Dogs bodies are very forgiving and very adaptable to diet inadequacies, but just because they can survive on an omnivorous or sub par diet does not mean it is the correct diet style for them. There is an assumption that dogs are natural omnivores but if we look at the dogs biology it is obvious they are carnivores (or scavenger carnivores).
Let’s Look At The Structure Of Their Jaw
Have you ever played tug-of-war with your dog? Have you ever wondered how the heck can they pull so hard with just their teeth?
It’s because dogs (and cats) have powerful jaw and neck muscles that help with taking down their prey and ripping and chewing the meat and bone.
Their heads are shaped to prevent side to side movement of their bottom jaw, it can only move up and down like scissors and the teeth actually rest next to each other (like closed scissors) when the mouth is closed.
The molars of herbivores and omnivores lay flat on top of each other so they can grind plants with side to side motion.
A look at their teeth
If you look at you dogs (or cats) mouth you can see that they have large sharp teeth, they do not have wide flat molars that would be evidence of a herbivore.
Their large “canines” and sharp back teeth are used for ripping, gnawing, cutting and tearing meat and their molars are pointed and aligned to act like scissors for cutting and slicing the meat and bone.
If we look at our own teeth (or the teeth of a cow or horse) you will find wide flat molars so we can grind and smash fruits and vegetables.
Since dogs and cats don’t have these flat molars it makes sense that they are not designed to eat veggies, they did not evolve that way.
A Look At Digestion
Dogs (and cats) have a short intestinal tract meaning they lack the ability to ferment plant matter for digestion, this is only achieved in longer intestinal tracts. They also have a fairly flexible stomach which allows for large quantities of meat, bone and organs to be eaten at once (think prey).
This means that the food they eat does not stay in their system for a very long time and it passes through quickly.
Vegetation requires time to ferment and is indicative to herbivores or omnivores who have the longer intestinal tract.
Carnivorous animals such as cats and dogs do not produce the digestive enzyme amylase in their saliva to start breaking down carbohydrates and starches. This places a lot of stress on their pancreas making it work harder to digest carbohydrate rich foods.
Dogs also do not have the necessary gut bacteria to break down starch so the nutrients in plants are unavailable for them to utilize. This is why we have been instructed to thoroughly cook all carbohydrates before feeding them to your dog.
So when pet food manufactures use plant carbs in their foods, knowing that dogs (or cats) cannot obtain the nutrients from plant sources, they overcompensate by adding very large amounts of synthetic vitamins and minerals to their foods.
Carnivore or Omnivore
The evolutionary design and anatomy of our pets leads to our pets being carnivores.
- They have evolved to take down prey with lean bodies that are adapted to quick bursts of energy.
- Their jaw has strong muscles to rip, tear and gnaw.
- The shortened gastrointestinal tract allows for quick digestion of animal fats and proteins and lacks digestive enzymes and gut bacteria to digest carbohydrates.
All of these facts makes it quite clear that our dogs (and cats) are carnivores not omnivores. And as pet parents we need to make the best choices we can for their health and longevity.
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