Are Dogs Carnivores, Herbivores, Or Omnivores?

Key points

  • Over centuries of evolution, dogs have developed the ability to digest many food groups, including carbohydrates, which technically makes them omnivores;
  • Canine anatomy suggests that these animals are carnivores;
  • Dogs can thrive on well-formulated meat-free diets that contain all the necessary nutrients.
  • Sustainable alternatives, such as insect-based pet food manufactured by Gopetcan, are well-suited for dogs.

Today, more and more people are switching their pets to a raw diet of meat and eggs. The claims behind this are straightforward – since dogs have initially descended from carnivorous wolves, a raw meat diet must be good for them. But is it actually true? This article will look into how dogs have evolved over many centuries of domestication and examine the nutritional needs of modern dogs.

Let’s dive into the history

Fossil finds show that dogs have been living alongside humans for at least 30,000 years. In this time, canines have adapted their behavior and dietary habits to their new lives. During the Late Stone Age, people and dogs ate meat as their primary source of nutrients, while plant-based food and unleavened bread most likely also made up a small portion of the canine diet. During this time, humans evolved from hunters and gatherers to shepherds and farmers and acquired the ability to tolerate both lactose and various types of starch (carbohydrates) in their food. The dogs that accompanied humans also adapted to these nutritional components.

white wolf standing beside black and gray trees

However, some people still believe that domesticated dogs are natural carnivores, emphasizing the fact that dogs descended from wolves. This is why many pet owners choose a raw diet for their furry friends. However, today’s experts still haven’t found a definitive answer as to whether the dog is a carnivore or an omnivore. So, let’s take a closer look at the claims on both sides of the debate.

The omnivore perspective

Intestine size

Compared to plant-based foods, meat is easier to digest. That is why the intestines of most carnivores (for example, lions) are relatively short. Conversely, since plant material is harder to break down, herbivore intestines are significantly longer. Given this information, it is reasonable to classify dogs as omnivores since their intestines are longer than those of carnivores but shorter than those of herbivores.

Wolves consume plant-based foods too

Interestingly, scientists have discovered that the wild ancestors of dogs ate plenty of grains. In addition to consuming occasional fruits and berries, they also had to digest grains found in the stomachs of their prey.

Genetic changes help dogs digest carbohydrates

brown wheat at daytime

Compared to wolves, dogs show significant changes in their carbohydrate metabolism. Unlike their ancestors, they have three genes that encode enzymes responsible for carbohydrate digestion. Their enzyme activity and intestinal glucose uptake are also increased compared to that of wolves.

The carnivore perspective

Coefficient of fermentation

The supporters of the carnivore perspective say it might be more reasonable to consider the dogs’ gastrointestinal systems as a whole instead of just looking at their intestine length. As a result of their ability to ferment plant-based foods, herbivores can extract nutrients from plant matter. Thus, their coefficient of fermentation is very high. In comparison, carnivores can’t ferment plant food, so their fermentation coefficient is low. In fact, both cats and dogs have a low coefficient of fermentation.

Although dogs have adapted to plant-based foods, they are still carnivores

brown wooden round ornament in close up photography

While dog evolution over the past centuries is reflected in a few of their genes, several scientists insist that these changes can only be regarded as an adaptive shift to a condition and not as a digestive evolution of the species as a whole. Dogs still possess plenty of traits that are exclusive to carnivores. For instance, their teeth are shaped to chew meat, not plant-based foods, and they can survive for long periods between meals, just like other carnivores. Plus, many innate dog behaviors are inherently carnivorous. For example, just like wolves, dogs dig holes to hide portions of their meals that they can consume later.

Are dogs omnivores or carnivores after all?

All things considered, much of the research on dog anatomy suggests that dogs are carnivores, but many argue that they are not obligate carnivores like cats. Dogs prefer meat, but once they are hungry, they are also willing to consume plant-based foods.

From a technical point of view, dogs might also be considered omnivorous since they can eat both meat and plant foods. To conclude, dogs probably prefer meat, but they don’t need a meat-based diet to survive.

Vegan dogs – a healthy diet or a dangerous trend?

Why do we even need to consider both sides of the debate? Well, just like humans, dogs need to eat a balanced and nutritious diet every day.

Nowadays, more and more people are going vegan or vegetarian every year. Even though our bodies need a lot of different vitamins and minerals and limited meat consumption can result in a shortage of these nutrients, the food industry produces everything required to make a human plant-based diet complete.

brown and white short coated dog on white and pink inflatable ring

Some health and eco-conscious consumers are also looking for alternative diets for their pets. Despite their popularity, even well-formulated vegan dog food might pose health risks for your dog. However, there is an alternative. Insect-based pet food is a sustainable, eco-friendly, and meat-free alternative to conventional dog food rich in essential nutrients and protein. Insect-based pet food manufactured by Gopetcan is carefully formulated to fulfill each dog’s nutritional needs.

How healthy is insect-based food for my pets?

Sure, sustainable and eco-friendly dog food sounds like a dream. But for most pet owners, their furry friends’ health and general well-being is the deciding factor when selecting dog food. This is why it is vital to ensure that insect-based dog food is not only eco-friendly but also healthy and tasty for our pets.

gray praying mantis micro photography

Interestingly, insect protein seems to be comparable with real meat because it contains all the essential amino acids that dogs need, and it’s also very easy to digest. When it comes to tolerability, insect protein is superior to other protein sources. This is because it’s a relatively new addition to the pet food market; therefore, most dogs have not had the time to develop an allergic reaction to it. Therefore, Gopetcan’s insect-based pet food is an excellent alternative for pets that suffer from food allergies.


Can dogs survive without meat?

Dogs don’t need a meat-based diet to survive. But this does not mean a vegan diet is suitable for most dogs since they still need plenty of protein to remain healthy. Insect-based pet food from Gopetcan is an excellent meat-free, protein-rich alternative for pets.

Are all dogs omnivores?

This is a very controversial question. From one point of view, dogs have adapted to many new nutritional components during their evolutionary process and became excellent at digesting carbohydrates, making them omnivores. From another point of view, the dog anatomy suggests that these pets are carnivores.

Are dogs carnivores or omnivores?

While dogs used to be considered omnivores by many, a lot of research on dog anatomy suggests that they are carnivores. However, domesticated canines are well-adapted to consume plant-based foods in addition to meat.