What are Dogs Designed to Eat?

Dietary classifications of mammals

Most mammals will fall into one of five dietary preferences. These dietary preferences are not necessarily exclusive. It is important to understand an animals dietary preferences and design when formulating their food.

Dietary Classifications of mammals. Herbivore, Omnivore, Carnivore, Insectivore and Frugivore.

Five dietary classifications of mammals

  1. Herbivores -Eat plants
  2. Omnivores -Eat a combination of plants, fruits and animals
  3. Carnivores -Eat other animals
  4. Insectivores -Eat insects and arachnids
  5. Frugivores -Eat fruits

How do you determine an animals dietary classification?

Observation is the most common way to determine an mammal’s classification. Stomach contents studies are also used to determine what an animal eats. Also an animals physiology is studied. Teeth, tongues, lips and digestive tract are just a few parts of an animals physiology studied for clues how to best feed the animal. All this is very important when working with endangered animals in an effort to propagate small populations and prevent species from going extinct. Let apply these same techniques to determine the best diet to feed a dog.

Photos of dog teeth showing carnivorous design

How are dog’s teeth designed?

Dog’s teeth are designed to grab and hold and crush. A dog’s canine teeth (the long fang like teeth) are used for defense and to grab and to hold onto prey. A dog’s molars are pointed and work like shears to crunch bone and separate meat and cartilage from bone. A dog’s saliva acts as a lubricant as the gulp and swallow large pieces of meat and bone.

Dogs gnawing bones

Dog’s instinctual feeding behavior

Have you ever seen a dog gnaw on a bone? They hold the bone between their paws and chew with their molars. In fact all dog’s work a bone in the same manner. Did you teach your dog this behavior? No, bone chewing is instinctual because meaty bones are one of a dog’s natural foods. Dogs will typically crunch up their prey into a barely swallowable portion and gorge themselves. Dog’s also have an instinctual killing shake used for killing their prey. We’ve seen this when playing tug with our dogs. This is a behavior cows, rabbits and other herbivore don’t posses.

Dog’s have a carnivores short digestive system

Dogs have the short digestive tract like other carnivores. Carnivores have short digestive tracts with powerful acids and bile to effectively digest meat, bones and fats. These strong acids allow dogs to consume bacteria laced meats and not be harmed. In contrast herbivores have long digestive tract to effectively digest plants and their associated fibers that are difficult to digest. Herbivore and carnivore digestive tracts are completely different but function well when they supplied with the food they are designed to digest. It make sense. Dog’s are designed to be a carnivore.

When a dog is fed a raw meat based diet the food will travel through his digestive tract in about 8 hours. When dogs are fed grain based dog food the whole process can take twice as long. This is not good.

It is often said that dogs are omnivores but omnivores have very long digestive tracts, different dental characteristics and instinctual behaviors. A pig is an omnivore and has a very long digestive tract, different teeth and instinctual feeding behavior. Pig in contracts can eat just about everything and squeeze most nutrients out of their food. A pigs digestive system is about 70 feet long and very different than a dogs digestive system. A pigs digestive system is more similar to a humans digestive tract. Humans are another good example of omnivores.

Clues you may be feeding your dog the wrong dog food

Does your dog have lots of tarter on his teeth, bad breath, terrible gas? These are all symptoms of a high carbohydrate dog food. Does your dog’s body smell awful even after a bath? If so he could have a yeast infection brought on by a high carbohydrate diet. Is he itching incessantly and constantly licking his paws? This could be the fillers, chemicals and byproducts dog food contains. All animals, people included, are effected by what they eat.

Isn’t it time to feed your dog how he is designed?



  1. Ed – you solved one of my questions already about raw meat making a dog “mean”. Now for my next question – while growing up I was always told don’t give you dog parks chops or chicken because the bones will gets stuck in their throats and they will choke. Yet you say to give chicken thighs. Can you please give me some piece of mind that chicken leg or thigh part bones won’t hurt my rotties. Thanks,
    Duane e

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