How A Dog’s Digestive System Works

A Dog’s Digestive System: How It Works

Have you ever wondered how exactly your dog’s digestive system works? You see the two ends of it all the time—you have to feed your dog to get the system going and you (or someone else) have to pick up the poop that results from the digestive process. So, what happens in the middle?


Let’s take a look at a dog’s digestive system and how it works so that you can get to know your pet just a little bit better. That way, you can also be aware if something seems wrong with your dog’s digestive system.

A Look at the Digestive System

Dogs digest their food differently than humans. For one thing, the process of digestion in dogs isn’t really aided by chewing and saliva as it is in humans. For another, the digestive tract is a lot shorter (between 6 and 15 feet rather than 16 and 23) and most dogs digest quickly—often between 8 and 9 hours. 


Here are the parts of the dog’s digestive system that you should be aware of. 


The dog’s teeth are large and generally jagged, made up of 12 incisors, 4 canines, 16 premolars, and 10 molars. These teeth are more for tearing the food than for chewing it, so there really isn’t a lot of digestion taking place in the mouth. 


After the dog swallows its food, it travels through the esophagus and heads to the stomach. Dogs also have a great regurgitating ability so if their food isn’t chewed well enough to make it to the stomach, the esophagus will send it back up for your dog to chew and swallow it again.


In the stomach, hydrochloric acid breaks the food down and turns it into liquid. Once it is in liquid form, the food can more easily travel throughout the body to provide the dog with the nutrients it needs. 

Small Intestine

Once the stomach has processed the food, it sends it on to the small intestine. There, the walls of the small intestine process the food, pulling nutrients from it and sending them out to the bloodstream where they will reach the various cells in need of fuel.


The pancreas aids in digestion by secreting hormones that help your dog absorb the nutrients from its food. Digestive enzymes such as amylase, lipase, and protease are sent from the pancreas to the small intestine to break down proteins, fats, and carbs respectively. The pancreas also aids in the proper release of insulin into the blood.


The gallbladder is responsible for storing bile which helps break down fat molecules so that they are more easily used within the body. 

Large Intestine

The large intestine is the final stop for the dog’s food before it’s eliminated. Here, matter that the dog can’t digest is combined with water and minerals and formed into feces. Later, your dog will eliminate this matter as poop.

A Look at Diet

As for any human or animal, the health of the digestive process is reliant upon the diet. If your dog is eating poorly, they are likely to suffer from poor digestion as well. That’s why it’s crucial that you know what your dog actually needs to be healthy. 


In the past, dogs survived mostly on meat and were truly considered carnivores. Their brains allow them to turn proteins into glucose, eliminating the need for them to eat carbohydrates. However, over time, as dogs tended to live more closely with humans, they began feeding more often on scraps and leftovers that were not meat. 


Therefore, a dog today is known as a facultative carnivore. Dogs can eat both meat and other types of food, and while ideally, they would only eat meat, they are usually healthy even with other types of foods and nutrients in their diets. 


Ideally, then, whatever dog food you purchase for your pet should be high in animal-based protein and lower in other ingredients. While dogs certainly need vitamins to maintain health, you should focus on making sure they get high-quality protein from whatever food they eat.


When you’re choosing the best dog food for your pet, keep an eye out for dyes and synthetic preservatives. Try to avoid foods high in sugar and salt. Find a food that is meat-based rather than plant-based, though there’s no need to avoid grains entirely. 


Most high-quality dog foods are made of meat, fruits and veggies to add vitamins, and some sort of grain to hold it all together. The best dog food is a dry one as this allows your dog to chew their food and keep their teeth and jaws strong. Plus, it’s often cheaper and easier to use.

Dog Food, Digestion, and Your Dog

In conclusion, you’ll find that one of the easiest ways to keep an eye on your dog’s digestion is by watching their poop. As gross as it may sound, dogs who have healthy digestive systems will pass poop that is brown, log-shaped, not too dry or runny, and proportionate in size to how much they eat.


When your dog passes poop, make it a habit to give it a cursory glance and make sure it isn’t filled with blood or worms or is wrong in color, shape, or size. 


If you’re looking for someone who can help you with picking up and keeping an eye on your dog’s poop, our team at Idaho Poop Scoop can help. We all love dogs and are dedicated to seeing our furry friends in all homes stay healthy and strong.


If you want someone who can take care of your yard by picking up the poop for you, don’t hesitate to give us a call. We would be happy to help you clean out your yard and make sure your dog’s poop indicates that their digestive system is working great. 

Reach out to us today to set up service to your yard!