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 the 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.