Should domestic dogs really eat like wolves?
Bio-appropriate petfoods are often meat-first and grain-free, but are they based on nutrition science?
Despite their long and close association with humans, dogs remain closest genetically to the gray wolf, with whom they share over 99% of their mitochondrial DNA, according to the whitepaper, The Biologically Appropriate Food Concept and the Dietary Needs of Dogs and Cats, from Champion Pet Foods. Just like wolves, all dogs have evolved as carnivores, with anatomical features that clearly adapt them for meat-based diets. Dogs and cats are hunters. The structures of their teeth, jaws and digestive systems scientifically classify them as such, and some petfood companies are formulating diets that represent a new niche meant to mirror the types of foods cats and dogs would encounter in their natural, ancestral environment.
Biologically appropriate petfoods are often rich in protein or meat-first in their ingredient listings, and low in carbohydrates or simply grain-free. The Association of American Feed Control Officials' Pet Food Nutrient Profiles (2010) shows that dogs and cats do not require carbohydrates in their diets, and according to the National Research Council's Committee on Animal Nutrition (2006), "there appears to be no requirement for carbohydrates provided sufficient protein is given."
According to bio-appropriate dog food brand Acana, these five rules reflect biologically appropriate values:
- Meat concentrated formulas -Meat inclusions of 45% to 65% are at the same high levels of meat and meat protein that cats and dogs would encounter in nature.
- Diverse meat ingredients -A variety of fresh meats and fish provides the diversity of proteins and fats essential to the…