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03 November 2004


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You should submit this to Tangled Bank!

Dave Schuler

Everything you've said is true but I think there are a few other issues you might consider. First, human beings and dogs have been keeping company for a very long time and human beings have been influencing the breeding of dogs for most of that period. From the point of view of a wolf a dog is, at best, a very sick wolf indeed (just as from the point of view of a chimp we're very sick chimps). Dogs are not wolves. Or, more accurately, dogs are very highly neotenous wolves. An appropriate diet for an adult wolf and an appropriate diet for an adult dog may not be the same.

Second, even with the lousy diets we're feeding our pets average dogs live longer than average wolves in the wild. Just a thought.

Third, it's impossible for most people to actually feed their dogs a natural diet. Not just impractical. Impossible. Chicken from the supermarket isn't the same as deer in the woods. And I suspect that vermin constitute a larger proportion of the diet of wolves than you're suggesting.

But overall you're point is well-taken and I agree with it. My own take is that we need to encourage the big-name dogfood manufacturers to take dogs' real nutritional needs more seriously.


I've read a couple of books stating that wolves can and will feed on vegetable matter - largely berries and other fruit in the autumn, though of course it still makes a very small proportion of their diet.

And I think small rodents, birds and the like do factor in the wolf's diet.

IIRC, the giant panda, though a specialist on bamboo, can and will expand its diet to feed on insects, fish, rodents, and on very rare occasions, meat. There is a recorded case of a panda that killed several sheep, though it did not feed on them.

The thing is that labels like 'carnivore' and 'herbivore' are not always clear-cut; herbivorous species can and will take animal matter on occasion, and carnivores will consume plant matter.

a pissed-on progressive

As a well-intentioned, half-informed kibble feeder, I'd like to offer a coupla thoughts and observations. Over the years I've raised five purebred dogs from puppyhood; a Dachshund, two Dobermans, a Black Lab and a Standard Poodle. Fed them all premium kibble and never had a tooth or health problem with any except for the Poodle, which suffers from Canine Epilepsy.

These Doberman carnivores would nibble wine grapes from the vines, and once made themselves sick (man were they bloated) when they broke into and ate most of a a sack of milled oats. The Lab and Poodle eat fallen peaches. They Dobes and Lab have eaten a ridiculous range of stuff from socks and washclothes to really ripe dead animals and worse. Are they garbagivores?

Anyway, I took a look at the raw food idea and found lots of cautions from reputable sources re: parasites, bones etc. Because the effects of diet are generally long-term in nature, I've avoided experimenting with various 'better' diets, either for myself or my dogs until there's well-proven, substantial, empirical evidence that it is in fact 'better'.

Regarding the avoidance of grains, I don't think a body cares about the source of it's amino acids, just as long as the right ones show up. Grains are a more efficient and safer protien source, though incomplete for us and dogs, but satisfactory when supplemented with animal protiens.

I suppose I could be accused of being led by the blind, but I follow the dog diet used by Guide Dogs for the Blind, which has a substantial investment and interest in the longevity and health of their dogs. They've been breeding, researching and tracking the long-term health of more than 10,000 dogs since 1942 and they're still feeding kibble. Good enough for me.

Sierra Sanders

I think you should do more about pit bulls because a bunch of people like them

x-ray fluorescence

Very nice post.I've read a couple of books stating that wolves can and will feed on vegetable matter - largely berries and other fruit in the autumn, though of course it still makes a very small proportion of their diet...


"The only reason any "expert" would ever say a dog is an omnivore is because he or she is an "expert" in a field other than the taxonomy of a species. No wildlife biologist or zoologist would ever tell you a dog or wolf is not a carnivore."

Being of the order "Carnivora" doesn't make an animal a carnivore. Bears and Raccoons are both of the order Carnivora, but are some of the most successful omnivores out there. Even something in the order Canidae, with dogs and wolves, the Raccoon Dog (or Tanuki, Nyctereutes procyonoides) is very much an omnivore and will eat berries, mushrooms, etc.

As a Biologist, I can say with full confidence that Canines, who are OF the order Carnivora, are Omnivores.


Stephanie, did you read the whole article or just "proof text" that one paragraph? Because I actually make that point -- that "carnivore" does not mean "never eats anything but prey."

I also use a much better example than you did -- the Panda.

I don't mind being argued with over things I DID say, but it ticks me off like woah to be asked to defend things I did NOT say.

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