Digestive Tidbits on Dogs and Cats
In the future we’ll be presenting more specific nutritional information on dogs and cats. But first here is a short primer and interesting tidbits on their respective digestive systems:
Dogs are classified as carnivores and are well adapted to eating meat. However, they can consume and manage on a diet of an omnivore. Still, the more meat the better. There sense of smell is estimated at 10,000 times more sensitive than humans. Therefore an appetizing aroma on their meals is important and why small amounts of hot water on kibble will tease their appetite. They have 42 teeth designed for cutting and tearing. They have fewer taste buds than humans. They have very little salivary amylase (an enzyme) so therefore very little pre-digestion of carbohydrates occurs unlike humans. They have a very expandable stomach adaptable to eating large meals. Their stomach ph is more acidic than humans to assist in digestion of small bonelike substances and to protect against harmful bacteria. The time food spends in the digestive tract is 12-30 hours compared to humans which is usually considered 30 hours to 5 days!
Cats are classified as obligate carnivores. They absolutely have to have meat in their diet. They have 30 teeth designed for cutting and tearing and have no sideways movement of the jaw at all. They have even fewer taste buds than dogs and cannot taste sweets. They have NO salivary amylase. Their stomach is relatively small and designed for several small meals per day. Which is why you can leave food out for the cat….unless your dog can get at it! Like the dog the stomach is a more acid environment than humans. Transit time through their system is 12-24 hours. Their small intestine is well suited to digesting proteins and fats. They need a protein rich diet. Thus protein levels in cat food exceed the protein level in dog food recipes.
The most essential nutrient for both is of course WATER! Water can be obtained through drinking of course but also through their food. Feeding a cat canned food will result in a very noticeable reduction in the amount of water they drink. Canned foods are about 80% water.