Understanding how your dog’s digestive system works will go a long way in helping you provide the best diet for him

Understanding how your dog’s digestive system works will go a long way in helping you provide the best diet for him. Dogs have highly specialized digestive systems and are essentially carnivorous and unlike herbivores and omnivores their diet consists mainly of meat.

Herbivores have long digestive tracts and multiple stomachs to aid them in breaking down and fermenting the plant materials they eat. They are able to subsist entirely on vegetables and plant cellulose and have blunt teeth ideal for grinding plant stems and grain.

Omnivores (like us) only have one stomach and the intestines are much shorter than in the case of herbivores. The ability to break down and digest cellulose is limited in omnivores and a need for animal protein exists. Acids and enzymes in the gut of omnivores enable them to digest both plant and animal proteins. The teeth of omnivores are a combination of blunt and sharp teeth ideal for tearing flesh as well as for grinding plants and grain.

Carnivores, to which dogs belong, have the shortest digestive system in mammals. The digestive system of carnivores allows them to break down and digest meat, bones and fat and high hydrochloric content of the stomach aids in further efficient assimilation of meat protein. Carnivores also have sharp teeth designed for ripping flesh.

If you take a look at a dog’s digestive tract, you will find that it is short; it has not been designed for the lengthy process required for breaking plant matter down. A dog will eat vegetables and plants but their digestive systems are not designed to do that.

Dog’s teeth are optimized for ripping flesh and holding onto prey like all carnivores. The molars are designed for cracking bones. If you watch your dog while he’s eating, you will discover that he doesn’t chew, he “wolfs” food down. This is because the stomach content of dogs contains a high concentration of stomach acids that break food down and help with digestion.

In their natural state, wild dogs and wolves are hunting animals and when food is scare they can be opportunist animals feeding off carrion and even insects. Because wild dogs and wolves mostly prey on herbivores, they do get nutrients from the stomach contents of these animals, so essentially they are getting their grain and vegetables in this way, but at the end of the day, these animals live on meat.

Some people when they see their dog eating grass mistakenly assume the dog is supplementing a missing ingredient and assume that dogs are omnivorous. Dogs will eat grass to aid with digestion or when they’re not feeling well sometimes. It could also be reminiscent of how their ancestors ate (remember the stomach content of prey animals).

Because many of the commercial dog foods available contain low levels of protein, they may not be providing your dog with the vitamins and minerals he so desperately needs. This is why more and more veterinarians are now recommending that you feed your dog a combination diet and include fresh meat in his meals.  If you look at the contents and ingredients of most commercial dog food mixes, you will find that the main ingredients are wheat and grain, this is a very unsuitable diet for dogs, remember, dogs are definitely carnivorous animals; you only have to take a look at their digestive system to understand this.

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