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ACACIA, BLOAT AND CANINES
Barbara J. Andrews TheDogPlace.org Publisher
The ABCs of dog food do not include plant fiber but this weird and risky new source of dog food presents potentially deadly dietary problems for your dog.
Canines are carnivores, thus 97% of their vegetation is meant to be pre-digested in the stomach of their prey. Well shucks, you knew that. But do you know that your dog’s food may contain a gummy substance from the acacia tree which is used as “dietary fiber” in human food because it is cheap, dissolves easily in water and when ingested, “can reduce cholesterol levels.” Huh?
We heard you thinking “But dogs don’t have cholesterol problems, so why acacia in dog food???” Short answer. Because it is cheap “fiber” otherwise known in the food trade as “filler.” In December 2021 FDA classified “Acacia Gum Arabic” as dietary fiber and in about 10 seconds, acacia was added to human weight loss products under the premise that “feeling full” sooner would reduce the amount of food consumed.
But wait, people are omnivores (eats both plants and meat) whereas carnivores are by definition, meat eaters. Dogs occasionally nibble on carefully chosen raw grasses but canine nutrition does not include GRAINS other than the small amount contained in the stomach of its prey!
Grain causes gas and serves no purpose in a carnivore’s meat-based digestive system.
In both people and dogs, “feeling full” can translate to feeling “bloated.” When YOU feel bloated, you can belch to relieve the gas in your upright stomach. Dogs have a horizontal stomach, so it is difficult for them to burp and although dogs can pass gas rectally, the position of a carnivore’s stomach and the gas released by digestion of grains can cause bloating.
Bloating can cause a dog’s stomach to twist, vet-term is gastric torsion or Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus, i.e. GDV. When food is slow or unable to move from the stomach into the intestines it begins to ferment and releases gas causing extreme pain and potentially fatal bloating.
If your dog’s stomach becomes bloated and he is in obvious distress, GET HIM TO THE VET!
As a savvy dog owner, you are now wondering why any dog food would contain GRAIN. I hear you thinking “Dogs are carnivores so like cats and wolves, wouldn’t they get plenty of plant fiber from the stomach of their prey?” Of course. But nowadays your dogs can only prey on a bag of dehydrated corn, soy, wheat and whey - stuff that even a hungry herbivore wouldn’t find appetizing.
You get the point, dried grains cause gas and credible sources specify acacia as a gassy grain. But it gets weirder! Here’s a conundrum that will puzzle you when perusing weight loss labels! Acacia gum is used for “FATTENING livestock prior to butchering.” How contradictory is that? See USDA references below…
But there’s more. Acacia is frequently listed “as a film-forming agent in peel-off skin masks.” Acacia can cause “minor adverse effects, including gas, bloating, nausea, and loose stools.” ~ rxlist.com
OK, you’re ahead of me. You know where I’m going…
Like that icky dinner guest, dogs can stuff themselves but unlike people, dogs are meant to eat raw meat. Raw meat does not produce gas. That’s why carnivores don’t bloat. Meat eaters, from lions and tigers to coyotes and wolves, stay with a large carcass, protecting it as they digest while sleeping.
Canines need to sleep for at least an hour because although they can vomit, with a horizontal stomach it is hard for dogs to burp up gas. Vegetation and grains produce gas. Unreleased gas causes the stomach to bloat and if it twists (gastric torsion) immediate surgery is required or the dog will die an agonizing death.
Here’s the problem. Your dog can rarely sleep off a big meal. The kids want to play, he hears something outside, YOU feel like jogging around the block; in some way your carnivore’s stomach-resting-digestive inactivity is interrupted.
I see you nodding your head, thinking “yeah, that’s my house.”
Okay, so make a mental note that the digestive system of all meat-eaters is necessarily slow because it takes time to break down meat protein. Herbivores (cattle, deer, elephants, etc.) GRAZE most of their waking time, slowly ingesting vegetation throughout the day. Thus, the stomach of prey animals never gets too full to flee, fight, or play.
Dogs are different. The most important thing you need to know about feeding your dog is this - carnivores eat MEAT and then they SLEEP. Say it out loud. It rhymes and ‘trains our brains’ to remember.
Reference: Acacia gum used as a fattening feed additive ~ National Library Of Medicine. “Acacia gum is safe up to approximately 280 mg/kg … for chickens for fattening, 375 mg/kg complete feed for turkeys for fattening…”
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