I’ve been blogging a lot about dogs and eating habits. My three Shih tzus are truly the most challenging pets I’ve ever had when it comes to their diet. I usually keep up to date about the brands of foods , prescription foods and homemade foods that are healthy for pets. If any of my pets died because of something I may have neglected, it would be a guilt I would never get over. I’ve always known some of my purposes in life belong to caring for animals. I want to always make sure I go above and beyond.
I cook for my dogs to give them variety of what they are eating. I mean who wants to eat a hamburger everyday? Scratch that! Some people may love it. My dogs , however , like spice and variety in their life. I read and research a lot on the debate of whether dogs are true carnivores or not. I want to share the information I’ve learned to help you make better informed decisions about your dog’s diet.
Carnivore, herbivore or omnivore? Well, since you’re this post, I assume you’re a human, therefore ,an omnivore. Now, you may prefer a rack of ribs over lets says just plain broccoli, but that doesn’t mean you’re only a carnivore. We human beings are omnivores and are well equipped to eat a wide variety of foods. But what about our dogs? Are they carnivores or omnivores? We already know they’re not herbivores, as there’s not a dog in existence who would turn down a nice piece of meat and only eat vegetables all the time. But there’s been a huge debate as to whether our dogs are true carnivores or omnivores. Let’s take a look at some of the facts to help us make the distinction.
In this post, we sourced some useful information from Dog Food Advisor that provides you with the answer to the question “are dogs true carnivores?”
Are Dogs True Carnivores?
From DNA studies, we know dogs evolved directly from the timber wolf somewhere around 15,000 years ago. And, of course, it should come as no surprise. Wolves are clearly carnivores.
So, by their very genetic pedigree, dogs also demonstrate similar and noticeable carnivorous traits. Their teeth, their digestive systems and their behavior clearly confirm this fact. Yet dogs must also be recognized for their significant omnivorous ability. Their proven ability to digest carbohydrate-based foods has been known for many years.
After all, modern genetic research has proof that ten canine genes play key roles in starch digestion and fat metabolism. However, a dog still shows unmistakable evidence that its body is optimized for eating meat.
Dogs Don’t Grind — They Chop
For comparison, think about a typical herbivore. A dairy cow. Now, picture the way they “chew their cud”. Cows chew widely from side-to-side. And they have broad, flat back teeth. And flat teeth are ideal for grinding grains and plant material into finer particles.
True omnivores (like humans) share this same combination of boxy back teeth and sideways grinding motion common to herbivores. Think of your own mouth and how you chew.
Dogs, on the other hand, don’t have flat teeth. Like all carnivores, they have narrow pointy back teeth. Plus dogs can’t chew from side-to-side. Their jaws can only move in an up-and-down, chop-chop motion. It’s the perfect combination for cutting meat into smaller chunks.
No Salivary Amylase
Herbivores and omnivores have one powerful digestive weapon carnivores typically lack. Carnivores do not produce amylase in their salivary glands. Amylase is a specialized enzyme most herbivores and omnivores produce in their saliva. It helps begin the breakdown of starchy carbohydrates into simple sugars — before they enter the stomach.
Although dogs do produce amylase. the enzyme is added further down the digestive tract — in the small intestine. So, without salivary amylase, a dog’s carbohydrate digestion can be decidedly more difficult.
Digestive Anatomy Reveals the Truth
Since they consume fewer but larger meals, carnivores have bigger stomachs than their grazing, plant-eating counterparts. What’s more, meat-eating animals exhibit a higher concentration of stomach acid. This allows faster digestion of animal protein. And the stronger acid kills the disease-causing bacteria abundant in decaying meat.
What’s more, herbivores have an unusually long gastrointestinal tract — exceeding ten times the animal’s body length. Longer systems like this are needed for consuming a plant-based diet.
Today’s Confusing Dog Food Marketplace
Yet in spite of this natural carnivorous design, dogs have still managed to evolve over thousands of years — even surviving on the meat and non-meat scraps and leftovers of human existence. So, over time, dogs have proven to be fully capable of thriving on a variety of foods. Are you confused? Let’s say 80% carnivore and 20% omnivore.
Today, the dog food marketplace has become a living, breathing witness to the animal’s adaptive ability — and is abounding with an astonishing array of product designs. Some favor meat. Some feature vegetables. And others are made almost entirely of cereal grains and beans.
Source: Dog Food Advisor
While experts are still weighing in on either side of the debate, I think we can all safely say that our dogs are either carnivores with omnivore capabilities or omnivores with strong carnivore leanings. Regardless of how you cut it, it’s a sure thing that our dogs have the telltale signs of being carnivores, but have some physical features that allow them to eat an omnivore-like diet. Are you confused? Let’s say, 80% carnivore and 20% omnivore.
When we feed our shih tzus , we feed a mix of meat with cooked veggies. What should you feed your diet challenging pet? I suggest that you stick to the basics when it comes to feeding your dog. More than 80 percent of what your dog eats should be meat-based. Enough meat in your dog’s diet will ensure that he/she is getting plenty of protein and enough of the essential fatty acids. Are you questioning if your dog can eat some vegetables ? Of course they can! They can eat it along with fruit. If you have picky eaters in your bunch, I’m sure by now you know they won’t be inclined to consistently eat the veggies and fruits. Carnivore or Omnivore, be sure to research the safest foods, and consider what the right balance of nutrients are needed to ensure a great diet that lends itself to a great quality of life.
til Next Time….