Vegetarian Diets for Dogs & Cats

Pet owners frequently project their beliefs about human health onto their companion animals. Anxieties about purported harms from vaccines in children, for example, have spurred an anti-vaccination movement among vets and pet owners.1–4Beliefs in alternative medical therapies for people, such as herbal medicine and acupuncture, may motivate pet owners to seek such treatments for their animals. But perhaps the most common example of this phenomenon is the translation of dietary beliefs and fads from human nutrition to animal feeding practices.5

This projection of human dietary practices onto pets takes many forms. On the heels of a wave of hysteria about gluten and the health effects of grains in humans, we saw the rise in popularity of grain-free pet foods, which now make up close to half of commercial diets for dogs and cats.6Organic ingredients are often marketed to pet owners as having health benefits based on the belief that this is true for people, despite the lack of real evidence for this in humans or in other animals.7And among those who minimize or avoid animal products in their own diet, there is significant interest in feeding such vegetarian or vegan diets to their pets.8

People may avoid meat or other animal products in their diet for a variety of reasons, including concerns about food animal welfare, beliefs about the health effects of plant-based and animal-based foods, and religious dietary restrictions. Surveys of pet owners indicate that those who follow a vegan diet (eating no animal-based foods) or other vegetarian diets (limited consumption of some types of animal-based foods) sometimes feel discomfort at violating their own dietary rules in the feeding of their dogs and cats, especially if their own food choices are driven by religious or ethical concerns.8–11They have a clear interest and motivation to feed vegetarian or vegan diets to their pets, but many do not because of concerns about the health effects of such diets on their pets.8

Beliefs about the nutritional requirements of dogs and cats are often based on the notion that whatever wild canids and felids eat must be a “natural,” and thus a healthy diet for our pets. However, wild carnivores often suffer from malnutrition, parasitism, and other ills associated with their diet, so it is a mistake to imagine that the diet available to them in the wild is perfectly suited to optimize their health.12–23Natural history does have an influence the nutritional requirements of a species, but these requirements are not always best met by feeding a diet identical to that eaten by the wild ancestors of modern animals. This is especially true for animals that have been domesticated, a process which induces significant changes to the anatomy and physiology of domestic species.

Dogs have been dramatically impacted by their long association with humans. Some of these changes are obvious, and their relevance to the concept of a “natural” diet like that of wolves and wild dogs is clear. It is unlikely that a pack of feral pugs or French bulldogs will even be seen running down and savaging an elk or antelope, and the idea that this would be an optimal diet for them is clearly ridiculous. However, even breeds with a more typically canine anatomy have undergone changes in morphology and physiology that reflect their adaptation to human foods. From their dentition to their ability to digest starches and taste sweetness, dogs have been shaped by domestication, and they are well-suited to an omnivorous diet.24–27

In theory, then, dogs should be able to thrive on vegetarian or vegan diets. However, there have been few studies demonstrating this, and such diets can still be problematic. A vegan diet must be properly and carefully formulated to meet the nutritional needs of dogs, and there is less room for error than with diets containing animal ingredients. Numerous studies of commercial vegan and vegetarian pet foods have found formulation errors and inadequacies in essential nutrients.9,28Some studies have also found mammalian DNA in such diets, suggesting they may not even be accurately labeled as vegetarian or vegan.29

Even diets which appear adequate on paper or in laboratory testing, however, may not support normal health under real-world conditions. Most commercial grain-free diets, for example, should be nutritionally complete for dogs, yet recent reports of cardiomyopathy in dogs eating such diets suggest a serious health risk for some individuals fed these diets.30–32At present, there are only short-term studies and uncontrolled, low-quality case series evaluating the health of dogs fed vegan or vegetarian diets.9,33Such limited evidence leaves significant uncertainty about the risks and benefits of such diets for domestic dogs.

Cats have been more lightly touched by domestication and artificial selection than dogs, and they are clearly still obligate carnivores.34,35This does not mean they are healthiest when fed only raw birds and small mammals, and in fact the evidence indicates this is not the safest or healthiest diet for domestic cats.36,37However, domestication has had limited effects on the physiology of cats, and their dietary requirements are unlikely to be effectively met by plant-only diets. The need for preformed vitamin A, taurine and other specific amino acids lacking in plant-based foods, and other specific and known dietary requirements of cats makes it unlikely that long-term feeding of vegan diets will support good health in this species.35,38

There are few studies evaluating the health effects of plant-based diets on cats. Some research on cats fed commercial vegetarian diets by their owners have found deficiencies in some nutrients in some cats, but the evidence is limited and of low quality, so no robust conclusions can be drawn.9,39–41

Bottom Line

There is no evidence that vegetarian diets have health benefits for dogs and cats, and no real reason to believe they should based on the physiology and nutritional requirements of these species. Pet owners may choose to feed such diets due to their philosophical or religious beliefs, but veterinarians should make it clear that any potential health benefits of vegetarianism for humans likely do not apply to our dogs and cats.

Dogs are omnivores shaped by domestication to be able to eat both plant and animal foods, and in theory they should be able to thrive on vegetarian or vegan diets. However, these diets must be carefully formulated, and many commercial vegetarian dog foods do not appear to be nutritionally adequate. There is also little reliable research evidence showing that dogs can remain healthy fed only a vegan diet. Given the unexpected health problems seen with theoretically adequate grain-free diets, we should be cautious about the potential risks of vegetarian diets for dogs until there is better evidence showing their long-term health effects.

Cats are clearly obligate carnivores with nutritional requirements that are unlikely to be effectively met by vegan diets. Such diets offer only risks and no benefits for cats and should be avoided.


1.        Clifton J. Stop the Shots!?: Are Vaccinations Killing Our Pets?New York, NY: Foley Square Books; 2007.

2.        Duan N. Inside the World of Pet Anti-Vaxxers. The January 2018.

3.        Kluger J. Some Anti-Vaxxers Aren’t Getting Their Pets Vaccinated. Here’s Why That’s So Dangerous. March 2019.

4.        Ducharme J. Veterinary Group: Dogs Can’t Get Autism, So Please Keep Vaccinating Them. 2018.

5.        Walet E. Are trends in Human Food reflected in Pet Food Purchase? 2015. E scriptie.pdf. Accessed December 20, 2018.

6.        Phillips-Donaldson D. Are grain-free pet foods truly healthy and sustainable? Pet Food Ind. 2017.

7.        Smith-Spangler C, Brandeau ML, Hunter GE, et al. Are Organic Foods Safer or Healthier Than Conventional Alternatives? Ann Intern Med. 2012;157(5):348. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-157-5-201209040-00007

8.        Dodd SAS, Cave NJ, Adolphe JL, Shoveller AK, Verbrugghe A. Plant-based (vegan) diets for pets: A survey of pet owner attitudes and feeding practices. Suchodolski JS, ed. PLoS One. 2019;14(1):e0210806. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0210806

9.        Knight A, Leitsberger M, Knight A, Leitsberger M. Vegetarian versus Meat-Based Diets for Companion Animals. Animals. 2016;6(9):57. doi:10.3390/ani6090057

10.      Rothgerber H. A meaty matter. Pet diet and the vegetarian’s dilemma. Appetite. 2013;68:76-82. doi:10.1016/j.appet.2013.04.012

11.      Wakefield LA, Shofer FS, Michel KE. Evaluation of cats fed vegetarian diets and attitudes of their caregivers. J Am Vet Med Assoc. 2006;229(1):70-73. doi:10.2460/javma.229.1.70

12.      Tidière M, Gaillard J-M, Berger V, et al. Comparative analyses of longevity and senescence reveal variable survival benefits of living in zoos across mammals. Sci Rep. 2016;6:36361. doi:10.1038/srep36361

13.      Mukherjee S, Heithaus MR. Dangerous prey and daring predators: a review. Biol Rev. 2013;88(3):550-563. doi:10.1111/brv.12014

14.      Woodroffe R, Davies-Mostert H, Ginsberg J, et al. Rates and causes of mortality in Endangered African wild dogs Lycaon pictus: lessons for management and monitoring. Oryx. 2007;41(02):215. doi:10.1017/S0030605307001809

15.      Mech LD. Productivity, Mortality, and Population Trends of Wolves in Northeastern Minnesota. J Mammal. 1977;58(4):559-574. doi:10.2307/1380004

16.      Young TP. Natural Die-Offs of Large Mammals: Implications for Conservation. Conserv Biol. 1994;8(2):410-418. doi:10.1046/j.1523-1739.1994.08020410.x

17.      Holmes JC, Podesta R. The helminths of wolves and coyotes from the forested regions of Alberta. Can J Zool. 1968;46(6):1193-1204. doi:10.1139/z68-169

18.      Bosch G, Hagen-Plantinga EA, Hendriks WH. Dietary nutrient profiles of wild wolves: insights for optimal dog nutrition? Br J Nutr. 2015;113(S1):S40-S54. doi:10.1017/S0007114514002311

19.      Choquette LPE, Gibson GG, Kuyt E, Pearson AM. Helminths of wolves, Canis lupusL., in the Yukon and Northwest Territories. Can J Zool. 1973;51(10):1087-1091. doi:10.1139/z73-158

20.      Amanda A. Parasites of the African painted dog (Lycaon pictus) in captive and wild populations: Implications for conservation. 2011.

21.      Berentsen AR, Becker MS, Stockdale-Walden H, Matandiko W, McRobb R, Dunbar MR. Survey of gastrointestinal parasite infection in African lion ( Panthera leo), African wild dog ( Lycaon pictus) and spotted hyaena ( Crocuta crocuta) in the Luangwa Valley, Zambia. African Zool. 2012;47(2):363-368. doi:10.1080/15627020.2012.11407561

22.      Fuchs B. Sarcoptic mange in the Scandinavian wolf population. 2014. Fuchs.pdf?sequence=1. Accessed December 28, 2018.

23.      Benson JF, Mills KJ, Loveless KM, Patterson BR. Genetic and environmental influences on pup mortality risk for wolves and coyotes within a Canis hybrid zone. Biol Conserv. 2013;166:133-141. doi:10.1016/J.BIOCON.2013.06.018

24.      Vilà C, Maldonado JE, Wayne RK. Phylogenetic relationships, evolution, and genetic diversity of the domestic dog. J Hered. 90(1):71-77. Accessed October 27, 2018.

25.      Serpell J, Barrett P. The Domestic Dog?: Its Evolution, Behavior and Interactions with People. Second edition.; 2017. Accessed October 27, 2018.

26.      Axelsson E, Ratnakumar A, Arendt M-L, et al. The genomic signature of dog domestication reveals adaptation to a starch-rich diet. Nature. 2013;495(7441):360-364. doi:10.1038/nature11837

27.      Reiter T, Jagoda E, Capellini TD. Dietary Variation and Evolution of Gene Copy Number among Dog Breeds. 2016. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0148899

28.      Kanakubo K, Fascetti AJ, Larsen JA. Assessment of protein and amino acid concentrations and labeling adequacy of commercial vegetarian diets formulated for dogs and cats. J Am Vet Med Assoc. 2015;247(4):385-392. doi:10.2460/javma.247.4.385

29.      Kanakubo K, Fascetti AJ, Larsen JA. Determination of mammalian deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) in commercial vegetarian and vegan diets for dogs and cats. J Anim Physiol Anim Nutr (Berl). 2017;101(1):70-74. doi:10.1111/jpn.12506

30.      Adin D, DeFrancesco TC, Keene B, et al. Echocardiographic phenotype of canine dilated cardiomyopathy differs based on diet type. J Vet Cardiol. 2019;21:1-9. doi:10.1016/J.JVC.2018.11.002

31.      Kaplan JL, Stern JA, Fascetti AJ, et al. Taurine deficiency and dilated cardiomyopathy in golden retrievers fed commercial diets. Loor JJ, ed. PLoS One. 2018;13(12):e0209112. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0209112

32.      Freeman LM, Stern JA, Fries R, Adin DB, Rush JE. Diet-associated dilated cardiomyopathy in dogs: what do we know? J Am Vet Med Assoc. 2018;253(11):1390-1394. doi:10.2460/javma.253.11.1390

33.      Brown WY, Vanselow BA, Redman AJ, Pluske JR. An experimental meat-free diet maintained haematological characteristics in sprint-racing sled dogs. Br J Nutr. 2009;102(09):1318. doi:10.1017/S0007114509389254

34.      MacDonald ML, Rogers QR, Morris JG. Nutrition of the Domestic Cat, a Mammalian Carnivore. Annu Rev Nutr. 1984;4(1):521-562. doi:10.1146/

35.      Morris JG. Idiosyncratic nutrient requirements of cats appear to be diet-induced evolutionary adaptations. Nutr Res Rev. 2002;15(01):153. doi:10.1079/NRR200238

36.      Glasgow A, Caver N, Marks S, Pedersen N. Role of Diet in the Health of the Feline Intestinal Tract and in Inflammatory Bowel Disease.; 2002. Accessed December 28, 2018.

37.      Schlesinger DP, Joffe DJ. Raw food diets in companion animals: a critical review. Can Vet J = La Rev Vet Can. 2011;52(1):50-54. Accessed October 27, 2018.

38.      Weeth L, Chandler M. Vegetarian Diets. Clin Br. 2015;(January):61-63. Accessed April 29, 2019.

39.      Leon A, Bain SA, Levick WR. Hypokalaemic episodic polymyopathy in cats fed a vegetarian diet. Aust Vet J. 1992;69(10):249-254. Accessed April 29, 2019.

40.      Wakefield L, Michel KE. Taurine And Cobalamin Status of Cats Fed Vegetarian Diets. J Anim Physiol Anim Nutr (Berl). 2005;89(11-12):427-428. doi:10.1111/j.1439-0396.2005.00611_2.x

41.      Gray CM, Sellon RK, Freeman LM. Nutritional adequacy of two vegan diets for cats. J Am Vet Med Assoc. 2004;225(11):1670-1675. Accessed April 29, 2019.

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12 Responses to Vegetarian Diets for Dogs & Cats

  1. Jen Robinson says:

    As I read it, this and your previous post both suggest a scarcity of long-term feeding trial data.
    Am I correct in the understanding that the basis for labeling a food as ‘nutritionally complete’ is a few months of trials, often with a single breed, with intensive monitoring of blood and urine chemistry and other measurable indices? Is that really adequate?

  2. skeptvet says:

    You are correct that “complete and balanced” is a designation that can be met without feeding trials (by showing adherence to established nutrient requirements for dogs or cats and recommended formulation methods) or with short-term feeding trials (usually < 6 months). Whether this is "adequate" is open for debate. We would certainly have better information if every food marketed were fed to various breeds of dogs for their lifetime, or at least for a reasonable proportion of their lifetime, but that is not a realistic standard since it would require the use of a lot of dogs as lifelong lab subjects (ethically questionable), would be extremely slow and expensive (making many foods unavailable or unaffordable) and would need to be repeated for any change in formulation (which is common as the availability of commodities and nutrient sources changes). The real question is what could we realistically and ethically do that would be better than the current system? I would think a structured and robust post-marketing surveillance system capturing data in owned pets would be more useful and practical than long-term pre-marketing feeding trials.

  3. Clare says:

    Thank you for your well-reasoned comments rejecting vegetarian and vegan diets for dogs and especially cats. I have always been offended and deeply concerned when people force such a diet on their “obligate carnivore” cats. I also imagine cats might not be happiest with exclusively non-meat foods!

    Can you give any general tips for selecting cat food? My cat’s vet recommends canned wet food, but says nothing further. Do you think the cheapest store-brand canned cat food is likely to be reasonably decent? What criteria are important?

    Per day, I have been feeding my 4-year-old tabby one can of store brand Friskies, garnished with a small scoop of dry Friskies Indoor Delights (imagining he’ll appreciate some variety in taste and texture). Lately I have been mixing in ~1.5oz of water to the wet food, since it’s summer, and I have heard cats don’t always consume enough water. My gravy-loving cat always finishes it all!

    He’s been getting this in one single feeding per day, and gobbles it down without problem. Is this OK, or should I be dividing his food into more meals throughout the day?

    Thank you for your fine skepical insight on pet issues! Science-based advice is so needed here!! ?

  4. skeptvet says:

    Thanks for the feedback.

    There is no single, clear “right” food for all cats, and there is a lot of uncertainty about the specific impact of food type, feeding frequency, and other variables on health outcomes (c.f. my recent article on canned vs dry foods). I recommend finding a diet made by one established manufacturer with veterinary nutritionists on staff and then monitoring important measures of well-being (weight, stool consistency, coat quality, etc.).

  5. Clare says:

    Thanks for the pointer to your article; great info there. The water issue was also mentioned there, so I think my sneaking extra water into my cat’s diet (given that he consumes it all) is likely a reasonable idea.

    Cat food decisions are so difficult without sufficient definitive data! So, we do what we can. I appreciate the advice, and will do as you suggest.

  6. v.t. says:

    Clare, cheapest are not always the best. (like store-brand, etc).

    Ask your vet, he knows your kitty’s age, health status, weight and optimal maintenance weight (for example, some indoor cats who are not active, may be at risk for weight gain -which in turn can cause other health issues).

    I would certainly feed your kitty at least twice a day. Cats are ‘hunters’, and some indoor cats are generally ‘grazers’ – I’m not sure a once-a-day feeding is adequate for a healthy young cat with energy to spend, nor would this satiate him for the better part of the day/night. Ask your vet how to divide the total recommended amount (diet based on nutrients, energy needs, calories, age, weight, activity level, etc) into twice-daily feedings. He can also evaluate the current food vs something maybe a step up in quality (such as Purina Pro Plan, just an example). Let him guide you based on his knowledge of your kitty and his nutritional needs, and of course kitty’s preferences in taste, texture, palatability. If you do switch at least one of the types you’re currently feeding, ask your vet for a new food/old food transition schedule when mixing the foods, to avoid common problems when switching foods, i.e., vomiting or diarrhea. I’m not saying you *have* to switch, but do ask your vet if at least the dry food could be a slightly better quality (only my opinion).

  7. Thank you for this website. As an almost-lifelong vegetarian/now vegan, with rescue dogs and cats in my care, I continue to search for reliable information regarding nutrionally adequate diets for the animals in my care. My dogs (all small breeds) have been fed vegetarian/vegan diets for more than 30 years, and all have lived in my care for 12 or more years (all were estimated to be 5+ years when they came to me).

    For many years, I never had cats, because I could not deal with supply an appropriate diet for “obligate carnivores.” However, I have now had cats for more than 20 years and have resigned myself to feeding them meat-based diets. Yet, when I look at the statistics, it appears that renal failure is a major cause of mortality in domestic cats. As a dietician for humans, I know that high protein diets place a burden on the kidneys, and I am wondering if the same might be true for domesticated felines.

    I want the best for my cats, and appreciate your science-based approach. I am wondering if we are over-emphasizing protein when the problems with veg/n diets for felines really has more to do with taurine, pre-formed Vitamin A, etc.

    Thank you for your reply, and for your most informative website.

  8. skeptvet says:

    In terms of protein levels, cats have a very different metabolism from humans due to their adaptations as carnivores. They don’t, for example, develop atherosclerosis or hyperlipidemia even if eating diets much higher in saturated fats than people ordinarily do. In general, dietary protein is not considered likely to be a major risk factor for chronic kidney disease, though the direct evidence is thin. Below are some papers you might be interested in. The main problem is that studies vary many nutritional factors other than just protein, and without controlling for potassium, phosphorus, and many other things, it is hard to know what differences between diets is salient.

    As for the specific nutrients that might be risk factors for CKD or other health problems, again we only know some of these, and we are guessing about most. The idea that a “natural” whole prey diet might be optimal is very intuitive and appealing, but one study actually found that cats fed raw rabbit developed fatal cardiomyopathies due to lack of taurine, so deciding which ingredients or which nutrients matter is difficult without adequate data. It may be that protein levels, or meat-based proteins aren’t the most important factors, but we need actionable evidence to say what is before we can make decisions about what to feed our kitties.

    Observation about phosphorus and protein supply in cats and dogs prior to the diagnosis of chronic kidney disease.
    Language: English
    J Anim Physiol Anim Nutr (Berl). April 2018;102 Suppl 1(0):31-36.
    DOI: 10.1111/jpn.12886
    L F Böswald 1, E Kienzle 1, B Dobenecker 1
    © 2018 Blackwell Verlag GmbH.

    Article Abstract

    There is evidence that nutritional phosphorus (P) excess may be a risk factor for chronic kidney disease (CKD) in humans and pets (Advances in Nutrition: An International Review Journal (2014), 5, 104; The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, (2013), 98, 6; Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery, (2017); The source of phosphorus influences serum PTH, apparent digestibility and blood levels of calcium and phosphorus in dogs fed high phosphorus diets with balanced Ca/P ratio. Proc. Waltham International Nutritional Sciences Symposium, USA; Clinical aspects of natural and added phosphorus in foods, 2017, Springer Science+Business, Media). A retrospective study was conducted in order to gather data about P and protein intake in the feeding history of dogs and cats prior to the diagnosis of CKD. Cases of 75 dogs and 16 cats with CKD with comprehensive nutritional history presented to the nutrition consultation service of the Chair of Animal Nutrition and Dietetics, Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich, between October 2009 and March 2016, were evaluated. Cases of age-matched dogs (n = 57) and cats (n = 18) without diagnosed or suspected CKD served as controls. The most frequent type of diet used in the four groups (cats CKD, cats control, dogs CKD and dogs control) was home-made. In all groups, P and protein supply was in excess (>150%) of the recommended daily allowances (RDA; Nutrient requirements of dogs and cats (2006), National Research Council, National Academy Press). Between the dog groups, no differences regarding P and protein intake existed. The P and protein intake relative to the RDA was altogether higher in cats than in dogs. Cats with CKD showed significantly higher P and protein intakes prior to diagnosis than the control cats (170 ± 36 vs. 123 ± 34 mg P/kg BW0.67 ; p < .05). These observations call for further investigations into the long-term effects of P excess. Effect of a high phosphorus diet on indicators of renal health in cats. Language: English J Feline Med Surg. April 2018;20(4):339-343. DOI: 10.1177/1098612X17710589 Britta Dobenecker 1, Anna Webel 1, Sven Reese 1, Ellen Kienzle 1 Article Abstract Objectives High phosphorus intake may further impair renal health in cats with chronic kidney disease (CKD). The hypothesis that a high phosphorus (HP) diet might be nephrotoxic for healthy animals was tested in cats, a species with a high incidence of naturally occurring CKD. Methods Thirteen healthy adult cats were fed a phosphorus excess diet (about five times maintenance requirements), and this HP group was compared with cats on a balanced control diet (CON). The trial lasted for 29 days (10 days of faeces and urine collection). Endogenous creatinine clearance was determined towards the end of the trial. Fresh urine was tested for glucose and proteins. Results Glucosuria and microalbuminuria were observed exclusively in the HP group in 9/13 cats. Creatinine clearance was significantly decreased after feeding HP. In the HP group phosphorus was highly available (apparent digestibility around 60%). Renal phosphorus excretion was significantly increased in the HP group (115 mg/kg body weight/d vs 16 mg/kg body weight/d in the CON group). Conclusions and relevance The intake of a diet with an excessive content of highly available phosphorus may have adverse effects on parameters of kidney function in healthy cats. Risk Factors for Development of Chronic Kidney Disease in Cats N.C. Finch H.M. Syme J. Elliott J Vet Int Me Volume30, Issue2 March/April 2016 Pages 602-610 Background Identification of risk factors for development of chronic kidney disease (CKD ) in cats may aid in its earlier detection. Hypothesis/objectives Evaluation of clinical and questionnaire data will identify risk factors for development of azotemic CKD in cats. Animals One hundred and forty?eight client?owned geriatric (>9 years) cats.


    Cats were recruited into the study and followed longitudinally for a variable time. Owners were asked to complete a questionnaire regarding their pet at enrollment. Additional data regarding dental disease were obtained when available by development of a dental categorization system. Variables were explored in univariable and multivariable Cox regression models.


    In the final multivariable Cox regression model, annual/frequent vaccination (P value, .003; hazard ratio, 5.68; 95% confidence interval, 1.83–17.64), moderate dental disease (P value, .008; hazard ratio, 13.83; 95% confidence interval, 2.01–94.99), and severe dental disease (P value, .001; hazard ratio, 35.35; 95% confidence interval, 4.31–289.73) predicted development of azotemic CKD .


    Our study suggests independent associations between both vaccination frequency and severity of dental disease and development of CKD . Further studies to explore the pathophysiological mechanism of renal injury for these risk factors are warranted.

    Risk factors associated with the development of chronic kidney disease in cats evaluated at primary care veterinary hospitals.
    J Am Vet Med Assoc. February 2014;244(3):320-7.
    DOI: 10.2460/javma.244.3.320
    Joseph P Greene 1, Sandra L Lefebvre, Mansen Wang, Mingyin Yang, Elizabeth M. Lund, David J Polzin

    Companion Notes
    Companion Notes are VIN generated expanded abstracts containing greater detail

    Article Abstract
    OBJECTIVE: To identify risk factors associated with diagnosis of chronic kidney disease (CKD) in cats. DESIGN: Retrospective case-control study. ANIMALS: 1,230 cats with a clinical diagnosis of CKD, serum creatinine concentration > 1.6 mg/dL, and urine specific gravity < 1.035 and 1,230 age-matched control cats. PROCEDURES: Data on putative risk factors for CKD were extracted for multivariate logistic regression analysis from the medical records of cats brought to 755 primary care veterinary hospitals. For a subset of cats evaluated 6 to 12 months prior to the date of CKD diagnosis or control group inclusion, the percentage change in body weight between those dates as well as clinical signs at the earlier date were analyzed for associations with CKD development. RESULTS: Risk factors for CKD in cats included thin body condition, prior periodontal disease or cystitis, anesthesia or documented dehydration in the preceding year, being a neutered male (vs spayed female), and living anywhere in the United States other than the northeast. The probability of CKD decreased with increasing body weight in nondehydrated cats, domestic shorthair breed, and prior diagnosis of diabetes mellitus and increased when vomiting, polyuria or polydipsia, appetite or energy loss, or halitosis was present at the time of diagnosis or control group inclusion but not when those signs were reported 6 to 12 months earlier. Median weight loss during the preceding 6 to 12 months was 10.8% and 2.1% in cats with and without CKD, respectively. CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE: The probability of CKD diagnosis in cats was influenced by several variables; recent weight loss, particularly in combination with the other factors, warrants assessment of cats for CKD. Risk and protective factors for cats with naturally occurring chronic kidney disease. Language: English J Feline Med Surg. April 2017;19(4):358-363. DOI: 10.1177/1098612X15625453 Kakanang Piyarungsri 1, Rosama Pusoonthornthum 1 Article Abstract Objectives Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is a significant disease in cats. Identifying risk and protective factors may help to prevent this significant disease. Methods An age-matched case-control study was performed to determine the risk factors in cats with naturally occurring CKD. Twenty-nine clinically normal cats aged ?5 years and 101 cats with naturally occurring CKD were studied. Risk factors were determined by interviewing cat owners from the Small Animal Hospital, Faculty of Veterinary Science, Chulalongkorn University, and veterinary hospitals in the Bangkok Metropolitan area, through questionnaires completed between June 2004 and November 2014. Univariable and multivariable analyses were performed using two independent proportional test methods and logistic regression analysis with backward elimination. Results Male sex (odd ratios [OR] 2.80, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.02-8.87; P = 0.02), tap water (OR 3.43, 95% CI 1.08-11.45; P = 0.03) and an outdoor lifestyle (OR 3.77, 95% CI 1.03-17.99; P = 0.04) were associated with an increased risk for CKD. Commercial dry cat food (OR 0.06, 95% CI 0.02-0.17; P = 0.00), filtered water (OR 0.13, 95% CI 0.03-0.52; P = 0.01) and an indoor lifestyle (OR 0.28, 95% CI 0.07-0.98; P = 0.02) were associated with a decreased risk. Logistic regression analysis using backward elimination demonstrated that cats fed commercial dry cat food (OR 0.042, 95% CI 0.01-0.17; P = 0.00) had a decreased risk for CKD compared with cats on other types of diet. Conclusions and relevance Multivariable analysis found only feeding commercial dry cat food to be significant, suggesting that commercial dry cat food may be a potential protective factor for CKD in cats. Diet and lifestyle variables as risk factors for chronic renal failure in pet cats. Language: English Prev Vet Med. September 2002;55(1):1-15. DOI: 10.1016/s0167-5877(02)00088-0 K L Hughes 1, M R Slater, S Geller, W J Burkholder, C Fitzgerald Article Abstract A case-control study examining diet and lifestyle variables to generate hypotheses of potential risk factors for chronic renal failure in pet cats was conducted in five private practices in Texas, USA and at the Texas A&M University Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital. A telephone questionnaire was used to gather information from owners of 38 cats newly diagnosed with CRF between December 1994 and 1995 and from owners of 56 control cats. Factor analysis was used to determine whether composite variables should be constructed to summarize the nutritional predictors adequately. The composite variables and other lifestyle variables were analyzed with logistic-regression. Three final exploratory models were developed: ad libitum feeding with fiber; ad libitum with Factor-2 (a composite variable composed of fiber, magnesium, protein, sodium and ash); and fiber alone. Ad libitum feeding and increased ash intake were associated with increased odds of CRF; increased dietary fiber, magnesium, protein and sodium were associated with decreased odds of CRF.

  9. Jane Dunnett says:

    I came here to check I wasn’t losing my mind.

    A relatively well known vet ethicist and proponent of plant-based pet food has been promoting this study on social media and hailing it as a “game-changer” that supports his claim that cats fed plant-based diets are as healthy as those fed traditional diets.
    Despite many, including me, pointing out the glaring issues with this study (and others used to support his claim) he has doubled-down, accusing the vet profession of “prejudice” . His belief is that EBVM requires the profession to accept – and indeed promote- the limited evidence supporting the position that cats on PB diets can be as healthy as cats on standard diets as there is no evidence to support the alternative view. In short, any evidence, regardless of quality, trumps a lack of evidence to the contrary.

    Quite possibly the most bizarre social media exchange I have had in recent times.

    Thank you, as always, for your pragmatic, skeptical and thorough appraisal of the evidence – I feel a lot saner having read this!

  10. skeptvet says:

    Thanks for bringing this to my attention. I’ll take a closer look and hopefully have a post out about it shortly. At first glance, the potential biases in the study are pretty obvious. A voluntary online questionairre is going to attract owners who differ in many ways from those who don’t participate- richer, more technologically knowledgeable, more likely to have firm and often unconventional opinions about health, etc. If you ask people who feed raw diets about their pets’ health, they report better health than regular owners because they already believe that is what raw diets provide, and likely the same is true to feeders of vegetarian diets. Relying on owners to self-report medical diagnoses and lifespan is notoriously inaccurate as well. Overall, this study only illustrates the perceptions of owners in these two groups, which isn’t necessarily the same thing as the actual health status of their cats. A prospective study with proper controls would, of course, be much more informative, though also more difficult and expensive to conduct.

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