This 2009 study was the first to demonstrate the potential for a meat-free diet to be nutritionally adequate for exercising dogs. In a 16-week controlled experiment, a meat-free diet maintained haematological characteristics in sprint-racing sled dogs (Siberian huskies). Importantly, these findings pave the way for commercial pet food manufacturers to produce nutritionally adequate meat-free diets for dogs.
Twelve sprint-racing Siberian huskies were fed either a commercial diet recommended for active dogs (n 6), or a meat-free diet formulated to the same nutrient specifications (n 6). The commercial diet contained 43% poultry meal, whereas soyabean meal and maize gluten made up 43% of the meat-free diet, as the main protein ingredients. Dogs were fed these diets as their sole nutrient intake for 16 weeks, including 10 weeks of competitive racing. Blood samples were collected at weeks 0, 3, 8 and 16, and veterinary health checks were conducted at weeks 0, 8 and 16. Haematology 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.