4 min read


Can Dogs Live on Just Meat?



4 min read


Can Dogs Live on Just Meat?


Dogs are well-known carnivores, but does that mean that you should stick to feeding them just meat?

In fact, dogs actually need nutrients that come from plants. Many people don’t understand how wild animals would get those nutrients as carnivores, but there is actually a simple solution. Many wild carnivores hunt down prey that are either vegetarians or omnivores. This means that the contents of the prey’s stomach is likely to contain plant material. 

After the hunt, a wild dog will eat the stomach, including its contents of partially digested grains and plant matter. This means that dogs can’t be healthy when they just consume meat you purchase from the grocery store.


Signs Dogs Can't Live Off Just Meat

When it comes to basic health, your dog will display certain symptoms when they aren’t getting the nutrients they need from their diet. Unfortunately, a meat-only diet isn’t a good option for pet dogs. Dogs need a variety of different minerals and vitamins to stay healthy—much like humans. This means that meat can’t be the only food in a dog’s diet.

Malnourishment occurs when dogs don’t get all the nutrients that they need to stay healthy, and dogs that don’t get any carbohydrates or fruits and vegetables are often malnourished. The protein and fats found in meat are good for your dog, but when they are the only things consumed, your dog isn’t getting all they need to stay healthy and happy.

Instead of putting your dog on an all meat diet, consider coming up with a balanced diet that will provide your pooch with all the nutrients it needs. A consultation with a veterinary nutritionist can help you develop a nutritionally sound diet for your pet. It is important that you feed your dog a diet that provides them with everything that they need.

Body Language

When it comes to an unhealthy diet, your dog may give you signs that they are unsatisfied with the foods that they are receiving. Here are a few of these signs:

  • Weakness
  • Drooling
  • Lack Of Focus
  • Sweaty Paws

Other Signs

More signs that your dog isn't getting everything they need include:

  • Weight Loss
  • Poor Coat Quality
  • Lethargy

History of Dogs Eating More Than Just Meat


Many people point to historical evidence that dogs are naturally carnivores to justify that dogs can live off just meat. Unfortunately, these people don’t have the full story behind a wild dog’s diet. In the wild, dogs hunt and kill prey. This has lead many people to believe that all dogs get in their diet is meat.

It is true that a dog’s digestive system is built to process meat, but not grains and other plant matter. That doesn’t mean that dogs can’t eat and get nutrients from plant materials that are already partially digested, which is how the plant materials in an animal’s stomach will be when a dog eats it.

Dogs are also known for eating just about anything. In the wild, dogs are opportunists, and they will eat whatever they can get their hands on.

To keep your dog healthy, you will want to focus primarily on meat in your dog’s diet, but that doesn’t mean that fruits, vegetables, and grains should be completely left out. Refined grains should be avoided, but whole grains like flaxseed that have been sprouted can be good for your dog. You can also include a variety of fruits and vegetables such as blueberries, bananas, spinach, and sweet potatoes.

Science Behind Dogs Being Unable to Live Off Just Meat


In the wild, dogs are considered carnivores, because they live on a diet primarily made up of meat. But one factor that isn’t considered is that dogs eat animals that survive on plant matter. This means that wild animals are getting other materials in their diet in addition to the meat.

Since a dog’s body isn’t made to digest grains and other plant matter, it is also important to take note of the way dogs are able to absorb the nutrients from the plant matter they get from their prey. In these circumstances, the plant matter has been partially digested, so dogs are able to get the nutrients they need from the grains.

Training Your Dog to Eat Their Food


It is not advised that you attempt to make your dog live off of only meat. Not only do dogs require additional nutrients to live healthy lives, but your dog is also more likely to develop other health issues. Instead, you should work with your veterinarian to come up with a more appropriate diet for your pooch. If your dog doesn’t seem to enjoy its food, maybe there is a better option out there.

If you are planning on making your dog’s food, you will want to meet with a veterinary nutritionist. A nutritionist can show you the amount of each type of food your dog should be consuming each day. While your dog’s diet should contain mostly protein from meat, there are ways to incorporate rice or other grains, as well as vegetables and fruits.

Remember to make any diet changes for your dog slowly. Disrupting your dog’s diet can cause gastrointestinal distress for your dog, so you need to be cautious during this process. The more gradually you can change your dog’s food, the less likely your pooch is to have bowel problems such as vomiting or diarrhea.

Keep in mind that some dogs have food allergies or sensitivities—often to meat. If you notice that a particular food seems to be troubling your pet, you should consult with a veterinarian. If your vet believes that your dog is allergic to something, they will create a diet for you, and you will need to follow it strictly to see if your dog does better without the suspected allergen. In some cases, your dog will still be getting sick, which means that you and your vet will need to try again.

No matter what, always be in tune with your dog’s needs. If your dog seems to feel ill, you should take your time to find a way to feed your pet in a way that makes them feel good.

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Safety Tips for Changing Your Dog's Diet:

  1. Follow the advice of a veterinarian.
  2. Be sure to make changes gradually.
  3. Monitor you dog throughout the transition process.

Written by a Pomsky lover Chelsea Mies

Veterinary reviewed by:

Published: 03/31/2018, edited: 04/06/2020

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