Dog Digestive System How Long Does It Take A Dog To Digest Food?

Dog Digestive System ~ How Long Does It Take A Dog To Digest Food?

You might be wondering how many hours does it take a dog to digest food? Well, it’s never a bad idea for pet parents to learn a few things about dog digestion. Knowing how your dogs digest their food is as important as knowing what they should eat.

Dog digestive system

Your dog’s digestive system takes around 6 to 8 hours to digest a meal fully. This is just a general estimate. Dog digestion time varies depending on your dog’s breed, age, activity level, metabolism, and the type of food consumed. 

Understanding your dog’s digestion system 

The dog digestive system is much more than just a dog’s stomach. It includes all the organs that are involved in taking in and processing food. It begins with your dog’s mouth and includes the esophagus, stomach, liver, pancreas, intestines, rectum, and anus.

  • Mouth: Your dog’s canine teeth tear their food into smaller pieces. 
  • Esophagus: The esophagus transports the food from your dog’s mouth to the stomach. No digestion occurs in your dog’s esophagus.
  • Stomach: The stomach produces the digestive protease enzymes to aid digestion. Once there, the stomach acids break the food down further. The food then moves from the stomach and into the small intestine. 
  • Small intestine: Here the food mixes with more juices from the pancreas and the liver via the gallbladder. The small intestine is responsible for absorbing most of the nutrients that they need from their food. Nutrient absorption takes place along the entire length of your dog’s small intestine.
  • Large intestine: By the time your dog’s food reaches the large intestine, most of the nutrients have already been absorbed into their body. Anything that can’t be digested is pushed through the large intestines. Here any remaining water in the food is absorbed into the dog’s body. 
  • Rectum: This waste, formed into a stool, is stored in the rectum until there is enough there to trigger the dog to defecate. Once nature calls, the waste in form of stool is removed from their body.

Interesting facts about your dog’s digestive system

Here are five interesting facts about your dog’s digestive system.

  • Just like us, dogs can also get indigestion and heartburn. In fact dogs’ stomachs produce up to 100 times more acid than we do! 
  • High cholesterol diet doesn’t have the same impact on dogs’ hearts and digestive systems as ours. Dogs’ bodies are designed to accommodate animal fat.
  • A dog’s digestive tract is almost 6 times its body length. A meal usually takes 6-8 hours to pass through their body. The dog digestive system has the shortest total processing cycle time of any mammal.
  • Dogs have more teeth than humans. There’re 42 teeth in a dog’s mouth. 
  • Dogs lack the saliva enzymes that start breaking down food.
  • Your dog’s food moves through their GI tract three times as fast as us. Dogs have a short GI tract as they’re designed to eat raw meat. Their stomach and digestive systems are not meant to digest grains, plants, and seeds efficiently unless they are grounded. These food items usually come out in their feces undigested.
  • Dogs are not adapted to produce salivary enzymes called amylase for the breakdown of food.

Factors that impact dog digestion 

How long the digestive process take in a dog can vary greatly depending on several factors.

  • Diet: One of the most important factors that can greatly affect your dog’s digestion time is diet. A high-protein diet is digested a little more quickly. While a doggie diet that is high in carbs and fibre is going to be a little harder to digest. That’s one of the reasons why older dogs need more protein. It won’t sit around in their digestive tract for nearly as long as a high-fibre meal.
  • Age: You might have heard that older dogs have different dietary needs. This is because their aging digestive system is compromised and no longer able to work as efficiently as young dogs. As a result, they need more nutrient-dense food to stay healthy in their old age. For aging dogs, you can expect a significant increase in digestion time.
  • Breed: Smaller breeds naturally digest foods more quickly than large ones. This is because their stomachs and intestinal tracts are much smaller. Thus, you can expect their digestive cycle to take less time to digest a meal fully as compared to larger breeds.
  • Exercise: Just like humans, exercise aids the digestion process in dogs. When your dog is engaged in physical activities, their body has a reason to process that food a little more quickly.
  • Medication: Drugs and antibiotics can also play a role in how long your dog takes to digest their food. Your vet can give you a better idea if your dog’s medication can slow or speed their digestive process.
  • Type of food: The type and volume of food intake significantly affects your dog’s digestion. The protein content of the dog food and how it is rendered has a significant impact on how long it takes to digest. How your dog’s food has been processed also makes a difference. 

Do you know? Raw dog food is the most natural and digestible food for your dog’s digestive system. Dogs thrive and take less time to digest raw food. The more processed your dog’s food is, the lower is the digestibility value.

Check out key tips to keep your dog healthy.

How long does it take for a dog to poop after eating? 

Food tends to take between 6 and 8 hours to pass through a dog digestive system. That means your dog needs around 6 and 8 hours after eating for a poop. However, with puppies that time is much less, around 4 hours.

You might have seen your dog pooping after every meal. Well, a poop they do after a meal could actually be food they ate at the previous meal, rather than the one just eaten. 

The type of food and its ingredients will have a big effect on how long after eating your dog will poop. Wet food can pass through your dog’s digestive system much quickly than dry food due to the high-water content.

What happens if foods are not digested properly in dogs?

Improper digestion in dogs tends to have either of two results: diarrhoea or constipation. Your dog’s stool is a good indicator of their digestive health. So, if you notice constipation, diarrhoea, or straining while toileting, it is important to monitor your dog and discuss it with your vet.

Senior dogs and puppies are more prone to digestive imbalances as are dogs on antibiotics. However, if your dog has long-term digestive issues, you might want to consider giving them probiotics. But remember to choose the right probiotic for your dog for the precise situation you’re dealing with.

Symptoms of digestive issues in dogs

Here are a few signs that your furry companion has a problem with digestion:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Weight fluctuation
  • Lack of appetite or reduced appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Bloating 
  • Dehydration
  • Lethargy

Your dog may show these symptoms if their digestion system isn’t working properly. You may want to speak with your vet if the problems persist. Sometimes, the problems with your dog’s digestion are a symptom of a more significant problem.

Make sure your dog receives a healthy and well-balanced diet. A dog suffering from a digestive problems needs to stay hydrated, particularly if the dog is vomiting or has diarrhea.

Pet parent tip: It’s always good to consult with your vet when starting your dog on a new diet. All food transitions should be done slowly over 1-2 weeks to allow your dog’s body time to adjust.

What happens to food that can’t be digested?

The undigested food is often made up of nutrients that can’t be absorbed into the body due to low digestibility, or simply cannot be broken down, like fibre. These undigested foods just come out of their body in form of stool. A dog’s stool is made up of water, undigested food, some bacteria, and inorganic matter that cannot be digested.

Final thoughts

Understanding of your dog’s digestive system is an important part of pet parenting. We hope that you have learned everything you ever wanted to know about dog digestion. 

Problems with your dog’s digestive system are often a symptom of stress, poor diet, parasites, or digestive issues. Knowing what is normal for your pet will help you identify irregularities sooner and can seek veterinary advice. It also gives you a greater understanding of how to keep your pet at their healthiest and happiest.

Shoot us a message and let us know if this blog was helpful. Until next time everyone!

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