Dogs and humans have always been connected through what we eat. Ever since wolf-like canids began their journey of domestication by our ancestors to eventually become beagles and bichon frise, over 20,000 years ago, our relationship with dogs has been food-based. It is widely accepted that proto-canines first began to associate with us because we were a reliable source of food. Eventually, we found there were other benefits from living together: as guardians, as hunters, and as companions.
Should dogs eat like wolves? Remember that dogs, whether through incidental domestication or intentional breeding, are not wolves but a unique species that has developed alongside humans. Dogs are not true predators. Sometimes bred to hunt, track, and control pests, but dogs hunt for us, not themselves. Dogs have for millennia, unlike wolves, depended on us for food.
We share a special history with dogs, as they are by far the earliest domesticated animal, preceding the development of organized agriculture by thousands of years. So, the diet of canis familiaris has evolved together with ours, as coexisting omnivores. We have, simply put, grown up at a shared table.
The first “biscuit dog food” became available in the US in the late 19th century. By the post-war 1950s, large companies had learned to capitalize on the meat by-products industry as an economical and convenient way to service a booming companion pet market, marking the advent of dog food as we know it. These products were not – and still are not – made prioritizing the nutritional needs of our pets’, as is commonly believed, but rather for reasons of economy and shelf life. Early pet food brands cleverly marketed the notion of “dog food” as opposed to “people food”. Both are, of course, simply food, differentiated mainly by the quality and provenance of their ingredients. Today, typical commercial pet food remains the domain of a few massive corporations.
What did dogs eat during the 15,000 years between early domestication and the emergence of commercial pet foods in 1950s America? They ate what we ate, naturally.
So should we feed our dogs “people food” after all? Yes, and no. Many of the foods we consume are bad for dogs for the same reasons that they are bad for us; sugar, excessive fat, salt, and general imbalance. We have simply developed the metabolism to deal with these whereas dogs have not. We also choose to beat our bodies up with things that are bad – but are pleasurable – to us.
The nutritional requirements of people and dogs are not the same. Most of the core sources of proteins, fats, minerals, and vitamins, however, that are beneficial to us, are beneficial for dogs too.
Eating natural, whole foods is good for you, me, and our dogs. Real food is better for all of us than processed food. Intelligently-considered diets comprised of appropriate ingredients provide the best solution for your dog’s health and longevity.
Whether you prepare your dog’s own food, seek a qualified local fresh food brand, or whatever food you choose to offer your furry family members, remember that your decisions do make a doggone difference.
*Dan Christensen is the co-founder of Penny’s Food Studio, China’s first company providing fresh food and products for dogs and cats
WeChat ID: PennysStudio
Contact the author at email@example.com
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