22 March 2018

Dogs: Omnivores or carnivores?

The debate about whether dogs are omnivores or non-strict carnivores (unlike cats, which are strict) is still valid. In the world of dog feeding, opinions are varied, and it is easy to find evidence to support one or another position when consulting the internet.

This disparity of criteria and postures generates a confusion that affects the selection of our pet’s food. That is why we are going to try to shed some light on this issue and summarize the different evidences supporting this debate:
  1. Intestine length: The intestine of strict carnivores is shorter, since meat is an “easy” ingredient to digest, compared to fiber (vegetables). Herbivores have a very long intestine in order to carry out the fermentation needed to digest fiber. Dogs are somewhere between the two.
  2. The wild ancestors of the dog ate grain: Observational studies have shown that wolfs also feed on the digestive system of its prey (where there are semi-digested plant compounds). Some consider that these studies are inconclusive while others consider their validity.
  3.  Presence of genes associated with the digestion of starch in dogs: Dogs have certain genes whose function is the digestion of carbohydrate starch. This may mean that they are omnivorous, or that they have adapted well to the thousands of years of coexistence with the human being.no.
  4.  Fermentation pattern: Fermentation is a chemical process in which certain substances are used to give rise to others. There are different types of fermentation (like the one that happens in yoghurts, in alcohol or in our intestine). The fermentative capacity of an individual can be assessed with different laboratory techniques, which give us a pattern. In general, herbivores have microorganisms in their digestive system that ferment carbohydrates better than those present in the digestive system of carnivores, so they process these nutrients better.
Dogs have a fermentation pattern more similar to that of carnivores, but this assertion does not take into consideration factors that determine the degree of fermentation (such as the nature and origin of the carbohydrates, the treatment that ingredient receives, the laboratory test determining its fermentation capacity, etc.). Those factors mayo r may not allow dogs to better process a carbohydrate-rich ingredient and neglecting them is to omit decisive information. Should you like to get more information about this topic, we encourage you to read about the usage of cereals in nutrition.

5. Teeth:The denture of dogs is similar to that of wolfs.
6. Alternative metabolic pathways: Dogs can synthesize glucose (necessary for the brain) through routes that use proteins (more specifically gluconeogenic amino acids). But this ability is found in both omnivores and carnivores, so it CANNOT be considered an argument to support the position of those who consider them carnivores.
7. Fasting: Dogs can be without food longer (compared to humans), something common in carnivores that eat prey; but it is also frequent in bears (which are omnivores, without debate).

In genetics there is a phenomenon called epigenetics, which refers to the power exerted by our environment and our experiences on our genes. This means that what we expose ourselves to, will determine in many aspects how our organism will work.
It is known that the most docile or trusting specimens of wolves thousands of years ago, approached human settlements and took advantage of the food waste that men and women left there. Thus, little by little, a relationship of mutual benefit between these two species was created; and it was involuntarily selecting those specimens more suitable for coexistence with men and, in turn, better adapted to the lifestyle (and food) of the human being (thus, changed their way of eating, their habits and their life expectancy).
It is obvious that dogs, direct descendants of those wolves, require a greater amount of meat than we do. But it is undeniable that their ability to digest carbohydrates has already been demonstrated at the genetic level, so it is indisputable that they can process these nutrients. The key is to use top quality ingredients, which have been obtained in a responsible and correct manner; and offer that type of nutrients in a bioavailable form in the recipes to ensure its maximum assimilation and the least possible metabolic waste.
At Dingonatura we take these facts into account, and when we started we analyzed the needs of dogs in depth, from ancient times to the present day, in order to create our recipes. We study the best sources for wild protein and adapt them to the current diet; and we work with very exclusive carbohydrate sources that we provide predigested in all our foods to avoid fermentations and digestion problems. All this along with a technology customized from observation to ensure we achieved our objectives.
That has always been our approach; and today, we keep working on it in order to offer biologically adapted foods to our pets, that allow them to live longer and better.