You often hear from veterinarians and others in the pet food industry that our pets have evolved through hundreds of years of domestication but what is truth and what is fiction? From a genetic, physiological or anatomical perspective, what has really changed and is it for the better?
Let’s take diet as the first example. We are being told that our pets (dogs and cats) have evolved from carnivores to omnivores and are able to live and thrive on processed, carbohydrate-based dry foods. My first question is this, how has their digestive systems changed physiologically and when was this discovered? Since dry kibble pet foods were not even invented until the extrusion process was developed in 1955, are we to believe that the digestive system completely changed in less than fifty years. And if that was even possible, why has the classification of dogs and cats been officially changed? Also, have any of the key components of the domestic dog changed that dramatically from that of its’ wild brother, the wolf? The answer is no!
My second point is that dry kibble is found nowhere in nature. No animals in nature eat biologically dead, processed, cooked food. They eat raw food every day, every time. All the nutrients are in that raw food. Wild animals never buy supplements or vitamins in nature. They seek out foods that will supply them with the essential nutrients they need.
So, did our pets also evolve into developing cancer? How about dental problems, allergies, hip and joint issues including any of the hundreds of diseases and conditions we have seen ever since we started exclusively feeding processed pet foods as opposed to real, biologically appropriate diets? How do wolves, fox, coyotes, dingoes and other wild canines survive without vaccines, preventive drugs or modern medicine? Has our modern pet truly evolved into a needy and dependent animal? If this were true then why can our dogs and cats go from being quiet house pets to feral hunters and survivors in only weeks?
What about the genetics of our pets? Our domestic dogs can breed with their brothers and sisters, the wolf. This means that the genetics has not changed. Any evolution would create a problem here. They would not be able to procreate.
Yes, we see anatomical differences because of selective breeding for very specific traits but don’t we see that in nature? What about the biggest buck deer having great sets of antlers or the silverback gorilla being the dominate male. Albino and other unnatural traits end up being another animals’ meals as opposed to being protected by our system of animal care.
The truth is that our current system of animal care often produces weaker animals as part of the pet population where nature handles it differently. Our increasing use of unnatural diets, synthetic drugs and artificial nutrients all have a negative effect on our pets, often cutting their natural life spans by fifty percent or more.
No, pets have not evolved but rather, are adapting to our intrusive, unnatural environment and are simply trying to survive instead of thriving to their fullest potential.