As a dog parent, understanding the basics of a dog digestive system is important. Have you ever wondered what happens once food enters a dogs a mouth and slides down the esophagus as it begins its journey to the stomach? We will basically answer that question and more.
As dog parents our time spent with the digestive system of our dogs is actually quite minimal. Those times are generally when we feed them, and again when we take them out for walks so that they can eliminate their waste. If we understand the digestive process a little better, it can potentially shed light on a handful of issues that your dog may experience.
Before our dogs food is converted into usable energy it must first take a journey from the mouth via the esophagus to the stomach. It then traverses the small and large intestines where the remains of what could not be processed exits the body. It is the incredible amount of organs, fluids and enzymes that convert the food into energy.
Breaking Down The Steps Of The Journey a Bit Further
The initial phases and elements of your dogs digestive system include the mouth, esophagus, stomach and small intestine. The saliva in your dogs mouth begins the digestive process. Have you ever wondered why dog tongues are so slobbery? Well, they can’t really chew food like humans, so it is the saliva that helps to break down and coat food particles for a smoother journey down the esophagus. The esophagus is actually heavily muscled and helps to actively push the dog food into their stomach.
Once the food arrives in the incredibly acidic environment known as the stomach (just like humans), it is basically rendered into a substance known as “Chyme”. Chyme is made up of food, water and acid. As this Chyme continues the journey into the small intestine, the critical part of digestion begins to take place. This is where the isolation of the actual nutrients that can actually be used (by the body) is completed.
This is the part where you are hoping that you have made proper food choices and / or have added a proper dog supplement to ensure that your dog gets the Veterinarian recommended vitamins and minerals.
Within the small intestine, the “duodenum” is armed with enzymes and hormones from the liver and pancreas, which then reduce the acid level of the Chyme. It creates a new package to be delivered to the “jejunum” which then extracts and adsorbs the precious nutrients needed for overall health. This portion of your dog’s small intestine is essentially covered in little probes that pick up and absorb useful nutrients into your dogs bloodstream.
The small intestine is not quite done yet. The final part of the Chyme journey through the small intestine is through the “ileum”. The job of the ileum is to make an attempt to absorb whatever nutrients remaining that were previously missed. The importance of proper dog nutrients are so critical, that this phase is a sort of quality control mechanism. Think, hey, did we miss anything good that we need? The end result of this process has turned that once acidic Chyme glob into a sort of thicker pasty substance.
Since the small intestine is so important, it may be helpful to understand its size. Generally, if you stretched out a dog’s small intestine, it would often be three times as long as the dog itself. Where the final phase (large intestine and anus) is approximately only one foot long.
The large intestine attempts to remove water and all the garbage (processed pet food fillers, etc) that were left unprocessed. This package is then treated by bacteria, and finally reconstituted into a package that we are all very familiar with which is your dogs poop.
That’s the story of what happens in your dog’s tummy.
If you want to learn more about your dog’s health , analyzing your dogs poop is a great first step. Learn about the things your dog poop can tell you about your dog’s health.