What do Dogs Eat in The Wild?

There are different types of “wild” dogs, like stray dogs, free-ranging dogs, feral dogs, and dingoes. The kind of diet they prefer to eat varies from one type to another. 

In most cases, they simply eat what they find that is both readily available and edible. The diet that dogs eat in the wild is the most biologically appropriate diet. 

wild dog

It’s typically composed of small and large animals, vegetables, fruits, herbs, bugs, and trash. Sometimes they eat dead animals; other times, they prey on live animals. 

In fact, dogs have pretty good hunting capabilities, similar to their wild ancestors, wolves. Fresh fruits and vegetables provide them with the required vitamins and nutrients and keep them healthy. 

7 Most Common Things Dogs Eat in The Wild

1: Animals

The most common food choice of wild dogs is other animals. As dogs are primarily carnivores, the main source of their diet is meat from other animals. 

This could include small animals like rabbits, mice, voles, squirrels, chipmunks, and so forth. It could also be larger animals like pigs, sheep, and goats. 

Other animals like geese and ducks could even end up as a hungry wild canine meal. Dogs like to prey in packs; because of this, the animal gets caught easily. 

Most of the time, they attack already injured ones, who are unlikely to be able to escape. In addition to that, they sometimes eat already dead animals. 

Dead animal carcasses or “roadkill” are an essential source of food. The remains of animals are left all around. Oftentimes, these animals are killed by passing cars on nearby roads. 

True to their wild nature, these dogs will typically gnaw everything down to the bone, feasting on the insides.

2: Vegetables

Dogs may prefer to be carnivores, but unlike cats, they are not obligate carnivores. This means that they can and do eat vegetables. Wild dogs search for rotten vegetables. 

In their search, they will even dig up the soil to find underground veggies and eat grasses and herbs. 

We could not figure out 100% that wild dogs prefer plant stalks and leaves, but they like consuming leafy green plants. Wild dogs are also scavengers. 

They eat the leftovers from the animals that are killed or died. They also eat the semi-digested contents of veggies from their prey’s stomach. 

It is also possible that a few breeds of wild dogs do not eat vegetables consciously, but they end up having grass or leaves in their stomach inadvertently. 

For instance, a dog may pick up a mouthful of grass while eating a dead squirrel on the grass.

3: Feces

A leading proponent of natural feeding, Ian Billinghurst, reported that wild dogs receive valuable nutrients from sources that we humans find repugnant. 

This includes things like trash, vomit, feces, and other decaying objects. Though this might be revolting to us, it’s not against canine nature.

Even veterinarians consider eating feces a regular habit. The term that is used to describe this specific behavior is “canine conspecific coprophagy.” 

Feces contains the living and dead cells of millions of bacteria. Not all bacteria are harmful; a few of them are beneficial for the proper digestion of nutrients.

Moreover, they are an excellent source of fatty acids, proteins, antioxidants, enzymes, and fat-soluble vitamins. 

In the wild, where dogs need a constant supply of minerals and nutrients to stay healthy and face a constantly challenging environment, it has become part of their survival activity.

4: Bugs

Another creature that dogs enjoy eating is bugs.  As bugs are abundant in wood, it should not be surprising that feral and stray dogs include them on the menu. 

The best thing is that most bugs are not harmful to their health. They prey on relatively low and easy-to-catch bugs that can’t easily escape.

Their insect menu includes mostly beetles, roaches, caterpillars. However, wild dogs also get trained with time to attack flying bugs flying within their snapping range. 

Snacking on an insect is fine and harmless. Even though it sounds disgusting to us, for them, it’s more like a hunt and reward situation. 

This idea is supported by the British Veterinary Association (BVA) as well. They claim that consuming some insects may be better for dogs than prime steak. 

Insect meals are low in fat and calories, yet provide protein.

5: Fruits

Just like vegetables, fruits are readily available to wild dogs. 

Many fruits are popular among wild-living dogs, such as peaches, mangoes, and pears—other popular choices are wild fruits like blackberries, persimmons, cherries, and raspberries.

As with every changing season, Mother Nature blesses us with a new set of fruits. Wild dogs won’t go to sleep on an empty stomach, since there are so many ready for the picking.

In general, they prefer to eat rotten fruit. Fruits are a rich source of vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates; meaning they’re a fulfilling meal not only for humans but also for animals. 

For example, apples are an outstanding source of vitamins A and C and fiber. It makes them a perfect snack for senior dogs. They’re also low in fat and contain protein.

Another example is bananas. They are rich in vitamins, biotin, potassium, copper, and fiberwhile being low in sodium and cholesterol. 

6: Trash

This is not an everyday food item or something that one can add to the menu for their dogs. Still, it’s undeniable that garbage is a common food source for dogs in the wild.

With every passing day and year, we are adding more and more trash to our environment. Food leftovers are mostly tossed and thrown away. Some people dump them in the woods near their premises.

 Furthermore, trash may build up over time due to the activities of wild animals. Wild dogs will naturally take advantage and find food in the trash.

Trash could contain fruit and vegetable peelings, meat, or dead animals as well. As trash starts decomposing on its own, it houses several different types of bacteria as well. 

In other words, seemingly useless trash can provide wild dogs with a solid meal. 

At the same time, trash can have sharp glass pieces and plastic content, which could be toxic to a dog’s health.

7: Fish

In the wild, where a pond or lake can be easily found, dogs can eat fish as well. While it’s not extremely common, this does occur.  Fish is part of a healthy diet for wild dogs. 

It is rich in protein and a healthy alternative to other protein sources if wild dogs can’t find any other way to meet their body’s protein requirements. 

Besides that, fish is a good source of omega-3 fatty acids. It will also help the wild dogs fight any kind of inflammation in their bodies, as they do not have an owner to bring them to the vet. 

Wild dogs like the smell of fish and they can easily catch it from shallow water. Sometimes dead fish are thrown onto land by the tides.

As wild dogs feed on raw fish, however, their brittle and small bones can be dangerous for them.

Takeaway

Most dogs are foodies by nature. They enjoy eating different varieties of food. By contrast, dogs in the wild have less choice and must find ways to avoid going hungry all on their own.

Additionally, to survive in a competitive environment and protect themselves, their diet has to be nutritious enough to keep them going.

Wild dogs generally prefer to get their proteins from small and large animals, insects, and fish. Fruits provide them with an instant source of energy to stay energetic throughout the day. 

They also occasionally consume trash and feces, something that pet owners would never allow for their pets.

In short, dogs in the wild have vast food options on the menu filled with minerals and required proteins. 



Written by Bryan Rucker

Brian Rucker has been a dog lover since childhood. He has had his Lab Mix with Hound for over 10+ years now! They enjoy playing outdoors together. Brian loves sharing his knowledge about all things dog on this website. Read more of Bryan's articles.