- *If you would like to understand more about digestive health and the impact it can have on other organs in the body, consider researching a study conducted in Cleveland Zoo. The study explored why gorillas were dying of heart disease in captivity at a relatively young age. Gorillas were fed a nutritionally sound diet, but they still developed heart disease, which did not impact their species in the wild. Scientists discovered that gut bacteria was the cause of the gorillas’ heart disease, due mostly to the type of food they were fed, rather than the lack of nutrients. A particular mix of fresh plants was missing from their diet and also the ability to graze, which suited their gut, rather than forcing them to eat at regimented hours through the day, as we do.
There are a few key components of a pet’s digestive system which include digestive acidity, the pH level of their stomach and their saliva. While these do not represent all components of the digestive system, they do represent the basic function of digestion.
Firstly saliva, we humans have an enzyme in our saliva called salivary amylase which breaks down carbohydrates into sugar, making it easier for our bodies to process food into fat or energy. Our pets do not have this type of enzyme in their saliva, so the digestion of carbohydrates begins in the stomach, putting a strain on the pancreas (we covered this in detail in one of our monthly newsletters, so please follow this link for more detailed information).
Unfortunately, the creators of “fast foods” for pets are constantly chasing higher margins and tend to use more carbohydrates in their food to keep costs down. Carbohydrates come in the form of wheat or rice and in grain free foods in the form of potato, corn or peas. Sounding familiar?
The next component of our pet’s digestion is the pH level of their stomach. The lower the pH level, the more acidic their digestive environment becomes, which is perfect for breaking down meat, bones and soft vegetables and fruit. A pet fed with raw food has an ideal pH level of 1 to 2 or less, allowing their digestive tract to break down their food without issue.
However, if they are fed processed foods, their pH levels jump to 5 or higher, which lowers the acidity of their stomach, altering the digestive environment and making the digestion of food much harder. It can take between 10 to 14 days on a meat-based raw diet to reduce the pH level back to an ideal 1 to 2 or less.
Good digestion enables better nutrient absorption through the stomach as well as small and large intestines. Nutrient absorption then has a flow on affect, improving the function of other organs, helping your pet to thrive and allowing their bodies to function normally. A cranky dog or cat may simply not feel well and could be impacted by their poor digestion. Let’s face it, no one likes to feel bloated and sluggish!
One more interesting facts about food is that we humans, as well as other omnivores, can easily convert Omega 3 fatty acids from plant material, however dogs convert only 5 to 15 percent and cats (obligate carnivores) lack the digestive enzymes required to convert plant based fatty acids, making DigestaVite Plus and Omega 3, 6, 9 a crucial part of our pet’s raw diet.