Canine instinct

From wolf to dog

Coexistence between hominids and carnivores has a very long history. The evidence points towards the fact that, around 50,000 years ago, when humans were nomad hunter-gatherer populations, some wolf packs adapted lo life near the societies were they could take advantage of the leftovers of our ancestors hunts.

That way, both (wolves and humans) adapted to living near each other and reaped the benefits. It seems like during this process, humans started accepting the more docile animals in their communities, and probably, during some years, these primitive dogs even helped the humans’ hunting parties, until they evolved and became domestic dogs around 20,000 – 15,000 years ago, when they already fully shared their habitat and diet with humans.

Dogs, carnivores by ancestry, give them animal protein.

Years have gone by. A long time. And despite having little wolf in them, the dogs that live in our homes have part of the carnivore metabolism and hunting instinct of their wild ancestors.

We cannot forget that dogs still have characteristics clearly shared with other carnivores, such as teeth (to cut, tear, and mash), the lack of amylase in their saliva, their high tolerance of vitamin A (from livers), as well as not being able to synthesize vitamin D. These characteristics indicate that dog’s metabolism is mostly oriented to animal origin products. Diets based on small mammals (lamb, rabbit…) and birds (chicken, turkey) as well as fish (salmon, trout); their meat, organs and bones (rich in fat within the marrow) are highly prized.

 

The importance of a varied diet.

Dogs need to keep their vital functions, activity, muscular mass and coat, through a balanced and healthy diet. In order to achieve that, ingredients that provide nutrients other than protein must be added to their diet: carbohydrates, fibre, vitamins and minerals.

Dogs’ domestication in agricultural societies allowed for a metabolic adaptation to absorb the carbohydrates present in their diet, such as those provided by grains (rice, barley, oats) and some vegetables, like peas. These, when provided unaltered (whole grains) also contain fibre, that benefits the digestive system.

Fruits and vegetables complete the essential nutrients required by dogs, with dietary fibre and polyphenols from berries that have an antioxidant effect.

Nutrition has always had a fundamental role in dog’s character and physiology development. Their energy and stamina, and ultimately, their wellbeing and happiness, depend on their health. There is nothing better than a good diet to achieve it.