It’s easy to forget that dogs evolved from wolves—around 30,000 years ago. With more dog food brands promising diets that link back to the wolf, you might wonder how the food compares to the meals you serve your dog.
Could wolves survive on dog food? Whether you’re just curious about a wolf’s diet or need more information on dog food brands’ promises, we’re here to help. Read on to learn everything you need to know about a wolf and dog diet and how similar they are.
What Do Wolves Eat in the Wild?
Wolves aren’t particularly fussy regarding what they eat; their diet depends on where they live and what is available. The primary nutrients wolves rely on are protein, fat, and carbohydrates which are all energy-dense. This enables a wolf to go longer between meals, which is essential when you’re not guaranteed a meal every day.
Most wolves prefer ungulates, which are large hoofed animals like bison, deer, elk, and moose. They will also eat smaller mammals like rabbits, hares, raccoons, beavers, and rodents. A wolf will consume everything, including meat, organs, and bones, which is a fiber source and protects its digestive tract from sharp bones.
Then there’s fish, like salmon, which they’ll eat during fall when trying to store extra nutrients to prepare for the harsh winter ahead. Wolves also eat birds, such as young or injured birds of prey, or even young or injured predators when food is scarce.
Do Wolves Just Eat Meat?
Some wolves will eat insects as part of a regular diet or if they’re starving. During spring and summer, when there’s fruit and vegetables to munch on, wolves will fatten up to prepare for having pups.
They’ll eat s like apples, pears, blueberries, melons, tomatoes, peppers, seeds, acorns, and morning glories. Wolves will also turn to fruit and veggies if they cannot hunt or there’s a food shortage.
Most of their diet is made up of meat, but wolves will eat what is available to them to survive. They also may occasionally eat grass to help with digestion. Grass will induce vomiting, eliminating any problematic food they may have eaten.
Can Wolves Eat Dog Food?
What dogs and wolves need from their diets are completely different from one another. While a wolf needs to store nutrients because they don’t know when they’ll eat again, your pet dog knows when it will be fed and will let you know when you’re late.
Dog food tends to have fruit and vegetables; while we have noted that wolves will eat these, they’re not necessary. Fruit and vegetables are added to keep your dog fit and slim, which is not something a wolf needs from their food. Commercial dog food also includes grain as a source of fiber, which is not something a wolf would be able to metabolize. Although they could eat kibble if they were starving, wolves prefer meals that require hunting.
What Does This All Mean?
Choosing the ideal dog food can be an overwhelming experience because there are so many brands and recipes. Dog food has been designed to complement the pet dog’s lifestyle, but it’s not suitable for a wolf.
Wolves will overeat—the most a grey wolf can eat, for example, is 22.5 pounds in one sitting, but they then might need to go days or even weeks without another meal.
They might be related, but wolves and dogs aren’t the same anymore. What they need from their diets is completely different from one another. To put a wolf on a dog diet would mean giving it ingredients it has never digested before and doesn’t require.
Of course, all of this is hypothetical unless you’ve adopted a wolf by accident from your local shelter. However, it gives you something to think about in terms of brands that promise a wolf’s diet for your pet dog. If you’re ever unsure about a new diet, ask your vet for some advice!