How long does it take Dog to Digest Food?

How long does it take Dog to Digest Food?

Well, Mostly dog owners don’t spend a lot of time on thinking about their own digestive processes, much less those of their dogs. The only times we really engage with dog digestion are when we feed our dogs and when we trot them out to eliminate their waste. But what happens to a dog’s kibble or canned food from the time it enters their gaping maws to when it passes out the other end? How long does it take for a dog to digest food? If you were to hazard a guess, you could probably name the major stops along the route.

Food enters through the mouth and slides down the esophagus on its way to the stomach. From there, it takes in the sights of the small and large intestines before departing the body. If that seems too simple, it is! Dog digestion involves a staggering number of organs, fluids, and enzymes, all playing their roles to convert food into usable energy. Whatever is left, as surplus to requirements, is expelled through the anus in the form of fece.

Let’s take a closer look at these processes and answer the following questions along the way:

  • What are the major components of the dog digestive system?
    1. From mouth to stomach
    2. A fantastic journey through the small intestine
    3. The large intestine and waste removal
  • Assorted questions about the dog digestive system:
    1. Where does digestion actually take place?
    2. How long does food stay in the stomach?
    3. How long does it take for a dog to digest food?

Basics of the canine digestive system

Part 1: From mouth to stomach

The front end of a dog’s digestive system encompasses the mouth, esophagus, stomach and small intestine. Dog digestion begins almost immediately with saliva in the mouth. You may have wondered why dog tongues are so slobbery. Since they spend less time chewing food than humans tend to, all of that saliva kick starts the process of breaking down and coating food particles for smoother passage through the esophagus. The esophagus is heavily muscle, actively pushing food into the stomach.

Part 2: A fantastic journey through the small intestine

A dog’s stomach is a super-acidic environment, which is useful for opportunistic omnivores, helping them more easily digest things like bone and raw meat. Yes! Dogs can digest bones! Here, solid food is render into a substance called chyme, which is made up of food, water, and acid. All food — from your Michelin 3-star-rated fine cuisine, to your dog’s canned chunks or dry kibble — ends up as this highly acidic glop. As this chyme proceeds into the small intestine, the real work of digestion — the isolation of nutrients that can be used by the body— is done.

There are three parts of food’s journey through the small intestine. In the first part, the duodenum, chyme is treated with enzymes and hormones from the liver and pancreas, which reduce the acid level of the chyme. The glop is now prepared to have the rest of its nutrients extracted and absorbed. This happens in the second part of the small intestine, which is called the jejunum. This part of a dog’s small intestine is basically covered in little probes, which, like fly paper, pick up and absorb useful nutrients into the bloodstream.

Part 3: The large intestine and waste removal

The final part of the small intestine is the ileum, which absorbs whatever nutrients remain. By this point, the once-acidic chyme gloop is now a sort of thicker pasty substance. You will be surprised how little of the food you or your dog eats is actually use by your body. Did you ever wonder why your dog’s digestive system produces so much poop? It’s because the actual nutrients — proteins, vitamins, fats and so on — that your dog’s body can utilize are minuscule in proportion to the physical volume of most dog food.

How long is this part of a dog’s digestive system? It varies by size. If you stretched out a dog’s small intestine, it would be nearly three times as long as the dog. The back end of a dog’s GI tract is fairly short by comparison, just over a foot long, give or take, depending on the dog. Its primary components are the large intestine and the anus. The large intestine is basically a water remover and garbage compactor. Having spent the first half of its journey being mashed up, dissolved and sifted, any parts of a dog’s meal that cannot be used is treated by bacteria, and reconstituted into a solid package we call poop.


Assorted questions about dog digestion!

Read:  10 Facts About Dogs You May Not Know

How long does food stay in a dog’s stomach?

Though dogs are omnivores, they are opportunistic ones. That means that while they can eat almost anything, their digestive systems can’t break down and utilize everything. Animals like humans or cows, to name two, have GI tracts made to process plant matter. As a result, their intestines are much longer and more drawn out than those of dogs. Since cows depend on vegetable matter, they even get extra compartments in their stomach, and can regurgitate food to chew and digest it fully.

A dog’s digestive system, depending more on meat proteins, is much more efficient. Depending on its digestibility, food can stay in a dog’s stomach much longer than either a human or a cow. If the meal is not strictly meat, comprising a variety of vegetable, grains and proteins, it will have vacated the stomach completely in 12 hours after eating. Compare that to four to five hours in a normal adult human.

Where does digestion actually take place?

As you may have gleaned from tracing food’s intricate journey from the food bowl in your kitchen to the poop bag in the dog park, the multiple processes of canine digestion means that it does not happen in one spot. From the moment comestibles come in contact with teeth and saliva in the mouth, digestion is happening.

A dog’s digestive system is just that: a system, and digestion takes place at every point along the course. Food is disassemble in a variety of ways, physically and nutritionally, from the mouth to the stomach. The majority of its conversion into absorb able nutrients happens in the small intestine, and digestion is only complete when your dog assumes the familiar position for excreting waste.

How long does it take for a dog to digest food?

Unfortunately, there’s no set answer! So many variables are involved, that even in a perfectly healthy dog, the time to digest a single meal can be dramatically different. Does your dog drink enough water? That has an effect on digestion time as well. Large dog breeds take significantly longer to digest food than small ones.

Is your dog sedentary, spending most of the day on the couch? Does the dog get a couple of walks a day? Exercise has a definite impact on motility. Or the way that the muscles of the digestive system propel food through the process. Total time from entry to exit depends on a wide range of factors, from the size of the dog to the quality of the food. Wet food takes less time to digest than dry kibble. Speaking very broadly, operating at optimum efficiency, a dog can process a can of wet food in as few as four hours, while the same amount of dry food can take eight hours to make the same journey!



10 Facts About Dogs You May Not Know

10 Facts About Dogs You May Not Know

  1. Your dog is as smart as a 2-year-old toddler.
  2. There’s a reason your tot and your pup get along so well: they speak the same language. Or at least, they likely understand roughly the same number of words and gestures — 250!
  3. Dogs and cats both slurp water the same way.
  4. This may be hard to believe since dogs are such messy drinkers, but just like cats, our canine friends bend the tip of their tongue and raise liquid in a column up to their mouths.
  5. Your dog does have a sense of time — and misses you when you’re gone.
  6. If you think your dog knows when it’s time for dinner or a walk, you’re right! Dogs pick up on our routines and habits, and they also sense how much time has passed. One study showed how dogs responded differently to their owners being gone for different lengths of time.
  7. Your dog’s whiskers help him “see” in the dark.
  8. Okay, it’s not quite night-vision or a superpower, but those whiskers pick up on even subtle changes in air currents, providing your pup with information about the size, shape, and speed of things nearby. This allows your dog to better sense approaching dangers or prey — even at night.

    Photo by Jay Wennington on Unsplash
  9. Dogs only have sweat glands in their paws.
  10. More specifically, they are found between their paw pads. That’s why it can help to wet the bottom of their feet on a hot day, and it’s also why dogs rely on panting as a means of cooling down.
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  12. On average, a dog’s mouth exerts 320 pounds of pressure.
  13. The tests were done on a German shepherd, American pit bull terrier, and Rottweiler. In comparison, human beings exert 120 pounds, white sharks exert 600 pounds, and crocodiles exert a whopping 2,500 pounds! Dogs also have ten more adult teeth than humans — 42 versus 32.
  14. Your one-year-old pup is as physically mature as a 15-year-old human.
  15. Of course, different breeds age a little differently. Large dogs age faster than small ones. You can get a more exact comparison for your dog using this nifty Dog Age Calculator.
  16. Your dog’s sense of smell is 1,000 to 10 million times better than yours.
  17. Depending on the breed, your dog has between 125 million to 300 million scent glands — compared to only 5 million for humans. And the part of your dog’s brain that controls smell is 40 times larger than yours — that’s true, even though the canine brain is much smaller than the human, relative to size. A human’s brain is about 1/40th of their body weight while a dog’s brain is only 1/125th. Don’t feel too smug, though — an ant’s brain is 1/7th its body weight.
  18. Dogs can hear 4 times as far as humans.
  19. Puppies may be born deaf, but they quickly surpass our hearing abilities. Dogs can also hear higher pitched sounds, detecting a frequency range of 67 to 45,000 hertz (cycles per second). The human range is from 64 to 23,000 Hertz. In both dogs and humans, the upper end of hearing range decreases with age.
  20. Your dog can smell your feelings.
  21. Your pup can pick up on subtle changes in your scent, which can help him figure out how you are feeling — such as by smelling your perspiration when you become nervous or fearful. It’s also likely how dogs can detect certain diseases or know that a household member is pregnant.
  22. We hope this list of odd facts about dogs gave you a better appreciation of your best friend. They are truly incredible animals and companions.