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 sheared sheep (or it would not be able to be classed as a vegetarian food in dog food diets) is used as the main source of Vit D3 as found in all the foods, supplements and drinks that we have that are not classed as vegan.
All pet foods in the UK must have the addition of Vit D3 to be fully compliant with nutritional requirements. The addition of Vit D3 is not a requirement in pet foods in the US.
Vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol) which is derived from plants was formerly approved in pet foods, but withdrawn from the register and could no longer be used in pet foods after July 2018 for reasons that are understood to have been related to the cost of the approval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!!
Benevo has not followed the new rulings as they only declare Vit D2 (ergocalciferol) in their food and have not added in any extra Vit D3.
Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) that usually comes from sheep’s wool CAN be found in its purest plant-based form in lichen.
DoGood homemade cooked food have this to say about their Vit D3 – “We use Vitamin D3 (Cholecalciferol) of 100% plant-origin, produced from Algae. We have confirmation from our supplier that this D3 falls within the authorisation of the Vitamin D3 from synthesis of cholesterol within the EU Register of Feed Additives. It took a lot of searching and thinking outside the box to find something that was plant-based to ensure the product is 100% vegan!”
DoGood and Hownd foods are compliant with FEDIAF requirements and they have had to search intensively for the best plant-based Vit D3 sources for their foods. It took Hownd 2 years to source plant-based natural Vit D3 for their foods. Jo Amit from Hownd has this to add – “Lichen unfortunately is unstable when heated. The D3 we use is derived from Algae and is stable when cooked. It is FEDIAF compliant. HOWND is the first plant-based brand in the UK to use it.”
Other companies have not been as lucky in being able to source pure plant-based Vit D3 and have had to use sheep wool instead (which is fully treated and safe for use), but unfortunately means that their foods (although nutritionally balanced), are vegetarian and not vegan.
Lily’s Kitchen Vegan Stew interestingly does use plant-based Vit D3 in their food (I contacted them about this), but their food is lacking in other nutrients such as Taurine, L-Carnitine and Methionine and is from a predominantly meat-based company so they have aimed their food at owners wanting to go for meat-free Mondays with their pets.
What about Vit D3 when homecooking?
We recommend Norsan Omega 3 Algae oil to be given to your dog along with our JUST BE KIND supplement when homecooking as it provides the purest form of DHA and EPA Omega 3’s as would be used by human vegans.
If you wanted to keep everything as affordable as possible; another wonderful source of pure natural plant-based Vit D3 is from mushrooms! These amazing fungi were around when the earth was so hot that it could not sustain life as we know it. They have the ability to absorb the sun’s rays and store them, so all you need to do is slice button mushrooms and before cooking them, leave them in direct sunlight for 15 minutes (or under a nail polish UV dryer:) also for 15 minutes and they will be packed full of Vit D3 goodness…….for both you and your dog!
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