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Are Dogs Omnivores? A Veterinarian Tells All!

Blindfolded dog with a plate full of meat and a plate full of veggies in front of them

When feeding your dog, you may wonder if they need just meat or a mixture of meat and vegetable. Most dogs need to eat both plants and animals. This is article will explain what dogs need to eat and how we know this.

Are dogs omnivores?

Yes, dogs are omnivores. This means that their food comes from both plant and animal origin. Many people think that dogs are carnivores meaning that they just eat meat, but they also benefit from plant material too. This is not only limited to just our domesticated dogs but also many wild dogs, like wolves, are as well.

How can we tell?

There are many ways that we know that dogs are omnivores and need to eat both plant and animal products.

  1. Intestinal size. The length of the intestines is longer than a carnivore. This length makes it easy to digest and pass grains
  2. Wolves also eat grains. Wolves are ancient ancestors of the dog, and they have been seen eating berries and the grain content in the stomachs of their prey. This indicates that members of the canus family are omnivores.
  3. Genetically predisposed. Recent studies have shown that dogs have genes in their DNA that help break down starches and glucose.
  4. Dogs are still more carnivorous. Dogs still need meat as their main ingredient. A dog's teeth are ideal for eating meat. These teeth are used to shred the muscle as well as grind up the bone. Dogs also produce highly acidic stomach chemicals that are needed to break down plant material. Since they can create this enzyme, they can benefit from the plant-based materials.

Common diets

Small Terrier Eating A Watermelon in a yard

Most of the popular commercial dog food diets contain both plant and animal proteins. These are great diets to feed to your dog. Most dog food will provide mostly meat with grains and vegetables making up the rest of the dog food.

Dogs at first were designed to just eat meat but they have evolved over time to process grains, fruit, and vegetables just fine. When feeding your dog fruits and there are lists of good fruits and vegetables to feed them. Good fruits to give your dog are:

  1. Banana
  2. Apples
  3. Blueberries
  4. Blackberries
  5. Cantaloupe
  6. Oranges
  7. Kiwis
  8. Cranberries
  9. Pumpkin
  10. Strawberries

What is the ideal diet?

Triangle dry dog food in a stainless steel bowl

The ideal diet for your pet is something that is completely balanced. This means it will contain all the added vitamins and minerals that your pet needs. When you go to the pet food store, there are endless options for you to choose from. By spending a few minutes to look at the ingredient list on the back of the bag, you can pick out excellent pet food for your dog. A dog’s diet should be made up of:

  • High-quality meat protein
  • High in natural fats and oils
  • Low in carbohydrates
  • Formulated from an animal source
  • No added preservatives, artificial flavoring or coloring
  • Complete in all essential vitamins and minerals

When picking a diet, make sure that the dog food contains an AAFCO statement. This statement will say that this dog food is formulated to meet the nutritional levels established by the AFFCO dog food nutrient profiles. This will let you know that this is a balanced diet for your dog.

Supplements you can add to a dog’s diet

Small Terrier with a bone in its mouth in the grass

Depending on the breed of dog you have or what health problems they have, there are supplements that you can add to their diet to help increase their quality of life.

Salmon oil

Salmon oil is a great supplement to add to your pets' diet. This is very high in Omega 3's. Omega 3's are great for your pets' joints as wells as skin and heart. If you have a large breed dog or one who is suffering from joint problems, Salmon oil is a great supplement to add to their diet.

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Coconut oil

Coconut oil is excellent to give dogs who have skin allergies. This is also a good thing to add to their diet daily to keep their coat shiny and smooth. Coconut oil has been shown to help decrease skin disease in dogs and make the skin healthy. This is a great supplement to use daily to help prevent allergic skin disease.

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Turmeric is also a great supplement to give your dog daily. This supplement has been shown to have the following benefits:

  • Have anti-inflammatory properties,
  • Relieve pain, aid in digestion,
  • An all-natural detox agent,
  • Help treat allergies,
  • Treat epilepsy
  • Treat liver disease,
  • Improve heart health,
  • Aid in fighting cancer

With all these added benefits, this is a great supplement to give your dog every day.

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Since dogs have evolved to eat both plant and animal products, they are considered omnivores. Feed your dog a well-balanced diet with any added supplement that they need. This will ensure that your dog will live a long and healthy life.

Meet The Author 

Dr. Sara Ochoa DVM


Since she was a little girl, Dr. Ochoa knew that her dream was to become a veterinarian. With a tremendous passion and love for animals, she is now a great source of knowledge for others. Dr. Ochoa lives happily with her husband Greg and her babies: Ruby the Schnoodle and Bam-Bam the bunny.

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