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Hypo-allergenic dog food range

Designed to be kind to your dog's stomach

Nutrition basics

Unlike in humans, digestion in dogs doesn't begin in the mouth. The digestive system is where events take place after a dog has finished eating. Most of their teeth are designed to grip and tear rather than to grind or chew, and most dogs tend to hastily gorge their food in large chunks. In humans, carbohydrates such as grains or bread start to be broken down in the mouth, but dogs are missing the enzymes necessary for that process. Because of this, dogs have fewer taste buds compared to humans - historically taste just hasn't played as much of a role for them.

The journey

The ingested food travels through the oesophagus, a small muscular tube, from the mouth to the stomach, where the food stays relatively long - around 4 to 8 hours. The dog's stomach has very high acidity levels which ensure the breakdown of meat protein. All stomach contents are well mixed and broken down by the time they are moved into the small intestine, the main site of digestion.

Illustration of the canine digestive system

The liver and pancreas release additional digestive enzymes into the small intestine and the food pulp is further broken down. The smallest constituents of the main nutrients, protein and fats, as well as carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals are then absorbed from the small intestine into the bloodstream. In a dog with a food allergy, the inflammation of the intestinal lining can hinder the absorption of nutrients, potentially leading to a sub-optimal nutrient supply or even a nutrient deficiency.

What has not been absorbed of the food then enters the large intestine, or colon, where any remaining water and nutrients are extracted and absorbed. The remainder is waste material that the dog's body has no use for, and is stored until elimination. For a dog with a food allergy where nutrients may not have been fully absorbed, important nutrients may be lost and literally wasted.

Typical for a meat-eater, the dog's intestines are relatively short at around 4 times the dog's total body length. The intestinal tract of pure plant eaters such as sheep can be as much as 20 times the animal's total body length. A dog's relatively short digestive tract is designed to easily digest meat protein and fat, because the food remains for much longer in the stomach which also produces higher acidity levels.

This short digestive tract also makes it difficult for dogs to process large amounts of plant foods as they don't have the capability to ferment and absorb them like a plant-eating animal. This is why high-grain diets lead to a much larger stool volume.

Top tips to maintain your dog's digestive health

  • Feeding a complete balanced and highly digestible diet with quality ingredients is key
  • Avoid feeding sugary snacks, treats or table scraps that can upset your dog's tummy
  • Keep all possible toxins out of your dog's reach
  • "Poop Patrol": Check your dog's stool at least every other day; it should be small, firm and moist.
  • Treat your dog preventatively for intestinal worms ("wormer tablets")
  • Provide fresh drinking water for your dog at all times

Reference: James M. Griffin, Dog Owner's Home Veterinary Handbook, 1992 (2nd edition)

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Only the best ingredients are used in H-Allergen HA+ which is why you can rely on it to be easily digestible.

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