Having a dog companion fills your life with love and joy. Their unconditional love and loyalty change how we look at the world. However, we always worry about them, wondering if they are having fun, whether they eat, and why their stool looks different. The digestive system of dogs is different from ours, but this thought doesn’t cross our minds at first.
If they start to feel sick, we go to the veterinarian. We can take care of them and avoid the sickness that comes from what they eat. Every dog owner must know more about their furry friend’s digestive system to help them stay healthy and happy.
Dog Digestive System Basics
Similar to humans, the digestive system of dogs includes several organs, enzymes, and systems. The main difference between the two systems is how dogs convert food into energy. The digestion tract of dogs starts with your lovely friend munching their food with their mouth, it goes through their esophagus to the stomach, then it passes through small and large intestines, and finally, it goes out from the rectum. You can check out Fur Genius to learn more about the best dog food for your pet’s digestive health. The liver and pancreas are not mentioned in this process, but they play an important role in digestion and nutrient processing. So, what happens in each stage?
Dog Digestive System Care
We need to understand how the digestive system works in our lovely furry friends and provide the proper care for their little tummies. Some types of food can treat sickness or conditions that can affect dogs. Dogs can have chronic kidney diseases, and the veterinarian can tell you what foods help repair kidneys in dogs by considering their breed, age, activity levels, and other aspects. The vet can also advise you on the right probiotic supplement you can give your dog to keep their digestive system working properly.
There are digestive enzyme supplements available on the market, but they might be unnecessary for your dog. Adding enzymes to their system can cause imbalances unless a veterinarian prescribed the supplements. Your dog’s stool can indicate whether they suffer from digestive system problems. Usually, dogs should defecate twice every day or more, depending on their diet and lifestyle. The regular wet stool is a sign of digestive issues, and you should go to the vet to check up on your dog.
Food Digestion Process in Dogs
The digestion process has four main stages:
- The mouth and esophagus
- The stomach
- The small and large intestine
- The pancreas and liver
Let’s take a look at how the dog’s digestive system works.
The Mouth Stage
The digestion process starts when your dog eats their food. They use their front teeth and lips to bring food into their mouth, which is pushed to the back of the mouth by the tongue. It is no wonder that dogs eat food much faster than we do as they have ten teeth more than us, we have thirty-two teeth, and they have forty-two. They munch and chew their food impressively fast, and then it is mixed with their saliva to slide down their esophagus easily. Their saliva acts as a lubricant to prevent the small pieces of food from getting stuck in their esophagus, while our saliva has digestive enzymes.
The Stomach Stage
Another main difference between humans’ and dogs’ digestive systems is the enzymes produced to break down proteins, as dogs produce 100 times more enzymes than humans. The dog’s stomach produces three main digestive enzymes, which are chymotrypsin, pepsinogen, and trypsin. However, a dog’s stomach is designed to store food for 8-12 hours, and it releases food into the small intestine at regular intervals.
The Intestine Stage
The digested food goes through the small intestine first to be absorbed and processed. The first part of the small intestine is called the duodenum, which is connected to the liver, pancreas, and gallbladder. The duodenum’s main role is to reduce the acid level in the digested food. The second and tallest part is the jejunum, in which the food is processed by enzymes, acid, and the mechanical breakdown, and the nutrients are extracted and absorbed by villi. Villi transport the nutrients to the dog’s bloodstream. The ileum connects the small and large intestines, and the food waste goes through it. Finally, the large intestine, which is the beginning of the colon, removes moisture from unneeded digested food and moves to the rectum for disposal.
Pancreas and Liver Stage
It is not technically a stage as the pancreas and liver are not part of the digestive system tract, but they play a vital role. Fat, proteins, and sugars are broken down in the duodenum by enzymes created by the pancreas so they can be absorbed easily in the jejunum. The liver produces bile, and it is added to the chyme in the duodenum to digest fats. The pancreas controls the blood sugar level while the liver processes the absorbed nutrients from the jejunum to utilize it throughout the dog’s body.
Dangerous Foods for Your Dog
How many times have you found your dog giving you puppy eyes while you’re eating? All the time. They are interested in everything we eat. Dogs are curious creatures, and they like to explore and eat anything they find. However, some types of food are not good for them as their digestive system can’t handle them. We all know that sugar isn’t good for dogs, but we see some people feeding their dogs ice cream. It is potentially dangerous for two reasons: it is full of sugar, and the dog might be lactose intolerant. Almond nuts are not exactly toxic, but they might block your dog’s esophagus due to their size and shape, which will lead to choking. Other dangerous foods for dogs include chocolate, garlic, onions, cinnamon, and citrus fruits.
Understanding how the digestive system of dogs works will aid us in offering them the best kinds of food that will keep them healthy. It is essential to keep your dog’s digestion process in mind to figure out if they are having digestive issues. Keep your dog away from potentially toxic foods and consult the veterinarian if the dog’s stool is wet or changes color.