Five amazing facts about a dog’s digestive system

Tens of thousands of years ago, dogs found their evolutionary niche as consumers of human waste. And if you are an animal that eats waste for a living, it is better to be equipped with a strong digestive system. Indeed, the dog is a marvel, from the mouth to the stomach to the anus. Here are five amazing facts about the digestive system of dogs:

1. Dogs cannot chew from side to side. The digestive system starts from the mouth and here dogs differ significantly from us. “A dog’s jaw only allows for up and down movement when chewing,” said Dr. Carolyn Jochman, a veterinarian with WVRC Emergency and Specialty Pet Care in Waukesha, Wisconsin. PetMD. “People have side-to-side movement which allows them to grind more food.”

While dogs are omnivores, just like humans, their jaws are very similar to those of carnivores. For shredding and swallowing meat, one-way chewing works well, but eating grains often requires more grinding, and for this you need a more flexible jaw.

2. Dogs’ stomachs are insanely acidic. If you own a dog, you have no doubt seen your dog eat some really disgusting things – animal carcasses, raw meat, feces, etc. Actually get sick. That’s because dogs’ stomach acid is ten times more acidic than humans’ stomach acid, and they produce far more of it. Thus, any potentially harmful pathogen is almost always killed. Acid can even digest most bones. It is a cutting edge feature to support their litter lifestyle.

3. Dogs stomach can also store food. In humans, the stomach is a comparative “breakpoint”. Most foods spend between 40 and 120 minutes there before moving into the small intestine. Not so for dogs. A dog’s stomach is a “staging area” where food can be held for up to twelve hours and released into the intestine as needed (depending on the puppy’s activity level) where it is absorbed to provide energy. This, too, is likely an evolution from the dogs’ days as predators and scavengers before we started petting them. It allowed them to comfortably carry longer times between meals.

4. Dogs have fast guts. The intestines of a dog are much shorter than that of humans, and food that enters from the stomach moves much faster, only six to eight hours compared to twenty to thirty hours for a human. Again, this is a hallmark of a more carnivorous lifestyle.

5. Dogs don’t really need fiber. Dietary fiber is the part of plant-derived foods that are not broken down by the digestive system. Although this gentle definition may not make fiber seem that important, adequate intake is vital for humans. Fiber “cleanses” the intestines, so to speak, significantly reduces constipation, and provides nourishment for the microbes in our intestines. Eating a lot of fiber has a huge impact on human health.

On the other hand, dogs don’t seem to need it. They have no problems with colon cancer, which fiber prevents in humans, and generally everything moves through their intestines easily. Only if your dog has stool problems or issues with weight management, your vet may recommend a high-fiber dog food.

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