In a certain way, dogs and humans (other than a few obvious differences) are quite similar when it comes to anatomy. We share several organs and our brains are designed in a similar fashion. It's therefore not surprising that humans and dogs suffer similar medical conditions when it comes to health. For example, dogs just like us can develop muscle sprains, they can suffer from seizures and dogs can get blackheads and urinary tract infections too. There are certain conditions though that we may never see in dogs and for some very good reasons. So today' dog trivia question is:
Out of these conditions, which one doesn't affect dogs?
A: Laringitis (inflammation of the larynx)
B: Conjunctivitis (inflammation of the conjunctiva)
C: Tonsillitis (inflammation of the tonsil)
D: Appendicitis (inflammation of the appendix)
The correct answer is: Drumroll Please!
Dogs, just like us, can get laringitis, they can get conjunctivitis, and they can also get their tonsils inflamed (tonsillitis), the only condition they will never get is appendicitis. So the correct answer is D: appendicitis. Why is that? Why do dogs not get appendicitis? For a very good reason, read on to discover why.
A Phantom Organ
Appendicitis is the inflammation of the appendix, a tube-shaped structure found by the colon in the lower right quadrant of the abdomen. When the appendix in humans gets red and angry, it causes severe abdominal pain accompanied by fever, nausea and vomiting.
While dogs may also develop these symptoms, they are rather associated with something else rather than the appendix.
Why is that? For the simple fact that dogs don't have an appendix! So while a dog's body shares many similar body features with us humans, the appendix is definitively an exception!
Not Useless as Thought
In humans, the appendix has been considered pretty much useless for many years, so much so that people can live without one without encountering any problems. However, recent research conducted at Duke University Medical School, has found that the appendix instead has likely a function, and a very important one too!
The study's findings suggest that the appendix works as a reservoir for good bacteria. Surgery professor Bill Parker, co-author for this study, claims that this reservoir is possibly there for a specific purpose: to help recover in the case of a sudden depletion of good bacteria as it can happen with serious diseases such as cholera or amoebic dysentery. Despite its usefulness, professor Parker though claims that the appendix should be still taken out when inflamed as appendicitis can turn deadly.
An Alternate Structure
Even though several animals along with the dog don't have an appendix, they seem to depend on some alternate structures, which, even though they might not be as effective as the appendix, they're still capable of storing good bacteria, explains professor Parker, this time in an article for Duke Magazine.
The cecum, a pouch-like structure located nearby, may therefore work as a reservoir for beneficial bacteria in the eventuality of severe diarrhea, just like the appendix does in humans, explains veterinarian James C. Coghlan, in the book "Paleopet: The real reason your dog or cat eats grass."
- Paleopet: The real reason your dog or cat eats grassKindle Edition, by James C. Coghlan DVM Booktango (December 18, 2012)
- NBC News, Scientists May Have Found Appendix's Purpose, retrieved from the web on June 28th, 2016
- Duke Magazine, Volume 94, No.2, March-April 2008, An Evolutionary Curiosity, retrieved from the web on June 28th, 2016