Have you ever wondered how your dog’s digestive system works? In truth, our dogs’ diges-tive systems have some similarities to our own. Like humans, dogs transform food into usable nutrients through their digestive systems.
But did you know that gastrointestinal problems account for about 10 percent of veterinary visits? This surprising statistic from Dr. Jan Suchodolski of the Gastrointestinal Laboratory at Texas A&M University indicates that pet owners should begin understanding how their dogs digest food in order to care for their health. Find out how your dog’s digestive system works below.
Your dog’s digestive system journey
The digestion journey starts at the mouth, where dogs use their teeth to break down foods while saliva lubricates particles for easier swallowing and digestion. As detailed by experts at Cal Poly Pomona, the food particles then enter the esophagus, where muscles contract in waves to push food to the stomach.
Once food arrives in the stomach, the bulk of digestion begins. Here, veterinarian Dr. Randy Kidd explains, acidic juices break down food particles. The canine stomach can grow substantially to hold a lot of food at once, so that food spends a longer time (approximately 4 to 8 hours) there.
Next, according to Dr. Kidd, the remaining food particles—now termed chyme—enter the small intestine for nutrient absorption into the body. This is where the protein from high-protein snacks like Best Bully Sticks is distributed for use across the body.
Once all the nutrients are absorbed by your dog’s body, the remaining matter makes its way to the end of your dog’s digestive journey. A healthy dog should go to the bathroom at least once a day, according to the American Animal Hospital. Once your dog eats, you should expect to take them outside within a few hours.
Signs of canine gastrointestinal issues
What if your dog isn’t going to the bathroom, or is going much more frequently than normal? These symptoms are not usual, but they do indicate indigestion. Other symptoms include:
- Loss of appetite
- Pain or tenderness in the abdomen
- Weight loss
These symptoms could be caused by a variety of gastrointestinal issues, like gastroenteritis, colitis, pancreatitis, or indigestion. If you notice any changes in your dog’s appetite, behavior, or bathroom habits, don’t hesitate to reach out to your vet.
Understanding how your dog digests food can be helpful, but only certified vets can diagnose what’s going wrong for your dog or tell you how to treat it.
How to prevent indigestion
To keep your dog happy and healthy, craft a custom diet to their specific nutritional needs. Experts suggest feeding your dog minimally processed foods free of artificial preservatives or colors.
Natural treats like bully sticks can be a great option for pet owners seeking to cut out preservatives from their dogs’ diets. Plus, Best Bully Sticks products are highly digestible. Rawhides are a choking hazard and aren’t digestible by dogs. Meanwhile, bully sticks are made from the beef of the cow, not the hide—so they’re processed like food in your dog’s digestive system.
If you have other questions on how to prevent canine digestive issues, talk to your vet.