What Did Dogs Eat Before Dog Food?

raw dog food

Dogs have come a long way in their food history. Back in the old days, they scavenged or hunted for their meals. In the mid-1800s, the first commercially made dog food was produced by James Spratt.

Manufacturers wanted to give a balanced diet with protein, fat and carbohydrates. It was mainly made of horse meat, cooked grains and vegetables. Gravy from meat drippings was often added for extra nutrition.

Innovations like raw dog food and human-grade dog food came in the 1990s and 2000s respectively. Research is still being done to improve canine nutrition.

Before dog food, dogs had to fend for themselves. Sailing around South America, a ship owner saved some offal wrapped in sailcloth as rations were low. Just like college students, dogs ate whatever they could and hoped it wouldn’t make them sick.

What Dogs Ate Before Dog Food

Dogs have been around for thousands of years. Before dog food, what did they eat? In the wild, they mainly had raw meat and bones. Domestic dogs were fed scraps, offal and grains.

It’s interesting that dog food has changed over time. In ancient Rome, upper-class dogs ate luxurious meals with fancy ingredients. Common dogs ate much simpler foods. During the Victorian era, rich owners could afford good meat, while others had to feed scraps.

So, it’s clear that dogs can adapt to different kinds of food. Nowadays, there are lots of dog food options like kibble or canned food.

Do pet owners think about feeding their dogs in a simpler way? Perhaps returning to a diet similar to what dogs ate before commercial pet foods became popular? Dogs may be man’s best friend, but they would likely prefer raiding the garbage can than having a steak dinner.

Natural Dietary Needs of Dogs

Dogs need complex nutrition from their food. This varies with breed, size, age, activity and health. It must provide protein, fat, carbs, vitamins and minerals. High-quality protein includes meat, fish and eggs. Fats (animal or plant sources) are for energy and immunity. Carbs from whole grains or veg help digestion and blood sugar. Vitamins and minerals should come from fruits and veg.

Before commercial pet food, dogs got food from hunting and scavenging. Plus, scraps from human meals. The National Institute for Physiological Sciences found that a dog’s sense of smell is 10 million times higher than ours. #GoodOldDays

Traditional Food Options for Dogs

Dogs have been domesticated for centuries, and back then, they didn’t have commercial dog food. Instead, traditional food for them was diverse. It included:

  • Raw Meat – like deer and rabbit.
  • Bones and Organs – for nutrients like calcium, minerals and vitamins.
  • Fruits and Vegetables – berries, apples, carrots.
  • Eggs – for protein and Vitamin A.
  • Leftovers – rich in salt or sugar.

Modern-day dog food is different. It includes preservatives and artificial ingredients. Traditional food had nutritional benefits, promoting health.

It’s important to understand your dog’s dietary needs before you choose a meal. Ask a vet about any medical issues/factors before making changes.

Historically, many cultures have fed their pups according to their traditions; soups, bone broth. This promotes better digestive health. Dogs today eat better than most humans, but it wasn’t always kibble and cans.

The Modern Diet

Veterinarians and dog experts know that the diet of dogs has changed over time, just like their relationship with humans. Nowadays, most dogs eat commercial dog food, such as kibble, canned food or raw diets. These foods are designed to meet the nutritional requirements for dogs. However, they may not be the healthiest choice.

Before commercial dog food was invented, dogs ate human food scraps or hunted for their own food. This meant their diets were more natural and varied. They ate meat, bone, and plant matter. Some cultures still feed their dogs like this today.

It’s important to remember that some human foods are bad for dogs. They can cause health problems or even death. It’s wise to check with a vet or animal nutritionist before feeding your dog unprocessed human foods.

Throughout history, humans have shared food with the animals around them. Native American Indians fed their hunting canines jerky-style dry meat. Vikings gave their mastiffs table scraps. Commercial pet food wasn’t introduced until the 19th century in England, followed by America in the early 20th century.

For sure, before kibble was a thing, dogs weren’t eating it.


As a vet and canine expert, I’m sure of this: comprehending dogs’ diets pre-commercial food is necessary for their health and well-being. Back in the day, dogs survived on scraps from their owners’ meals, hunting, or scavenging. This diet gave them nutrients for thriving.

Modern dog food offers balanced nutrition and convenience to pet owners. However, it doesn’t replace the nutrition of fresh foods. Adding fruit/veggies or protein sources like eggs/lean meats can boost the quality of a dog’s diet.

Not all human food is safe for dogs. Chocolate, onions, garlic, grapes, and avocados are toxic. Check with a vet to make sure your pup’s diet is healthy and safe.

Understanding the history of canine diets shows how our relationship with these animals has changed over time. As humans tamed wolves and developed breeds of dogs for special purposes like hunting or herding, their diets became more specific and dependent on us.

Providing your pup with a balanced diet with fresh ingredients supports their health and life in ways that processed commercial food cannot.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is a diet of only meat healthy for dogs?

Dogs are omnivores by nature and can thrive on a diet that includes both meat and plants. However, a diet of only meat may not provide all of the necessary nutrients that a dog needs for a healthy life. It’s important to consult with a veterinarian to ensure that your dog is getting a balanced diet.

Did dogs ever eat raw meat and bones?

Yes, dogs have always been known to eat raw meat and bones as it was a natural part of their diet before commercial dog food was invented. However, there are certain precautions that should be taken when feeding raw meat and bones to your dog to prevent the risk of bacterial infections or choking.

Can dogs eat the same food as humans?

While dogs can eat many of the same foods that humans do, it’s important to know which foods are safe and which foods should be avoided. Foods that are high in salt, sugar, or fat can be harmful to dogs, as can some common human foods such as chocolate, onions, and garlic. Always consult your veterinarian before giving your dog human food.

What are some natural foods that dogs can eat?

There are many natural foods that dogs can eat including lean meats such as chicken and fish, vegetables like carrots and green beans, fruits such as apples and bananas, and grains like rice and oatmeal. These foods provide a good source of nutrition and can be incorporated into your dog’s diet as long as they are prepared properly.

Is it important for dogs to have a variety of foods in their diet?

Yes, variety is important in a dog’s diet as it ensures that they receive a balanced mix of nutrients. Feeding your dog the same food every day can lead to nutrient deficiencies or excesses. By mixing up their diet and including a variety of healthy foods, you can help ensure that your dog stays healthy and happy.

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