A dogs digestion plays a crucial role in its health. It is from here that the blood will carry nutrients and oxygen, to every last cell in a dogs body.
Human digestion begins in the mouth. A dogs digestion begins in its stomach. All the enzymes in their system are geared toward breaking down raw meat in the stomach. By scientific definition, a dog was created a carnivore.
It takes between 4 to 5 hours for a dog to digest raw meat and receive the energy from that food into the system. It takes almost 9 hours for a dog to digest semi-moist processed food. Dry dog foods can take up to 16 hours to digest. Because of this, it is best not to feed dried dog food late in the evening.
A dogs digestion is the center on which all other body systems depend – it is the first line of defense. If a dog’s food is not digested and assimilated properly, due to malabsorption, all other body systems will suffer.
Enzymes are needed in a healthy diet to enable a dogs body to function properly. The two main types of enzymes most important to a pet’s well-being are metabolic and digestive enzymes – Metabolic enzymes function throughout a pet’s body to help carry out the critical bodily functions of building and maintaining every cell, tissue and organ. Digestive enzymes work in the stomach and intestines to break down the food a pet eats.
A pet’s body depends on enzymes in their digestive track to unlock vitamins, minerals, and other important nutrients from the food so they can be absorbed.
When a dog’s digestive tract is healthy and working properly, it will absorb vitamins, minerals and amino acids. It will also prevent substances such as undigested food, bacteria, viruses and the waste products of metabolism, from entering the blood stream.
All of these important functions depend on good dog digestion. These necessary processes for health, will not happen if the intestines become permeable ( having microscopic size small holes) due to inflammation and malabsorption. This is called Leaky Gut Syndrome, and yes, dogs can suffer from this too.
Since a dog’s digestive system is so long, most of its Immune System lives here. So it follows that if digestive function is impaired, so will Immune function be impaired. A healthy canine immune system will make its own antibodies to fight off an invasion by a germ, virus or bacteria.
An important part of proper Immune function is the good bacteria which lives in the Gastro Intestinal tract. All mammals have this, including humans. There should be billions of good bacteria living naturally in the small and large intestines.
When the flora (bacteria) in the gut is in balance, toxic substances are broken down and made ready for elimination out of the body. Vegetable fiber is fermented and broken down, some vitamins are produced here and bad (harmful) bacteria is kept in check.
Inflammatory bowel disease can occur when a dog’s digestive system is compromised. This will adversely affect immune function, and leave a dog at risk of further health problems, including canine allergies and other digestive diseases related to poor quality food.
A dog’s digestive system is responsible for three things:
- digestion of food
- absorption of nutrients
- prevents the entry of toxic, disease causing substances into the body
The four basic digestive enzymes are:
Protease – helps break down and digest protein
Amylase – helps break down and digest carbohydrates and starches
Lipase – helps break down and digest fat
Cellulase – helps break down fiber
Remember – There is no ‘perfect food’. Good health starts in the digestive system. Do not suppress or stop a dog’s own immune system process. ‘Lifestyle’ diseases can be prevented. Stress increases the need for certain vitamins. Learning about the nutrition facts helps us to relate to the workings of a dog’s body.
A Dog’s Digestion is the Source of Good Health