Updating of IARC Monographs, vol. 1–42, World Health Organization, 1987.


human-grade more digestible than kibble & fresh food

Human-grade (HG) pet foods are commercially available, but they have not been well studied. Our objective was to determine the apparent total tract digestibility (ATTD) of HG pet foods and evaluate their effects on fecal characteristics, microbiota, and metabolites, serum metabolites, and hematology of dogs. As expected, the HG foods had an extremely high digestibility that was higher than that of extruded and fresh diets, without any differences observed in regard to fecal characteristics (pH or score) or metabolites.

Link to articleSungho Do, Thunyaporn Phungviwatnikul, Maria R C de Godoy, Kelly S Swanson, Nutrient digestibility and fecal characteristics, microbiota, and metabolites in dogs fed human-grade foods, Journal of Animal Science, Volume 99, Issue 2, February 2021, skab028.


minimum/no heat treatment highest nutrient digestibility 

the objective of this study was to determine the apparent total-tract macronutrient digestibility (ATTD); fecal characteristics, metabolites, and microbiota; serum chemistry metabolites; urinalysis; and voluntary physical activity levels of adult dogs fed commercial diets differing in processing type. The diets included: 1) extruded dry kibble (EXT) diet; 2) high-moisture roasted refrigerated (RR) diet; 3) high-moisture grain-free roasted refrigerated (GFRR) diet; and 4) raw (RAW) diet. In conclusion, the lightly cooked and raw diets tested were highly palatable, highly digestible, reduced blood triglycerides, maintained fecal quality and serum chemistry, and modified the fecal microbial community of healthy adult dogs.

Link to articleAlgya KM, Cross TL, Leuck KN, Kastner ME, Baba T, Lye L, de Godoy MRC, Swanson KS. Apparent total-tract macronutrient digestibility, serum chemistry, urinalysis, and fecal characteristics, metabolites and microbiota of adult dogs fed extruded, mildly cooked, and raw diets1. J Anim Sci. 2018 Sep 7;96(9):3670-3683.


extrusion (kibble) harms vitamin retention in pet food

The extrusion process of pet food consists in the steam conditioning of a mixture of ingredients that is compressed and forced through a die while being heated at the same time. The kibbles are cut down into regular sizes by rotating knives at the die’s exit. Additionally, due to a pressure drop at the die’s exit, the moisture evaporates quickly and the extrudate expands. The method has however adverse effects on vitamins. In addition to being sensitive to heat, light, oxygen, moisture and mineral content , vitamins are exposed to high pressure and shear conditions during extrusion, which might lead to important losses. Vitamins are a group of complex organic compounds required in small amounts to cover metabolic needs. Since commercially prepared pet food is most commonly the main source of nutrients for dogs and cats, vitamin loss is a serious issue as deficiencies can cause severe illnesses or even death of the animal. The present literature review has highlighted that the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K, as well as vitamin C and folic acid were the least stable vitamins during extrusion. The most detrimental parameter for those were temperatures above 100 ◦C and in the case of vitamin E and C, increasing moisture was as detrimental as increasing the temperature.

link to articleRiaz, Mian N.; Asif, Muhammad; Ali, Rashida (2009). Stability of Vitamins during Extrusion. Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition, 49(4), 361–368.

04 Commercial (Meat) Pet Food Consumption Hazards

Animal & plant waste from human consumption are the main source for most pet food. Their are some exceptions among extremely conscious brands but be aware for the following hazards.


diseased meat tissue in pet food

As a result of an accumulation of rejected material that cannot be used for human consumption after an meat inspector has paid a visit has lead to the standard practice of processing rejected material into food for pets and even feed for herbivorous livestock. Typically diseased tissue includes; damaged and diseased tissue parts cut of off animals during the production line into garbage cans. These garbage cans are periodically emptied and sent to pet food factories. Furthermore, animals that died, are dying, are disabled or diseased during transportation and no longer suitable for human consumption are processed into pet and livestock food. Finally, uteruses and fetuses removed from pregnant animals before slaughter are also processed into pet food. Note that all these materials are full of dangerous bacteria such as endotoxins which is a bacteria that induces inflamation and fever as an immune response. Most commercial pet food tested for these toxins contain them and some in extremely high doses.

Link to book: Strombeck D (2010). Home-prepared diets for dogs and cats. Iowa State Press, University of California, School of Veterinary Medicine.


the ingredients behind "meat-meal" & "meat by-products"

By-products and meat-meal are widely used in pet foods. Boosting the crude protein (average grams of proteins to 1 gram of nitrogen) content but providing little nutrition. Dogs can only digest 75% of this type of protein. Ingredients that can meat-meal and by-products consist out of; garbage from grocery stores, grease and spoiled food form restaurants, roadkill to large to be buried, sick farm animals who have died for reasons other than slaughter, food substances unfit for human consumption (e.g. moldy rice, fibers from peanuts hulls, newspapers), euthanized dog's and cats from shelters, pounds, and veterinary clinics, poultry feathers, leather, connective tissues, fecal waste, cattle hair, ground bone, residue of euthanasia solutions, and discards from manufacturing foods with little to no nutritional value (e.g. brewers yeast, rice flower, potato peelings, beet pulp, corn gluten). All ingredients are cooked at temperatures between 104-132 degrees Celsius up to an hour. Then centrifuged, ground en mixed into one meal. 

Link to book: Ann Martin (2001) Protect your pet. troutdale, OR: NewSage Press,11.

antibiotic residue in pet food meat

Antibiotics are used continually on factory-farmed animals. the conditions that most farmed animals live in today are so unhealthy and stressful that the animals could not survive the profitable slaughter age without the steady use of antibiotics. Many of these antibiotics remaining in animal-based foods result in drug effects and development of bacterial resistance. The issue of the presence of antibiotic residues in food is intensely debated. Numerous research studies have highlighted the irrational use of antibiotics and the risk of problems with consumer antibiotic resistance, spread by foods with antibiotic residues. The concentration and type of antibiotic found in the form of residues varies depending on the geographical area and the type of food analyzed. Available studies present antibiotic residues in all food groups: meat and meat products, milk and dairy products, eggs, and honey products. Although alarm signals are drawn regarding irrational antibiotic use, exceeding applicable legal requirements are identified.

Link to article: Ghimpețeanu, Oana Mărgărita, Elena Narcisa Pogurschi, Dana Cătălina Popa, Nela Dragomir, Tomița Drăgotoiu, Oana Diana Mihai, and Carmen Daniela Petcu. 2022. "Antibiotic Use in Livestock and Residues in Food—A Public Health Threat: A Review" Foods 11, no. 10: 1430. 

Link to infographic on antibiotic use in the EU:  European Medicines Agency, European Surveillance of Veterinary Antimicrobial Consumption (2017) & Van Boeckel et al. (2015)

cancer linked to red meat and processed meat consumption 

The World Health Organization (WHO) urged us to consume less meat in 2015 after warning that eating processed and red meat might increase the risk of cancer.

link to article : The international Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) (2015) IARC Monographs evaluate consumption of red meat and processed meat.  World Healthy Organization (WHO).

illegal growth hormones in pet food meat

The use of hormonal active growth promoters ("hormones") in farm animals can increase the production of veal and beef significantly up to 15%. However, in the different parts of the world the regulation regarding the use of such hormones differs sharply. In the European Union there exists a total ban on such use in contrast to the United States of American where the use of some hormones is authorized under strict conditions. It has to be concluded that in some EU Member States an extended black market exists. In the EU the number of ascertained different illegal "hormones" ranges between about 35 and 55. In the USA the number of legal hormones in total is six. In the EU and in the USA (or anywhere else) there exists no adequate regulatory database with relevant and updated reliable “state of the art” information about the levels of natural and xenobiotic “hormones” in common food commodities of animal origin. Residue analyses are performed with non-edible sample material, often at the farm level.

Link to article: Stephany RW. Hormones in meat: different approaches in the EU and in the USA. APMIS Suppl. 2001;(103):S357-63; discussion S363-4. 


toxic heavy metals in pet food meat

Toxic heavy metals such as lead, mercury, cadmium, and arsenic from a variety of processes and products are found in pet food as a result of bioaccumulating up the food chain. Tests of commercial pet foods have found as much as 120 times the upper safe range for humans of mercury, plus dangerous levels of other heavy metals. Kibbles came out the test worse then wet foods. The FDA has received thousands of reports of pet s sickened or killed by heavy metals in pet food.

Link to book: Pitcairn, Richard & Pitcairn, Susan. Dr. Pitcairn’s Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs & Cats. Emmaus, PA: Rodale Press.1982: 28. p. 14.


bioaccumulation of chemicals in pet food meat

Today there are some 80.000 industrial or man-made chemicals in our environment- in the air, water, soil. These are taken up by plants and animals, but especially in the tissues of livestock fed industrially raised feeds, and then accumulate up the food chain to their highest levels in those who eat the livestock.

Link to book: Pitcairn, Richard & Pitcairn, Susan. Dr. Pitcairn’s Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs & Cats. Emmaus, PA: Rodale Press.1982: 28. p. 14.


dangerous additives in pet food

Pet food makers may add artificial food coloring to make the food look more attractive for the owner (because dogs and cats do not see color). Standard practice is also to add preservatives to keep the dry food from spoiling for a long time. These chemicals include: Butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA), butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT), propylene glycol, and ethoxyquin. BHA and BHT are added to oils as preservatives. BHA is on the list of known carcinogens and reproductive toxicants and BHT is also a carcinogen and causes kidney and liver damage. Ethoxyquin is a chemical that was first developed for the use of insecticide and pesticide. Later also used in pet foods. The FDA received several reports that the chemical causes allergic reactions, skin problems, major organ failure, discoloring's of the liver, changing liver enzyme levels, behavior problems and cancer. Propylene glycol is a humectant (attracts water) and is a second cousin to anti-freeze (regulator of extreme temperatures). This chemical is a major contributor to feline cardiac disease, overt anemia, reducing red blood cell survival time, and renders red blood cells more susceptible to oxidative damage.

Link to book: Pitcairn, Richard & Pitcairn, Susan. Dr. Pitcairn’s Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs & Cats. Emmaus, PA: Rodale Press.1982: 28. p. 17.


kibble looses 70% of vitamins within 6 weeks left unsealed

The objective of this research was to determine the effects of processing, diet, and storage conditions on vitamin (vitamin A, vitamin D3, vitamin E, folic acid and thiamine) and omega-3 fatty acid (with an emphasis on eicosapentaenoic acid; EPA 20:5n3, and docosahexaenoic acid; DHA; 22:6n3) retention. In the vitamin premix study, the quantity of vitamins declined by approximately 50% over 6 months storage in ambient conditions (AMB; 20C, 50%RH), and all except folic acid were lost to some degree in stressed shelf life testing (bag left open) (SSLT; 50C, 70% RH) over 6 weeks. In all cases, the concentration of vitamins in food exiting the extruder and dryer were lower than target levels.

Link to article: Mooney, A.J. (2016). Stability of essential nutrients in pet food manufacturing and storage.


overdosing on artificial vitamins is the standard

Extrusion processing of petfood usually applies heating starting at 100 ◦C up to 200 ◦C. Even though temperatures above 100◦C are detrimental to naturally occurring fat-soluble  vitamins. The solution for companies having to optimize their process for a better vitamin retention (to meet the fediaf regulations) are very costly. Consequently, instead of optimizing the processing parameters, other solutions are applied such as; overdosing on the amount of artificial vitamins before the extrusion (Tran et al., 2008), in an amount that is known to be lost during the extrusion. Secondly, applying vitamins after extrusion using methods such as dusting, enrobing, spraying or coating (Killeit, 1994), a method associated to cause food safety issues, and might result in a poor distribution of the vitamins. Thirdly, coating the kibbles with a gelatin-, sugar- and hydrocolloid-based matrix in the case of vitamin A and D.

Link to general articlePauline Morin;Alicia Gorman;Leah Lambrakis; (2021). A literature review on vitamin retention during the extrusion of dry pet food . Animal Feed Science and Technology, 

Link to overdosing solutionQuang D Tran; Wouter H Hendriks; Antonius FB van der Poel (2008). Effects of extrusion processing on nutrients in dry pet food. , 88(9), 1487–1493. doi:10.1002/jsfa.3247 

Link to coating solution: Ulrich Killeit, Vitamin retention in extrusion cooking, Food Chemistry, Volume 49, Issue 2, 1994, Pages 149-155.


hard food and toys are not beneficial to oral health

Approximately 80% of adult dogs and 70% of adult cats have some form of oral disease. While not all pets are willing to accept tooth brushing it is the gold standard for good oral care.  It does take time to train the pet to accept tooth brushing.  Make sure to have a detailed demonstration for the pet owner such as this. Feeding hard kibble will not keep the teeth of you pet clean. Most dogs and cats actually swallow their kibble whole therefore getting no dental benefit.  Even if the pet chews the kibble, the kibble is too hard and breaks apart when the tooth hits it and offers no benefit.  Neither do bones, chew toys and tennis balls help to keep their teeth clean. The dogs jaw does not shift side to side like a humans therefore when they chow down on a bone they often fracture the carnassial teeth. These fractured teeth hurt and can lead to infections and abscess if left untreated (Wild dogs and wolves often have multiple fractures in their mouths due to chewing on bones). The rough surface of the tennis ball can lead to abrasion, wearing away the enamel or surface of the teeth over time.  Dogs who constantly chew on tennis balls often have severely worn teeth that can lead to a very painful tooth. Finally oral disease is not an inevitable part of aging. Better yet, good oral care can add an average of 2 years to the life of your pet

Link to veterinary dentistry blogMary L. Berg (2019), BS, RVT, RLATG, VTS (Dentistry) Beyond the Crown Veterinary Education Lawrence, KS


05 Bioavailable & Digestible

*Bioavailability refers to how efficiently and effectively the body absorbs and uses a given nutrient (e.g. macronutrients, micronutrients, like vitamins and minerals).


vegetable diets have a better average digestibility (bioavailability) then meat-based diets

Hegsted et al (1964) found that the apparent digestibility of proteins in an all-vegetable diet containing white bread, corn, rice, potatoes, lettuce, carrots, onions, tomatoes, and applesauce was 80.0 (plus or minus 7.7%). James and McCay(1953) reported that the apparent protein digestibility of commercial, dry-type food, containing both vegetable and animal proteins, ranged from 67 to 82% for adult dogs. Kendall and Holme (1982) reported the apparent crude protein (Nx6.25) digestibility coefficients for textured soy protein, extracted soy meal, full-fat soy flour, and micronized whole soybeans ranged from 71 to 87%. Moore et al.(1980) reported apparent digestibility values of soybean meal, corn, rice, and oats by mature Pointers to be in the range of 77 to 88%. Their data revealed that normal cooking procedures did not significantly influence the digestibility of rice, oat, or corn protein. Their data also indicated that increasing the fat content of the diet from 10 to 20% did not alter the digestibility of nitrogen in a corn-soybean-based diet. Burns et al (1982) showed that the apparent digestibility’s of lactalbumin, casein, soy protein, and wheat gluten are 87, 85, 78, and 77%. Clapper et al(2001) compared the canine digestibility of five soybean protein sources to that of poultry meal and found the soy protein to offer a viable protein source.

KENDALL, P.T., HOLME, D.W. and SMITH, P.M. (1982), Comparative evaluation of net digestive and absorptive efficiency in dogs and cats fed a variety of contrasting diet types. Journal of Small Animal Practice, 23: 577-587.

James & McCay. 1950. In National Research Council. Nutrient Requirements of Cats. Washington, DC: National Academy Press. 1986, 12.


dog’s ability to digest plant protein

The domestication of dogs was an important episode in the development of human civilization. The precise timing and location of this event is debated, and little is known about the genetic changes that accompanied the transformation of ancient wolves into domestic dogs. Here we conduct whole-genome resequencing of dogs and wolves to identify 3.8 million genetic variants used to identify 36 genomic regions that probably represent targets for selection during dog domestication. Nineteen of these regions contain genes important in brain function, eight of which belong to nervous system development pathways and potentially underlie behavioral changes central to dog domestication. Ten genes with key roles in starch digestion and fat metabolism also show signals of selection. We identify candidate mutations in key genes and provide functional support for an increased starch digestion in dogs relative to wolves. Our results indicate that novel adaptations allowing the early ancestors of modern dogs to thrive on a diet rich in starch, relative to the carnivorous diet of wolves, constituted a crucial step in the early domestication of dogs.

Link to article : Axelsson, E., Ratnakumar, A., Arendt, ML. et al.  (2013) The genomic signature of dog domestication reveals adaptation to a starch-rich diet. Nature 495, 360–364. 


various studies on the digestibility of high starch diets for dogs

Study 1: Cereal grains represent 30 to 60% of the DM of many companion animal diets. Once incorporated into a diet, the starch component of these grains can provide an excellent source of ME. However, crystallinity and form of starch are variable and can cause incomplete digestion within the gastrointestinal tract. Diets fed in this experiment included one of six high-starch flours as the main source of carbohydrate. The flours originated from barley, corn, potato, rice, sorghum, and wheat. The diets were extruded and kibbled. Starch fraction concentrations of flours consisted of nearly 100% rapidly digestible starch (RDS) and slowly digestible starch (SDS) combined. Starch fraction concentrations of diets paralleled concentrations in flours. The starch component of all diets was nearly completely digested (>99%). Total tract digestibility of DM and OM was lowest for sorghum (80 and 84%, respectively) compared to all other diets. Crude protein digestibility was highest for corn (87%). Any of these flours could be used without negative effects on digestion at either the ileum or in the total tract.

Link to article: Murray SM, Fahey GC Jr, Merchen NR, Sunvold GD, Reinhart GA. Evaluation of selected high-starch flours as ingredients in canine diets. J Anim Sci. 1999 Aug;77(8):2180-6.


Study 2: The effects of six extruded diets with different starch sources (cassava flour, brewer’s rice, corn, sorghum, peas or lentils) on dog total tract apparent digestibility and glycemic and insulinemic response were investigated. The experiment was carried out on thirty-six dogs with six dogs per diet in a completely randomized design. The diets containing brewer’s rice and cassava flour presented the greatest digestibility of dry matter, organic matter and gross energy (p < 0.05), followed by corn and sorghum; pea and lentil diets had the lowest. Starch digestibility was greater than 98% in all diets and was greater for brewer’s rice and cassava flour than for lentils and peas diets (p < 0.05). Dogs’ immediate post-prandial glucose and insulin responses (AUC £ 30 min) were greater for brewer’s rice, corn, and cassava flour diets (p < 0.05), and later meal responses (AUC ‡ 30 min) were greater for sorghum, lentil and pea diets (p < 0.05). Variations in diet digestibility and post-prandial response can be explained by differences in chemical composition of each starch source including fibre content and starch granule structure. The nutritional particularities of each starch ingredient can be explored through diet formulations designed to modulate glycemic response. However, more studies are required to support these.

Link to article:  Carciofi AC, Takakura FS, de-Oliveira LD, Teshima E, Jeremias JT, Brunetto MA, Prada F. Effects of six carbohydrate sources on dog diet digestibility and post-prandial glucose and insulin response. J Anim Physiol Anim Nutr (Berl). 2008 Jun;92(3):326-36. 


digestibility of minerals in animal vs. vegetable based dog food

The objective of this study was to determine the apparent digestibility and true digestibility of macro and trace minerals in canines fed either animal or vegetable based adult maintenance diets. We hypothesized that dogs fed the animal ingredient based diet would have higher mineral digestibility as compared to dogs fed the vegetable ingredient based diet. There was no difference in apparent digestibility of calcium between dogs fed vegetable vs. animal diets; however, dogs fed the vegetable based diet had greater true digestibility of calcium (P = 0.0143) as compared to dogs fed the animal based diet. The apparent and true digestibility phosphorus and iron were greater in dogs fed the vegetable based diets as compared to animal based diets (P < 0.001). There were no differences in apparent or true digestibility of potassium, copper, and zinc between dogs fed the animal and vegetable based diets (P > 0.05). These results suggest that apparent and true digestibility do not result in similar conclusions, and digestibility of endogenous minerals are similar or greater in dogs fed diets that are largely vegetable based.

Link to article: C. L. Cargo-Froom, A. K. Shoveller, M. Z. Fan, 227 Apparent and true digestibility of minerals in animal and vegetable ingredient based adult maintenance dog food, Journal of Animal Science, Volume 95, Issue suppl_4, August 2017, Page 112.


digestibility of plant-based protein

The objective of this study was to evaluate macronutrient apparent total tract digestibility (ATTD), gastrointestinal tolerance, and fermentative end-products in extruded, canine diets. Five diets were formulated to be isocaloric and isonitrogenous with either garbanzo beans (GBD), green lentils (GLD), peanut flour (PFD), dried yeast (DYD), or poultry by-product meal (CON) as the primary protein sources. The high inclusion of legumes and yeast in extruded diets was well-accepted by dogs throughout the study. The analyzed serum chemistry and CBC were all within normal ranges for healthy adult dogs for the duration of the study. No negative effects were observed in fecal quality and all diets were highly digestible for all macronutrients. Dogs fed the experimental diets had greater SCFA concentrations than dogs fed CON. In particular, dogs fed DYD had high butyrate concentrations. Therefore, it can be concluded that these proteins are viable novel sources that can safely be included in canine diets, with inclusion levels over 40% for garbanzo beans and green lentils, and near 30% inclusion levels for peanut flour and dry yeast.

Link to article: Reilly LM, He F, Rodriguez-Zas SL, Southey BR, Hoke JM, Davenport GM, de Godoy MRC. Use of Legumes and Yeast as Novel Dietary Protein Sources in Extruded Canine Diets. Front Vet Sci. 2021 Jun 4;8:667642.


06 Nutrition

nutritional completeness of plant-based dog food

The purpose of the information reported here was to address nutrients of concern when formulating plant-based diets and how to satisfy nutrient requirements of dogs without the use of animal-derived ingredients. Dogs have dietary requirements for energy and essential nutrients, but they do not have a recognized requirement for animal-derived ingredients per se. In accordance with the current understanding of pet nutrition, any diet that meets or exceeds the minimum nutrient requirements of a dog for a specific life stage would be considered nutritionally sufficient for that animal, regardless of ingredients. However, special care must be taken when formulating plant-based diets to ensure that all nutrient requirements are met, particularly requirements for concentrations of total protein, methionine, taurine, DHA, and vitamins A, B12, and D because these nutrients are typically obtained from animal-based ingredients. 

Link to article: Dodd, S. A. S., Adolphe, J. L., & Verbrugghe, A. (2018). Plant-based diets for dogs, Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association253(11), 1425-1432. 


UK pet food manufacturers association (PFMA) statement

statement on the nutritional completeness of vegan pet food: "Appropriately designed vegetarian or vegan diets, formulated and made with the input of qualified professionals, that meet the nutritional and physiological requirements of the species, are a valid part of the product portfolio for today’s pet food industry."

Link to factsheet : UK Pet Food’s Veterinary and Nutrition Committee (2022). Vegetarian and vegan diets for cats and dogs fact sheet. UK Pet Food.


FEDIAF: EU dog & cat nutritional guidelines

FEDIAF represents the national pet food industry associations in the EU and from Bosnia-Herzegovina, Norway, Russia, Serbia and Switzerland, promoting the views and interest of around 132 pet food companies in Europe (95% of the industry). One of FEDIAF’s main objectives is to ascertain the wellbeing of pets by providing well balanced and nutritionally sound pet food through its member companies. Therefore FEDIAF has compiled the present “Nutritional Guidelines for Complete and Complementary Pet Food for Cats and Dogs”, which is based on the state of the art knowledge on cat and dog nutrition, providing pet food manufacturers with nutritional recommendations to ensure the production of well balanced and nutritionally sound pet food. This document is reviewed yearly and updated whenever there are new relevant technological, scientific or legislative developments in pet nutrition

Link to document : The European Pet Food Industry (FEDIAF) (2021) Nutritional Guidelines for complete and Complementary Pet Food for Cats and Dogs.


data center ingredient nutritional values

Food Data Central is an integrated data system that provides expanded nutrient profile data on individual ingredients as a baseline

Link to site : U.S Department of Agriculture. Agricultural Research Service on Nutrients and food component data analysis, compilation and presentation.


the nutritional soundness of meat-based and plant-based pet foods

Most manufacturers researched had acceptable or superior standards at nearly all stages examined, throughout the design, manufacturing, transportation and storage phases, however the plant-based diets showed a slightly superior nutritional soundness to meat-based diets overall.

Link to article : Knight A. & Light N. (2021) The Nutritional Soundness of Meat-Based and Plant-Based Pet Foods. Faculty of Health and Wellbeing, University of Winchester & School of Environment and Science, Nathan Campus, Griffith University. REDVET. vol 22, no1.


vegetable oils protect vitamin A & E

The oxidative changes that accompany the beginning and development of rancidity in unsaturated animal fats tend to destroy vitamins A and E. It is generally accepted that vitamin A as found in butter fat and cod liver oil is easily destroyed. Heating and aerating these fats for a short time or exposing them to air at room temperature for a longer period usually deprives them of every trace of vitamin A. During such treatment the fats absorb oxygen and a long series of partial oxidation products is recognized as accompanying the more or less undefined condition of rancidity so developed. However, vegetable oils have the opposite effect. Since vegetable oils, especially wheat germ oil, although having as high or higher iodine numbers, contain more hydroxy compounds than lard, cod liver oil, butter and other animal fats, they delay autoxidation in fats and thereby prevent accompanying destruction of vitamins A and E.

Link to article: Mattill H. The oxidative destruction of vitamins a and eand the protective action of certain vegetable oilsJama. 1927;89(18):1505–1508


07 Palatability (is it tasty?)

*Palatability is the nutrient and toxin content of the food, the nutritional needs of the animal, and the animal's past experience with the food. The senses (smell, taste, sight) enable animals to discriminate among foods and provide pleasant or unpleasant feelings associated with eating.


dogs are tricked to like their meat-based food with artificial additives

Palatants another word for flavor enhancer are applied to pet foods to improve their inherent taste and increase pet acceptability. This taste enhancer was originally referred to as “digests”, essentially these are proteins broken down enzymatically to provide a sensory impact of meat flavors. These palatants can be characterized as complex systems that consist of a variety of macros and micro-molecules improving the sensory experiences of the pets and pet-owners, masking unpleasant tastes and off-flavors, and enhancing appetite in pets. Commercially available palatants, are used as flavoring agents, and most often classified as either dry powders (generally added in amounts between 0.5% and 2%) or liquids (generally added in amounts between 1% and 3%) and are most commonly sprayed onto dry food, although a few could be added as an ingredient during manufacturing processing. a two-step coating process is adopted where in the flavorant and phosphate are applied to the pet food, followed by spraying of an acidic enhancer.

Link to articleSamant, Shilpa S., Philip Glen Crandall, Sara E. Jarma Arroyo, and Han-Seok Seo. 2021. "Dry Pet Food Flavor Enhancers and Their Impact on Palatability: A Review" Foods 10, no. 11: 2599.

plant-based petfood is equally tasty as meat-based to dogs and cats 

This study surveyed 4,060 dog or cat guardians to determine the importance to them of pet food palatability, and the degree to which their animals displayed specific behavioural indicators of palatability at meal times. For the 2,308 dogs included, reported observations of 10 behavioural indicators of palatability at meal times reliably indicated significant effects of increased reports of appetitive behaviour by dogs on a raw meat diet, as opposed to a conventional diet. There was no consistent evidence of a difference between vegan diets and either the conventional or raw meat diets. For the 1,135 cats included, reported observations of 15 behavioural indicators indicated that diet made little difference to food-oriented behaviour. Based on these owner-reported behaviours, our results indicate that vegan pet foods are generally at least as palatable to dogs and cats as conventional meat or raw meat diets.

Link to article: Knight A, Satchell L (2021) Correction: Vegan versus meat-based pet foods: Owner-reported palatability behaviours and implications for canine and feline welfare. PLOS ONE 16(11)  


08 Climate Impact

the global environmental paw print of pet food

Global pet ownership, especially of cats and dogs, is rising with income growth, and so too are the environmental impacts associated with their food. We find annual global dry pet food production is associated with 56–151 Mt CO2 equivalent emissions (1.1%−2.9% of global agricultural emissions), 41–58 Mha agricultural land-use (0.8–1.2% of global agricultural land use) and 5–11 km3 freshwater use (0.2–0.4% of water extraction of agriculture). These impacts are equivalent to an environmental footprint of around twice the UK land area. These results indicate that rising pet food demand should be included in the broader global debate about food system sustainability.

Link to article : Alexander P. et al. (2020) The global environmental paw print of pet food. Journal of Global Environmental Change. volume 65.  


30% of US meat consumption driven by dogs and cats

In the US, there are more than 163 million dogs and cats that consume, as a significant portion of their diet, animal products and therefore potentially constitute a considerable dietary footprint. Here, the energy and animal-derived product consumption of these pets in the US is evaluated for the first time, as are the environmental impacts from the animal products fed to them, including feces production. In the US, dogs and cats consume about 19% ± 2% of the amount of dietary energy that humans do (203 ± 15 PJ yr-1 vs. 1051 ± 9 PJ yr-1) and 33% ± 9% of the animal-derived energy (67 ± 17 PJ yr-1 vs. 206 ± 2 PJ yr-1). They produce about 30% ± 13%, by mass, as much feces as Americans (5.1 ± Tg yr-1 vs. 17.2 Tg yr-1), and through their diet, constitute about 25–30% of the environmental impacts from animal production in terms of the use of land, water, fossil fuel, phosphate, and biocides.

Link to article: Okin GS (2017) Environmental impacts of food consumption by dogs and cats. PLOS ONE 12(8): e0181301.


25% of EU meat production driven by dog & cat food

It was the aim of the present study to estimate feed consumption, land use and carbon dioxide equivalents (CO₂e) for dogs and cats as the most frequent carnivorous companion animals in the USA, EU and selected European countries from available statistics. The total number of dogs and cats is similar in the USA and in the EU. However, the number of dogs and cats per capita is higher in the USA than in the EU and any selected European country. Annual feed intake was estimated 98 kg (23kg dry matter) per cat and 211 kg (76.5 kg dry matter) per dog. The fraction of materials of animal origin is 50 % for cats and 45 % for dogs. Land use for feed production was about 1000 m² per cat and 2000 m² per dog. Annual CO₂e for cats and dogs was 411 and 840 kg respectively. Arable land required for the production of feed for cats and dogs varied between 10 and 20 % of the national land resources. The CO₂e for dog and cat feed is about 1 – 2 % of the countries’ total CO₂e production, but equals about 10 % (for a cat) to 20% (for a dog) of the CO₂e for feeding their owner. And Finally the dogs and cats animals feed in % of toral meat production is 24.73% for the EU en 31.52% for the US.

Link to article: Leenstra F. (2018). Environmental footprint of meat consumption of cats and dogs. Lohmann Information.  


average dog yearly CO2 impact same as owning 5 cars

The lifetime emissions of a dog weighing 10-20 kilogrammes in the Netherlands is anywhere between 4.2 and 17 tonnes of CO2 equivalent. For the same dog living in China, emissions were between 3.7-19.1 tonnes. In Japan however, the same dog would be expected to produce 1.5-9.9 tonnes during its life. Ten tonnes of CO2 is roughly the same as the emissions produced by two cars every year. Based on an average dog weighing 30 kg such as an golden retriever, in the Netherlands that would be equivalent to owning 5 cars. The first and most evident solution for dramatically reducing companion animals’ dietary EPP is to adopt vegetarian or vegan diets.

Link to article:  Pim Martens, Bingtao Su, Samantha Deblomme, The Ecological Paw Print of Companion Dogs and Cats, BioScience, Volume 69, Issue 6, June 2019, Pages 467–474.  


nutritional sustainability

Formulation of diets to provide nutrients in excess of physiological requirements, the use of ingredients that compete directly with the human food system, or overfeeding by owners resulting in food wastage and obesity are common challenges in optimizing the sustainability of the pet food system and pet ownership. Furthermore, proteins found in meat have a higher environmental impact than those found in plants and cereals.

Link to article: Swanson K.S. et al. 2013. Nutritional sustainability of pet foods. Advances in Nutrition: An International Review Journal 4: 141–150.  


animal agriculture 14.5% of total greenhouse gas emissions

With emissions estimated at 7.1 gigatonnes CO2 -eq per annum, representing 14.5 percent of human-induced GHG emissions, the livestock sector plays an important role in climate change. Beef and cattle milk production account for the majority of emissions, respectively contributing 41 and 20 percent of the sector’s emissions. While pig meat and poultry meat and eggs contribute respectively 9 percent and 8 percent to the sector’s emissions. The strong projected growth of this production will result in higher emission shares and volumes over time. Feed production and processing, and enteric fermentation from ruminants are the two main sources of emissions, representing 45 and 39 percent of sector emissions, respectively. Manure storage and processing represent 10 percent. The remainder is attributable to the processing and transportation of animal products. Included in feed production, the expansion of pasture and feed crops into forests accounts for about 9 percent of the sector’s emissions. Cutting across categories, the consumption of fossil fuel along the sector supply chains accounts for about 20 percent of sector emissions.

link to article: Gerber, P.J., Steinfeld, H., Henderson, B., Mottet, A., Opio, C., Dijkman, J., Falcucci, A. & Tempio, G. 2013. Tackling climate change through livestock – A global assessment of emissions and mitigation opportunities. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), Rome.  


137 species lost every day due to deforestation. 

Experts estimate that we are losing 137 plant, animal and insect species every single day due to rainforest deforestation. That equates to 50,000 species a year. Rainforests once covered 14% of the earth's land surface; now they cover a mere 6% and experts estimate that the last remaining rainforests could be consumed in less than 40 years. The Amazon rainforest has been described as the “lungs of our planet” because it provides the essential environmental world service of continuously recycling carbon dioxide into oxygen. More than 20% of the world oxygen is produced in the Amazon rainforest. It is estimated that in rainforests around the world, 150 acres of rainforest are burned every minute.

Link to news article: COP26 (2021): This is how mass deforestation is wiping out species around the world. ABC News.  


a dogs impact switching to a plant-based diet

An average dog such as an golden retriever weighs 32 kg, eats 1500 calories a day, and lives 11 years. Based on these metrics and a fresh-meat diet the average dog would save approximately 8.030 animals, 33 million liters of water, 2,2 hectometers of rainforest, 80 ton CO2 equivalents, and 588.030 kilometers of fossil fuels (15 drives around the planet) in its entire life when switching to a plant-based diet. 

Link to book: Pitcairn, Richard & Pitcairn, Susan. Dr. Pitcairn’s Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs & Cats. Emmaus, PA: Rodale Press.1982: 28.  


livestock agriculture leading driver for deforestation and biodiversity loss

Every year the world loses around 5 million hectares of forest. 95% of this occurs in the tropics. At least three-quarters of this is driven by agriculture, with most of this used to raise livestock for dairy and meat. Livestock are fed from two sources – lands on which the animals graze and land on which feeding crops, such as soy and cereals, are grown. The expansion of land for agriculture is the leading driver of deforestation and biodiversity loss.

Link to article: |Ritchie H. and Roser M. (2021). Forests and Deforestation. Our world in Data.  


shift to plant-based diets cuts land use by 75%

If everyone shifted to a plant-based diet we would reduce global land use for agriculture by 75%. This large reduction of agricultural land use would be possible thanks to a reduction in land used for grazing and a smaller need for land to grow crops. Less than half – only 48% – of the world’s cereals are eaten by humans. 41% is used for animal feed, and 11% for biofuels. Only 7% of soy goes towards human foods such as tofu, tempeh, soy milk and other substitute products. Most of the rest goes towards oil production which is split between soybean meal for animal feed and soybean oil. The land use of livestock is so large because it takes around 100 times as much land to produce a kilocalorie of beef or lamb versus plant-based alternatives. In the hypothetical scenario in which the entire world adopted a vegan diet the researchers estimate that our total agricultural land use would shrink from 4.1 billion hectares to 1 billion hectares.

Link to article: Ritchie H. (2021). If the world adopted a plant-based diet we would reduce global agricultural land use from 4 to 1 billion hectares. Our world in data.  


protein inefficiency of meat and dairy

The protein efficiency of meat and dairy production is defined as the percentage of protein inputs as feed effectively converted to animal product. An efficiency of 25%would mean 25% of protein in animal feed inputs were effectively converted to animal product; the remaining 75% would be lost during conversion. For feed this conversion is only 3.8% meaning that 96,2% of the plant-based protein are lost using cows as the inefficient middle man. 

Link to articleAlexander et al. (2016). Human appropriation of land for food: the role of diet. Global Environmental Change.  


four billion people facing severe water scarcity.

Freshwater scarcity is increasingly perceived as a global systemic risk. Previous global water scarcity assessments, measuring water scarcity annually, have underestimated experienced water scarcity by failing to capture the seasonal fluctuations in water consumption and availability. We assess blue water scarcity globally at a high spatial resolution on a monthly basis. We find that two-thirds of the global population (4.0 billion people) live under conditions of severe water scarcity at least 1 month of the year. Nearly half of those people live in India and China. Half a billion people in the world face severe water scarcity all year round. Putting caps to water consumption by river basin, increasing water-use efficiencies, and better sharing of the limited freshwater resources will be key in reducing the threat posed by water scarcity on biodiversity and human welfare.

Link to article: Mekonnen, A. Hoekstra, (2016) Four billion people facing severe water scarcity. Science Advances.


global causes for water scarcity 

2.3 billion people live in water-stressed countries, of which 733 million live in high and critically water-stressed countries 72% of all water withdrawals are used by agriculture, 16% by municipalities for households and services, and 12% by industries. (UN-Water, 2021)

Link to article: United Nations (2021) Summary Progress Update 2021: SDG 6 — water and sanitation for all.  


european commission: at least 25% organic farming by 2030

By producing high quality food with low environmental impact, organic farming will play an essential role in developing a sustainable food system for the EU. A sustainable food system is at the heart of the European Green Deal. Under the Green Deal’s Farm to Fork strategy, the European Commission has set a target of ‘at least 25% of the EU’s agricultural land under organic farming and a significant increase in organic aquaculture by 2030’. The action plan is broken into three interlinked axes that reflect the structure of the food supply chain and the Green Deal's sustainability objectives. Axis 1: stimulate demand and ensure consumer trust, Axis 2: stimulate conversion and reinforce the entire value chain, Axis 3: organics leading by example: improve the contribution of organic farming to environmental sustainability.  

Link to article: European Commission (2019). Agriculture and rural development: Organic action plan 2030 European Green Deal.  


organic fertilizers hazards

Just because organic compounds are organic, does not mean they are safer. In fact, organic copper products are one of the most toxic chemicals used anywhere in farming. Studies show that soil copper in conventional and organic vineyards had lower soil microbial activity in organic vineyards, which had higher copper concentrations than conventional fields. Highest concentrations were measured from vine leaves. Copper cycling is very slow, so it can accumulate in large amounts in the soil over time. Too much copper can cause chlorosis of vine leaves. Unlike glyphosate (non-organic fertilizer), it poses huge dangers to beneficial insects and other life forms. According to the European Chemical Agency (ECHA), copper sulfate “is very toxic to aquatic life, is very toxic to aquatic life with long lasting effects, may cause cancer, may damage fertility or the unborn child, is harmful if swallowed, causes serious eye damage, may cause damage to organs through prolonged or repeated exposure.”

Link to article: G Edwards-Jones  et al. The origin and hazard of inputs to crop protection in organic farming systems: are they sustainable?(2001) Agricultural Systems, Volume 67, Issue 1,

Link to blog article:  Andrew Porterfield ( 2021) Organic pesticide copper sulfate—unlike glyphosate—is a carcinogen, kills beneficial insects, decimates soil, pollutes water. It also works. Here are political and science reasons why regulators give it a free pass. Genetic literacy project.

Explanation video: University of Vlaanderen professor Dr. Ir. Pieter Spanoghe (2021) "Is biologisch echt beter".  


99% petfood packaging end up in landfills and oceans

RePurpose Global announced that its efforts have recovered 2,000 tons of plastic waste from the environment, which is equivalent to about 111 million plastic bottles or 1 billion plastic bags. It’s estimated that about 300 million pounds of plastic waste is produced annually by the pet food industry, in just the United States alone. According to the industry, much of the plastic packaging is made of non-recyclable or hard-to-recycle materials, which equates to about 99% of pet food packaging ending in landfills or oceans.

Link to blog article: N. Kerwin (2022) RePurpose Global receives support from pet food brands. Pet food Processing.    


09 Species Appropriate 

dog’s parallel evolution with humans and genetic split from wolves

The genetic bases of demographic changes and artificial selection underlying domestication are of great interest in evolutionary biology. Here we perform whole-genome sequencing of multiple grey wolves, Chinese indigenous dogs and dogs of diverse breeds. Demographic analysis shows that the split between wolves and Chinese indigenous dogs occurred 32.000 years ago and that the subsequent bottlenecks were mild. Therefore, dogs may have been under human selection over a much longer time than previously concluded, based on molecular data, perhaps by initially scavenging with humans. Population genetic analysis identifies a list of genes under positive selection during domestication, which overlaps extensively with the corresponding list of positively selected genes in humans. Parallel evolution is most apparent in genes for digestion and metabolism, neurological process, and cancer. 

Link to article : Wang, Gd., Zhai, W., Yang, Hc. et al. The genomics of selection in dogs and the parallel evolution between dogs and humans. Nat Commun 4, 1860 (2013). 


plant eating common behavior for domestic dogs

Based on the findings in Study 1, that approximately 79% of healthy, well-cared-for dogs eat plants, particularly grass, plant eating appears to be a common behaviour of domestic dogs. The fact that this behaviour is widespread and occurs in all domesticated breed groups indicates that it likely serves some biological function.

Link to article: Sueda, Karen & Hart, Benjamin & Cliff, Kelly. (2008). Characterisation of plant eating in dogs. Applied Animal Behaviour Science - APPL ANIM BEHAV SCI. 111. 120-132.


domestic dogs gene mutations

This research conducts whole-genome resequencing of dogs and wolves to identify 3.8 million genetic variants used to identify 36 genomic regions that probably represent targets for selection during dog domestication. Nineteen of these regions contain genes important in brain function, eight of which belong to nervous system development pathways and potentially underlie behavioural changes central to dog domestication. Ten genes with key roles in starch digestion and fat metabolism also show signals of selection. We identify candidate mutations in key genes and provide functional support for an increased starch digestion in dogs relative to wolves. Our results indicate that novel adaptations allowing the early ancestors of modern dogs to thrive on a diet rich in starch (plant-based diets are rich in starch), relative to the carnivorous diet of wolves, constituted a crucial step in the early domestication of dogs.
Link to article:  Axelsson, E., Ratnakumar, A., Arendt, ML. et al. The genomic signature of dog domestication reveals adaptation to a starch-rich diet. Nature 495, 360–364 (2013). 


coevolution of dog genes and human culture

Extant dog and wolf DNA indicates that dog domestication was accompanied by the selection of a series of duplications on the Amy2B gene coding for pancreatic amylase. In this study, we used a palaeogenetic approach to investigate the timing and expansion of the Amy2B gene in the ancient dog populations of Western and Eastern Europe and Southwest Asia. Quantitative polymerase chain reaction was used to estimate the copy numbers of this gene for 13 ancient dog samples, dated to between 15 000 and 4000 years before present (cal. BP). This evidenced an increase of Amy2B copies in ancient dogs from as early as the 7th millennium cal. BP in Southeastern Europe. We found that the gene expansion was not fixed across all dogs within this early farming context, with ancient dogs bearing between 2 and 20 diploid copies of the gene. The results also suggested that selection for the increased Amy2B copy number started 7000 years cal. BP, at the latest. This expansion reflects a local adaptation that allowed dogs to thrive on a starch rich diet, especially within early farming societies, and suggests a biocultural coevolution of dog genes and human culture.
Link to article:  Ollivier Metal.2016Amy2Bcopy number variation reveals starch diet adaptations in ancient European dogs. Royal Society Open Science.3: 160449.

010 Animal welfare

average dogs eat 8.030 animals in their life

An average dog such as an golden retriever weighs 32 kg, eats 1500 calories a day, and lives 11 years. Based on these metrics and a fresh-meat diet the average dog would consume approximately 8.030 animals in its entire life. That is equivalent to 1 animal each day.

Link to book: Pitcairn, Richard & Pitcairn, Susan. Dr. Pitcairn’s Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs & Cats. Emmaus, PA: Rodale Press.1982: 28.


discomfort dutch livestock

The report states that the life quality aspects for cattle, especially dairy cattle, have not improved significantly yet. The main issue for dairy cattle is the inadequate housing, including lack of movement, smooth and hard floors, poor stall climate, insufficient room to move and overpopulation in lying and feeding areas. Mixed feeding is being used more often, but the need for simultaneous feeding is not being fully recognized. The number of dairy cattle without access to pasture has increased and this means more discomfort, especially in suboptimal stables. Motherless calf rearing is common and has not changed in recent years. Horn removal, which is an intervention, is mostly performed because of inadequate housing. In calf rearing, both the housing and feeding regime (lack of roughage) remain a risk for discomfort, including a low Hb level. The pressure of infection has not decreased due to the merging of calves from different origins. The effects of the plan to prevent caesarean sections in the beef cattle industry have not been observed yet and there has been no change in the level of discomfort caused by caesarean sections and excessive muscle development.

Link to report:  Leenstra F. et al. (2011) Discomfort, cattle, pigs, poultry, mink, horses, policy evaluation. Wageningen UR Livestock Research. Report 456.


livestock dies by overheating during transport

News report by Animals rights group on livestock pigs dying during transport in the Netherlands and Belgium during KMI announced code red heat wave.

Link to news article: Animals rights (2019) Varkens overleven hitte transport niet.


horrific undercover livestock conditions in the netherlands and belgium

Animal Rights, an animal welfare organization, has been conducting undercover investigations into the treatment of animals in various industries in the Netherlands and Belgium. Their investigations have revealed mistreatment of sheep and goats at Mulder BV slaughterhouse in Twello, Netherlands in June 2021, showing how animals were mistreated and witnessed the death of their fellow animals. In November 2020, they uncovered the cruel treatment of meat chickens at Nollens poultry slaughterhouse in Belgium. In September 2020, the organization exposed mistreatment of sheep at Moerbeko slaughterhouse. In June 2020, they released footage from the horror slaughterhouse Torhout showing a range of animal abuses, including disabled pigs and pregnant cows. Animal Rights has also contributed to investigations into the lives of battery chickens and the industrial pig farming industry. They have conducted investigations into the rabbit industry and cow dairy farming, and filmed the death of rabbits on a farm in November 2019 and dead cows on a dairy farm in July 2019. In June 2019, they filmed the mistreatment of 'spent' hens, disabled pigs being transported, and animals waiting in the sun at trailers outside slaughterhouses. The organization has been working with media outlets to bring these investigations to light and raise awareness about animal welfare.

Link to Video Publications (PLEASE BEWARE of severe discomforting video's) : Animal Rights (2019-2021) Research in cattle breeding and slaughterhouses in NL and BE.


all animals experience pain

Three kinds of argument are commonly advanced to support the contention that animals feel pain. The first involves the claim that animal behaviours give us clues to alleged mental states, about what animals are feeling. Thus animals confronted with noxious stimuli which would cause human beings pain, react in similar ways. They attempt to avoid the stimulus, they show facial contortions, they may even cry out. From these 'pain behaviours' it is inferred that the animals must be experiencing pain. A second argument asserts that by virtue of a similarity in structure and function of nervous systems it is likely that human beings and animals closely related to the human species will experience the external environment in much the same way. It is assumed, for example, that primates have visual experiences similar to our own, feel hunger and thirst as we do, and so on. Presumably when they encounter noxious stimuli, they, like us, feel pain. A third line of argument is derived from evolutionary theory. Organic evolution implies that there radical discontinuity between human and other species. It is likely, on this view, that human minds

Link to article: Harrison, P. (1991). Do Animals Feel Pain? Philosophy, 66(255), 25-40.


350.000 animals slaughtered in NL every day for pet food

Depending on the country 20-30% of livestock is slaughtered every day to meat the demand for petfood. In the Netherlands 1,7 million animals are slaughtered each day, 20% of that amount would accumilated to 350.000 animals to meet our pet food demand.

Link to website: Wakker Dier; Livestock Industry Netherlands

Link to articleOkin GS (2017) Environmental impacts of food consumption by dogs and cats. PLOS ONE 12(8): e0181301.


common diseases within livestock farming practices

Factory farming has various implications for animal welfare. Firstly, the spread of diseases such as viruses, bacteria, and parasites due to overpopulation, bad ventilation, and low hygiene standards. Up to 10% of all chickens are infected with endoparasites causing chronic pain in several organs. And about 5% of all chicks die from stomach fluid buildup. Many pigs suffer from infected longs caused by the air quality. You can image the living conditions these animals are exposed to that result to these circumstances and the disease accumulation that ends up indirectly in your pets food.

Link to website: Wakker dier. Comprehensive website with all ongoing campaigns and claims regarding livestock welfares issues in the Netherlands.


certification standard of "beter leven"

For pigs: 0.8-1.3 m2 living space depending on amount of stars

For chicken: 11-21 chickens per m2 depending on amount of stars

For cows: 0-8,5m2 living space depending on amount of stars


speciesism between pets and livestock

*speciesism is the notion that humans and/-or specific animals such as animals likely to be companion animals are inherently superior to all other organisms and, therefore, are entitled to exploit them.

One could argue that dogs or cats are superior to other animals and therefore we do not exploit them. However, various studies demonstrate that there is not real difference between animals that would ground the argumentation that they are entitled to alternate handling. In this particular study they concluded; In the present state of our knowledge, we are led to a simple conclusion: When a broad-enough set of comparison species is considered, there is no current case for canine exceptionalism. Dog cognition is, no doubt, unique, because the cognition of every species is unique. Dogs exist at a particular intersection of phylogenetic, ecological, and anthropogenic circumstances. But on the basis of the evidence we have reviewed here, those circumstances are sufficient to account for the nature of dog cognition: It is what we would expect of cognition in a domesticated social canine.

Link to article: ea. S.E.G. and Osthaus B. (2018). in what sense are dogs special? Canine cognition in comparative context. Learning & behavior journal 46, 335-3363.


emotional welfare of slaughterhouse employees

A Less publicly discussed or understood topic regarding slaughter houses are the psychological trauma inflicted on slaughterhouses workers. Not only do the employees face serious physical health hazards daily, but they also experience, on a daily basis, large-scale violence and death that most of the population will never have to encounter. The impact of slaughtering hundreds of animal’s daily causes post-traumatic stress syndrome, depression, and pathological sadism. “Down in the blood pit they say that the smell of blood makes you aggressive. And it does. You get an attitude that if that hog kicks at me, I’m going to get even. You’re already going to kill the hog, but that’s not enough. It has to suffer. When you get a live one you think, Oh good, I’m going to beat this sucker". These words sadly represent a class of workers present in civilized countries across the world: slaughterhouse workers.

Link to slaughterhouse employee quote: Lebwohl M. (2016). A Call to Action: Psychological Harm in Slaughterhouse Workers. The Yale Gloabl Health Review

Link to article: Dillard, J. (2008). A slaughterhouse nightmare: Psychological harm suffered by slaughterhouse employees and the possibility of redress through legal reform. Geo. J. on Poverty L. & Pol'y15, 391.


breeding unhealthy & unethical cow breeds

In the Netherlands and Belgium, heavily muscled cattle are bred for meat production. The meat industry praises these "dikbillen" (literally "thick-buts") for their high slaughter yield. However, breeding these extremely muscled breeds is ethically controversial and banned in several countries. The biological limits of the animals have been exceeded through crazily driven breeding programs. Natural childbirth has become impossible for mothers. Calves have to be removed from the cow's abdomen via caesarean section. Many calves are born with serious genetic disorders and die soon after. Many of these cows are not able to stand independently 

Link to blog Article & Source list: Animal Rights: Vleesrunderen


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