Dog Digestive System Basics

Written, with love, on: October 4, 2019

Heed these takeaways:

  • Your pup’s digestive system plays a crucial role in ensuring his general health and wellbeing.
  • The digestive system absorbs nutrients, maintains appropriate fluid levels and eliminates waste.
  • Once food is broken down, nutrients are absorbed along the entire length of the small intestine.
  • Feeding a high-quality diet can help maintain proper digestive balance.

 

In some ways, your pup’s digestive system is a lot like what’s under the hood of your car — as long as it’s all running smoothly, you don’t really pay too much attention to how it actually works.

But when something goes wrong, you suddenly start to wonder what the cause of the problem is and how to fix it.

If your pup suffers from a sensitive stomach or some other digestive issue, you probably want to learn more about the dog digestive system and how it works. If that’s the case, keep reading for a quick tour of your dog’s gastrointestinal tract.


The Mouth

The mouth is the first destination on our doggy digestive tour and it’s where the entire process begins. While us people can chew with a side-to-side motion to grind our food down, dogs can only chew up and down. Their jaws and teeth are designed to bite off big chunks, chew them, crush them and gulp them down quickly. 

And unlike human saliva, which features enzymes to help us digest food, the job of doggy saliva is simply to provide lubrication and ensure the food is easy to swallow.


Esophagus and Stomach

Muscular contractions help the esophagus carry food from your pup’s mouth to his stomach. Once it gets there, hydrochloric acid begins breaking the food down. 

An enzyme known as pepsin also comes into play, helping your pup digest the protein in his food, while mucus provides further lubrication and protects the stomach wall. 

The food, which by now has been processed to a thick liquid known as chyme, is then pushed towards the small intestine.


Small Intestine

This is where the doggy digestive process really kicks into gear. The small intestine is the longest section of your pet’s gastrointestinal tract, and the first part of it is known as the duodenum.

It’s here that the liver releases bile and the pancreas introduces additional digestive enzymes into the mix. These enzymes proteases (to continue the protein digestion process), amylase (to digest carbohydrates) and lipase (to digest fat).

These nutrients are then absorbed along the entire length of the small intestine, giving your pup all the building blocks he needs to stay happy and healthy.


Large Intestine

After all those essential nutrients have been absorbed, the remaining material passes through to the large intestine. This is where water is extracted and gut bacteria ferment dietary fiber and help turn the leftover waste into stools.

This is where you come into the picture once again, tasked with the important job of cleaning up your pup’s “deposits”. Of course, you can learn a lot about how well your dog’s digestive system is functioning by looking at his poop — find out more in our dog poop guide.


How to Ensure a Healthy Digestive System

From emotional stress to illness and disease, there are several factors that can potentially throw your dog’s digestive system out of whack. However, the best thing you can do to ensure proper digestive balance is to feed a high-quality food like Heed.

Independently tested to ensure digestibility and nutritional quality, all of our blends are designed with proper digestive health in mind. We source only the best ingredients, prepare each blend in small batches, and add pre and probiotics to help nurture the beneficial bacteria in your dog’s gut.

Good digestion plays a crucial role in promoting good overall health. And when you feed a premium food that satisfies all of your pup’s nutritional needs, you’re doing your part to ensure that his digestive system runs as smoothly and efficiently as possible.

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