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Learn : Dog Nutrition Basics

Are Dogs Carnivores?

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Video: Dr. Justin Shmalberg, DVM


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One of the biggest myths is that dogs are carnivores. Domestic dogs are actually omnivores, just like their owners. We can see this when we look at their evolution over time, and the changes in how dogs efficiently digest carbohydrates.

While dogs don't need carbohydrates to survive, there are many studies that have found impressive benefits of including carbohydrates in a dog's diet, which is why we include them in the food over here at NomNomnow. Like humans, dogs need sugar in the bloodstream to contribute to normal bodily functions. When dogs are fed a diet of purely protein and fat (lacking these carbohydrates), excess protein must be converted into sugar to feed the bloodstream. Because digesting proteins and converting them to carbohydrates requires more energy than utilizing a whole food carbohydrates, energy is lost in the process (and protein-packing ingredients essentially go to waste).

This is why our NomNomNow food for dogs includes a helpful balance of carbohydrates in each recipe, so that we can provide the best nutrient blend for your animal and optimize health beyond just what's required. With no filler in any of our meals, you can rest assured that each ingredient offers a unique benefit to your four-legged friend.


Video Transcription:

It is one of the biggest nutritional myths that dogs are carnivores. Dogs, especially domestic dogs, are omnivores. Domestic dogs, when we have looked at their evolution over time, really have changes: one in behavior, which makes them great companions, but they also have changes in how they digest carbohydrates. Like people, they tend to be very efficient at digesting carbohydrates.

They do not necessarily need carbohydrates within the diet, but NomNomNow and other groups find, including the scientific studies, that there are benefits to carbohydrates in the diet. If you think about human diets, a lot of the functional foods are the more interesting foods that have unique nutrients, the things that give vegetables color, the things that give fruits color and flavor.

Those particular compounds are not found in proteins and fats, and they are from which a lot of medicines and dietary supplements are derived. They do some of the unique jobs of whole food nutrition and promoting the health and wellness of the pet. As the result of that, these diets have been carefully formulated with a lot of these unique fruits or vegetables to try to determine what is the best nutrient blend for your animal, not just what is required, but what can assign even better benefits to really optimize health, so these careful inclusions are something that are digested.

They are not fillers in the diet; They are there to provide nutrients and substance. If you were to feed a diet that is just protein and fat, dogs have to have sugar in the bloodstream, as do humans, so we can measure that in the blood. It is something your veterinarian is doing all the time. If you do not provide dietary carbohydrates, the body can make those, but they come from proteins, so excess protein in the diet is not used for the normal functions of the protein; it is converted into sugar to help feed the bloodstream and contribute to normal health.

This actually takes a fair amount of energy, so it costs more energy for the animals to digest that protein and convert it into carbohydrates than it does to give dogs carbohydrates that are minimally processed that also have these benefits. Therefore, unlike cats and other carnivores, dogs should be regarded as omnivores, and our take, and the take of most of the researchers in this area, is that carbohydrates are important. They contribute to health and they can really be used to maximize the overall wellness plan of your particular dog.   


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