Dogs and a High Fat Diet

Dogs and a High Fat Diet

dog diet

What is Natural Diet of Dogs?

The other day I found a fascinating research paper about the diet 5 different breeds of modern dogs would select if they were able to decide for themselves what to eat.

The research paper is entitled:

Geometric analysis of macronutrient selection in breeds of the domestic dog, Canis lupus familiari

The researchers took five very different breeds of dog (the papillon, miniature schnauzer, cocker spaniel, Labrador retriever, and St Bernard) and allowed them to choose for themselves the types and amounts of food they wanted to eat. They were offered three different types of food at the same time, a high fat, high protein or high carbohydrate dog food, and allowed the dogs to choose which to eat or allow them to eat a little from each food.

After analyzing everything and crunching the numbers here’s the results of the experiment:

we show that the macronutrient content of the diet was regulated to a protein:fat:carbohydrate ratio of approximately 30%:63%:7% by energy, a value that was remarkably similar across breeds.

The Differing Breeds of Dogs, self selected a very similar ratio of food

the target diet of dogs in our study consists of approximately 30% of energy from protein, 63% of energy from fat, and 7% of energy from carbohydrate.

  • Protein 30%
  • Fat 63%
  • Carbohydrate 7%

The researcher were curious to know if these ratios had been found by any other studies. They found two that closely agreed with the protein part of their findings.

In a 1983 study , dogs that were allowed to chose their own food had self regulated their protein ratio to about 30% of total calories. And a 2003 study, that dogs chose about 27% protein ratio.

So, dogs will automatically chose the same ratio of protein, fat and carbohydrates as long as one of the choices is not high in sugar. If one of the choices is high in sugar the dog will eat much more but will still try to eat the same amount of protein.

The Natural Diet of the Cat

The researchers then looked around to see if there was any other research that showed a species of animal, if given a chance to choose would naturally choose a similar diet.

They found an interesting study in another common animal – the domestic house cat.

The experiment allowed the cats to self-chose and the results were similar to the dog experiement.

The Cat’s Self Chosen Diet

Domestic Tame Cats

52% protein, 36% fat and 12% carbohydrate

The Feral Cats Self Chosen Diet
In another study, free-roaming feral cats (wild versions of domestic cats), the diet chose was:

Wild Domestic Cats

52% ME from protein, 46% ME from fat, and 2% ME from carbohydrate

Tame domestic cats and wild domestic cats, if given a chance, freely chose a similar high protein, high fat and low carbohydrate diet.

And we have to assume that the natural diet for both cats was closer to the wild feral cats. I say this because the experiment itself provided the tame cats with some carbohydrates, but the wild cats didn’t naturally eat carbohydrates because their diet was based on small mammals, birds, fish, and reptiles that they hunted and killed themselves.

Wolves – What do wolves prefer to eat

Dog’s were domesticated from wolves, so what do wolves eat and do wolves naturally pick a diet similar to other wolves? The answer is yes.

Analysis of 50 diets consumed by wolves revealed average nutrient intake of 35.5 g protein, 13.2 g fat, and 0.8 g carbohydrate per MJ ME, which reflects a macronutrient profile of 52% ME from protein, 47% ME from fat, and 1% ME from carbohydrate (Hendriks, 2013).

So why the big difference between the diets of the cat, the dog and the wolf?

Scientists believe it is the diet of the animals ancient ancestors that make the difference in food choices.

The ancestors of modern cat hunted small game and the ancestors of dogs, wolves, hunt larger animals in packs.

The diet of the dog has also changed a great deal because of his long association with man,  the dog was one of the first animals mankind domesticated.

Are You Feeding Your Pet the Diet It Prefers?

After reading this story, look at the label on your dog and cat food. Does it look like these?
We have to realize that dogs and cats are carnivores. They have the teeth and digestive system of their meat eating ancestors. They can tolerate some small amounts of carbohydrates, but a wild dog or a wild cat never lived on wheat flour, or corn meal, or soybean meal.


Wheat flour, water, soybean meal, cereal food fines, corn syrup


ground yellow corn, corn gluten meal, chicken by product meal, soybean meal


corn meal, poultry by products meal, corn gluten meal, soy flour

 “State of Pet Health 2011”

from The Banfield Pet Hospital, you can download a copy of the full report here:

State of Pet Health 2011 Overview

Diabetes in Dogs and Cats on the Rise

“The new report is the largest study of pet health ever conducted, capturing and analyzing medical data from 2.2 million dogs and 450,000 cats from Banfield’s 770 hospitals across the country.”

From the Report:

Diabetes — Since 2006, there has been a 32 percent increase in canine diabetes and a 16 percent increase in feline diabetes cases at Banfield hospitals.

Dental Disease — The most common disease in dogs and cats is dental disease, affecting 68 percent of cats and 78 percent of dogs over the age of 3.

We know a high carbohydrate processed grain diet is directly related to these two conditions.

Most diets cause you to use “will power” to eat less, but this doesn’t work for long for most people. The LCHF (low carb/high fat) diet turns off the “out of control hunger urges” that you’ve struggled with all your life and gives you control, gives you freedom without using “will power”. This will enable to do what is called “intermittent fasting”. Intermittent Fasting or Short-term fasting. You need to learn about this wonderful and easy process of not eating and all the many things it can do to help you lose weight and reverse many of the health issues a high insulin level causes. The most complete source of information on intermittent fasting can be gained all in one convenient book, which I highly recommend. I’ve written a critical review of some of the parts, but I still think “Eat Stop Eat” is the best fasting book you can find at this time. See my REVIEW at this link –

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Information on this site is provided for informational purposes only and is not meant to substitute for the advice provided by your own physician or other medical professional. Individual Results may vary.

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  • R.Aggett says:


    I have just learn ‘t of the LCHF diet, low carb high fat, there ts loads of FREE info just go to The Diet Doctors web page. learn to eat the right foods without hunger.. it means in short no sugar, no bread ,no process food. eat all you can of cream, meat, eggs, butter, veg and so on. I was 22 stone and after two weeks I had lost 8 pounds without calorie counting and no hunger. You eat less and can go without food for ages. I gain nothing from this, just passing on the word.

  • Shelley says:

    Question: How can dogs easily tolerate a high fat diet? Vets across the country say the most common time they treat pancreatitis in animals is around the holidays when they are fed table scraps high in fat.

    My dog has had an episode of pancreatitis b/c I would snack on pork rinds and not thinking about it, gave her one here one there and we ended up with a bout of pancreatitis. Also her triglycerides are elevated. I’ve started feeding a lower fat food and her trigs are lowering. It may be related to the bout of pancreatitis, but it’s been about 8 months now. I’ve always fed what I believe to be a high quality dog food. Plus she eats veggies as a snack.

    Needless to say, I’m confused about dog nutrition.

    • Cassie says:

      Hi Shelley,

      Did you keep feeding your dog high carbohydrate dog food as well as the high fat. If so that will be why he had high triglycerides.
      Notice the ratios above and feed accordingly.
      I have eaten a high fat moderate protein and low carb diet for 6 years and my triglycerides are low.
      Don’t eat high fat and high carbohydrates as this is not good for animal nor human

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