roguewoman, I don't think you understand what an omnivore is. Simply stated, it is an animal that eats both meat AND vegetables. While it's true that you can get a good idea of what an animal eats from the size, shape and number of teeth it has, it is much more involved than that. For example, the forward facing eyes on a cat allow it to see and judge depth, something that is needed in a true carnivore. A dog is not a true carnivore. Although a dog needs more meat than vegetables, it DOES need vegetables for fiber and other nutrients in order to maintain correct metabolism and ph. A cat can live on meat alone.
***Edited By: catlover on 9/16/2006 10:44:54 AM*** Reason: x
well, now i'm confused. I just sat through a lecture last week telling me that dogs are omnivores and that only cats and ferrets are true carnivores. My instructor (yes, she is a Vet) went on and on about the tooth structure in dogs and the lenght of their intestines, etc, etc... So, now I don't know who to believe anymore.
Imsdac-your lecture was correct. Dogs can get very sick if they are fed a diet of only cat food, because cat food is much too high in protein for a dog's needs. I read somewhere (forget the source right now) that dogs digest about 12% of the protein in their diet, vs cats, that digest about 20%. But basically, dogs need protein, obviously. But they can't live on meat alone. They have other dietary needs in order to have healthy, well balanced meals.
So, then that makes them an omnivore? I've done a bit more reseach on the veterinary websites and it almost seems that not even the experts can come to a consensus on this.
I believe the best definition that i have found at this point is that they are neither carnivores nor omnivores but rather an "opportunistic omnivore" - This means they eat a variety of foods when available. In the wild, wolves and coyotes will eat what they can catch, including many small animals and some larger game. They also consume vegetable matter including grasses, berries and other fresh material, plus predigested food found in the digestive tracts of their vegetarian prey. Therefore, the most natural diet for a dog is raw meat, eggs, bones, and fresh vegetables and fruit.
You're right, experts don't agree, but the "experts" I've read that classify dogs as omnivores do so only based on an opportunic wolf diet, not on optimum diet or anatomical facts. Cats will raid the garbage of breads and vegetables as much as dogs, if given the opportunity. Here are some anatomical facts about dogs:
Dogs are carnivores and have a short, simple digestive tract designed to eat animal protein and fat. The method for determining what category an animal falls into is by physical attributes. Some typical features common to carnivores are a large mouth opening, a single hinge joint that lies in the same plane as the teeth, and a large primary muscle on the side of the head for operating the jaw. The teeth are short and pointed, made for grasping and shredding. These teeth come together to give a cutting motion and act like shears. The teeth and mouth of the carnivore are developed to swallow food whole, not for chewing or crushing.
Carnivores do not have digestive enzymes in their saliva. Humans have amylase, which helps to begin to break down complex carbohydrates. The dogs' digestive tract is one-third to one-half the length of an omnivore. This shortness is designed for adaptation for quick, muscular digestion of raw meat and bones. Carnivores have a much higher concentration of hydrochloric acid in the stomach for the break down of proteins and to kill any dangerous bacteria. Their stomach acidity is less than or equal to pH 1 with food in the stomach, while humans have a pH 4 to 5. This raises the question of what is the best food for carnivores, according to the digestive tract and physiology. Dogs, as carnivores, have difficulty digesting grains and other complex carbohydrates. With the lack of digestive enzymes in the mouth, complex carbohydrates are not predigested, and take a long time to break down in the stomach, and small intestine, if they break down at all. Most of the complex carbohydrates pass through undigested, and create large stools in the dog.
It is interesting to note that dry dog foods are mainly cereal, consisting of a large part of corn, wheat, rice and soy. While dog food companies would have you believe that grains are a good source of protein, the fact is that dogs have a very difficult time digesting and utilizing protein from carbohydrates. Studies show dogs do best on animal protein, and the higher the quality, the better the protein is assimilated. The poorer quality proteins create stress on the dogs' kidneys and it makes proper nutritional digestion difficult.
Don't get me wrong, I don't feed my animals the crap foods that a lot of the vets promote. Both my cats and dogs eat Natural Balance.
I do agree that corn, soy and wheat are difficult to digest for dogs. When I mentioned that dogs are opportunistic omnivores, I meant that they eat vegetation along with meat.... corn, soy and wheat are are starches (complex carbohydrates), not vegetables.