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 Aug 15;247(4):385-92. doi: 10.2460/javma.247.4.385.


Objective: To determine measured crude protein (CP) and amino acid (AA) concentrations and assess labeling adequacy of vegetarian diets formulated for dogs and cats.

Design: Cross-sectional study.

Sample: 13 dry and 11 canned vegetarian diets for dogs and cats.

Procedures: Concentrations of CP and AAs were determined for each diet. Values were compared with the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) Dog and Cat Food Nutrient Profiles. Product labels were assessed for compliance with AAFCO regulations.

Results: CP concentration (dry-matter basis) ranged from 19.2% to 40.3% (median, 29.8%). Minimum CP concentrations for the specified species and life stage were met by 23 diets; the remaining diet passed appropriate AAFCO feeding trials. Six diets did not meet all AA minimums, compared with the AAFCO nutrient profiles. Of these 6 diets, 1 was below AAFCO minimum requirements in 4 AAs (leucine, methionine, methionine-cystine, and taurine), 2 were below in 3 AAs (methionine, methionine-cystine, and taurine), 2 were below in 2 AAs (lysine and tryptophan), and 1 was below in 1 AA (tryptophan). Only 3 and 8 diets (with and without a statement of calorie content as a requirement, respectively) were compliant with all pet food label regulations established by the AAFCO.

Conclusion and clinical relevance: Most diets assessed in this study were not compliant with AAFCO labeling regulations, and there were concerns regarding adequacy of AA content. Manufacturers should ensure regulatory compliance and nutritional adequacy of all diets, and pets fed commercially available vegetarian diets should be monitored and assessed routinely.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animal Feed / analysis*
  • Animal Nutritional Physiological Phenomena
  • Animals
  • Cat Diseases / diet therapy*
  • Cats
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Diet, Protein-Restricted / veterinary*
  • Dog Diseases / diet therapy*
  • Dogs
  • Food Labeling*
  • Obesity, Morbid / diet therapy
  • Obesity, Morbid / veterinary*