A dog’s stomach, even in the prime of health, is a tough neighborhood. Let’s take a quick tour of some of it’s most astonishing features, so that we can see why it is so vulnerable to attack. A dog’s stomach has extreme acidity with the purpose of providing a primary defense against infection and it also assists in the first stages of digestion. This elevated level of acidity, however, poses an intense biological challenge.
Indeed, the fact that the stomach doesn’t self-destruct is one of life’s major miracles. The reason— a thick coating of protective mucous is steadily secreted by surface mucous cells in the organs lining, and a very rapid turnover of cells in the lining itself keeps “fresh troops” always at hand. It becomes a delicate balanced system, and with that amount of firepower around, any breach in the defense rapidly grows into a major problem. Two factors are responsible for gastritis or an upset stomach, mainly over-indulgence and or stress. Diarrhea and stomach pain are often associated with this condition. Usually thought of as annoyances, each episode causes a bit more lasting damage, eventually resulting in cellular injury which in turn causes inflammation. The inflammation produces free radicals that go on to create still more tissue destruction, eventually damaging DNA and potentially leading to cancers of the stomach which are one of the most lethal malignancies known.
As I study nutrition and organ functions I find this mechanism one of the most amazing and complex operating systems in the body. Maybe an understanding of this mechanism will explain how a dog can adequately digest a variety of nutrient ingredients that are obtained from bacterial laden sources. It is because of a higher concentration of stomach acids, a much shorter GI track, a heartier dentition structure, and a healthy, developed immune system that the canine and feline species is able to better handle human objectionable ingredients, such as tripe, other organ meats, carrion (dead animals), and bones still buried in the back yard.
Obviously, the animal kingdom is equipped with defense mechanisms that the human body doesn’t have or hasn’t evolved yet to handle. The lesson to be learned here is that a dog is not, and has never been designed to eat grain based food. The stomach is instead, waiting for a more biologically appropriate diet to do it’s work on, the BARF Diet.