My dog starts whimpering and drooling whenever we have meat cooking on the BBQ grill.
From the earliest days of their wolf ancestors, meat has been a central part of a dog’s diet.
While meat provides essential proteins and nutrients, is a meat-only diet truly what’s best for your dog?
Dogs are true carnivores and their diets should be planned as such. However, a ‘just meat’ diet for your dog’s health isn’t the most nutritious and balanced diet for its long term well being.
Although meat is a big win for dogs, discover the hidden dangers of a meat-exclusive diet.
Can Dogs Just Eat Meat?
To answer it generally, yes.
Almost every dog I owned has been on a raw diet and was in good health.
A meat-rich diet is important for your dog as that’s where it gets most of its essential vitamins and amino acids.
Commercial dog foods can also be beneficial for your dog but only if you stick with good quality canned food and stay away from kibbles.
Dry dog food is just bad for dogs as it contains too much carbohydrates, fillers and by-products which are not nutritious for your dog.
When you are giving your dog a ‘meat only diet’, there’s more to add to the diet than just meat.
Should I Feed My Dog Meat Only?
Most dogs can survive by just eating meat but that isn’t something that we want for our dogs.
We do not want our dogs to just survive but THRIVE on their daily food intake.
An only meat diet might sound healthy for a dog but it is definitely lacking in some aspects.
When wolves or wild dogs eat their prey, they do not just eat the meat areas of the animal.
They will also devour the other parts of the animal such as its organs, bones and muscle meat.
In order to give your dog a natural diet that is balanced and nutritious, you need to also include other parts of an animal besides meat.
Organs and muscle meat contain important vitamins and minerals such as:
- Vitamin A, B, D, E
Good commercial dog foods are already well balanced and contain what the dog needs.
But if you are feeding your dog a customized or raw diet at home, you need to also include the following:
- Organs (liver, kidney)
- Muscle meat (heart, gizzards)
How Much Organ Meat Should I Feed My Dog?
Do not just start dumping big pieces of animal organs and muscle meat into your dog’s food bowl.
Too much can be harmful to your dog as they are high in calories and fat.
Liver is very high in vitamin A and a diet rich in this vitamin can lead to vitamin A toxicity or Hypervitaminosis A.
Chicken heart is high in cholesterol which can lead to health issues such as pancreatitis and diabetes.
Organ and muscle meat should only compromise about 10-20% of your dog’s daily calories.
Assuming that your dog needs 1000 calories each day, up to 200 calories should come from organ and muscle meat.
Can I Give My Dog Bones?
Many dogs love chewing on bones and it’s totally fine to give your dog bones to consume.
But never give your dog cooked bones as they can splitter easily and injure your dog’s mouth and internal organs.
Only give raw bones to your dog.
If your dog isn’t keen on bones, what I would normally do is pasteurize and grind eggshells to a powder and add some to the food.
This is what I do for both my cats and dogs at home.
What Meat Should I Feed My Dog?
Most dog owners tend to feed their dogs chicken due to cost and ease of availability.
There’s no harm in feeding chicken meat to your dog.
90% of my dog’s meat source is chicken meat and I also add homemade chicken broth to my dog’s food which he loves.
But if your dog is allergic to chicken or has a more adventurous palate, you can try other types of meat such as:
In general, you want to stick to white meat and use red meat (beef, lamb) every now and then to add some variety.
Red meat tends to be higher in fat content which isn’t too healthy for dogs when fed too often.
What about pork?
Personally, I don’t feed a lot of pork to my pets even though it is white meat as it is much higher in fat as compared to chicken.
I would also advise against feeding raw pork to your pets due to the risk of trichinellosis.
Can I Feed My Dog Fish?
Fish isn’t a staple meat for dogs unless they find it in the trash or dead on the river bank.
Some cooked fish is fine as a treat but do not let your dog eat treats such as raw fish head as it contains the enzyme thiaminase.
Thiaminase can hinder the absorption of vitamin B in your dog which can lead to health problems such as weight loss and lethargy.
Cooking the fish will destroy the enzyme and make fish safer for dogs.
Are Dogs True Meat Eaters?
This topic is one that has been debated by both dog owners and veterinarians for a very long time.
Many dog owners firmly believe that dogs in general are true carnivores. But on the other hand, many owners believe that dogs have evolved to be omnivores.
So who’s right and who’s wrong?
As a dog owner myself and one who is very particular about feeding my dog the most natural diet possible, there’s some truth in both beliefs.
The domesticated dogs that we have today have evolved from wolves and they share close to 99% of the same DNA.
To understand your dog’s natural diet, we need to look at a wolf’s diet.
Wolves are first and foremost carnivores.
They hunt live prey and thrive on animal meat that provides them with essential amino acids.
However, when food is scarce, they can transform their diet to that of a scavenger and eat foods that are high in carbohydrates and fiber to survive.
But you wouldn’t see wolves or dogs grazing on grass if they had a choice.
Does That Make My Dog An Omnivore?
To a small extent, yes.
The digestive system of a dog has evolved over the centuries to adapt to a more starch-rich diet.
A study has shown that dogs have more genes that help them digest starches compared to wolves.
This means dogs are better at digesting foods like wheat and rice which likely came about when humans started farming and domesticating dogs.
I do give my dog some plain rice and cooked meat for his meals when he is having a stomach upset.
The ability to digest carbs doesn’t automatically turn a dog into an omnivore.
They are still first and foremost carnivores by nature.
A dog’s digestive system is still made for digesting meat. It is very acidic and can produce 100x more stomach acid than a human’s.
Many dogs are able to eat spoiled meat without much trouble.
Your dog’s teeth are still designed for tearing meat and crunching bone.
They do not have molars for grinding like a pure omnivore.
So please do not start feeding your dog large amounts of plant matter as their main energy source should still come from animal meat and fat.
Why Does My Dog Only Eat Human Food?
Dogs may start to prefer human food due to its richer taste and aroma compared to regular dog food. However, frequent consumption of human food is bad for dogs.
Can I Feed My Dog A Vegan Diet?
Even though dogs can consume plant matter, their main energy source needs to be from animal protein. Too much plant matter can cause health issues in dogs.