How the Dog Digestive System Works

A dog digestive system is different than a human's and therefore dogs process their food and eat in a different way to us. This is important to know and to understand so that you can feed your dog the correct diet and be aware when something goes wrong.

The Mouth

In humans, the role of the mouth, teeth and saliva play an important part in the digestion process. In canines, this is not true. A dogs mouth is designed to bite off and chew large pieces of meat and to eat quickly. Dogs have hinged jaws with large teeth, meant to ingest large chunks of meat, bones and fat products that are usually a part of the dogs diet.

Esophagus to Stomach

Since the mouth is not really a part of the dogs digestive process per se, the stomach is really more vital to the digestion of the dogs food. The food passes through the esophagus on its way to the stomach.

The esophagus is commonly known as the gullet, an organ which consists of a muscular tube through which food passes from the pharynx to the stomach.

Once food reaches the dogs stomach, it is processed with a high level of hydrochloric acid. This is important because it allows for the breakdown of large chunks of protein and bones that dogs ingest. Dogs also have a natural regurgitation instinct which allows them to spit out food that has not been processed correctly, then they re-swallow for further processing.

Stomach to Small Intestine

After food has been processed in the stomach with the aid of the hydrochloric acid, it then passes through to the small intestine in the form of a liquid. This is where the main part of the digestion process occurs and where the food is assimilated into nutrients for the dogs body.

Small Intestine to Large Intestine

From the small intestine food passes through to the large intestine. The large intestine is the last stop before the waste is passed through the rectum in the form of faeces.

Other Considerations

Dogs actually has the shortest digestive system of any mammal, it takes roughly 8-9 hours for the whole digestive process to complete. Of course that processing time is shorter for puppies, they do not have the mature digestive system of adolescent and adult dogs.

The digestive system of canines is important and can be a good indicator when something is not working correctly or when illness is present. You should be familiar with your dogs eating habits and pooping habits as well. If your dog is acting out of sorts, has dog bloat, or is not eating or pooping as usual, there is probably something wrong with their digestive system.

Although most dogs experience some gas, just as humans do, particularly unpleasant gas is usually an indicator of a poor diet. This can cause other problems so it's best to be consistent with your dogs diet and feeding habits.