Are Dogs Carnivores Or Omnivores?
Dogs, as man’s adopted, closest friends tend to have adapted themselves to many food types that their human parents offer to them. Most dogs are comfortable sharing the menu with their owners. Close studies have revealed that dogs eat almost the same types of food that man eats, with few exceptions. A man has successfully shared some vegetables, fruits, nuts, snacks, meat and other delicacies with their canine companions without any risk. This begs the question; are dogs carnivores or omnivores?
What Are Carnivores?
Carnivores are meat eaters. They are organisms that naturally depend on a diet consisting entirely or exclusively of animal tissues by hunting or scavenging for their energy and nutrients. Examples of carnivores include lions, tigers, cats, cheetahs, and leopards.
What Are Omnivores?
Omnivores are animals that naturally feed on plant matter as well as the flesh of other animals. Some omnivores hunt and eat their food the same way the carnivores do while also feeding on herbivores and other omnivores. They also eat fruits and vegetables.
Many omnivores are mere opportunistic feeders, meaning they prefer to spend as little energy as possible finding their own food. Examples of omnivores include bears, humans, pigs, cows, and many others.
Guided by the above definitions and examples, we can now do a thorough analysis of the eating patterns and habits of man’s closest friends – dogs. This will help us understand where to place dogs in the food chain.
By nature and adaptation of dogs to domestic life, they have gradually warmed themselves up to a swinging position that may make classifying them as carnivores or omnivores a little bit dicey.
Are Dogs Really Carnivores Or Omnivores?
As is taught in Biology classes and in veterinary schools, dogs are unarguably in the list of omnivorous animals. Assumedly, dogs eat most kinds of foods, ranging from vegetables to fruits, nuts, meat, and many more. Because dogs are not restricted to animal protein for their daily nutrition, it’s quite easy to confirm that dogs are actually carnivores.
But in science and technology, new discoveries are continually coming up, some of which seek to change the age-old beliefs. So, it is not out of place to revisit, review and re-analyze whether dogs are carnivores or omnivores. It is essential to do a thorough checking of all available facts concerning the classification of dogs in this regard.
Let’s look at this from two critical and analytical angles.
- From the Omnivorous perspective, and
- From the Carnivorous perspective
The Omnivorous Perspective
Judging by all parameters of what qualifies an animal as either carnivore or omnivore, it’s easier to accept that dogs are more omnivores than they are carnivores.
Simply put, dogs exhibit more omnivorous tendencies as is evidenced by the deep relationship they have forged with their human owners. They have adapted to various eating habits of their owners, who’re themselves, omnivores.
The facts below suggest that dogs could be omnivores.
Dogs eat meat, fruits and vegetables, nuts, and many more diverse food items. In fact, some dog breeds occasionally glean on some green plants. These eating habits of dogs easily pitch them in the park of omnivores.
Formulated dog food comprises of protein from both animal and plant sources. This is a clear indication that dogs are closer and better omnivores than they are carnivores.
Wolves are obviously carnivores because they prey on other animals to obtain their nutrients. Similarly, by the genetic pedigree of dogs, they also exhibit comparable and obvious carnivorous traits. The dental formation of dogs, as well as their digestive systems and other structural and behavioral characteristics, clearly confirm this fact.
Wolves mostly live in the wild, and they have to stick to their fundamental traits of being carnivores. However, some documented facts suggest wolves eat grains. Even then, this does not change the status of wolves from being primarily carnivores. And under belonging to the same ancestry, we could say the same about dogs.
Since carnivores almost entirely or exclusively depend on animal tissues for their nutrients, it is not appropriate to classify dogs as carnivores even though they eat animal proteins as mere supplements.
Carnivores like lions, tigers, and even cats have shorter intestines compared to the omnivores. This is because meat which is the food source for carnivores is more accessible to digest. They need the short digestive system for their digestion. On the other hand, omnivores need longer intestines to hold their food for proper digestion since their foods contain large chunks of fibers. So like other omnivores, dogs have their intestine’s length in between that of carnivores and omnivores. They thus fall more on the side of omnivores than the carnivores, mainly because of their eating habit.
Dogs are specially adapted to eating grains, anyway. Recent research found out that dogs are different from wolves in that they have three genes related to starch and glucose digestion. It is hence more manifest that dogs are more adaptable to eating grains and other vegetation.
Though these are some traits of the carnivorous tendency in dogs, they are generally omnivorous in nature. Dogs have been adaptably-confined to the social circles of humans. As a result, they cannot be carnivores even though they have some carnivorous traits.
The Carnivorous Perspective
Dr. Hendrik provided a critical new dimension to prove that dogs are carnivores by advancing the Coefficient Of Fermentation (COF) theory. His argument is based on the fact that CoF should be the most appropriate factor to use in classifying dogs as carnivores rather than the intestinal length. He argues that the total volume of the canine and that of the feline intestines are similar.
He provided an insight into the ability of herbivores to easily digest, extract, and absorb nutrition from plant matter. According to him, this ability is based on their capacity to ferment it. He pointed out that the herbivores have high “Coefficient of Fermentation.” But because carnivores don’t have that ability, they have a lower Coefficient of Fermentation. He concluded that the Coefficient of Fermentation of dogs and cat are similarly low.
From Dr. Hendriks’ argument, it is right to categorize both dogs and cats as carnivores.
So, Which Way Does It Go?
From the above review and analysis, it is still sound to regard dogs as omnivores. Interestingly, dogs can and do eat varieties of foods, except for some forbidden fruits that can lead to health issues. And honestly, I wouldn’t want to re-adapt your lovely doggy friend to a new life of the carnivores?
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