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Friday, August 13, 2010

Dogs are carnivores!

I suddenly remembered an argument that I had with a friend (P.S. Anand) in college about dogs being carnivores. P.S. maintained that dogs were omnivores.

As I recall,

My argument: I recalled my dog's vet telling me that dogs were carnivores cos "carnivore" had a technical definition, and it depended on understanding the body of the animal, and at least from the dental patterns of dogs, they were clearly carnivorous.

His argument: I am not too sure of this, perhaps P.S. should clarify, but it was that dogs can eat vegetarian food and survive, so they are omnivores.

I am talking about it today cos I remembered the argument, and suddenly decided to read up more on it. It turns out that there are quite a few arguments in favour of classifying dogs as carnivores. They are the following:

1) Their dental structure is that of a typical carnivore (i.e., no large/flat molars, for grinding plant matter).

2) Jaw muscular anatomy - it permits vertical crunching motion, but not sideways, gnawing motion.

3) The digestive system is rigged towards quick absorption, not for stored slow absorption as would be necessary with vegetable matter.

4) The enzymes and bacteria present in saliva and elsewhere are not geared for digestion of vegetable matter. Vegetable matter loads the digestive system in carnivores and ultimately leads to their early deterioration. This point is somewhat simplified, read link for more details.

Conclusion: a dog can possibly survive on vegetable matter, as can possibly any other carnivore - my guess is the same is true of herbivores, that they can live on meat. But, the body is just not meant to live on such a diet, therefore, in the long run the system will be taxed heavily and it will lead to health issues, and perhaps even (substantially) decreased life-spans.

Relevant Link: Myths about Raw Feeding