Have you ever wondered if dogs should only eat meat? Are you bringing home a new furry friend and want to know the healthiest diet for dogs?
Like humans, dogs should consume a well-balanced diet that includes meat and vegetables. While meat can be the most important item for a dog’s nutrition, a meat-only diet can lead to calcium deficiency, a lack of energy, and other health problems.
It’s important to feed your dogs a diet that meets all their dietary needs, including protein and calcium. This article will explain how to provide the best nutritional care for your dog.
Table of Contents
- Dogs Shouldn’t Eat Only Meat
- Dietary Needs for Dogs
- Is Meat Necessary for Dogs?
- Are Dogs Omnivores or Carnivores?
- Is a Raw Diet Safe?
Dogs Shouldn’t Eat Only Meat
You might be thinking that, since dogs descended from wolves, they should eat a similar carnivorous diet. But our furry friends were probably domesticated more than 20,000 years ago, and they developed different nutritional requirements than their ancestors.
While gray wolves can digest many pounds of meat in a single meal, the domestication of dogs led to them evolving different digestive systems, metabolisms, and nutritional requirements than the Canis lupus, the gray wolf.
A meat-only diet is missing many necessary vitamins and nutrients necessary to keep man’s best friend in the best shape. Without these vitamins and nutrients, dogs will develop several avoidable health problems. These include:
- Itchy skin
- Weight loss
- Lack of energy
You can avoid these problems by meeting your dog’s dietary requirements, which the rest of the article details.
Dietary Needs for Dogs
Feeding your dog the right combination of meat, plant-based food, and other foodstuffs isn’t an exact science. Different breeds and different sizes of dogs will require varied nourishment, so always check with your veterinarian before deciding which food to feed your pup.
With that said, there are some basic dietary elements dogs need to stay hale, happy, and healthy.
- Protein, such as meat
Meat is an important source of protein and should be a primary part of your dog’s diet. Other necessary fats, vitamins, and minerals are found in protein, but you should ensure your dog food includes a healthy mix of carbohydrates and minerals like calcium, too.
Is Meat Necessary for Dogs?
Unlike wolves, many veterinarians consider dogs to be omnivores. They’ve evolved digestive systems to process plant matter, and you can find countless videos of happy dogs chowing down on vegetables.
Dogs can flourish on a diet without meat, but only if their nutritional needs are carefully monitored in a vegetarian diet. However, meat is an easy, affordable source of protein that includes most of a dog’s fat, mineral, and vitamin requirements. Not every vegetable can be easily digested by dogs, so check with your vet before feeding your dog a vegetarian diet.
Whether you keep your pup vegetarian or feed them a combination of meat, vegetables, and fruit, the most important element to remember is to provide your dog with the highest quality ingredients you can afford while meeting their essential amino acid needs.
Are Dogs Omnivores or Carnivores?
Well, this is certainly a meaty subject. Veterinarians have debated for years on whether or not they should classify dogs as omnivores or carnivores. Dogs eat large portions of meat like carnivores, but unlike wolves, dogs can consume and digest vegetables and fruit.
Dogs descend directly from the gray wolf, a carnivorous mammal capable of consuming huge quantities of meat in a single meal. Wolves, however, can subsist on an only-meat diet, whereas this article demonstrates that a meat-only diet can be unhealthy for dogs.
Omnivores eat both meat and plants. While dogs have sharp canine teeth meant to tear meat, they also produce enzymes like amylase, which is found in omnivores and herbivores. Amylase enable animals to digest plant matter, but unlike most omnivores and herbivores, dogs do not produce amylase in their saliva, instead producing it in their stomachs.
Whether or not a dog is an omnivore or a traditional carnivore, they still need a balanced diet that gives them vital proteins, vitamins, minerals, and amino acids. Meat can fulfill many of these needs, but there are some vitamins and minerals they cannot derive from meat sources.
Is a Raw Diet Safe?
Cooking food removes many important nutrients, so feeding your new pup raw meat can be beneficial as it preserves more of the protein’s energy.
However, you cannot feed meat such as pork raw to your dog. You should cook pork thoroughly before giving it to a pup. Otherwise, your dog may develop gastrointestinal issues. Unless your veterinarian recommends otherwise or your dog has an aversion to raw meat, most dogs can consume a raw diet.
But raw diets can be expensive. Pet food companies design dry and canned food to meet a dog’s nutritional requirements, and most dogs will thrive on traditional store-bought food. Different brands of store-bought kibble and canned food are also designed for different breeds and life stages (e.g. puppy, adult, and senior), an advantage over designing a raw diet.
Raw diets can be potentially dangerous to humans, too. A dog can consume raw chicken, but if they lick your face or chew on their toys, they can spread salmonella throughout the household. Overall, it’s safer to feed dogs kibble or canned wet food.
Dogs have complex dietary needs, and in most cases, it is not safe to feed your furry friend a meat-only diet. As they’ve evolved and differentiated themselves from wolves, dogs need other vital minerals like calcium to survive and thrive.
A meat-only diet can deprive them of crucial nutrients, vitamins, and minerals, which can result in some long-term health consequences like weight loss, lethargy, and bowel issues.
Raw diets can be advantageous in some ways, as not cooking meat preserves more of the protein’s nutrients, but raw diets can be dangerous to humans should any members of the household be exposed to meat-based illnesses.
Overall, it’s best to consult with your veterinarian to feed your fuzzy best friend a well-balanced, varied diet.