What is the natural diet of a dog?

April 25, 2017


It is said that pet dog began evolving from the wolf some 50,000 years ago. There is an ongoing debate in animal science in just how much the domesticated canine has changed since it stopped roaming the steps and moved inside. This debate has profound implications on what the “natural” diet of a dog is. Are dogs carnivores or omnivores? Hunters or scavengers? Should dogs eat a similar diet to their wild ancestors or have their needs fundamentally changed since domestication? 


The overall benefit of feeding a dog an appropriate diet is self-evident: animals should eat what is suited to them. Think about how you feel and function after eating a fresh, healthy lunch versus how you feel and function after consuming that $5 cheeseburger and fries. Your four-legged friend is no different.

Ok, so what is the best diet for dogs?

Dogs are carnivores. Their bodies are built to absorb nearly all of their energy and nutrition from eating meat (protein and fat.) However, the domestic dog is also a scavenger, willing to opportunistically sink their teeth into most edible (and some non-edible) objects. Because of this, your dog is unlikely to turn down most types of food being offered. That doesn’t mean they should eat absolutely anything though.

Dogs, like all animals, have a natural diet that is best suited to them. This diet, as a carnivore, is simple food that contains a lot of meat-based protein and is lower in carbohydrates.

Let’s take a look at the ingredients of two of the most popular forms of dog food: highly-processed kibble and raw food. It should be noted that “raw food” has many different forms and models. We are looking at Iron Will Raw's “Original Chicken blend” as an example.

Popular Brand of Dehydrated Kibble:

Ingredients (23): Whole grain corn, poultry by-product meal, animal fat preserved with mixed-tocopherols (form of Vitamin E), corn gluten meal, meat and bone meal, brewers rice, soybean meal, barley, whole grain wheat, animal digest, calcium carbonate, salt, calcium phosphate, potassium chloride, L-Lysine monohydrochloride, choline chloride, zinc sulfate, Vitamin E supplement, zinc proteinate, ferrous sulfate, added color (Red 40, Yellow 5, Blue 2, Yellow 6), DL-Methionine, manganese sulfate, manganese proteinate, niacin, Vitamin A supplement, copper sulfate, calcium pantothenate, copper proteinate, garlic oil, pyridoxine hydrochloride, Vitamin B-12 supplement, thiamine mononitrate, Vitamin D-3 supplement, riboflavin supplement, calcium iodate, menadione sodium bisulfite complex (source of Vitamin K activity), folic acid, biotin, sodium selenite.

“Original Chicken” blend from Iron Will Raw Inc.:

Ingredients (9): ground chicken and bone, green beef tripe, beef liver, kidney, spleen, kale, spinach, parsley, kelp

Which of those two do you think is “simple food that contains a lot of meat-based protein and is lower in carbs”? Which seems to be natural and which seems to have been created in a laboratory?

Have questions about feeding raw? Follow along as we explore more about raw feeding on our blog. Leave a comment below, or better yet, get in touch with us today!