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A dog digestive system is different than a human’s and therefore dogs process and eat differently than us. This is important to know and understand so that you can feed your dog the correct diet and be aware when something goes wrong.
In humans, the role of the mouth, teeth and saliva play an important part in the digestion of food. In canines, this is not true. Dogs’ mouths are designed to bite off and chew large pieces and to eat quickly. Dogs have hinged jaws and large teeth, meant to ingest large chunks of meat, bones and fat products that are usually a part of the dog diet.
Esophagus to Stomach
Since the mouth is not really a part of the digestive process, per se, the stomach is really more vital to the digestion of a dog’s food. The food passes through the esophagus on its way to the stomach.
Once food reaches the dog stomach it is processed with a high level of hydrochloric acid. This is important because this allows the breakdown of the large pieces of protein and bones that dogs ingest. Dogs also have a natural regurgitation instinct which allows them to spit out food that has not been processed correctly, then to re-swallow it.
Stomach to Small Intestine
After food has been processed in the stomach with the aid of the hydrochloric acid, it then passes through to the small intestine in the form of liquid. This is where the main part of the digestion occurs and where the food is assimilated into nutrients for the dog body.
Small Intestine to Large Intestine
From the small intestine, the unassimilated food passes through to the large intestine. The large intestine is the last stop before the waste is passed through rectum in the form of feces.
The dog actually has the shortest digestive system of mammals and it takes roughly 8-9 hours for the whole digestive process. Of course, that number is smaller for puppies, which do not have the mature system of adolescent and adult dogs.
It all starts with the teeth and jaws
Although many parts of a dog’s digestive system are similar to yours, their functions are just a bit different. For example, your molars are flat, allowing you to grind up your food. Making you capable of eating and digesting just about any type of food. Your dog, on the other hand, is primarily a carnivore, so his back teeth are shaped more like blades. They are used to tear and shred meat. In addition, the dog cannot move his jaw sideways as you can because he does not typically need to grind his food.
Even though it looks like your dog may have fewer teeth than you do, he actually has 42 as compared to your 32. The gaps in his teeth are there to allow him to take in large hunks of meat at one time. His hinged jaw allows him to open much wider than you can. Both of these factors are important because he wants to make sure he gets enough of whatever prey his pack brought down in the wild.
Both you and your dog use saliva to moisten food as it is chewed into small pieces. However, the make-up of the saliva is slightly different. Your saliva contains amylase, which helps to break down starchy foods into sugars before they even leave the mouth.
Your dog, on the other hand, does not have any amylase enzyme in his saliva, so the starches tend to stick to his teeth, causing plaque and tartar to build up. Your dog is much more likely to develop gum disease from the tartar, while humans tend to develop cavities from the sugars.
Your dog’s saliva contains a different enzyme, known as lysozyme, which is important in killing any bacteria that may be present in whatever your dog chooses to eat. Humans, who generally cook their food before eating it, do not have this protective enzyme.
Digestion continues in the stomach
After the food is chewed, it then passes into the esophagus where muscles work in waves to move the food into the stomach. Here we see another difference between human and canine digestion. Although both stomachs use acid to break down food, the dog’s stomach is much more acidic, carrying a pH of about 1, while a human stomach weighs in with a pH between 4 and 5. This is another protective enzyme that allows your dog to eat some really gross things and not get sick. His very acidic stomach kills most of the bacteria found in less-than-fresh roadkill and any other tasty tidbits he may find. The highly acidic environment is also more conducive to digesting bits of bone.
Nutrient absorption from the small intestine
As the food leaves the stomach to pass into the small intestine, it is in the form of a liquid known as chyme. The liver and pancreas secrete digestive enzymes into the small intestine to aid in the breakdown of carbohydrates and fats, and all of the nutrients from the food should be absorbed into the bloodstream before the remaining elements pass into the large intestine.
In the large intestine, bacteria break down anything that has not been fully digested and absorbed, leaving the waste products to be excreted into your yard.
Because your dog’s digestive tract is relatively short and simple, he is unable to fully process large amounts of grains and fiber. These foods simply pass through the dog, leading to more waste for you to clean up.
Compared to you, your dog keeps his food in his stomach for a longer period of time, allowing the acid to break down animal proteins, bones, and fats. This explains why the dog can live with being fed only once or twice a day. He feels full longer because the food remains in his stomach longer.
Once the food clears the stomach, however, the food travels through the rest of the dog’s digestive system much more quickly than it does in yours because the dog’s intestines are only about 5% as long as yours. Food will pass through a canine digestive tract in about a day, whereas it takes up to three days to pass through yours. This is another protective feature to prevent bacteria from entering the dog’s body, but it also means you have to provide food that is easily digestible in order to get the maximum amount of nutrients absorbed in the shortest amount of time.
In fact, vitamin B12 deficiency is often, according to Dr. Vetrano, a symptom of a larger problem; that is, it’s not caused from a poor diet but rather from deficiency diseases that usually can’t be treated simply by having the patient ingest additional vitamin B12. It is often caused by a digestive problem; Dr. Vetrano states that in the case of deficiency the body has a problem absorbing nutrients from food. Vitamin B12 deficiency, rather than being caused by diet, is often caused by Crohn’s disease, celiac disease, and other digestive disorders.
Vegetarians who have heard that they don’t get enough protein in their diets and know this myth is untrue can rest assured that vitamin B12 deficiency is a myth as well. Instead, vegans need to concentrate on eating plenty of healthy raw foods, nuts, seeds, grains, vegetables and fruits. The truth is people don’t have to eat meat or other animal products to survive and thrive. Vitamin B12 deficiency due to a vegan diet is simply a lie that finally needs to be put to rest.
Is it safe for someone with diabetes to follow a vegetarian diet?
Yes! A vegetarian diet is a healthy option, even if you have diabetes. Research supports that following this type of diet can help prevent and manage diabetes. In fact, research on vegan diets has found that carb and calorie restrictions were not necessary and still promoted weight loss and lowered participants’ A1C.
Vegan diets are naturally higher in fiber, much lower in saturated fat, and cholesterol-free when compared to a traditional American diet. The high fiber in this diet may help you feel full for a longer time after eating and may help you eat less over all. When fiber intake is greater than 50 grams per day on a vegan diet, it may help lower blood glucose levels.
This diet also tends to cost less. Meat, poultry, and fish are usually the most expensive foods we eat.
**and here are a few links regarding Diabetes and Vegetarianism…the last two are very good, lots of information….
**and now for some images………
The last image is in regards to veggies, nuts, etc… and their pure protein content.
Well citizens, this concludes today’s post on Vegetarianism and Veganism. This post would’ve turned out to be much longer, but I’m tired, having to downsize all of the info I had gathered to give you the basics, and links for further reading. If I’ve missed anything, please do not hesitate to ask, I’ll do what I can to give you the answer you seek.
Have a good evening, and carry on…
P.S… I almost forgot about milk. All those that are “Lactose Intolerant” and wishing you could be “Normal”. Well, you actually ARE normal. Lactose intolerance isn’t a disease or health ‘issue’, it’s normal. Mammals lose the ability to digest milk properly when they reach adulthood, since they no longer need it. In humans however, the retained ability to process milk properly in adulthood is actually a ‘mutation’. Also, milk primarily consists of pus molecules. Enjoy. 🙂
- Vegetarian diet cuts cancer risk – study (foodconsumer.org)
- Vegetarian / Vegan Myths with Elaine Hastings, RD (elainehastings.wordpress.com)