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Dog acid pH stomach level & more reasons to feed meat.


dogs-playingDog pH level (acid balance after eating) IS the ‘smoking gun’ in raw feeding (or dried meat dog treats) dog diets V carb-based kibble dog food.

We contend that dog food companies tend to maximize their profits by including carbs in their products.  Meanwhile, the vet dog food sponsored industry disputes that you should not feed dogs raw meat because of the risk of bacterial infection.

But here is another reason why dogs NEED meat in their diet, even Dried meat dog treats.

The common hypothesis is that wolves and wild dogs eat meat as often as they can catch or dig it up. So many people question that why don’t domestic dogs need meat? Why would you not feed meat to pet dogs?  We believe that there are profound benefits from enzymes in meat, to the bio-availability of meat proteins, etc that make meat a vital health benefit for domestic dogs.  We have already documented many reasons why dogs need meat under the NUTRITION tab on this site.

But there is also the stomach acid component to the meat story …


We sell dried meat treats, that provide the safe bridge between carb pellets and raw feeding.  This is just further vindication, and answers the ridiculous google question: “ is meat good for dogs”.

One of the main reasons cited for not using raw meat is ‘bad bacteria’ on-off meat can wreck the dogs. And yes, that is a good reason for many people to use dried meat dog treats. But we explore the whole MEAT and STOMACH acid connection and how it can provide safety against bad bacteria.

MEAT Dog Food Hypothesis

1    Dogs need certain good bacteria in their stomach for a healthy biome (just like humans). And bad bacteria are controlled by the high acid level in a dog’s stomach.

2    Ingesting MEAT actually can increase the acid level in dogs stomach, that can combat bad bacteria. Conversely, If dogs don’t eat meat, they don’t get the high acid protection, so things they eat in the yard or dog park can be a lot more dangerous to them, as the system atrophies from not creating acid regularly.

Now how that works:


“Dog food digestion in the stomach is determined by physical and chemical properties of ingested food and by the concentration of electrolytes and activity of enzymes. Gastric emptying and pH are of major importance because they play a role in the activity of the enzymes. Also, the contact time of the food with the enzymes is determined by these factors.” Ref 1

“The concentrations of electrolytes in gastric juice vary widely but the major enzymes in the lumen of the stomach are lipase and pepsin. Dog gastric lipase is a 49kDa glycoprotein containing 14% carbohydrate (sugar) which is formed by a single polypeptide chain of 377-379 amino acid residues. Acting on both long and short-chain triglycerides. The lipase is irreversibly inactivated below ph 1.5 its activity also decreases significantly above pH 6.0 and is complexly inactive at pH7.0 and above.  Pepsin has optimum activity at a pH of 2.0 maintained by the gastric secretion of hydrochloric acid, its proteolytic activity decreases when the chyme leaves the stomach since it is irreversibly inactivated at neutral ph (7).” Ref 1

“Gastric secretion is influenced by the amount of protein in the meal and by the volume of the meal. Some hormones will indirectly affect the acidity of the stomach contents. ACTH increases hydrochloric acid production and secretion decreases production through suppression of the release of gastrin.” Ref 1

DOG Gastric (STOMACH) emptying

The known summary of carnivores eating meat is that they eat fast, high stomach acid helps digest fast, and the intestine is short to get the waste quickly out of its body.  This process mostly takes care of any “bad” bacteria that is on the raw meat.

Here is the science:

“There was a trend for higher density particles to empty slower. The regulation of emptying by density depends upon the intraduodenal concentrations of products of digestion, either monosaccharides, acting through their osmotic pressure, or esters of fatty acids acting on duodenal receptors. Isocaloric concentrations of carbohydrates and triglycerides induce similar gastric emptying (Hunt & Stubbs, 1975). “ Ref 2

A very important aspect in the digestion of food is the secretion of pancreatic juice into the proximal small intestine mainly due to the action of electrolytes and digestive enzymes.

Composition of pancreatic juice –  The electrolyte composition of the pancreatic juice released into the intestine varies among animal species and, in most animal species, with flow rate. Intermittent feeders (eating at intervals), such as the dog, mainly secrete the juice during the digestive phase after the ingestion of a meal (Stevens & Hume, 199%). Because the amount and type of food play a role in the composition and secretion rate of the pancreatic juice secreted, the range of the values is very wide.” Ref 2

Besides lipase, chymotrypsin is also an important pancreatic enzyme with significant activity.  Very high induction of chymotrypsin activity is caused by feeding protein-rich meals (especially animal protein) whereas lactose meals produce a very low chymotrypsin activity (1.45 f 0.66 U/kg wet weight) (Kienzle, 1988)” Ref 2

Although the dog has no amylase activity in saliva, there is amylase activity in pancreas secretions. The amylase activity in pancreatic tissue of an adult dog has been reported to be 2316+/-  2017 (383 to 6625 U/g wet weight) (n = 16). “ ref2

Activity (U/g wet weight) of chymotrypsin in the chyme of adult dogs in relation to the amount of protein in the diet (Kienzle, 1988)

< 25 % *

N = 10

35-45 % T

N = 4

 > 50 %  TT

n = 4

duodenum 3.9 +/- 6.2 31 .O +/- 26.8 13.8 +/- 8.1
jejunum 13.9 +/- 15.3 53.1 +/- 8 84.9 +/- 100.1
ileum 20.4 +/- 22.1 25.0 +/- 8.48 148.1 +/- 99.8

* diets =  meat meal with sucrose, meat meal with lactose, dry type of dog food, soyabean meal with tapioca starch

T  diets =  soyabean meal, soya bean meal with fat

TT diets =  raw meat, raw lungs

The above table shows that dogs on a RAW diet (meat and lungs) typically had a much higher concentration of the digestibility enzyme chymotrypsin in the jejunum and in particular the ileum, helping to digest food much better.


“ Gastric acidity is likely a key factor in shaping the diversity and composition of microbial communities found in the vertebrate gut. We conducted a systematic review to test the hypothesis that a key role of the vertebrate stomach is to maintain the gut microbial community by filtering out novel microbial taxa before they pass into the intestines. We propose that species feeding on carrion or on organisms that are close phylogenetic relatives should require the most restrictive filter (measured as high stomach acidity) as protection from foreign microbes.” ref 3

Conversely, species feeding on a lower trophic level or on food that is distantly related to them (e.g. herbivores) should require the least restrictive filter, as the risk of pathogen exposure is lower. Comparisons of stomach acidity across trophic groups in mammal and bird taxa show that scavengers and carnivores have significantly higher stomach acidities compared to herbivores or carnivores feeding on phylogenetically distant prey such as insects or fish.” Ref 3

Example of dog stomach pH

“A radio-telemetric technique for monitoring canine gastrointestinal function with clinical and research applications is described. Continuous gastrointestinal pH profiles for base-line (fasted) and postprandial states were recorded for a 6-hour test period in 4 Beagles, using a radio-telemetric device (Heidelberg capsule). Base-line gastric pH values were between 0.9 and 2.5 during the first 30 minutes, with a mean +/- SEM of 1.5 +/- 0.04.”  Ref 6

The effect of dog stomach Ph on bad bacteria

“The susceptibility of Escherichia coli and Helicobacter pylori to pH and the effect of pepsin mediated proteolysis were investigated. This was to establish the relative importance of their bacterial killing properties in gastric juice. Solutions in the pH range 1.5–7.4 with or without pig pepsin A were used, together with seven gastric juice samples obtained from patients undergoing routine gastric collection.” Ref7

“Escherichia coli C690 (a capsulated strain), E. coli K-12 (a rough mutant) and Helicobacter pylori E5 were selected as the test organisms. Suspensions of bacteria (16106 E. coli ml”1 and 16108 H. pylori ml”1 ) were pre-incubated with test solutions at 37 6C for up to 2 h, and then cultured to establish the effect on subsequent growth. Survival of bacteria was diminished at pHs of less than 3.5, whereas killing required a pH of less than 2.5. Preincubation with pig pepsin at 0.5, 1.0 and 2.0 mg ml”1 at pH 3.5 reduced viable counts by 100 % for E. coli 690 and E. coli K-12 after 100 min incubation. “ Ref7

“Thus, killing of E. coli and H. pylori occurs optimally at pHs of less than 2.5. At pH 3.5, little effect is observed, whereas addition of pepsin alone or in gastric juice causes a marked increase in bacterial susceptibility, suggesting an important role for proteolysis in the killing of bacteria. ” Ref7

“Since the acidic stomach environment isn’t optimal for lipase, the majority of fat digestion in a dog takes place in the small intestine. Amylase in a dog is not present in the saliva like it is in humans, and it also isn’t active in acidic environments, so the bulk of carbohydrate digestion also takes place in the small intestine. “  Ref 8

This is not an ideal small space and also a place that is LOW ACID, meaning digestion takes longer and not as many nutrients can be extracted in a comparatively SHORT carnivore intestine length.

“After the meal has been digested, the gastric pH will become less acidic, because it isn’t necessary to sustain a highly acidic environment within the stomach unless gastric juices are needed for digestion; and if the stomach remains too acidic, ulcers could develop. So the pH of the stomach raises slightly. Ref 8


Dog food typically includes a lot of colouring, preservatives and the wrong kind of Omega 3 (flax instead of fish oil).  It also includes a lot of cheap Grain (typically 70%), and just enough meat to make the minimum protein requirement of affco.

As discussed earlier, e know that raw meat and dried meat has natural enzymes that assist digestion of food for dogs.

The enzyme “chymotrypsin in the chyme of adult dogs is in relation to the amount of protein in the diet”.  This also means that a meat-based diet that typically has M protein levels than a vegetable-based diet, will have more of the digestion enzyme chymotrypsin.

While there have been few or nil studies to compare pH levels of carb fed dogs versus mainly meat or raw meat fed dog’s we know this to be true “Gastric secretion is influenced by the amount of protein in the meal and by the volume of the meal. Some hormones will indirectly affect the acidity of the stomach contents.” Ref 1

In previous articles,we have seen that most tried grain has protein levels of around 10%, ) while meat (chicken beef ) in dried form is around 50% plus protein.  Based on the fact that protein is a major stimulant of acid secretion in the stomach, and meat is high protein, it is highly likely that a dog eating high meat (and therefore high protein) will have a high acid content in dog stomach during this part of their digestion.

Not only will a high acid value increase the speed of digestion and release of more of the associated digestion enzymes from organs and glands in the dog (to work in conjunction with the enzymes already present in meat),  but will have a much better kill rate for the bad bacteria that can be present in some foods and or scavenged foods like in parks.  When a system regularly learns to release higher levels of acid (from the dog being fed meat-fed rather than kibble fed), it is postulated that this might assist in the dog being protected when it consumes bad bacteria. But again, the protection happens when the dog eats meat (high protein) and the acid is stimulated.

It is noted that dog food companies have long struggled with the issue of palatability of grains  – ie trying to fool a carnivore dogs taste into accepting a high vegetable diet.   We have looked at how some companies have tried to this with regular vegetables, however if they just use rice, corn, and soybeans, they will not reach the minimum protein standards without adding a lot of amino acids extracted from random places (aminos such as taurine, lysine, L-tryptophan, choline chloride, L-carnitine, ).  But even with their addiction, the foods often only barely meet the minimum protein standards.

To overcome this low protein amount in high veggie source dog food issue, some companies were trailing feeding dogs livestock food made of highly processed and condensed unnatural food products like maize gluten and fine soya meal. These ingredients had a HIGH protein value but are as far removed from natural dog food as possible.

While dog food companies will never do science trials that promote benefits of meat (because they might have to put an acceptable level in dog food), most people understand a dog’s innate desire and need for it.

There are a very few dog food companies willing to attack dried meat options,  as they have to include dried meat in most dog food just to meet the minimum protein requirements   … so if you are on the fence about feeding your dog raw or dried meat, rest assured that dried 100% meat healthy dog treats are a very viable and healthy option, for the many reasons above.



1  The Evolution of Stomach Acidity and Its   Relevance to the Human Microbiome – DeAnna E. Beasley1*, Amanda M. Koltz2, Joanna E. Lambert3, Noah Fierer4,5, Rob    R. Dunn1  July 29, 2015

2   A review of the physiologo of the canine digestive tract related the to development of in-vetro systems  Marianne Smeets Peeters et al  Nutrition Research review 1998

3   Radio-telemetric determination of gastrointestinal pH in four healthy beagles.  Am J Vet Res. 1985

4     6th Jun, 2013    Leonard Amaral


7    Bacterial killing in gastric juice – effect of pH and pepsin on Escherichia coli and Helicobacter pylori      H. Zhu,1 C. A. Hart,2 D. Sales2 and N. B. Roberts1

8   GASTRIC PH IN RAW & KIBBLE FED DOGS    January 29, 2018

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