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Dog vs. Wolf; Nutritional Needs

In the Beginning

Most of us can accept that the furry, domesticated canine sleeping quietly on our feet right now is a descendant of the ancient wolf. The wolf is a carnivore, and back in the day when these furious beasts roamed the plains they hunted down and devoured free grazing ungulates (hoofed mammals) such as deer, moose and wild boar i.e. herbivores.

After the mammal was brought down by the wolf pack, the family unit would hold back and allow the alpha male and female to feed on the choicest parts of the animal before the rest of the family ate. The choicest parts to be eaten were always the organ meat; the liver, heart, lungs, brain, stomach and esophagus because they contain the most protein, fats, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants needed to maintain a healthy diet. Therefore their daily fare was meat, and any vegetables they consumed were usually in the gut of the animals they were eating.

Over the millennia, through human domestication, dogs have evolved into omnivores so that they are now able to complement their diet with fruits, vegetables, poultry, fish and some grains that humans eat, says Tufts University’s Cummings Veterinary Medical Center.

What is the Minimum Amount of Protein a Dog Needs Daily?

As a general guideline the average adult dog requires a minimum of 18-27 percent crude protein per day. The Association of American Feed Control Officials requires adult dog food to contain a minimum of 18 percent crude protein on a dry matter basis (meaning what’s left after all of the moisture is extracted from dog food). Growing puppies and nursing mothers require a minimum of 22.5-30 percent of crude protein a day, however older dogs, or those with kidney disorders require less (see your veterinarian about any questions you may have).

Real Meat Protein

However, all dog foods are not equal and only the high end kibble has protein from a real meat source rather than beef or chicken “meal” and protein from legumes (peas). So be sure to check the ingredients in your dog’s kibble to ensure your pup is getting the minimum amount of meat protein for a healthy diet. Of course you can’t beat fresh protein, or protein from a one ingredient dog treat, both of which can be used to supplement your dog’s daily diet.