A Guide to the physiology of your dog, are dogs carnivores or omnivores?
Today an eight year old boy named Max came into our store with a seemingly simple question: “How is my dog a carnivore if he loves to eat apples and carrots?”. I thought to myself, this kid really has a point and to be honest I have never heard the question that way. He is right; my dog will eat a piece of carrot too, ( and grass, twigs, garbage, and the occasional goose poop). After my brief explanation and still not convinced, he asked more intelligent question, ( did I mention he is 8 years old ?). So, for you Max I’ve outlined some distinguishing features to help him and us understand why your dog is in the order of Carnivora. –Thanks Max for the inspiration of this blog!
If you look at your dogs body structure and teeth you may be able to point out some of these characteristics!
Hinged jaw with large muscles: Dogs have relatively large neck and jaw muscles that are designed for tearing the flesh, bone and muscles of prey. They also have a hinged jaw which allows them to open their mouths very wide to eat large pieces of meat.
Sharp pointy teeth: If you look into your dogs mouth, you will notice that they have large canines and pointed molars intended to rip, tear and shred meat. Another interesting feature of a dogs mouth is that none of their teeth line up and meet like ours do. This design further assists in the consumption of meat and makes it difficult to grind plant matter.
Lack of salivary amylase: Salivary amylase is an enzyme produced by salivary glands that begins the breakdown of starch. This enzyme is produced by omnivores and herbivores to aid in the digestion of veggies and fruits. Because dogs don’t make this in their saliva, all of the burden is left on the pancreas to produce enough amylase to breakdown these foods. This explains why plants matter comes out of your dog looking almost the same as when it went in!
Short and simple digestive tract: The digestive tract is one of the most convincing pieces of evidence that suggests dogs are a carnivorous species. A shorter, highly acidic tract is much more efficient at breaking down and absorbing the nutrients from meat as opposed to plants which require more time in the digestive system to ferment and breakdown. They also have a large, elastic stomach made for consuming large meals, and an undeveloped caecum (a structure that produces cellulase for the breakdown of cellulose in omnivores and herbivores.).
CLOSE RELATION TO WOLF ANCESTORS:
Are wolves carnivores? If you said “yes” to this question, you’ve got it! But here’s where it gets interesting: did you know that your dog and a wolf are so closely related that they can mate to produce viable offspring?! This means that they are the same species. Just to show how close this relation is; if you were to breed a horse and a donkey to produce a mule, it would be sterile making these two animals different species. So in essence your dog is more closely related to a wolf than a donkey is related to a horse! Crazy right? We thought so to! And if your dog is closely related to a wolf then they must have similar dietary needs.
SOME OMNIVOROUS ADAPTATIONS:
Dogs are versatile creatures capable of adapting to whatever comes their way (Well maybe not whatever, but you get the point). For instance, when it comes to food, they can pretty much survive off anything. While they may not be designed to eat plants, they certainly can and often will eat them if that’s what is available. So, while dogs can live long, lives on a diet of processed kibble, they are certainly not thriving to their greatest potential.
If you really want to prove that your dog is a carnivore, experiment for yourself! Our raw pet food store is located in beautiful Vancouver and we would love to talk with you about your carnivore as you try out the raw diet and observe the drastic changes for yourself. You will notice a difference in your dogs coat, teeth, breath, eyes, and pretty much their overall well being. See the benefits for yourself and then you’ll know for sure whether your dog is a carnivore or not!
P.S. Once your canine has convinced you raw is the most beneficial diet for them you can relax as we offer raw pet food delivery!