How is the dog’s digestion going?


Understanding how the dog’s digestive system works allows you to better understand the possible transit problems that your companion may be suffering from. Indeed, a diet and a physical exercise adapted to its metabolism can avoid, even correct, a bad digestion.

The main principles of canine digestion

In omnivores and carnivores, such as dogs, digestion involves food “passing”. It thus passes through the mouth and comes out through the rectum to be eliminated in the form of stool.

The digestion system in dogs is short, unlike that of herbivores. In its natural state, it quickly eliminates protein and animal fats from its carnivorous diet.

But in the domestic state, the digestion of the dog has evolved. Thus, it now tolerates certain cereals, certain starches and certain fruits and vegetables from its new diet following centuries of contact with humans.

Without going into details, the goal is not to take a canine biology course, know that the dog must transform lipids (fats), carbohydrates (sugars) and proteins (meats) into small molecules to digest them.

It uses two different types of mechanisms for this:

  • A physical mechanism, by crunching and chewing its food,
  • A chemical mechanism, to alter its diet.

And all of this digestion process obviously goes through the different organs of the dog.

Organs involved in digestion in dogs

The dog’s digestive system is comparable to that of humans. However, each stage of digestion is different in assimilation and duration. Thus, digestion takes in dogs between 4 and 15 hours depending on the individual, their age, their state of health and their diet, while it is 24 hours on average in humans.

The following organs are involved in the process of Medor digestion, and correspond to the circuit carried out by food materials between their ingestion and their expulsion:

  • The mouth,
  • The esophagus,
  • The stomach,
  • The small intestine,
  • The colon.

Each thus corresponds to a stage, allowing satiety, absorption of nutrients and their elimination.

Digestion in 5 steps for the dog

Step 1: the mouth thanks to the teeth and saliva

The dog’s mouth consists of 42 teeth, more than in humans, but only 2,000 taste buds, almost five times less than in humans. As a result, their teeth play an important role as they allow food to be chewed and cut, the first step in digestion.

As for the saliva naturally secreted in their mouths, it helps lubricate food to make it more easily assimilated by the body. But unlike humans, dogs keep their food in the mouth for less time and tend to swallow it whole. Saliva therefore plays a minimal role in digestion, especially since it does not contain salivary amylase, an enzyme useful for predigestion.

Step 2: the esophagus for the transport of the bolus

The food bolus is food added to saliva. It naturally descends from the mouth to the esophagus, to pass through to the dog’s stomach. Thanks to the contraction of the esophagus by peristaltic movements (mechanical action) and its lubrication (chemical action), food slides to the end of the esophagus.

At this point, the food bolus is ready to be digested, but it should be understood that the esophagus only performs a transport function. The cardia, a circular muscle that closes the lower part of the esophagus, relaxes so that the bolus of food lands in the stomach, then closes immediately to prevent acid reflux.

Step 3: the stomach for food stirring

A dog’s stomach can hold more than half a liter of food, and it is precisely here that one of the most important parts of the digestion process takes place. To give you an idea, imagine your dog’s stomach is a washing machine drum.

Indeed, the food bolus is stirred there and mixed with gastric secretions, called gastric juice. Gradually, the food ingested by Médor will become the “chyme”, made up of 50% water and particles about 2 millimeters in diameter. During this phase, the dog assimilates proteins and neutralizes bacteria. The speed of the drum of this washing machine will depend on the volume of the meal as well as its protein content.

The “emptying” will take only 4-7 hours with a diet rich in meat, and up to 15 hours with a diet rich in vegetables and grains. Likewise, dry food (croquettes) will lengthen the digestion time compared to wet food (mash, household ration).

Step 4: the small intestine to assimilate nutrients

The chyme then travels down into the small intestine, where an important chemical action will take place to fix the nutrients. The pancreas, the liver and the duodenum participate in this alchemy thanks to several enzymes in charge of the digestion of proteins, lipids and carbohydrates.

Small microscopic hairs invisible to the naked eye, called microvilli, allow the maximum absorption of nutrients, vitamins and minerals, which will participate in the good health of your dog. Thus, the useful nutrients pass through the small intestine into the bloodstream.

During this phase, the food bolus, or rather the chyme, is degraded after a process lasting two hours on average. The residue, which cannot be assimilated by your dog’s body, is then sent to the colon to form the stool.

Stage 5: the colon

The contents of the small intestine pass through the colon to the large intestine. During this stage the fermentation of dietary fibers takes place that the dog has not been able to digest. Because their large intestine is relatively short, dogs cannot get most of the fiber they have consumed.

All that remains is the feces, made up of food residues and bacteria, which gradually reach the last part of the colon, namely the rectum, to be eliminated during defecation.

The appearance and frequency of bowel movements depend mainly on the digestibility of its diet. Any change must therefore be introduced gradually, because it will modify its digestive transit and cause temporary disturbances (acid reflux, flatulence, constipation, diarrhea, etc.).

Digestive disorders and their correction

A digestive transit that is too slow, or on the contrary too fast, is a source of troubles for your dog. The first causes constipation, while the second causes diarrhea.

The adaptation of the diet is the first reflex to have to promote optimal digestion in your companion. A quality canine transit corresponds to 2 or 3 stools per day, well molded and low in odor.

Canine digestive transit too slow

How to spot a too slow digestive transit in dogs? It is usually accompanied by only one bowel movement per day, hard and dry, gas, and also difficulty in evacuating.

To remedy this, it is essential to leave a bowl of fresh water available to your dog at all times, aiming to contrast with a dry food in the form of kibble.

By switching to a premium diet, consisting mainly of meat and containing enough vegetable fibers, you can improve the transit of your companion in a few days. Also make sure that the size of the croquettes is adapted to his size, so that he makes the effort to bite them, without swallowing them.

In addition, regular physical activity, with longer walks or more sustained play sessions, promotes bowel movements on the one hand, and increases the feeling of thirst and hydration on the other hand.

Canine digestive transit too fast

How to spot a too rapid digestive transit in dogs? It is usually accompanied by a large number of stools, greater than 4 per day, of a soft or liquid consistency and poor absorption of nutrients.

To optimize a good transit, it is necessary to ensure the adequacy between the food distributed and the recommended quantity. If your dog eats too large amounts compared to the manufacturer’s instructions, it may be that the fat is insufficient and there is too much grain.

In addition, it is also possible to distribute his food in two doses, especially if your dog is very athletic. A maximum of one third several hours before the effort, and the remaining two thirds several hours after the effort.

If you have trouble adjusting your dog’s food, whether in terms of quantity or quality, do not hesitate to contact a specialist kibble distributor recognized for his advice by explaining in as much detail as possible the digestive problems of your dog. dog and his way of life. And of course, talk to your vet about it.

Of course, other, more serious digestive problems cannot be solved by feeding your dog alone. They can hide an underlying pathology and of course require a consultation with the veterinarian to preserve the good health of your four-legged friend.