Old bone finds from Siberia show that dogs can eat without meat.

Ob Dachshund or Great Dane, most dogs in this country live on packaged food, produced in many variations especially for them. According to the industry association for pet supplies, sales of dog food grew by seven percent to 1.677 billion euros in stationary retail alone in 2021. The “Snacks” area was particularly successful with a plus of twelve percent. But very few of the estimated 700 million dogs that currently live on earth have it that luxurious. Most of them cannot rely on a reliably filled food bowl, they do not have a permanent master or mistress. Instead, they roam more or less far in search of food. They often eat what is considered waste among humans.

This canine pragmatism is undoubtedly the result of a long coevolution with humans, stretching back to the Paleolithic. The prospect of food may have played a crucial role from the start: when wolves overcame their shyness and dared to go near Stone Age hunters, they were probably after gnawed bones and other remains of rich prey. There was still a long way to go before domesticated wolves became dogs that guarded house and yard. In the society of farmers, for example, a gene for amylase proved to be particularly advantageous. This is because the enzyme produced in the pancreas can break down starch into individual sugars. Dogs that had extra copies of this gene through a mutation benefited from being able to digest porridge or bread made from grain better.

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