Dietary requirements for dogs... horses... whatever

Are the dietary requirements for other mammals so far removed from human dietary needs? Are their needs just ours, pared down to their size/weight/activity level? Or do some animals not need… say… B12, or need, I dunno, twice the iron we do…


The diets and nutritional needs of animals certainly differs between carnivores and herbivores. (Omnivores, such as humans, bears, racoons, etc. also have different needs.)

As to specific feeding requirements, books such as the Merck Veterinary Manual, Perry’s Feeds and Feeding, or Kellems’s Livestock Feeds and Feeding are writte4n to provide specific amounts of nutrients for specific breeds, so it appears that each species does have different nutritional requirements.

I know from (enforced) personal experience that sheep require specific amounts of selenium and that other grazing or browsing animals (e.g., horses and goats) also require selenium, but not to the extent that sheep do.

Iguanas are susceptible to vitamin B deficits, particularly B12.

Carnivores, on the other hand, require completely different sets of nutrients. Cats, for example, require taurine in their diet, while dogs do not.

My guess would be that these sorts of differences are pretty typical throughout the animal kingdom.

Stop reading the “Minimum Daily Requirements” labels on your food containers!

Well I can tell you that for rabbits the dietary need for fiber is tremendous, and too much carbs (and almost any amount of refined sugar) will make them sick or kill them.

The rabbits need fiber to move the fur that they ingest while grooming. The preferred fiber is timothy hay, although my rabbit supply place also sells something called ‘brome’ (I do not have a clue what brome is, but bunnies love it!).

I don’t know what the ratio of vitamin needs are for rabbits vs humans, sorry.

brome is just another kind of grass, I think. Horses need lots of fiber/chaff/filler in their diet, with a relatively low amount of carbohydrates. Their digestive systems are designed to always have something moving through it (this is also how they generate body heat in the winter). I think I recall reading that 10-12% protein is the right amount for a working, non-pregnant, non-lactating horse. To much “hot” feed (as hi-carb food is known) can cause a potentially fatal hoof condition called laminitis. So, compared to people, horse need to eat much, much more.