If you’re thinking of taking your dog off commercial dog food, you’re on the right track. However, when building a natural diet plan for your pooch, you may wonder whether you should include fruit and veggies in your diet.
With that said, you’ve probably heard quite a few people say that dogs are strict natural carnivores. But on the other side, a couple of people claim that you can introduce your dog to a diet with a lot of vegetables.
So, what’s the deal? Are dogs carnivores? Or are they omnivores?
To answer that, we’re taking a close look at how dogs work, their anatomy, and whether or not you can mix fruits and vegetables in their diet.
Are Dogs Carnivores?
Since dogs have been companion animals for humans for centuries, tons of people want to feed their dogs the same food as they give humans. However, you need to be wary when doing this as humans and dogs are very different. While humans have the genetic makeup and physical characteristics to eat vegetables, dogs may be a bit different.
Most people agree that dogs are natural carnivores that need to eat a diet primarily composed of meat. Here’s why.
The domestic dog we’ve all come to know, and love evolved from wolves. Yes, those ferocious and incredibly smart wild animals are the ancient ancestors of the cute little puppy in the room. And as most people know, wolves are strict carnivores.
This is why dogs have natural carnivorous traits and will naturally be inclined to eat meat. Throughout the years, wolves have evolved to make their bodies ideal for eating and digesting meat. And since dogs are genetic descendants of these wolves, they share a lot of the same traits.
So, before trying to switch your dog to a vegetarian diet, understand that this isn’t what they are supposed to eat. They are supposed to eat meat, and their bodies may not be able to function as well without it.
One of the first pieces of evidence that dogs are natural carnivores is in their teeth. If you’re with your dog right now, we suggest taking a peek at their canines. You will notice that all their teeth are sharp. Even the teeth all the way at the back are sharp and pointy, and this is because their mouth is designed for chopping meat.
Omnivores, like humans, have broad molars. These teeth are used to grind the plant material and make them more digestible. Dogs don’t have these teeth, so it can be hard for them to properly break down plant materials to make them more digestible for their body.
Dogs don’t chew from side to side. Instead, they chew in an up and down motion. This is because dogs naturally try and chop their food instead of chewing it the same way as we do. When dogs chew, they do it in a way that chops up the meat into smaller chunks, allowing them to swallow and digest it much easier.
Another reason dogs are naturally inclined to eat meat is their actual digestive system. Let’s start with the mouth. Humans and cows produce something called amylase in their mouths. This is only present in omnivores and herbivores as this compound is there to help break down parts of the plant material before they enter the stomach.
This is what allows us to digest plant material and vegetables easily. Dogs also produce amylase, but not in their mouth. Instead, they produce it in their pancreas, which means they use it differently than humans.
Dogs also have larger stomachs with stronger stomach acids compared to other animals. This is what allows them to break down the meat in their system as well as kill any bacteria that may be on the meat.
The body of a dog is specifically designed to consume meat and high-protein diets. Switching them to something else may lead to a lot of trouble. So for the sake of your dog, don’t skimp on meat when cooking them a meal.
Can I Feed My Dog Vegetables Too?
With that said, you can also feed your dog vegetables and fruits. As long as their diet has enough meat to sustain their body, you can mix vegetables and fruits. Spot & Tango website explains that cranberries are, for example, a great source of nutrients for dogs. Fruits can introduce fiber, antioxidants, vitamins, and more into their body, which is always a good thing.
However, make sure to feed your dog the right vegetables. Sweet potatoes, watermelons, squash, and blueberries are examples of what fruits and vegetables are good for dogs. There are also a lot of fruits and vegetables that are dangerous for them, which you need to stay away from.
This is why we always recommend doing the research before introducing a new fruit or vegetable to your dog’s diet.