The Nature Study

We Support Grains for Dogs – New Study Backs This Up

Nature, a highly cited interdisciplinary scientific journal, recently announced the discovery that novel adaptions allowing early ancestors of modern dogs to thrive on a starch-rich diet was a key step in the dog’s evolution from the wolf. The idea that dogs have evolved to eat starches – a carbohydrate fraction found in foods like wheat, corn and potatoes – is making waves among pet owners, as well as within the scientific community. Why? It challenges the rising belief that dogs should eat a limited diet, one that doesn’t include carbohydrate sources like wheat and corn.


The belief that dogs shouldn’t eat starches has always perplexed nutritionists at Purina, as our decades of research have consistently suggested the opposite. We even recently came out in support of the role of grains in a dog’s diet. Now, there is genetic proof that dogs evolved to eat grains.

This study also brings to light the many ways that genetic research can help us understand the dogs in our lives. At Purina, we do what we can to make this type of research possible. In 1999, we established the first and only Canine Reference Family DNA Distribution Center, which has been providing assistance to top researchers in mapping the canine genome. Now, that genome is helping pet owners understand what separates the dog from a wolf. Pinpointing the dog’s ability to digest starches is one major breakthrough that has come from comparing the two species.

But Don’t Just Take Our Word for It

Read up on other articles that explain why grains are beneficial for dogs.

“A team of Swedish researchers compared the genomes of wolves and dogs and found that a big difference is dogs’ ability to easily digest starch.”


“Our results indicate that novel adaptations allowing the early ancestors of modern dogs to thrive on a diet rich in starch, relative to the carnivorous diet of wolves, constituted a crucial step in the early domestication of dogs.”


“[The Nature study] adds to evidence that dogs should not eat the same food as wolves, says [Robert Wayne, geneticist], who points out that dog food is rich in carbohydrates and low in protein compared with plain meat. ‘Every day I get an email from a dog owner who asks, should they feed their dog like a wolf,’ says Wayne. ‘I think this paper answers that question: no.’”


“Oscar Chavez, director of the veterinary technician programme at Cal Poly Pomona, said the [Nature study] findings served as a reminder that dogs don’t eat like wolves. He said he and his colleagues were befuddled by the trend toward pricey low-carb dog foods and raw diets.”