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Dogs are Carnivores

One of the easiest ways to tell a carnivorous mammal is by the teeth and jaw structure. Carnivores also have other general characteristics such as claws for ripping, tearing and gripping, forward facing eyes to afford binocular vision and depth perception for hunting, and a short, harsh digestive tract made for breaking up proteins and nutrients in flesh and bone without harbouring parasites or bacterium in the gut long enough to proliferate. Omnivores may also have some of these physical characteristics, yet generally lack the short digestive tract of carnivores and the extent of their specialized teeth.
 

Dogs have carnivorous teeth...

When you look closely at a dogs teeth , you will notice that they come together in a scissors like action, indication of a raw food diet. Dogs, like their wild dog predecessors, wolves, have fangs for grabbing and puncturing, incisors for nibbling, premolars for tearing, and molars for crushing bone. Unlike herbivores which only have molars that are used for grinding food and mashing grasses, leaves and other vegetable matter, canine teeth are more for slashing, cutting and tearing. This means their primary food is fresh raw meat.

In fact until about 60 years ago, they survived quite nicely on their own foraging to supplement table scraps from their owners. Of course that was when the world was mostly an agricultural economy. As humans became more citified, and commercialism grew, so did convenience fast food for dogs. First it was canned meats and then later dry foods emerged as complete meals, easy to store and easy to prepare. And for years we have been told not to feed our pets table scraps because they contain too much fat. Canines need the fat and the meat (raw is best) to attain optimum health and fitness, and build robust immune systems.

Characteristics of a carnivore:

  • Sharp canines made to puncture, rip and tear large pieces of meat, which are minimized to nonexistent in most herbivores.

  • Jaws that only move up and down in crushing and cutting motions, as opposed to laterally (side to side) which is needed for chewing and grinding plant matter.

  • Molars that are jagged, pointed, thinner and more spaced than the molars of a herbivore which are in tight rows and have a flatter plain on which to grind.

  • Small incisors for cutting, tearing meat in detail and shearing fur, hair, wool or feathers off of the skin as opposed to the noticeably larger incisors of the herbivore for cutting off plant matter. 

  • A highly elastic stomach designed to hold large quantities of meat, bone, organs, and hide.

  • Strong stomach acids designed for digesting large lumps of meat and pieces of raw bone.  The extremely acidic environment in the gut is also a good bacteria colonization deterrent.

  • A short, harsh digestive tract designed for breaking up proteins and nutrients in flesh and bone without harbouring parasites or giving bacteria time to colonize.

  • Interestingly, in the early years we noticed that many of our newly rescued stray dogs at K9 Rescue struggled with their interest levels when fed a kibble diet, despite having been starved, as they had never encountered such food before, yet their interest levels quickly transformed once switched to raw food, and this led us to promote rawfeeding to all of our adopters. 

Further reading:  Dogs Are Carnivores by Dr Jeanette Thomason - www.thewholedog.org/artcarnivores.html