Can Pet Dogs Live and Thrive on a Carnivore Diet?
As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases made on our website. If you make a purchase through links from this website, we may get a small share of the sale from Amazon and other similar affiliate programs. You can read our complete legal information for more details. By using this site, you agree the information contained here is for informational purposes only. For specific medical questions, consult your doctor. NO information on this site should be used to diagnose, treat, prevent or cure any disease or condition.
After some extensive research on the internet it seems to be that pet dogs can live and thrive on a carnivore diet. From what I’ve gathered, the world has concluded that cats are specifically carnivore and should only be fed meat but dogs on the other hand are in this weird grey area balancing between omnivore and carnivore.
However there are strongly mixed opinions on this matter and we are going to dive in and share what we have found from leading veterinarians on the internet and YouTube. Who would have thought this idea of dogs eating a carnivore diet could be so controversial?
We really want to find out if the carnivore diet is appropriate for dogs or even more beneficial from a health perspective than that of an omnivore style diet filled with plant matter, otherwise known as kibble.
Just maybe a carnivore diet without kibble and additives is superior?
Side note: I think you will see when reading this article that there are some similarities between our current state of poor health in humans and also those of dogs and the common denominator for good health may be diet.
The amount of misinformation and mainstream media style propaganda is eerily similar. How big of a part do big pharma, big agriculture, and big profits play in this? Just a question to ask yourself.
What Are Dogs? Omnivore or Carnivore?
From what I can tell the mainstream considers dogs omnivores and to a point this seems correct.
Walk into your local pet store and you will see a large percentage of the food options are kibble consisting of blends of grains, meat, and vegetables.
You will also find veterinarians suggest this type of food as a healthy option.
Here we have DogFoodAdviser.com saying, “Wolves are clearly carnivores. So, by their very genetic pedigree, dogs also demonstrate similar and noticeable carnivorous traits. Their teeth, their digestive systems, and their behavior clearly confirm this fact. Yet dogs must also be recognized for their significant omnivorous ability.”
It seems most veterinarian and dog food producers say that dogs are meant to be fed a mixed food diet of kibble, (grains, meat, veggies.) They seem to be basing their recommendation on a few omnivore myths that noted doctor, professor of animal nutrition, and dean of research Dr. Wouter Hendricks likes to bust.
Dr. Hendricks suggests we reconsider a few of the omnivore myths. Here are a few of the myths he likes to rebut.
#1 Intestine Size: Carnivores have short intestines because meat is easy to digest. Cats have shorter intestines than dogs and so people say that’s why dogs can eat plant matter, they have long enough intestines to properly digest plants.
Dr. Hendricks suggests looking at this in a different way. He says it’s not about intestinal length but rather “coefficient of fermentation” which is the ability a herbivore has.
Herbivores are able to ferment plant matter and properly digest and extract nutrients thus the coefficient of fermentation. Carnivores do not have this ability and this ability is low in dogs.
#2 Wolves are Grain and Berry Eaters: There is a myth out there that says wolfs will eat grains and berries and also eat the intestines of their prey which contain plant matter.
Dr. Hendrick says this is a myth as it’s not based on systemic observation.
#3 Dogs Adapted To Eat Plant Matter/Grains: Dogs have adapted to eating plant matter due to the adaptation of digestive genes which help with the digestion of starch and glucose.
Dr. Hendricks believes just because three genes mutated within a dog’s DNA that it doesn’t account for a complete evolutionary change in a dog’s digestive system.
Basically just because domesticated dogs have adapted to eat plant matter like grain doesn’t necessarily mean they should or that it’s good for them.
Carnivore Traits In Dogs
Take a look at dogs and you will see major similarities in other mammalian carnivores. Here are just a few.
- Dog Teeth: Dogs have teeth that are perfect for eating muscle, bones, and marrow extraction.
- Carnivorous Behavior: Dogs hunt prey and dig holes just like wolves.
- Fasting: Carnivores are able to go a long period of time between meals and survive. Dogs are the same.
Dog Health and Diet
I watched a YouTube video featuring 7 veterinarians from the Raw Feeding Veterinary Society discussing the topic of the raw meat carnivore diet for dogs. I took away a few interesting points which I would like to share with you. The following is a breakdown.
Raw Carnivore Diet
Is a raw carnivore diet for your dog scary? Veterinarian Richard Allport says, “look at dogs as carnivores and look at what they eat in the wild, they are hunting animals, eating prey, the whole prey, the skin, the bones, and innards.”
He sees the optimal diet as being a mix of raw meat, raw bones, and some raw vegetables.
Dr. Geoff Johnson said, “a third of the dogs I saw that had chronic diseases improved or got better simply by taking them off kibble and then onto a raw meat diet. It has become a part of my treatment regimen and prevention.” He has been doing this for 20 years now.
Dental Health for Dogs
Lori Leonard, a veterinarian, suggests giving dogs raw bones for both dental health and exercise for jawbones and even the tongue.
Essentially dogs are built to rip and shred meat from prey. When they only eat soft kibble like the food they are not getting the proper exercise.
When she examines dogs on a raw meat diet they all have great dental health.
Raw Diet Safety
Veterinarian Nick Thompson doesn’t believe there is a safety issue or risk more so than the standard kibble, processed style food. He says, “there is no more risk than any other diet.”
Furthermore he finishes by saying, “critics of raw feeding say dogs will have problems with bones or salmonella…we are just not seeing these problems in reality.”
Processed Kibble is Unhealthy?
During the video, Jane Keogh, a veterinarian, says she has seen a rise in degenerative diseases similar to the ones found in humans which can be hypothesized to be caused by a nasty Standard American or Western Diet. Basically diets with high carbohydrates, sugars, and bad trans fat.
She says that she notices dogs going into their middle ages and older start to see increases in obesity, heart problems, poor coats, and bad teeth.
She sees less issues when dogs are on a raw meat diet.
Here is the video for more info regarding a raw meat carnivore diet for dogs.
Can Dogs Live Longer on A Raw Carnivore Diet?
Thomas Sandberg runs a non-profit research group that is collecting data on over 5000 animals/pets in order to raise awareness of the raw carnivore diet practice.
He believes there is less cancer and disease when your pets are fed a natural raw carnivore diet which will also potentially lead to a longer healthier life.
He has studied dog and cat digestive systems since 1997 and believes they are both true carnivores. When they eat a species-appropriate diet they have a stronger immune system which in turn allows for longer life and potentially reducing the chance of cancer.
If you are interested in helping Mr. Sanberg’s cause then please go to his website and donate. You can also register your pet and provide data for his study.
Carnivore Diet Knowledge
Take your education even further and check out these books written by Dr. Ian Billinghurst. He has a small collection I found on Amazon.
- Give Your Dog a Bone: The Practical Commonsense Way to Feed Dogs for a Long Healthy Life
- The BARF Diet: Raw Feeding for Dogs and Cats Using Evolutionary Principles
- Pointing the Bone at Cancer: In Dogs, Cats and Humans
The popular veterinarian Dr. Karen Becker also has a book that discusses the raw carnivore diet as well as mixing in vegetables, fruits, and supplements.
Rise of Cancer for Dogs Due to Diet?
Some people say there is a rise in cancer among our pet dogs. However an article in Veterinary Practice News disputes this theory by saying, “until we have large longitudinal databases and formal cancer surveillance mechanisms, we should avoid confident, sweeping statements about cancer rates based on personal opinion and observation.”
They couldn’t find any studies which support this theory.
It seems a species-appropriate diet may be more beneficial to your pet than the standard kibble style diet. However it’s best you do your own research and speak to your veterinarian.
Our dogs have gone carnivore and the results are good but even now we add some kibble style food and the occasional raw carrot just because of affordability and time limitations.
Hopefully this article opened some minds and maybe points you in the right direction. Good luck and please share if you find this information useful.
Oh yeah, you now have heard of the carnivore diet for dogs but what about humans? I wrote an extensive article with many surprising findings and my own blunders of attempting the diet. You can read all about the shenanigans here, “The Carnivore Diet 101: A Meaty Resource.”
Disclaimer: I’m not a doctor or dietician, veterinarian, or nutritionist. Consult with and ask your doctor about any diet or medical-related questions. No information on this site should be used to diagnose, treat, prevent, or cure any disease or condition.