Vitamin D has caused much controversy with plant-based feeding of dogs in the UK.
There are even claims that the vegan dog foods labelled as vegan in the UK and EU are breaching the rules as Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) can only be found in sheep wool called lanolin from sheared sheep wool. Wool from a sheared sheep (or it would not be able to be classed as a vegetarian food in dog food diets) is of a concern as it may contain insecticides such as sheep dip that the sheep as a production animal would have been treated with that would be absorbed into the fat.
The article below appeared in the Veterinary Record in February 2020 which was the very first article of its kind to appear in any veterinary documents in the UK discussing plant-based vegan dog food diets.
Very sadly (as I am one of the first vets in the UK to passionately support plant-based vegan dog food), the article failed to promote this sustainable way of feeding our dogs as it concentrated purely on the Vitamin D and labelling.
Vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol) which is derived from plants was formerly approved in pet foods, but withdrawn from the register and could no longer be used in pet foods after July 2018 for reasons that are understood to have been related to the cost of the approval process rather than any safety issues. When you think of it, there are 99% meat-based pet foods out there that need testing and to increase the costs of testing for 1% of the pet food market is not a financially viable option!!
Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) that comes from sheep’s wool CAN be found in its purest plant-based form in lichen (as used in VEGDOG All-In-Veluxe supplement, Green Crunch and Vegan4Dogs products). I have spoken to the manufacturers of Solo-Vegetal, and their Vit D3 is also from the purest plant source from yeasts which are grown using ultraviolet light.
These methods of adding in pure and natural plant-based Vit D3 are expensive to test, just as expensive as the Vit D2 approval process and as 99% of all the pet foods on the market are meat-based, the pet food companies are not prepared to test the efficacy with shelf life and heat treatment of plant-based derived Vit D3. We all know how effective these plant-based Vit D3 sources are in humans, but there is not enough demand to warrant testing these safe options in dogs, so they would rather just label them as not approved.
I feel like a very small player in a giant pet food marketing machine, but this article is to reassure all owners who are feeding their dogs a balanced plant-based dog food diet, that it most definitely will be balanced with the right amount of Vit D3 that your dogs need!
How sad that the article in the Vet Record did not concentrate on the second last paragraph of the article that to me should have been highlighted fully and the Vit D3 labelling fiasco ignored as it states –
“Interest among pet owners in feeding their dog or cat a vegan diet appears to be growing. Last year an online survey revealed that around one in three owners may be willing to consider switching to a vegan diet for their dog or cat in the future.”
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