NPR featured a recent study that showed that domestic dogs are genetically optimized to digest carbohydrates, unlike their wolf ancestors. This is cool; it seems to fall in line with what many biologists are now thinking- that dogs weren’t intentionally domesticated by people, but rather domesticated themselves by adapting to living near humans, and living off of the human waste stream.
It further explains why dogs can do at least ok, if not thrive, off of kibble, which is largely made up of grain sources. Wolves cannot: when fed dog kibble, they decline in health, and ultimately cannot reproduce. Wolves require a diet high in animal proteins to fuel their big frames and large brains.
For those of us who make dog food at home, this is helpful new information. Many people have felt compelled to mimic a wolf’s diet, thinking that they should return to what’s biologically appropriate for a dog’s ancestors to best feed the dog. But reproducing the high-meat diet of wolves is expensive and difficult! This gives new credence to the idea that including grain in most dogs’ diets is fine, if not optimal for the typical dog. It’s certainly much more affordable and feasible than doing a mostly-meat diet.