What dogs eat (and don’t eat) in the wild
Every species should eat a biologically appropriate diet, in other words what they would eat in the wild or as close to what they would eat in the wild as is feasible. In the case of dogs there is quite a lot of variety in their natural diet.
What dogs eat in the wild
Dogs are carnivores and the primary component of their diet is prey. This could be small animals – mice, voles, rabbits, birds, insects and so forth – or it could be larger prey caught with the help of a pack. Either way, they eat everything – the internal organs, the meat, the bones… the lot.
Unlike cats, dogs aren’t obligate carnivores. They can and do eat vegetable matter. Wild dogs will search for rotten fruit and will eat the semi-digested contents of their prey’s stomach. Some will dig up vegetables and eat grasses and herbs. Dogs are also scavengers. They eat the leftovers from every animal that is killed or dies. As Ian Billinghurst, a leading proponent of natural feeding, has pointed out, dogs receive ‘valuable nutrients from materials that we humans find totally repugnant. Things like vomit, faeces and decaying flesh.’
With regard to the faeces, incidentally, these contain the dead and living bodies of millions upon billions of bacteria. They are an excellent source of protein, essential fatty acids, fat-soluble vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, enzymes and fibre. Not wanting to dwell on an unpleasant subject, but if you have a dog that is on a processed food diet he or she may be eating faeces in order to try to stay healthy (although if a dog is eating canine or feline faeces it will probably be because they contain the undigested flavourings used to make dry dog food palatable).
What dogs don’t eat in the wild
Almost as important as what dogs eat in the wild is what they don’t eat.
For starters (as it were), they don’t necessarily eat every day. Depending on where they live, the season, the size of the pack, the available prey and other factors, they may eat as infrequently as every second or third day or even longer without suffering any ill effect. A healthy dog can go a week without food.
Second, and perhaps more important, they don’t eat ‘complete’ meals. Dogs meet their nutritional requirements over time. They will eat what they need or seek it out if their body is telling them they need it. This is referred to as the ‘balance over time’ concept. It is crucial to the way dogs should be fed because there is evidence that dogs fed all the ingredients they need in proportion at every meal suffer increased health problems.
Finally, dogs don’t eat grain. They can’t digest it properly and, even if they could, they can’t convert it into sugar and store it for later use.
For more information and advice please contact Honey’s – we’ll be happy to help even if you never, ever plan to become a customer.
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