Are Dogs Omnivores or Carnivores?
Ever since humans domesticated dogs, they have become a huge part of our lives. As the perfect companions, they have evolved to understand and grasp human emotions in a fascinating manner. That is what makes them so tuned in to humans: helping them create wonderfully strong bonds that last a lifetime.
Even though they have been by our side for thousands of years, many dog owners may be asking this seemingly simple question – are dogs carnivores or omnivores?
Many people may think that dogs only require meat to survive. Modern domestic dogs belong to the animal order carnivora, which means ‘meat eater’. This is because of the shape of their teeth, which thousands of years ago were perfect for tearing the meat from hunted prey. However, most carnivorous animals – including cats, bears, lions, tigers, and wolves – need to eat a lot more than just meat to thrive. Carnivores in the wild will often eat fruit, berries, seeds, honey and roots to get all the nutrients they need.
So what other types of food should dogs eat, in order to be happy and healthy? Not only do dogs enjoy plant-based foods: they also need the micronutrients and gut flora support that only plants can provide.
The Benefits of a Plant-Based Diet
If dogs can eat foods other than meat, are dogs true omnivores? Dogs were predominantly meat eaters thousands of years ago, which means their digestive systems are well designed to extract most of their nutrients from meat. Protein, for example, is a nutrient that is very easy for a dog to absorb through eating meat. However, a dog’s digestive system will find it easier to extract certain nutrients from plant-based food sources rather than meat. These vital micronutrients are required for maintaining health and proper body functioning in all animals, including dogs. To receive these nutrients, dogs in the wild will instinctively include some plant material into their diet.
Some of the most important nutrients a dog needs to be healthy are calcium and phosphorus. These are the nutrients that are responsible for keeping your dog’s bones, teeth, and coat healthy. They also contribute to healthy muscular, blood, and nervous system function. Without these nutrients, dogs are more at risk for bone fractures and inflammation of the kidneys, pancreas, and thyroid glands. While dogs can get these nutrients from meat sources, they can only extract small amounts. Plant-based foods can also support your dog’s fluid levels better than meats. Minerals like sodium, magnesium, chloride, and potassium ensure that the cells in your dog’s body are functioning properly, and contribute to gut and circulatory system balance. Without these minerals, your dog can develop problems with hair loss, dehydration, and even heart failure or paralysis. Dog-friendly carbohydrates are another great source of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that can be better extracted from plant material than meats.
The Best Plant Food Sources for Dogs
There are a few superfoods that you should consider when it comes to including vegetables, fruits and other leafy plants in your dog’s diet. Whole grains like wheat, oats, and quinoa provide lots of fibre for dogs, while sweet potatoes, squash, bananas and papaya are great sources of sodium, magnesium, chloride, and potassium. Plant foods like green beans, broccoli, carrots, pumpkin and leafy greens are excellent choices when it comes to ensuring your dog gets enough calcium and phosphorus.
However, while lots of fruits and veggies are good for humans, they aren’t all safe for dogs to eat in large amounts. Foods like tomatoes, spinach, and some fruits can upset your puppy’s stomach if they eat too much.
Importantly, there are some plant food sources like onions, leeks and grapes that should be avoided completely, as they are toxic and can be very bad for your dog’s health.
Why Is A Balanced Diet Necessary?
As with humans, all mammals including dogs require a balanced diet to remain healthy and active. This means including a variety of food sources into their diet. Many dog owners consider canines to be true carnivores, which means they may not pay proper attention to the other nutrients that must be included in their diet. If your dog is missing out on essential nutrients, this can lead to a wide range of diseases and a weakened immune system. Choosing a dog food brand that takes the complete nutritional needs of dogs into account is essential for the continued health and proper immunity of your pet.
There are a few guidelines that are important to follow when you’re balancing your dog’s diet. The bulk of your dog’s diet should consist of protein, which can come from a variety of sources. Protein should make up between 8% and 22% of their dietary intake, with growing dogs needing more than older dogs.
Carbohydrates, which includes fibre, are another vital nutrient that should be included as a large part of your dog’s diet. This should make up around 20% of your dog’s daily intake, though more active or growing dogs may require more.
Other nutrients like phosphorus, magnesium, and potassium should each make up around 0.8%, while healthy fats should be around 1%.
It is important to remember that your dog’s needs will change throughout their life – a dog might need different amounts of nutrients if they are older, pregnant, or unwell.
Choosing the Right Commercial Dog Food
When it comes to choosing the right food for your dog, start with the nutritional label. The first three ingredients listed are the best place to start, as the animal-based protein included in the food will be listed here. The nutritional label will say if the animal protein is a high quality ingredient, or something lower quality like a meat byproduct or filler grain.
Secondly, you should think about the other factors that may be influenced by your dog’s diet. While puppies require protein and nutrient dense food several times a day, this isn’t appropriate for a senior dog and can actually be damaging to their health. You may need to choose dog food based on health factors that could be impacting your dog, like their coat condition or any chronic health issues. Dog breed and size also factor into food choice, as a dog’s size impacts how much and how often they should be fed, and how quickly their bodies mature.
Our Balanced Dog Foods at Hypro Premium
At Hypro Premium, the nutritional benefits of our dog food are far-reaching – providing peace of mind for pet parents everywhere.
Hypro Premium is a quality dog food brand that offers specialised blends consisting of all-natural meats, fats, oils, vitamins and minerals. Our range of gourmet foods are sourced from a variety of animal and plant-based sources to provide a balanced, healthy and holistic diet for your dog.
Hypro Premium offers delicious options for your dog’s specific needs – from Grain Free Kangaroo & Turkey for working dogs, to Wholesome Grains Chicken & Brown Rice for young puppies.
By incorporating different fruits, vegetables and other plant-based nutritional components, Hypro Premium offers a complete source of nutrients, vitamins and minerals that are essential for the health of your pet friend.