Are Dogs Carnivores or Omnivores?

Though the dog’s taxonomic family Canidae falls under the order Carnivora, dogs are not carnivores. Order Carnivora includes obligate carnivores, such as the Felidae family, it also includes the omnivorous Canidae and even the herbivorous Ailuropodidae – panda bears! This taxonomic classification has been so problematic as it has led many to infer that dogs are carnivores and require meat in their diet, which is not generally recognized as true.

My dog likes meat, doesn’t that mean he needs it?
When given a selection of foods, most animals will choose the foods which are the most energy- and nutrient-dense as a throwback to evolutionary survival tactics. At any given time, a wild canid, like a wolf, never knows when their next meal will arrive, and so they will preferentially choose to eat foods which provide them with the highest concentration of calories to keep them going. Animal flesh and organs just so happen to be very energy dense, containing a large amount of fat and calories, which appeal to animals worried about how long their next starvation period will be. However, I’m hoping if you’re reading this blog that you feed your dog regular meals and they don’t need to gorge themselves to survive! In that case, we can be much more flexible in how we feed our canine companions. In fact, feeding them very high calorie, rich foods can lead to all sorts of health problems. I love donuts, they provide me with a ton of calories, but if I ate donuts every day just because I like them I would pretty quickly wind up storing all those extra calories I don’t need – and we all know how extra calories get stored! I like donuts, but I don’t need them, and while dogs may like meat, they don’t need it.

If dogs are omnivores, doesn’t that mean it’s natural for them to eat at least some meat?
Let’s put this into context. Yes, dogs evolved eating other animals, and it is arguably natural for them to do so. Dogs also evolved living outdoors in social groups and with little interaction with humans for the majority of their existence. Now, dogs live indoors for the most part, often as a sole pet or sharing their house with one other dog or other animal. They are our fur-babies, their lives are intimately associated with ours, and they rely on us for their walks, their food, their engagement with the world around them. They don’t lead very “natural” lives. They also don’t typically eat the other animals (cats, small mammals, fish, birds, reptiles) they share their house with. It may be “natural” for dogs to eat meat, but it is also natural for them to be injured, feel pain and contract disease. By domesticating dogs, we have removed them from their natural environment and they have adapted to share their lives with us. We provide them with such unnatural lifestyles as climate-controlled homes, daily meals, pain relief, veterinary care and medication. Plant-based dog food is no less natural than any other way we currently manage our beloved companions.

What if my dog is a hunting or working type, do they have special requirements for meat?
While the scientific literature supports differences in nutrient metabolism and requirements for some different types of dogs, there is no evidence that any dogs require animal products in their diet.

If dogs don’t need meat, can they get all the nutrients they need from a vegetarian or vegan diet?
Yes. None of the essential nutrients required by dogs are found exclusively in animal tissues. In animal nutrition, we really prefer to talk about nutrient requirements, as opposed to ingredient requirements. As far as we know, dogs have no requirement for meat per se, instead, they have a requirement for nutrients

 

Dr. Sarah DoddDr. Sarah Dodd is a veterinarian with a special focus on companion animal nutrition. Her studies have taken her around the world living in England, Scotland, New Zealand, Australia, the United States of America and Canada – where she currently reside with her three happy rescue dogs Peppa, Dottie and Timmy.

She graduated from veterinary school in 2016, since then she has pursued her passion in nutrition with a clinical nutrition internship and a Master’s degree at the Ontario Veterinary College. She is currently completing her nutrition residency with the European College of Veterinary and Comparative Nutrition and enrolled in a PhD studying plant-based diets for pets.

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Super sniffer dogs crack down on illegal ivory poaching

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Rescued Kittens at Cat House on the Kings Find Forever Home

3 Rescued Kittens Adopted Together - Cat House on the Kings

Brie (Siamese), Cheddar (Orange), Parmesan (Calico) Photo Credit: Harvie Schreiber

The Cat House on the Kings is California’s largest no-cage, lifetime cat sanctuary and adoption center. Their mission is to place rescued cats and kittens into loving, permanent homes; to provide a safe, happy and healthy home for unwanted cats and kittens in a unique, no-cage facility; to prevent pet overpopulation through spaying and neutering; and to educate the public about responsible pet ownership.

Foster parent, Harvie Schreiber, told us about three kittens named Brie, Cheddar and Parmesan. She wrote:

“The Cat House on the Kings rescued three tiny kittens who were covered in fleas, battling an upper respiratory infection, and underweight. After getting treated and lots of tender loving care in a foster home (which, of course, includes high quality food like Halo), they blossomed, grew up, and were adopted TOGETHER.”

Amazing news! We’re so happy that this trio was able to find a forever home together. Thank you Harvie and Cat House on the Kings for making a difference for pets in your community.

Three Rescued Kittens from Cat House on the Kings

Photo credit: Harvie Schreiber

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Picky Senior Dog Devours Halo Wet Food

Annie ate her Halo dog food

Last week Facebook fan, Gini Moncur, shared with us a story of Annie, her senior dog and their Halo experience. She wrote:

“I wanted to share a good thing that happened. Our dog Annie is about 16, deaf and toothless. She has become very picky and has lost some weight and she only weighs 4 lbs. Yesterday I bought a can of Halo senior chicken food and she devoured it. She is a messy eater with her tongue hanging out. We have all of our dogs on Halo Small Breed Salmon & Whitefish and they love it.”

Gini, thank you so much for sharing your story with us. We are so happy to hear that Annie loves her Halo senior food.

 

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Very good dog rides the train like a human

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 Domestic violence shelter being custom-built to include pets

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A Bit of Speculative Domestication

bat-eared fox

I have not yet been asked to review the new film Alpha, which is a story about early dog domestication. I have not seen the film yet, but I do want to see it.

I do think we need to get beyond the Coppinger model for dog domestication, and I think there have been some serious attempts recently, but I’m not going to play around with that right now.

Instead, I’m going play around with some speculative domestication reverie. Forgive me my flights of fancy. I must play around a bit.

Let’s say that domestication didn’t involve wolves at all. Let’s say it happened with a very different canid.

And you really can’t get more different from wolves than bat-eared foxes are. Bat-eared foxes are odd little creatures. They are intensely social foxes that live almost entirely upon harvester termites. They do eat other things, and they have even been known to scavenge carrion. But most of what they eat is harvester termites.

Let’s say that somewhere in East Africa some 50,000 years ago, a wandering band of nomad came into the land, but found the whole countryside devoid of game.  The only quadruped messing about the scene were several bands of bat-eared foxes.

And the hunters speared the foxes and ran them down and roasted their bodies on campfires and ate away at their manky fox flesh and hoped the spirits would bring forth a kudu or an impala from the bush.

So for many weeks, the people hunted the bat-eared foxes, and they choked down the fox meat.

But then the fox numbers dwindled, and the disgusting pains of hunger swept through the people. And the babies starved to death, and the children grew gaunt in the piercing sun.

And so the hunters set out on a big journey into the rising sun hoping that they would some place so wondrous as to have plentiful hoofed game.

One hunter, though, knew of a little trick that he’d learned from the hot days of fox chasing in the sun. He knew that the bat-eared foxes like to hang near the termite nests, and he knew that if he staked out one big termite nest, he’d eventually run into a fox.

For two hot days he sat in silence. But on the nightfall of that second day, he the hoary gray form of a bat-eared fox. It was a vixen, and she was all heavy with milk.

Her form was gaunt and tight, and he teats were all swollen with the milk. And the hunter felt pity for her, and so he could not cast his spear upon her.

He sat there watching as she picked up the termites and marveled her rapid mastication.  Rare is the hunter who can avoid watching his quarry and empathizing with it. It is man’s ability to empathize with an animal that ultimately makes him great hunter. It is his ability enter into the animal’s mind and see its ways and its habits as the animal sees it.

But he still can kill it and kill it with skill.  It’s just that every once in a while, the empathy subsumes the hunter, and he feels that odd profound kinship with the animal. It is a feeling I have felt so profoundly on my own hunts, and it is one that I know has made me pass up more than a few shots.  And these are the feelings I do not wish to lose. If I do, I will be a monster, not a fully human hunter.

So the hunter sat and watched the vixen eating the termites, and he let her pass. He then followed her tracks through the arid country. He kept his distance back on the trail, hoping that he would not spook her.

He followed her out of nothing more than curiosity, and as he followed her, he noticed the cloven hoofs of a kudu. The fox and the kudu were following the same trail,  so the hunter knew that if he tired of his little fox tracking, he might be able to get on a kudu trail and bring home some nice meat for the band.

As he followed the trail, the kudu sign grew fresher and fresher. And out of the bush, a young kudu materialized out of the heat waves.  Both hunter and kudu were suprised to encounter each other, but the hunter knew to throw his spear.  It hit home, and the kudu ran and ran. The hunter followed its blood trail, and then found the beast lying in its death throes.

He dispatched the kudu with a simple blow to the head, and it became meat in very short order.

The hunter covered his kill and began the journey back to where he had left his companions. He had dropped a kudu bull, and they would soon have food to eat.

But he had to make his way carefully home, for the stench of blood could bring in lions and hyenas. So he started homeward,  when he sensed presence of another being staring at him.

When he turned to look for his stalker, he was shocked to find the vixen standing upon a little boulder. She was transfixed by him, and he was amazed by her.

He turned to walk away, and the bat-eared fox squall-barked.  He turned to look in her direction. He waved a blessing at her, and then turned to walk again. The vixen squall-barked again, this time with frantic intent.

The hunter turned to look at the fox, but then another movement caught his eye, He turned his head to make his eyes register upon the form before him, and then he realized that a young male lion had come to stalk him. It had been trailing the wounded kudu, and now, it had come upon a bit of human flesh. All it had to do was lie in wait, and there would be a kill.

The hunter stood tall on his legs and reached for his spear. He had but one opportunity to make the lion fall as it began to charge, and he knew that he had to make it count. Otherwise, he would be lion’s meat.

He made his spear aim dead on the lion, and as the beast began its horrific charge, the hunter steeled his nerves  and began his spear cast. It home just as the lion’s charge reached within ten feet of him.  The arrow hit the lion lungs, and her ran off in terror to die the death of a mortally wounded beast.

But the hunter lived. And he owed his survival to the little squall-barks of the bat-eared vixen.

He just began to make his way home when he herd the sound of many hoof-beats. All around him were vast herd of zebra and wildebeest.  And there were many kudu and impala flitting about.

In his journey following the bat-eared fox, he had accidentally stumbled onto some game rich country, and he had to bring his people here.

And he had to make them thank the fox.

And so these people survived a long bout of famine all thanks to their guardian spirit, a little bat-eared fox.

And so the legend was passed through all the people’s children and their children and their children’s children.  And the people came to revere the fox, and bring the kits into their villages and make them their guardians and good luck talismans.

And soon there were whole populations of bat-eared fox that lived in villages and ate people food along with their normal insectivory.

And they followed the people out of Africa into Eurasia, where they diversified into so many forms.

And the bat-eared fox is found on every island and on every continent where people exist.

Some herd our chickens and ducks. Others keep malaria mosquitoes at bay, while others rat as proper terriers do in our present reality.

But in this reality, man’s best friend is the bat-eared fox, not the domesticated wolf. And wolves themselves never survived into the present era. It was too clunky and too churlish to fit into the world dominated by man, and it was fully extirpated from all the land.

And so I’ve laid out some silly reverie of speculative domestication. Forgive me my folly. I sometimes can’t help it.

 

 

 

Natural History

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Why Do Dogs Stick Their Heads Out The Car Window?

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Supplements? “Dogs are People, Too!”

Thanks to The Shihtzu Sisters for helping get the word out about our new condition-specific supplements for dogs. We were thrilled to see this adorable quartet of Halo ambassadors announce their love of our 100% WHOLE ingredient supplements to their Instagram fans.

“PSA: It’s true when they say that, “Dogs are people, too!” Humans aren’t the only ones that should be taking supplements to optimize their health and wellness, animals should be taking them too! For our breed, age, and needs, we take the Skin & Coat Support supplement, the Senior Dog Defense supplement, & MOST importantly the Joint & Hip Support supplement by @halopets! Check out our story for the direct link to these products or our Halo Highlight in our bio!” – Kai, Kona, Lily, & Dexter”

Thank you, Shitzu Sisters!

Learn more about Halo supplements and see which one is best for your dog.

 

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This is the face of a hero

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