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LV= Dog Owners Swap Bones for Broccoli

Press release: 17/10/2008

Health concerns have led to a surge in pet-owners changing their pets' diets and swapping meat for vegetables and fruit.

Over one in three (40 per cent) pet owners now feed their pets' up to three portions of fruit and veg a day and according to the new research by pet insurer LV=, there are now more than 145,000 cats and dogs in the UK on a vegetarian diet.

In turning their animals vegetarian, these pet owners are following celebrity dog-owners such as Alicia Silverstone and Paul McCartney who feed their dogs a vegan and vegetarian diet respectively.

One of the main reasons for the trend in vegetable heavy diets is the perceived health benefit, with four in ten (42 per cent) of pet owners who have increased the number of vegetables in their pet's diet saying they have done so to improve the health of their animal.

16% of pet owners said they simply follow Government nutritional advice for humans, such as eating five portions of vegetable and fruit a day, and apply it to their pet.

According to the LV= report, other reasons given include the cheaper cost of a vegetarian diet (12 per cent), because organic pet food is a waste of money (29 per cent) and because it's more ethical (4 per cent). Just one in four (24 per cent) of the UK's cats and dogs now exist on a meat-only diet.

The most popular vegetables to give to pets are carrots (19 per cent), potatoes (12 per cent) and peas (11 per cent).

As well as pets eating more vegetables, the LV= research shows that 13 per cent of the UK's pets are given vitamin or vegetable supplements daily.

Health-conscious owners say they have noticed a range of improvements from their veggie-eating pets, from fewer health problems (27 per cent), glossier coats (21 per cent), and a better digestion (28 per cent), to loss of weight (13 per cent).

Emma Holyer, Spokesperson for LV=, said:
"As this research shows there are thousands of cats and dogs consuming vegetables in their diets without any problems. In fact, these diets are well known for relieving arthritis, skin and fur problems and obesity in dogs.

"However, pet owners thinking of putting their pet on a vegetable only diet should check with their vet. Cats cannot survive on a vegetarian diet and will need specialist supplements, and although dogs can survive, a sudden change in diet is likely to cause problems.

"Animals are just like humans in that they need a mixture of minerals and vitamins to keep them healthy, and cutting out whole food groups, like protein, can seriously damage their health. If you do want to include fruit and vegetables in your pet's diet try to avoid things like citrus fruits, berries and onions which could cause a stomach upset, and stick to the basics such as potatoes and carrots, mixed in with more traditional food to ensure your pet is getting a good balance."

LV= and Liverpool Victoria are registered trade marks of Liverpool Victoria Friendly Society Limited. LV= and LV= Liverpool Victoria are trading styles of the Liverpool Victoria group of companies. The new LV= brand identity was launched in March 2007.

LV= employs more than 2,500 people, serves more than 2.5 million customers and members, and manages more than £8 billion on their behalf. We are also the UK's largest friendly society (Association of Friendly Societies Key Statistics 2007, total net assets) and a leading mutual financial services provider.

Liverpool Victoria Friendly Society Limited (LVFS) is authorised and regulated by the Financial Services Authority register number 110035. LVFS is a member of the ABI, AFS and ILAG. Registered address: County Gates, Bournemouth, BH1 2NF.