Future Insufficiency

Dog Pancreas

Dog Pancreas.

Dog Pancreas.

This week I’m going to educate you on the pancreas.  Now some of you might ask, what is a pancreas?  And what does it do?  Well, that is what I’m going to tell you today.  The pancreas is a small structure located near the stomach and attached to the wall of the small intestine.  It has two major functions.  Producing hormones to aid in the maintenance of a proper blood sugar (glucose) level, secreting them directly into the bloodstream.  It also produces important enzymes to aid in the digestion of protein and fats (lipids). These enzymes travel from the pancreas to the small intestine through a small tube called the pancreatic duct.  The glucose-regulating hormones produced by the pancreas are insulin and glucagon. When starches and carbohydrates are eaten, they are broken down into the sugar glucose. The glucose is absorbed through the wall of the digestive tract and passes into the bloodstream. Insulin allows glucose to leave the bloodstream and enter the body’s tissues. Glucose can then be utilized as energy for the cells. When glucose levels are high, glucagon causes it to be stored in the liver and muscles as glycogen. If not enough insulin is produced, diabetes mellitus (sugar diabetes) can occur.  The protein-digesting enzymes are trypsin and chymotrypsin. Fat digestion is aided by enzymes called lipases, also produced by the pancreas. Without these enzymes, dogs would not be able to break down important dietary components. When the pancreas does not produce adequate amounts of these enzymes the condition is called pancreatic insufficiency.  So now that you know what a pancreas does, I hope you have more appreciation for it in the future.

To see what the pancreas looks like, Click Here to watch my video.



Explaining Ingestion Of Excrement

Dog Stomachs

Dog stomach (Photo credit  Hill's Pet Nutrition)

Dog stomach (Photo credit Hill’s Pet Nutrition)

Now, no talk of stomachs can be complete without finding out how dogs can eat carrion and excrement.  A dog’s stomach is like an accordion in that it folds to almost a thin intestine-like organ when it is empty, and when filled, it expands to full size, unfolding all the wrinkles.  While a human stomach is simply a bag, not folding at all.  The stomach has some very strong muscle in its lining, and it will constantly massage the food, thus making sure the digestive juices get into close contact with all the food.  Accordingly, the dog’s stomach will take up some 70-75% of the total volume of the entire gastrointestinal system. It is huge. The human stomach will be only a small fraction of the system, taking up only about 20% of its total volume.  In general, all this is geared towards the stomach handling big portions of food at a time -and being given the opportunity to finish a meal before being filled again. It is like a washing machine running through its program and then waiting for the next load.  This is a huge difference compared to the human system that is much more like a septic tank where the food seeps through all the time.  Another important aspect that is often ignored is that a dog’s stomach is not supposed to be working constantly. It is meant to do a lot of hard work for some time – and then rest for a long period of time. It makes sense that it needs rest, considering how much harder it has to work, compared to a human stomach. Yet, a human stomach generally gets some serious rest every night. Our meals typically take no more than about 3-4 hours for the stomach to finish and hand over to the intestine, so even if we get a “good night snack” just before bedtime, there will still be 4-6 hours rest available for the stomach before breakfast. For the dog, digestion of a full meal can easily take more than 24 hours.  Conclusively, the dog’s stomach is a depot organ – the human stomach is merely a transit station.  This is why a dog can ingest excrement.  And as said before, humans cannot ingest excrement without painful consequences.  So I would advise against eating anything rotten, or something that has already been digested, and anyway, who would want to?

To see what the inside of a dog stomach looks like and where it is in a dog’s body, click Here to watch the video

Big and Long


Chocolate_Lab_Puppy_Asleep (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

How Many Hours Do Dogs Sleep?

It really depends on a few things.  You see, dogs do not have regular sleep routines like humans do.  Instead, they take naps throughout the day and night waking  to eat and exercise only to go back to sleep again.  Dogs usually sleep 12-18 hours per day, but there are some factors to take into account to determine how many hours your dog sleeps.  Age is a big factor.  Puppies for example; their batteries have shorter charges and when they wake up they tend to be bouncy and full of energy for five minutes, and then sleep for fifteen (repeat).  Older dogs also need to recharge more often than young or middle aged dogs.  Activeness can also determine how much a dog sleeps.  Active dogs tend to sleep less than non-active dogs.   Which makes sense because non-active dogs sleep more out of boredom.  Diet is another big one.  Low quality dog foods contain hard to digest fillers and your dog’s body will be so busy trying to digest its food it will want to rest.  Fat or overweight dogs also sleep more than healthy or lean dogs.  Obviously their poor diet and/or little exercise does not give them enough energy to do very much.  And last but not least, the size of the dog might also determine how much sleep your dog needs.  Bigger dogs tend to sleep more than little dogs.  Giant breeds like the Saint Bernard or Mastiff usually sleep 18 hours a day, and little dogs like Chihuahuas and Pomeranians sleep about 12 hours a day.  In conclusion, it depends.  But big or small, a good diet and plenty of exercise should give your dog plenty of energy and a long happy life.

Beach Balls

Why Dogs Pant.

Black dog panting

You do not have to own a dog to know that they pant.  And you, like most people are accustomed to seeing dogs pant if they are hot and/or the dog has exercised.  And you probably also know that the reason that dogs pant is to cool off or lower their body temperature.  But did you know that fat dogs and dogs with pushed in faces (like pugs and bulldogs) pant more than lean dogs and dogs with “normal” snouts?  Panting can also mean something bad. If your dog is panting without being hot or exercising you should probably take it to the vet as it might have a disorder or can be in distress.  If your dog has a respiratory disorder you can tell because the panting will be loud and the gums might have a blue tint.  No doubt if you see these signs in your dog you should take it to the vet immediately as this may result in collapsed trachea and in some cases death.  Some other things that you have to look out for are abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and dehydration.  Another serious problem is hyperthermia.  Basically the opposite of hypothermia, if your dog has hyperthermia you might notice that the dog is very hot, weak, confused, has dark red gums, and may become a little unresponsive.  If you see these things in your dog you should obviously take it to the vet because it will have to get cooled immediately so that heat stroke won’t set in.  Just like humans, dogs can get a fever too.  Your dog has a fever when it’s rectal temperature reaches 102 degrees Fahrenheit, if your dog has a fever gently rub it with a cool sponge on the paws and abdomen.  Even though dogs are open to these risks, it is rare that a day in the sun with plenty of water and rest would get your dog seriously sick.  So go for that run on the beach and always remember to bring a tennis ball or frisbee, and have fun.