The owner of a 17-year-old dog said she knows the answer to the pooch’s long and healthy life – a vegan diet.
Ann Boyce adopted Tara, a Labrador New Zealand Huntaway cross, when she was just a six-month-old puppy.
Since she picked up the little dog she has not fed her even the slightest morsel of meat – and said Tara has thrived on her vegan lifestyle.
Ann, 66, said: “Tara has never been ill and we’ve never really had to take her to the vet.
“I have had insurance and it has been a waste of money.”
Tara did suffer two strokes a couple of years ago, but instead of carting her off to the vets Ann treated her at home with homeopathic medicine, and the pooch made a speedy recovery.
On July 27 Tara will celebrate her 17th birthday, the equivalent of being an astonishing 104 years old if she were a human.
Ann, from Coulsdon, south London, said: “I hope her diet has helped keep her healthy.
“She is a little wobbly sometimes but she still runs around on the Downs.”
The dog lover, along with husband Gary, 67, has been a vegan for 20 years, before which she was a vegetarian, and she she wouldn’t feed Tara anything she wouldn’t eat herself.
She said: “Dog food has lots of additives in and that’s why dogs like it, it makes them hyperactive like sugary drinks do with children.
“I don’t like feeding animals to animals because dogs can survive on a vegan diet.
“If you can try not to give animals to animals it saves a life.”
Ann used to foster stray dogs and said at one time she and Gary, who are retired but used to work in the airline industry, owned eight cats – and describe their animals as “our children”.
The couple feed Tara a mixture of wet and dry organic, vegan dog food which is made from wheat free grain and vegetables.
According to Ann, Tara has “always loved her food“, and has never turned her nose up at any of the veggie offerings.
But cheeky Tara has gobbled down the very occasional piece of meat when it has come her way.
Ann said: “Oh, she would eat meat if she got the chance, dogs will eat anything.
“We used to take them to a pub on a Sunday and buy her some chips, but every now and then the chef would come out with some of the leftovers from the roast and she ate meat then.
But Ann stressed meat isn’t essential for dogs, and said: “Elephants are the biggest animal on the planet and they are vegetarian, and so are gorillas.”