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Obligate carnivores OR facultative carnivores? Your dog still NEEDS meat.


a-regular-leopard-dog For anyone wondering exactly how much a carnivore their dog is, you will readily read on dog food sites that they are not an obligate carnivores.  They are apparently not ‘obliged’ to eat meat. This statement is used to enable them to feed dogs as little meat as possible (to maintain their profits) It is NOT to give your dogs the best food as they pretend to do.

For years this has been to the extreme detriment of dogs worldwide, and its only getting worse. Instead, grain-based dog food companies misleadingly call dogs facultative carnivores or scavengers and use this to feed your dog mostly cereal!

We know the dogs are carnivores because science experts, not connected with dog food companies continue to implore people to feed their dogs more meat – we quote them below.

If you are wondering how health conscious most pet food companies are, then consider they also don’t provide 100% meat to cats (true obligate carnivores). If they feed cats inappropriate food, it gives them license to feed your dogs anything. And that typically means the bare minimum protein that AAFCO labels require.

Note affco do not specify a SOURCE of that protein – hence why “dog food” companies can give you NON species appropriate, non bioavailable foods.  As we have seen from our recent blog articles, the meat amount in dog food is often as low as 20% meat in commercial “dog food” not the 90% it should be.


What is an obligate carnivore? (dog)

An obligate carnivore (or true carnivore) is an animal that “must eat meat in order to thrive (Syufy 2008). They may eat other foods, such as fruits, honey, grains, and so forth, but meat must be included in their diet.  True carnivores lack the physiology required for the efficient digestion of vegetable matter,… The domestic cat is a prime example of an obligate carnivore.” (Pierson 2008)  REF 1

You will find that much of the loophole in being able to feed dogs massively substandard (non meat and offal) food is the line about ” physiology required for the efficient digestion of vegetable matter,”    Which dog food companies solely rely on for turning your dog into an omnivore by misusing the amalyse enzyme story.  This enzyme is present in herbivore and omnivores to assist digestion of vegetable matter. But just because domestic dogs were forced to evolve to have some extent and so have some of the enzyme in their systems, it DOES NOT mean that they have enough of it to call them anything but a compromised carnivore.

One of the most respected sites on the internet that reviews commercial dog food (dog food advisor) even recognizes this fact about dogs. They say “”From DNA studies, we know dogs evolved directly from the timber wolf somewhere around 15,000 years ago.  .. and 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 behaviour clearly confirm this fact.” Ref 2

They go onto say that while dogs show genes that suggest they are capable of eating an omnivore diet,  “However, a dog still shows unmistakable evidence that its body is optimized for eating meat. ” REF 2

They list all of the things we have discussed in various blogs on this site: Dogs Don’t Grind — They Chop, No Salivary Amylase, Digestive Anatomy – all things that you can read in their article (reference below), that we know to be true.

THEY CALL THE  PARAGRAPH below – the bottom line.

Why feed meat to dogs at all?

” Knowing that dogs are optimized for eating meat can make it easier to recognize better dog foods.  Even though dogs do demonstrate a notable omnivorous capacity, we believe it’s important to give preference to meat-based products. That’s because… Whether you believe they’re carnivores or omnivores, dog’s possess an undeniable carnivorous bias. Meat-based dog foods are closer to a “dog’s natural ancestral diet”. They’re more like the real thing.” REF 2

Then next information is from a vet site that says that the dog carnivore argument they are putting forward came from a 2013  pet conference, where there were “300-plus nutrition researchers and veterinary professionals was treated to a strong argument in favor of dogs as carnivores.” Ref 3

They put forward the reasons why some vets like to think of dogs as omnivores THEN destroy the argument with the following points:

Originally dogs were classed as carnivores (having come from a carnivore class) because of their short intestine and high acid stomach most suitable to digesting meat, not slow extraction vegetables). But because a dog’s intestine is longer than a domestic cats (obligate carnivore) this gave unscrupulous dog food makers the chance to claim dog’s as being non carnivores. The researcher they quote says that this was incorrect and that it actually about the “coefficient of fermentation.” Ref 3   ” Herbivores have a high ability to extract nutrition from plant matter as the result of their ability to ferment it, and therefore have a high coefficient of fermentation. Carnivores aren’t equipped to do this and therefore have a low coefficient of fermentation.  Interestingly, the coefficient of fermentation is similarly low in both dogs and cats.” Ref 3

The omnivore camp often quotes how wolves are big grain and berry eaters, also purposefully eating the stomach contents just for a herbivore lunch, but again that has been grossly overstated. ” The wolf myth. Wolf researchers have concluded that wolves are clearly carnivorous. The current literature demonstrates that foraging is a tiny percentage of a wolf’s intake and that wolves tend to leave stomach contents behind after a kill.” Ref 3

They go onto say that while researchers have “found a few genes that reflect a (plant eating)  adaptation in dogs. .. just a few genes’ difference is  regarded as an adaptive shift to a condition (not a change in eating class). These (genes) alone can’t possibly alter the entire digestive evolution of a species.” Ref 3

” The result of these findings, argues Dr. Hendriks, is that the dog is undeniably a true carnivore. But the issue is this: Just because dogs are a domesticated species with an adaptive metabolism that allows them to cope with life as an omnivore doesn’t mean they’re not true carnivores.” Ref 3

So why aren’t you feeding your dog a raw or mainly meat diet?

Mostly its the fear that dog food companies have put in the heart of owners being responsible for their own dog’s health, and convenience of buying grains in a bag, relatively cheaply, at a supermarket. The article goes on to explain simply why 97% of people feed a grain diet, and then have cognitive dissonance to do everything in their power to back up “their decision” (that is really the dog food companies bidding).

Even though they believe that dogs are carnivores, “that doesn’t necessarily mean we’ll be moving away from a grain-based diet for most dogs anytime soon — in fact, most will probably never experience the potential benefit of what may be a more biologically appropriate diet. There are simply too many issues related to sourcing meat proteins to make that feasible.” Ref 3


This whole article and the above paragraph in particular succinctly explains that with overwhelming evidence (like global warming in the 70’s had) that dogs are carnivores that do better on meat. But the overwhelming advertising budgets of dog food companies ensure that people will probably never be convinced of the benefits of real meat in their dog’s diet. Or meat dog treats as a method of supplementation.

Dog food does NOT have a percentage of meat on the pack, and even if it did, you have no real idea of the quality of that ground up over cooked excuse for a dog’s breakfast. That is why our 100% (not reconstituted) meat ‘treats’ are really all you should trust.

And this is why my selling of meat based dog treats remains a niche compared to the mainstream accepted the ideology of grain (or veggie fed) dogs. Its not what your dog looks like on the outside, main easily shaped that, its the fact that they are virtually obligate carnivores on the inside STILL.

Its the mass of omega oils (often from the wrong sources) and extra additives like vitamins and minerals (often artificial and not chelated) that are stuffed into commercial dog food bags that keep most dogs on their feet.  These tricks are to try to make up for or disguise the massive deficit of meat protein your dog should be consuming.

THAT is why most people don’t even notice what their dogs are missing out on their main food of meat. If this article even makes you think twice about mainly feeding grain or veggies to a dog and the benefits of the original alternative, then our job is done.





REF  3

Dog Nutrition
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