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Natural Canine Health Symposium


Why Dogs Eat Their Vomit – Four Fun Dog Facts

dog vomitLet me start my four fun dog facts with four questions.

  1. Does it drive you crazy your dog doesn’t chew his food better?
  2. Ever been mortified to see him eat his own vomit?
  3. Why doesn’t he get sick eating raw meat?
  4. And why does he insist on licking his wounds and yours too?

There are perfectly good reasons for these things and I’m happy to share them with you. But really, he’s just following the rules of nature.

Dog Chewing

We tend to think our dogs should act as we do but their teeth aren’t made for chewing and neither is their jaw. I know you’ve noticed their teeth look different. They aren’t sharp just for self protection: they’re made to grab hold and tear pieces of meat to swallow.

There are also larger spaces between their teeth and they lack molars which are used to grind their food.

And last but not least, (and where I got my first “aha” moment) their jaws are rigid. They cannot move their lower jaw from side to side like we can in order to grind their food, so molars would be useless.

For humans, the act of chewing releases enzymes in our saliva to help break down the food. Dog digestion doesn’t work that way.

Eating Dog Vomit

Even though I know better, it still gets to me seeing my dogs eat their meal, throw it up and then eat it again. What do I do about it? I walk away and let them finish. It doesn’t happen often but the fact is this kind of dog vomiting is Mother Nature’s doing and it’s a good thing.

Nature knows there is a certain “fit” needed going down the esophagus in order to be digested properly. Think of it as a built in filter to be sure the right ratio of food to stomach acid is maintained for good digestion.

If the fit isn’t just right, the food is promptly sent back up and out. While we tend to think of it is disgusting, I have a feeling our dogs think it’s a special treat to eat twice at one meal.

Why Don’t They Get Sick Eating Raw Meat Anyway?

Okay, so you know they don’t but you’re not quite sure why. There are a couple of reasons. One, the amount of hydrochloric acid in the dog’s gut is far higher than ours. Hydrochloric acid helps to kill bacteria and it’s also needed to break down those great big chunks of food in order to absorb the nutrients from them.

If the stomach acid doesn’t kill the bacteria in the food, there is a backup plan. The canine intestinal tract is shorter than ours so harmful bacteria won’t get a chance to stay too long and wreak havoc.

Wound Licking

I find it a bit humorous now, but I remember  a moment a long time ago when I left the vet’s office and they told me not to let my dog lick her wound because they didn’t want it to get infected. Perhaps I misunderstood.

Still, wanting to do as I was told, I watched her like a hawk and stopped her from licking her paw for hours. Then it happened. Not only did she lick her paw, she took out the two tiny stitches in it. Amazingly, it healed just fine.

Why? Once again, Mother Nature knew what she was doing. Dog saliva kills bacteria.

Now imagine the looks on the faces of other moms at the park when one of my kids fell and I didn’t stop the dog from licking a scraped knee or elbow. Not only did it sooth my little ones, they healed quickly as well.

 

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