The k9 digestive system

Although many people attempt to form our dogs into little people; they are not human and our nutritional needs are very different. The way we eat is different and the way we digest is very different. First off the dogs teeth are entirely distinct from the teeth in our mouth. Our teeth are meant for grinding our food; a dog's teeth are meant for tearing and crunching and pushing food back down into the esophagus, and from there down into the stomach where the process begins. Our process begins as soon as the food is in our mouth; through the chewing process we breakdown our food and our saliva starts to predigest. Dogs don't have predigesting saliva.

A dogs mouth is made to get the food down; their bottom jaw is fused making it impossible to grind, it cannot go back and forth. So when our dogs seem like pigs and swallow things down whole, this is because it is how they work. Typically a dog will crunch their food into bite sized pieces that they can swallow down. Other times when they are far too exhuberant they may attempt to swallow down a piece of food that is far too big. This is common practice with my Jack Russell. They may choke for a bit until it goes down or throw it up and give it another go.

Once the food goes into their stomach there is a recognition of food to be digested and a dogs pH level drops down to as low as 1 becoming highly acidic; so acidic in fact that it would literally burn a whole in our skin if we were to touch it. There the digestive enzymes get to work breaking down the food into molecules that the body can use. Once the stomach has digested most of the bulk food it is passed down to the small intestine where the liver and pancreas produce more enzymes for further digestion. From there it enters the large intestine and you know where it goes from there.

Dogs are not meant to eat the way we eat; they have entirely different food requirements and luckily there are a few good dog food companies out there that are heading towards that goal. But as with anything else in our consumer driven world there are far too many just trying to make a buck and are not concerned with our dogs at all. Do your research before you grab a bag of dogfood and if you can buy it at the big box store or the grocery store, you probably shouldn't be buying it.

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