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The wolf diet is the same as the domestic dog diet, mainly meat.

Wolf and moon
Why is the wolves’ diet important to you the dog owner? Because domestic dogs evolved from the grey wolf in China about 15,000 years ago and dogs innards are essential the same as prior to the change.

While the wolves’ genes have been very adaptable to man shaping the resulting dog’s aesthetics and behaviour, there has been no reason for the domestic dog’s stomachs to evolve away from what the wolf eats. For hundreds of thousands of years the wolf successfully lived as a carnivore, and the following shows that this is the ideal diet for domestic dogs too.

While the domestic dog has shown the fastest external evolution changes recorded, digestive processes do not evolve at such speed. Evolution is usually triggered by an environmental factor and natural selection. While dog breeders have taken away natural selection, it must be remembered that the manufactured ‘dog food’ that you will find at supermarkets has only been around for one hundred years or so at best.

Prior to that there were many stray dogs on streets that would eat low quality meats, but still it was mainly a meat diet. In the wild or rural area's dogs could still live on smaller game such as rabbits and rats etc. The modern dog has not had time to adjust to cheaply made man manufactured dog food diets and so it has great difficulty in gaining sufficient nutrients from it.

There are many factors that reinforce why a dog is a carnivore that have been discussed elsewhere, so this article will concentrate on what the wolf and therefore the domestic dog’s diet should be.

WOLVES are Carnivores

Wolves and the grey wolf are classed as carnivores because the vast majority of their food comes from meat. While they are also known as scavengers, they mainly scavenge for survival in lean times. Wolves have three levels of food preference

Wolf diet Level 1 – Wolves’ mostly hunt and catch healthy caribou, bison, elk moose, and deer and eat the majority of the animal – or at least the whole pack does. The usual process is that the lead wolves eat first and usually get to eat the best parts including flesh and some organs, while the lesser wolves and wolf pups get the scraps which usually mean mostly offal and stomach contents etc. Only the pieces that cant be easily broken down such as hooves and major bones are left behind.

Wolf diet  Level 2 – When large prey are scarce or too fast or the environment doesn’t allow an easy chase, wolves’ will supplement their diet with smaller meat products. These include: foxes, small rodents such as hare, beaver, muskrats, mice, rabbits and squirrels, and birds and eggs. An interesting fact is that beavers are a vital alternative food source in the summer months where they can provide up to 60% of the wolf's diet.

There has also been documentation of some packs of wolves living quite well of catching fish in rivers. This would be the connection with how the modern day dog needs Omega 3 in its diet. While not all wolves or dogs have access to fish, wild grazing herbivores can gain and pass on these essential oils from wild grasses.

Wolf diet Level 3 – This is essentially a wolves eat or die diet. In very lean times or sickness they will eat berries, grass and some fruit matter. This is akin to when a person is lost in forest and will try anything i the hope of surviving. It is a known fact that wolves, like dogs to not have the amalyse protein in their saliva meaning that they have a great deal of difficulty digesting uncrushed vegetable matter.

Berries supply carbs (sugars) and are easily crushed but dogs can gain all of the required sugars from meat. Since wolves and dogs do not have jaws or teeth meant for  long grinding of vegetables, they are unable to crush these to free up the nutrients inside for easy digestion. Even if wolves could digest the vegetable proteins properly, this is always a last resort and takes a lot of energy from their system to try and utilize the foreign plant proteins.

The vegetables and herbs that wolves consume are primarily from the gut of their prey. “This vegetable material is raw, totally crushed and partly digested. They also eat faeces. A wolf's diet contains almost no grains. Wolves never eat cooked grain. In eating the intestinal contents of their prey they will eat some grain which is usually immature and green. Most certainly they do not eat a totally grain based diet like the modern dog, subjected to a lifetime of dried dog food. Even if their prey had been eating mature seed heads, by the time the wolf pup or adult gets to eat this grain, it has been ground to a paste and soaked in the juices of the herbivores intestines.” (Ref 1)

So the next time your friendly dog healthy professional urges you to buy one of their high priced bright shiny packets of grain, remember all of the above. Just say no.

You should also be aware that while dog’s reason for eating grass is up for conjecture (can be for purging, enjoying the texture, making their stomach feel better), wolves invariably eat grass only to purge their digestive system when they have something bad in their stomach.

A 2011 ‘sciencedaily’ report shows that when large wild prey are not available, many of the wolves are turn to eating domestic livestock such as cows (ref 2). The study used GPS tracking in Alberta (near the Rocky Mountains in America) and found that “cattle made up to 45 per cent of the diet for the three wolf packs in the study.” Why this is significant is that this occurred during 2008 and 2009  during the summer month grazing season – when cattle are purposely released into good grain pastures. Previously wolves had mainly taken cattle only in winter when natural wild life stocks were low.

The study also showed that during the winter months, “85 per cent of the wolves' scavenged (already dead animals) feeding events were at bone yards located on land belonging to ranchers.” This suggests highly intelligent behavior or scavenging the easiest food to maintain dwindling pack numbers.

The study also backs up that wolves will do anything to avoid eating grain and vegetable matter, even taking the risk of being caught right in the middle of dangerous livestock pastures.


The wolves stomach is designed as a highly acidic environment for fast in fast out food processing. They cope with eating rotten meat and just like domestic dogs bury meat in times of surplus for later. This means that their gut has bacteria that can deal with dangerous bacteria either by neutralizing it or purging with very few side effects. This is completely different from human and other omnivore stomachs that either get very sick for a long period or die.

“Why are the wolves - without the 'benefits' of modern veterinary technology, without truckloads of super premium dog food, and without calcium supplements – (how do they do so well in the wild)? The answer is very simple. They are living in a biologically appropriate environment in terms of food (meat) and exercise. They are getting what they need.” (Ref 1)


“Wolf pups are not weaned using cereals or bowls of milk or mushed up dried or canned dog food, or bread soaked in milk. From the moment the weaning process begins, the wild pup begins a diet which is based on the carcasses of other animals - mostly herbivore.” (Ref 1)

Human’s wean dogs on what we feel comfortable handling for our cute pets. We give them what our vet sell us. Vets generally are unable to sell fresh meat, so it makes sense that they will propagate the myth of how to wean a dog, into a life of dependency on cheap grains.

WHY ADULT WOLVES and domestic DOGS still need supplements

Even if you attempt to follow a natural diet, and healthy dog treats, you will be missing out on some very important dog nutrients. The reason is that Wild game is always very lean and any fat they have is not saturated fat but has a high amount of essential fatty acids (Omega 3 etc). Modern livestock are grain feed and often have a very limited diet. This unnatural diet, even from mineral depleted grasses means that vitamin supplements and Omega 3 oils may be a good idea for your dog.

Domestic Dogs Diet

Dogs are only very recently evolved from wolves and regardless of their generally smaller size still maintain the majority of the wolves’ internal digestive processes and hunt instincts. They are a pack animal and need other dog company. Dogs sort their order out in the pack and hunt down prey as their common goal of survival.

If you think your dog is far removed from this you may want to look at another article that explains that domestic dogs in their current guise still retain segments of the seven stalk/ kill process that wolves employ. The point is, given their inbuilt programming, this is really what he vast majority of our dogs would rather be doing. They thrive on running in a pack after meat meals, rather than sitting down to whatever we pour in their bowl.

“Wild dogs do not eat regular meals. ... Nor do they have an all meat diet (only 95%+). Raw bones with meat are a major part of their diet. They eat offal such as liver and heart. They eat raw eggs. They eat decaying material.” (Ref 1). But as you can see, it is mainly meat or meat by products like eggs.

The reality is that if this is the preferred diet of wolves and wild dogs that exist today, it should also be the diet your dog has.

Dogs in the wild eat when food is available, and as the urge takes them (once a day to six times a day, and at worst every three days). In desperate times they will eat “Insects, bark, soil, birds - complete with their tiny bones and feathers - whatever. Every meal they eat is totally raw. Not one skerrick of it is cooked. Ever.” (Ref 1)

From this information do you get how far removed the modern day manufactured tinned or pellet foods are? Homogenized, sanitized, vegetable matter typically with meat content well below 10% per volume.

WHY DOG TREATS should be part of any healthy dogs diet

If you have read the above and doubt that dogs like wolves require bulk meat and a tiny fraction of vegetable matter (usually accidently ingested). If they must eat vegetable matter it is preferably the whole green grain that is then crushed and swimming in the juices of a herbivores stomach. If you want to supply them with the correct vegetable amount and type, this is ideally what you would give them in very small doses, if at all.

When I sell dog treats at markets, I usually find there are two sets of people. The first group like the second are dog fanatics and want the best for their dogs. They will often tell me how human their dog is, how it loves all the table scraps or that they purposely feed their dog 80% vegetables and rice with a little cooked meat on the side. The second group of people are those that usually believe in the barf diet in principle, but still find it difficult to obtain the right mixture of bones and varied meat and organs to really do justice to the diet.

The reality is that no matter how dedicated owners are, dog food shopping will always be a task. We personally have gotten our dog addicted to cooked chicken. Yes he has raw chicken necks, beef bones, and raw beef flesh, but this is clearly not the complete animal raw diet meal.

This is why the meatball dog treat varieties (large weight for low price) are such an excellent supplement to any dogs diet. Rather than just containing the expensive flesh part of animals (such as the long lasting dog treats as beef and roo jerky), these contain much more of the animal including several organs. This is what makes them cheaper, however great value and an ideal whole meal supplement. They are infinitely better than the majority of market treats that are coloured, given additives for taste (and addiction) and contain little meat.

Also my dog will not eat kangaroo meat or kangaroo mince, but love dog treats roo sticks. He will not eat beef liver or beef lungs, but loves dried beef liver and beef cubes.Healthy Meat Dog treats are one of the best ways to get concentrated (little water), varied protein (great for immune system boost) and offal that they may not want to eat (because we have conditioned them into a cooked, veggie meal animal), into their healthy meat based diet.

By all means add a little raw crushed vegetable material to your dog’s diet to replicate what they may obtain in the wild, but keep this raw and to a minimum.


Wolves are carnivores with very little vegetables or carbohydrates in their diet. Dogs have the same digestive system as wolves do. Dogs can survive on inadequate diets, because they are not out actively hunting their food, but high grain, low meat variety diets will often lead to unhealthy dogs that will not live to their optimum age. Given the option, a healthy dog will prefer catching and eating meat, vegetable matter is an accidental side dish at best.

Only dogs raised on grain diets will run into an off lead area and consume a loaf of white bread. Think about what your dog really is and what is best for it the next time you feed it.


Article by Bruce Dwyer. If you wish to use any of this information please refer to the article as a reference and provide a link to

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