01 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. 


02 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.


03 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.


04 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.


05 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


06 natural plant-based taurine from red algae  

Although it is known that some seaweed contains taurine, there have been few detailed analyses on the taurine content of seaweed other than the major types of edible seaweed. In the present study, we determined the content of free amino acids, including taurine, in seaweed obtained along the Sea of Japan coast. The taurine content in the seaweed varied according to the species. Among the 29 different types of seaweed that were studied, red algae contained relatively high concentrations of taurine. In contrast, the taurine content was low or undetectable in brown and green algae. The algal alanine level was relatively higher in brown sea algae, which was in sharp contrast to its taurine level. No clear trends were observed with regards to the distribution of the other free amino acids, including aspartic acid, glutamic acid, and phenylalanine. Considering the physiological role of taurine in cellular homeostasis, the algal taurine content may be associated with the growing environment. Taurine-rich red edible algae such as mafunori (Gloiopeltis tenax)/fukurofunori (Gloiopeltis furcata), kabanori (Gracilaria textorii), and ogonori (Gracilaria vermiculophylla) may be used to create functional foods that are rich in naturally occurring taurine.

Link to article: Kawasaki A, Ono A, Mizuta S, Kamiya M, Takenaga T, Murakami S. The Taurine Content of Japanese Seaweed. Adv Exp Med Biol. 2017;975 Pt 2:1105-1112. doi: 10.1007/978-94-024-1079-2_88. PMID: 28849526.


07 legume-based dog food does not affect cardiac function, prevent taurine absorption 

The primary objective of this study was to quantify the effects of dietary pulse intake by adult dogs on cardiac function using echocardiographic measurements and cardiac biomarkers N-terminal pro-B-type natriuretic peptide and cardiac troponin I (cTnI). Second, to investigate the effects of pulse consumption on plasma sulfur amino acid (SAA) concentrations as pulses are generally low in SAA and may limit taurine synthesis. Last, to assess the general safety and efficacy of feeding pulse-containing diets on canine body composition and hematological and biochemical indices. After 20 wks of feeding, there were no differences (P > 0.05) in echocardiographic parameters, N-terminal pro-B-type natriuretic peptide, and cTnI concentrations among treatments or across time within treatment (P > 0.05), indicating no differences in cardiac function among treatments. Concentrations of cTnI remained below the safe upper limit of 0.2 ng/mL for all dogs. Plasma SAA status, body composition, and hematological and biochemical indices were similar among treatments and over time (P > 0.05).

link to article: Singh P, Banton S, Raheb S, Templeman JR, Saunders-Blades J, Kostiuk D, Kelly J, Marinangeli CP, Verbrugghe A, Verton-Shaw S, Shoveller AK. The Pulse of It: Dietary Inclusion of Up to 45% Whole Pulse Ingredients with Chicken Meal and Pea Starch in a Complete and Balanced Diet Does Not Affect Cardiac Function, Fasted Sulfur Amino Acid Status, or Other Gross Measures of Health in Adult Dogs. J Nutr. 2023 May;153(5):1461-1475. 


08 Only 6% of wet and 38% of dry food are FEDIAF compliant

Mineral content of complete pet food is regulated to ensure health of the companion animal population. Analysis of adherence to these regulatory guidelines has not been conducted. Here, mineral composition of complete wet (n = 97) and dry (n = 80) canine and feline pet food sold in the UK was measured to assess compliance with EU guidelines. A majority of foods complied with ≥8 of 11 guidelines (99% and 83% for dry and wet food, respectively), but many failed to provide nutritional minimum (e.g. Cu, 20% of wet food) or exceeded nutritional maximum (e.g. Se, 76% of wet food). Only 6% (6/97) of wet and 38% (30/80) of dry food were fully compliant. Some foods (20–30% of all analysed) had mineral imbalance, such as not having the recommended ratio of Ca:P (between 1:1 to 2:1). Foods with high fish content had high levels of undesirable metal elements such as arsenic. This study highlights broad non-compliance of a range of popular pet foods sold in the UK with EU guidelines (94% and 61% of wet and dry foods, respectively). If fed exclusively and over an extended period, a number of these pet foods could impact the general health of companion animals.

Link to article: Davies, M., Alborough, R., Jones, L. et al. Mineral analysis of complete dog and cat foods in the UK and compliance with European guidelines. Sci Rep 7, 17107 (2017).