Stiftung Tierärztliche Hochschule Hannover (TiHo)

Nitrogen output in the urban environment using a vegetarian canine diet

Pet owners are increasingly concerned about the links between health status, animal welfare, environmental impacts, climate change and consumption of animal products. Accordingly, many owners are increasingly interested in vegetarian diets for themselves and their companion animals. However, such diets should be investigated nutritionally regards digestibility as well as on fecal quality and nitrogen output. In light of this trend, six Beagle dogs were included in a cross-over experimental design and offered a vegetarian diet containing wheat gluten (8.81%), rice protein (8.81%) and sunflower oil (6.84%) or an meat-based diet containing poultry meal (19.5%) and poultry fat (5.23%). The dogs received extruded complete diets for 12 days (adaptation and collection period, each 6 days). The dogs fed both diets showed a high and identical palatability (scoring of food intake) of the experimental diets. No significant differences occurred regarding digestibility of organic matter, crude protein and crude fat between vegetarian and meat-based diets. However, dogs fed the meat-based diet had higher (p < 0.05) nitrogen-free extract digestibility (89.5%) compared to those fed the vegetarian diet (88.6%). The amount of nitrogen excreted in feces (g)/kg BW0.75 was slightly, but not significantly, higher for dogs fed the vegetarian diet compared to those fed the meat-based diet (0.88 vs 0.79). The fecal consistency scores were considered to be within an acceptable range (well formed and firm). The mass of the feces between both groups were similar (62.9 g wet feces/100 g dry matter food) for vegetarian and meat-based diets. Additionally, the fecal dry matter content was comparable between both groups (29.0% and 29.6% for vegetarian and meat-based diets, respectively). In conclusion, the results of this study appear to indicate that virtually the only significant difference between the two diets was lower nitrogen-free extract digestibility in the vegetarian diet. However, the vegetarian diet did not result in a significant difference in amount of nitrogen excreted in feces.

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