What is a Species Appropriate Diet?
You'll often hear pet parents say that they feed their dogs a fresh, 'species appropriate diet', and wondered...
"What exactly is a species appropriate diet?"
Scientists discovered that the modern dog's DNA differs from its ancestor, the gray wolf, by less than 2%. Modern dogs may look and behave differently than their gray wolf ancestors, but in large part their DNA, digestive systems and metabolisms indicate that they are not all that different from wolves when it comes to the best food for them.
What this means is that ideally most healthy dogs should eat a diet that is fairly similar to the macro-nutrient composition of what a wolf and his cousins would eat; a diet that might include a variety of raw meat and bones, a variety of organs, some fish, some eggs, and some plant matter. This is species appropriate food for the dog - the Canis Lupis Familiaris. Some pet parents who choose this method of feeding try to assemble a raw diet that replicates the whole prey of other wild canines.
In his book, Unlocking the Canine Ancestral Diet, Steve Brown shares that the canine ancestral diet provides 49% of the calories from protein, 44% of calories from fat, and 6% of calories from carbohydrates primarily from vegetables, grasses and fruit. This is significantly different than the typical diet of many kibble-fed dogs whose diets supply 40 - 50 % of calories from highly processed grain or legume based carbohydrates.
Steve Brown also states: "The canine ancestral diet consisted of fresh, high protein, balanced fats, meats, and a smaller amount of fresh fruits and vegetables... this truly can be thought of as the gold standard diets for dogs." (Steve Brown, Unlocking the Canine Ancestral Diet.
It's worth noting that modern farming practices have changed the quality and nutrient profiles of the meat most commonly fed to our dogs, and most raw fed dogs don't consume the entire animal from tip to tail. As a result, we may have to add some other things to our dog's diets to cover their nutritional requirements - and that's a fairly easy thing to do.
A species appropriate diet is the idea that an animal should eat food that nature has designed it to eat: snakes eat rodents, not vegetation; cows eat vegetation, not other animals; and dogs should eat a meat based diet, not a diet that is primarily highly processed carbohydrates and low quality protein.
While every dog is different, every dog can benefit from a diet that is less processed and includes fresh, whole food. We have the ability to directly impact the health and longevity of our dogs with the food that we choose to feed them.
There are no bowls of kibble in the forest. - unknown