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Good Guts! - Part One
4 CommentsFriday, 15 February 2013 | Kate
It goes without saying but a healthy digestive system is vital to our dogs. It breaks down the food they eat, identifies and absorbs the nutrients present by distributing them throughout the body and keeps toxins out of the bloodstream. The digestive tract defines the whole of the dog's digestive system from front to back!
Research and studies have shown that 70% of a dog's entire immune system is part of the digestive tract. The stomach is where digestion begins and is extremely acidic. This environment breaks food down into what's called "chyme" which is a fluid of partially digested materials. Chyme is sent from the gut to the small intestines where it is broken down further by digestive enzymes sent from organs like the pancreas and the liver.
Like our own digestive systems, a dog's digestion breaks their food down into the usable nutrients by the digestive enzymes. These nutrients are passed over the bloodstream where they can be sent to different parts of the body. Only waste is left after this which makes its way through the ascending colon in the large intestines.
Note: Interestingly dogs have no digestive enzymes in their saliva; it only serves as a lubricant to ease the passage of masticated food down the oesophagus.
Dogs can experience digestive upset for a number of reasons and they can have more serious health risks in some cases if they aren't addressed. Food Allergies, food intolerance, worms, and poor diet among others can all be causes of gastrointestinal distress. Commons signs that your dog has an upset stomach include: vomiting, diarrhoea, excessive gassiness and stool. If your dog appears to be too 'regular' then this could be an indication of too much dietary fibre. Vomiting and diarrhoea can be indicative of more serious problems so you should contact your vet if these symptoms appear.
A poor diet and imbalance in the gut can lead to a systematic weakening of the dog's immune system. This in turn could lead to other maladies having an easier time causing problems for your dog. Food allergies could become a problem if the immune system is significantly weakened.
Food allergies can affect any dog of any age and it is usually the result of prolonged exposure to a certain ingredient. The difficulty in identifying a food allergy is that its symptoms are similar to a lot of other canine ailments.
The symptoms include: hair loss, recurring infections, hot spots, itchy skin and extreme scratching. It is important to rule out all other possibilities with your vet if these symptoms occur before treating for a food allergy.
Food intolerance is usually indicated by vomiting and diarrhoea but it is different to a food allergy. Food intolerance in dogs is akin to how we might react to spicy foods. Upset stomachs can be caused by a variety of different things but can be as simple as eating something that doesn't agree with them.
Click here to read the solutions in part two.