If your dog won't eat the food you give them, it's a problem. It's a waste, it's expensive and it means they're not getting all the nutrients and energy they need. So it's always a risk when you want to try something new...especially when it's a bit unusual.
And when it comes to the less typical, the chances are you might be considering an alternative diet like a vegan pet food; they're becoming more popular due to our distrust of industrial pet foods, perceived health benefits, and environmental concerns.
Will your dog even like vegan food?
However, some people claim vegan diets may be less palatable than conventional meat-based foods. Two researchers - one from the Griffith University in Queensland and the other from the University of Winchester in the UK, decided to see if this is true.
Their study (Knight, 2021) analysed 2,308 dogs and 1,135 cats maintained on conventional meat, raw meat, and vegan diets. Unsurprisingly, they found that palatability was the third most important factor for owners when choosing pet foods, after health and nutrition. Around 70% of owners cited palatability as important.
More importantly, in the study, they analysed the behaviour of the dogs and cats fed different diets and identified behaviours that indicated positive or negative palatability.
Here's what they found:
- For dogs, there were small effects of increased appetitive behaviour for those on raw meat diets compared to conventional diets. But there were few differences between vegan and conventional/raw meat diets.
- For cats, the diets made little difference to food-oriented behaviour except cats on vegan diets licked their food less, and cats on conventional diets left more food.
- Overall, the study found that vegan pet foods were generally at least as palatable as conventional and raw meat diets, and did not compromise animal welfare, as long as nutritional requirements were met.
The key takeaway is that vegan pet foods appear to be similarly palatable to meat-based diets for most pets, according to the owner-reported behaviours analysed in this study.
We took all of that into account when we designed our Planet A Meat-Free Complete Dinners. That's why they include meaty-chunks of plant protein that taste like meat but aren't, and insect protein (BSFL)with a great amino acid profile ...and a great taste to dogs!
But not all vegan meals the same...dogs love BSFL
Palatability studies with dogs have produced very favourable results for BSF-based dog food, including BSF meal and BSF oil, compared to plant-based protein.
In a 10-day palatability trial conducted by Enterra, dogs were given two bowls of dog food each day at the same time, each with the same plant-based dog food, but one containing 20% BSF meal and 6.8% BSF oil.
Both diets were treated with the same yeast-based palatant. On average over a 10-day period, the dogs consumed twice the amount of food containing the BSF meal and BSF oil.
Planet A Pet Food uses 20%+ BSFL protein powder in its Meat-Free Complete Meals and Protein Base MIx.
Knight A, Satchell L (2021) Vegan versus meat-based pet foods: Owner-reported palatability behaviours and implications for canine and feline welfare. PLoS ONE 16(6): e0253292. https://doi. org/10.1371/journal.pone.0253292