Is the dog an omnivore or a carnivore?

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There is an open debate about whether the dog is omnivore or carnivore. The feed industry, veterinarians or nutrition experts offer widely varying opinions on this topic. In addition, the composition of the food varies enormously in the different types of diets, whether they are homemade or commercial, raw or cooked, and even dry or wet.. ¿What do dogs really eat?

In this AnimalWised article we want to give a reliable answer to this current conflict that explains whether the dog is an omnivore or a carnivore, all based on scientific and proven facts.

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  1. Differences between omnivorous animals and carnivorous animals
  2. What do dogs eat?
  3. Reasons why dogs are facultative carnivores
  4. Nutritional epigenetics

Differences between omnivorous animals and carnivorous animals

From a morphoanatomical and physiological point of view, the differences between these types of animals focus mainly on their digestive tract and everything that is related to it..

Carnivorous animals possess sharp grinding wheels that help to tear the meat, in addition they do not chew too much, just enough so that the food can pass through the esophagus. The position at mealtime is usually standing with the head down, this favors the passage of food. Another of the characteristics destined to the hunting of prey, are claws.

We must not confuse it with the position acquired by herbivorous animals, such as ungulates, since they only acquire this position to uproot the vegetation, chewing is carried out with the head up.

Omnivorous animals have flat grinding wheels, which favors chewing. The presence or absence of developed fangs does not indicate that an animal is not omnivorous, since its ancestor may have developed fangs to defend itself or that it was a carnivore..

Some characteristics of carnivorous animals are:

  • The digestive tube of carnivorous animals is short, since it does not require the whole process of digestion of vegetables, in addition they do not have the same intestinal flora as omnivorous animals.
  • The digestive enzymes they are also different between these animals. Some have enzymes specialized in the digestion of meat and others have some typical enzymes of herbivores and others of carnivores.
  • The liver and kidneys of carnivorous animals produce certain substances in greater quantity than other animals with other types of diet.

What do dogs eat?

In most homes where dogs are lived, they are usually fed with feed that provide complete and balanced nutrition. In the market there is a wide range of feed for different sizes, races, ages or pathologies.

If we pay attention and observe the nutritional labels we will see that most of them carry a high concentration of carbohydrates, what can make us think that it is something necessary for the nutrition of the dog. However, this is not the case. Carbohydrates only lower the cost of the feed, making them more accessible to the consumer, but it is not a quality food for our dog, in fact, there are few feeds that qualitatively approach diets based on real food, such as the BARF diet for dogs.

Also, there are no doubts about whether the cat is omnivorous or carnivorous, we know that it is a strict carnivore, however, the feed made for them also contains carbohydrates. A quality diet for a dog is what is based on animal protein, can be supplemented or enriched with plant foods.

Reasons why dogs are facultative carnivores

The dogs are facultative carnivores. This means that they have all the characteristics that define carnivores, both anatomically and physiologically, but for certain reasons that we will explain at the end of the article, they are capable of digesting and assimilating nutrients such as carbohydrates, present in foods such as cereals, legumes or fruits.

The intestine length of dogs is very short, between 1.8 and 4.8 meters. The differences between the breeds in terms of length, permeability and microbiota must be taken into account. The human being, as an omnivorous animal, has an intestine between 5 and 7 meters in length. If you have a dog, you can easily check how sharp their teeth are, specifically the fangs, premolars and molars. This is another characteristic for which we classify the dog as a carnivorous animal..

As we said at the beginning, carnivorous animals have a intestinal flora other than herbivorous or omnivorous animals. This intestinal flora serves, among many other things, to help ferment certain nutrients, such as carbohydrates. In dogs, the fermentation pattern of carbohydrates is poor, although the breed must always be taken into account. By this, we mean that there are races that better assimilate these nutrients and other races hardly assimilate them..

The brain primarily uses glucose to function. Dogs do not need a supply of carbohydrates, as they have alternative metabolic pathways through which they produce glucose from proteins. So if the dog is not omnivore ¿why you can assimilate some plant-based nutrients?

Nutritional epigenetics

To answer the previous question it is necessary to understand the concept of epigenetics. Epigenetics refers to the force exerted by the environment on the genetic information of living beings. A clear example can be observed in the reproduction of sea turtles, whose young are born female or male according to temperature to which they develop.

During the domestication process of the dog (still under investigation), the pressures of its environment could cause changes in the synthesis of enzymes responsible for the digestion of nutrients, adapting the dogs to survive by taking a diet based on "human waste ". This has meant that, today, dogs can assimilate many nutrients of plant origin.

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