The Evolution of a Dog’s Diet and Is Raw Food Best?

History of The Dog

Dogs are considered as one of the closest friends of human beings and their relationship began almost 14,000 years ago. From an early age, they protected the campsite and house of humans, and in return; they offered canine food like meat.

Having evolved from wolves, dogs still possess some wild canine characters like submissive behavior, protective instincts to their owner, and a keen sense to accompany humans. Because of such behaviors, man chose them, and here the domestication of dogs began.

Dogs were valued from the beginning due to their carnivorous nature. They are more likely to build a strong relationship with people who they could consider a pack, and this played a major role in the domestication of the species. People started selective breeding of dogs for traits and characteristics, which sped up the domestication process faster. This selective breeding not only altered a dog’s outer appearance, but on the inside, they still possess some wild canine instincts to varying extents depending on the breed.

Based on the evolutionary scale, a dog’s physiology and anatomy remains largely the same as it’s wild ancestors. A dog’s anatomy still shows a clear picture of a predator. Their strong muscular jaws can crush its prey in a matter of seconds. Their large and muscular stomach makes it possible to eat large amounts of food in a small time. The highly acidic condition of their stomach allows ingestion of whole bone pieces, breaking them down into a powder-like substance. Due to this extraordinary acidity, they can eat rotten carcasses full of harmful bacteria without a single problem. Their pancreas also produces a fraction of the enzymes to aid in digestion and absorption

Naturally, the main source and preferred dog food, raw meat, comprises of active enzymes that bind with the stomach acid to break down the nutrients for better absorption. On the other hand, cooked food items and grain only contain dead enzymes and this makes these items more indigestible for any canine species like dogs because the dog does not produce the appropriate enzymes to break down the grain.

For example, the amylase enzyme helps to break down starch and is found present in the saliva of humans. But canine saliva does not contain this enzyme to breakdown such food items. Canine saliva acts as a lubricating material to swallow large pieces of food. Dog’s intestine are also shorter than a human, which allows quick absorption and elimination of food as waste materials. Their digestive system is designed in such a way to absorb almost all of the water from their food, and this allows them to go for extended periods of time without drinking water. All of these unique features have been found in carnivores like dogs.

Recommended Diet of The Dog

With all the above-discussed features, it’s logical to conclude that a dog’s diet should be closely related to the diet of their ancestor, the wolf. The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources states that the dog’s closest living relative, the Timber Wolf, comprises a diet of 55% white-tailed deer, 16% beavers, 10% snowshoe hares, 19% rodents, and other small mammals. According to the University of Michigan, the wild dog eats small prey animals as their primary source of food. Sometimes they become opportunistic and eat eggs, fishes, fruits, seeds and grasses as a supplement to meat during their tough season. But this does not mean that they can survive for a long time on these supplement foods alone.

As a dog owner, you need to feed your dog in the same way. You can choose various meat sources such as beef meat, buffalo meat, bones, chicken, turkey meat, lamb meat, offal, venison, etc. An ideal dog diet should comprise 75-80% meat, bone, offal, and tripe, and the rest 20-25% amount should become from vegetables, fruits, etc. By using a prey animal as your model, you can easily prepare proportionate foods for your four-legged friend.

Why Raw Food is Beneficial for Dogs? How to Manage Raw Food Diet?

A raw diet usually comprises muscle meats, organ meats like liver, whole or broken bones, raw eggs, fresh fruits, and some vegetables like spinach, broccoli. They can be homemade, store-bought, freeze-dried, or dehydrated. Advocates of natural raw dog food diet list some potential benefit of raw foods for your canine friend. These include:

  • Makes the coat shiny
  • Makes the skin healthier
  • Produces more energy
  • Produces smaller stools
  • Helps to clean the teeth

Owners need to be careful while giving a raw diet to their dogs. The handling, preparation, and sanitation of raw food should be monitored closely to prevent harmful pathogens and reduce the risk of illness for your dogs. Handle raw food in much the same manner you would take careful measures to handle your own human food.

Every owner can easily switch their dog’s diet from dry to raw by adding excellent quality canned dog food to the diet. Mix small amounts of raw food into the canned food day by day to eliminate the dry food as quickly as possible. This transition may take 3 days to 2 weeks, depending upon the dog’s response. Monitor your dog carefully during this transition period. Whenever you find any abnormalities or symptoms of illnesses, stop feeding and take your dog to the vet. After a complete transition, you can see the positive changes to your dog’s like reduces body odour, a shinier coat, glossy skin, cleaner teeth, etc. For any queries regarding your dog’s nutrition and diet, always consult with your nearest veterinarian.

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