Dogs and cats are carnivores. They have not evolved into omnivores and they certainly are not vegetarians. They are designed to eat vegetarians.
Let’s start with a look at our pet’s mouth. It contains pointy molar teeth designed to crush bone, hold prey, and tear through flesh. Large canine teeth will hang onto a struggling animal while the carnivore shakes the life out of it. Not a pretty sight to some of us, but this is part of the great food chain.
Your carnivore friend cannot grind food in her mouth. She has a hinged jaw and is physically incapable of chewing. This is why your dog seems to eat so quickly; she skips the chewing part. Her stomach is designed to do the heavy lifting work of breaking down the big chunks of meat and bone she consumes.
The carnivore’s saliva does not contain the enzyme amylase. Amylase is in the saliva of omnivores and herbivores and it starts the breaking down of carbohydrates in the mouth. Carnivores don’t need carbohydrates; they can’t process them efficiently. A carnivore gets her energy from raw protein and raw fat.
Once the meat and bones hit the stomach they are broken down in a very acid stomach. If you remember from school water has a neutral pH of 7. The human stomach has an acid of 5. Not an acid you want to touch; it would still burn through carpet, but our carnivores? Acid of 2-3. This is partly how they fend off bacteria and parasites that would make us sick. The carnivore stomach, when healthy, just burns through them.
I mentioned a healthy carnivore stomach. When we introduce carbohydrates into the carnivore diet we upset that acid barrier in the stomach. The acid becomes weaker, closer to pH 5 and leaves our pets susceptible to pathogens. Carbohydrates come in grains and flours. But even grain-free kibble must contain carbohydrates to hold them together. Pea flour, potato flour, beet pulp and more. These are carbohydrates and they not only mess with the pH in the stomach, they also slow down digestion and create an unhealthy gut.
Your dog and your cat is designed to eat raw meat and bone and organ. You might need to get your pet used to a new healthy diet, but it can and should be done. Next month we will go further down system and cover Carnivore digestion part II.