From Wolf… to WoofToday, it's commonly believed that the dog first evolved directly from the wolf about 15,000 years ago somewhere in Central Asia1.
in Just a Few Thousand Years
in Just a Few Thousand Years
Now, of course, it should come as no surprise… wolves were (and still are) meat-eating animals. Their teeth, their digestive systems and their behavior clearly confirm this fact.
But dogs have evolved over thousands of years in the constant shadow of Man… surviving on the food scraps and leftovers of human existence.
So, like Man, dogs are capable of consuming a diverse diet.
Are Dogs Carnivores… or Not?To answer that question, it's important to know that in one way or another all animals are either…
- Carnivores (animal eaters)
- Herbivores (plant eaters)
- Omnivores (consumers of both animals and plants)
Now, to be fair (and more accurate), dogs must also be given credit for their notable omnivorous ability, too.
After all, even though they do have the ability to eat a remarkably diverse diet, it's wrong to ignore the fact that their bodies are clearly optimized for eating meat.
Even the canine digestive system still retains much of its original meat-optimized design of a dog's earlier ancestors.
Dogs can eat a variety of foods but they naturally prefer meat
A Dog's Ancestral Diet vs. Today's KibbleSo, what should the nutrient content of a dog's diet look like?
Well, let's compare a dog's natural ancestral diet2 with the nutrient content of a typical dry dog food3…
After looking at this table something should become immediately obvious… the contrast.
It looks like the pet food industry may have taken advantage of the dog's remarkable willingness to eat just about anything.
Notice the higher carbohydrate content of the kibble compared to the dog's natural ancestral diet.
And how about the dramatically lower protein and fat?
OK, maybe the ancestral diet represents an extreme.
But considering the dog's natural history, it just seems the pet food industry may have gone too far in the opposite direction.
These two feeding plans are nowhere near alike.
Doesn't it make sense for a dog's diet to be more balanced? More like the canine ancestral diet? A meal plan with…
- More protein
- More fat
- Fewer carbohydrates
If you agree this idea makes more sense, then you'll probably want to pay close attention to the following seven suggestions.
What Would the Ideal Dog Food Look Like?Well, compared to the typical cost-first grocery store product, the ideal dog food would probably be…
So, relax… and take comfort in the fact that most canine feeding plans can actually work. Raw diets. Grain-free diets. Even vegetarian diets can work.
- Higher in meat-based protein
- Higher in natural fats and oils
- Lower in carbohydrates
- Formulated from a named (non-generic) animal source
- Free of animal or vegetable by-products
- Free of artificial flavoring, coloring or preservatives
- Complete in all essential vitamins and minerals
Yet when taken to an extreme… feeding 100% meat, too much barley or just one (and only one) dog food… you run the risk of depriving your dog of some unknown but essential nutrient.
Just the fact so many dog foods even exist is more a testimonial to how incredibly tolerant these amazing creatures really are…and not the technical design of the products themselves.
So, take the time. Make the effort. And give your dog something closer to what she might actually choose for herself… if she were only given the chance.
- Lindblad-Toh K, Wade CM, Mikkelsen TS, et al, "Genome sequence, comparative analysis and haplotype structure of the domestic dog", December 2005, Nature 438 (7069): 803-19
- Brown S., Taylor B., "See Spot Live Longer", 2007 Creekobear Press, Eugene, OR USA, pp 51-61
- National Research Council, National Academy of Science, "Nutrient Requirements of Dogs and Cats", 2006 Edition, National Academies Press, Washington, DC, p 317