The dog’s digestive tract is the system which processes the food. It starts from the moment food is ingested and ends when it comes back out.
Firstly, it breaks down the food and collects all the necessary nutrients.
Secondly, the nutrients are delivered to the rest of the body. A good functioning digestive system is what keeps your dog rockin’.
Hopefully it goes without saying that this system needs to be taken care of, and it should only be filled with high quality products in order to keep it in top shape. As a dog owner it is YOUR responsibility to make sure that happens, and it’s your responsibility to detect issues early on.
The dog’s digestive tract is a real working horse.
Oh, and it is a complicated system as well! It consists of many small parts that keep it working like a well-oiled machine.
Before we go deeper into that topic, you have to understand that the dog’s history determines how it processes food.
Before dogs became domesticated, they were wild predators and they needed to hunt for their meal. They required A LOT of calories which were burned at super high speed.
The dog’s digestive system is made out of several sections. It starts with the tongue and ends with the anus. Each and every part plays its own important role in the cycle. If one of them fails to work, the whole process of successful food processing is compromised.
The digestive tract consists of several separate systems which play their own important role in the digestion process. This lesson takes you a little deeper into these different systems.
Food needs to enter the system before it can be processed. The starting point of the food’s journey is the dog’s mouth, and it all begins with the teeth and the tongue. The teeth crush the food into smaller pieces, and the tongue helps to redirect the food into the throat. The throat then leads the food towards the stomach.
Saliva is delivered into the mouth and throat to make the food “slide” better towards the stomach.
The next stop is the stomach. This is the facility where the food gets broken down into a mushy substance. Unlike in humans, where food stays in the stomach for 30 to 60 minutes, the food can stay up to 12 hours in the dog’s stomach!
Remember what I said about the dog’s history? Well, this is the result of their wild ancestors. Wolves could be without food for an extended period of time. Therefore they had the ability to store their food (and thus the energy) for when they actually needed it.
The small intestines
So, the stomach broke down the food into a mushy substance, which is now transported to the intestines. The first passage is through the small intestines, which is made out of 3 subdivisions.
First there is the duodenum. This organ is connected to the liver, pancreas and gallbladder and delivers enzymes which are then introduced to the food through small channels. These enzymes help to break down the food and prepare it for easy intake later on.
Next stop is the jejunum, where the nutrients in the food are absorbed. This is an absolute critical part of the whole process because this is where all the good stuff is collected and distributed to the rest of the body.
As the food moves further down the channel, more and more nutrients are absorbed and the leftovers move towards the ileum. The ileum is the passageway between the small intestine and the large intestine.
The large intestine
Alright, so the food has now passed the small intestine and most of the nutrients are absorbed. What’s left now is a very liquid form of poop. The purpose of the large intestine is to collect the moisture from the fecal matter and deliver that moisture to the body.
If this process would not happen, the dog would be more likely to suffer from dehydration. The large intestine is the last stop of the process and the fecal matter is stored here until it goes out through the anus.
Thank you for staying with me, I hope you've learned some useful information.
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