Introducing your dog's digestive system

Your dog’s body is unlike yours. Some people are tempted to feed their dogs pretty much the same foods that they eat. But while there’s little harm in sharing the odd thing off your plate, you have to remember that our digestive systems are very unlike each other’s.

Just like we need good nutrition to stay healthy, so do dogs – and this brief guide should give you some help towards understanding the types of food your dog is best able to eat.

Your dog has the fastest digestion of any mammal, and food will pass through them in under 9 hours.

Teeth and Mouth

Your dog handily outguns you when it comes to teeth – sporting 42 to your measly 32. And whereas you have a couple of teeth classed as ‘canines’ it’s no surprise that all of your dog’s teeth have evolved specifically to cut and grind meat and bones.

Your mouth is also full of amylase. This compound helps start the digestion process before the food even leaves your mouth. Your dog completely lacks amylase, and all the digestive action takes place in their body. This is why dogs notoriously wolf their food down as quickly as possible. There’s no time to savour and chew it! Instead, food is sent down to their stomach.

The Stomach

When food reaches your dog’s stomach that’s when the real action starts. A dog’s stomach acid is up to 100 times more acidic than yours. Along with enzymes such as pepsinogen, this acid helps break down unchewed food and even softens bones. This is why your dog is much better able to handle raw food than you.

Unlike you, however, a dog’s stomach cannot process grains such as wheat and barley. These are often added to dog foods to bulk them up to make it seem like you’re getting value for money. In fact, while dogs and omnivorous and will eat fruits and vegetables as well as meat, grain is a total nutritional waste. That’s the main reason that we only sell grain-free dog food: they might be a little more expensive than supermarket brands, but everything in them is chosen for maximum nutritional value.

Intestinal Tract

Reduced to mulchy pulp by the stomach and mouth the food passes into the small intestine first. This is where the valuable nutrients are absorbed by your dog’s body. Assuming you’re feeding them the right foods, this is where minerals and vitamins, proteins and fats are taken in.

The large intestine is essentially a long, muscular tube that passes the undigestible waste matter along to make stools.

And then…

Hopefully into a poop bag for proper disposal! Because dog faeces are so rich in meat, they are a fertile breeding ground for bacteria – far more so than human waste. That’s why contact is so potentially harmful, as dog faeces are home to billions of kinds of bacteria: many of which are harmful to humans.