Dogs are carnivores by design and therefore in a “wild” state derive the majority of their nutritional requirements from whole animal prey they catch or scavenge. Dogs are very similar to wolves and dingos their wild dog counterparts. Wolves eat a variety of prey, large and small. Wolves like dogs are built for endurance and will hunt many miles in search of food. There are many animals that follow herds and benefit from their feeding habits and bi-products. Birds feed on the insects the herds flush up. Seeds spout as they pass undigested through the herds digestive system. Other animals eat the insect larva in their droppings. And the plants even benefit from the grazing. It is all a wonderful balance. And the wolves feed on all these animals to some extent. Wild dogs would have the same feeding habits.
I live on a farm and have watched all my dogs eat many things live and dead, I know it’s gross but they’re farm dogs. I might lift a bale of hay to have mice scurry every which way. My dogs rapidly gobble up the mice. I also raise horses and feed lots of hay. Where there are horses there is manure. This brings me to my next point.
Where do dogs get vegetable matter?
Dogs do need some nutrients found in plant matter. Unfortunately, a dog’s digestive system is not designed to digest raw plant matter. A carnivore’s digestive system is short and ill equipped to digest plants. So what does a dog do? Well, a dog finds partially digested plant matter wherever he can. In this case in fresh horse manure and other herbivore droppings.
It is truly gross but I’ve observed countless dogs over 20 years devour fresh horse manure like it is their favorite meal. Dogs will also eat rabbit and deer droppings. The first time you see this behavior you may be repulsed but it makes sense. Many herbivore droppings have partially digest plant matter that a dogs system can utilize. The herbivore manure also contains digestive enzymes that are helpful to the dog.
In short,most animals will rarely pass up an easy meal and a dog is no different.
Wild Dog Food Ingredients
My personal belief is wild dogs would follow herds and catch and eat the weak, young and old. Just like the wolves of today. Dogs also would eat rodents,birds and other animals along the way. And to round out their nutritional requirements would eat the dropping of herbivores. Understanding a dog’s design and behavior can help us formulate a healthy diet and maybe one that’s not going to make us nauseous. Remember dogs are very similar to wolves.
Basic nutrients needed by dogs
- Protein – Animal based protein and amino acids are easily digested by dogs
- Fats- Animal source fats and fatty acids are metabolized well by dogs
- Vitamins- Dogs require many vitamins. Good sources are from animals and partially digest plant matter.
- Minerals- Dogs require calcium and a host of trace minerals to stay healthy. Bones and partially digested plant matter supply a dog with calcium and trace minerals.
- Water – Yes water is a vital nutrient and without it life ceases
Does the source of nutrients matter?
There is a school of thought that teaches that the source of nutrients play no role in the health of the animal. I disagree. Animal source protein was fed to sheep and cattle to raise the protein level and this practice introduce “mad cow” disease to the world. The scientific community is finding out new things about nutrition every year that advances our understanding. I believe the best way to feed an animal is by feeding “Biologically Appropriate Raw Food” whenever possible. This practice will maintain all animal in optimum health and is called a B.A.R.F. diet for short.
Feeding a dog a B.A.R.F. diet means feeding raw meats, raw bones and partially digested plant matter (thoroughly cooking or fermenting vegetables can serve as a form of digestion). Our homemade dog food recipes will incorporate these components to feed your dog in a healthy manner. It is our belief that the best dog food for your dog is a raw one. However, we know that some of you will never feel comfortable feeding raw dog food. If this is you, take heart, we also have some cooked dog food recipes that are nutritious and tasty for your dog.
It can be difficult to provide a balanced nutritious dog food if you make every aspect yourself. This is why I recommend dog supplements to provide vitamins, minerals omega 3 fatty acids and delicate nutrients to help fill in the gaps.