Today when I was feeding my dog a question pops up in mind that How Long does it Take for a Dog to Digest Food?
Well, a dog needs 4 to 5 hours to digest his food and ready to take the next meal, but it can take up to 12 hours to poop the same food. It broadly depends on the Quality of food, like a hard kibble take 8 to 10 hours to digest while the soft and wet dog food takes only 4 to 5 hours. The digestion process starts right from the mouth, but a poor-quality food with hard to digest ingredients will take more time to break up. A premium quality food with the more percentage of protein digest quickly and pass through all the stages easily.
Most of vet and studies agree on that hard kibble take double time as compare to soft, homemade, or wet dog food to digest. The reason is the food breakdown process in the internal organs takes more time in case of hard kibble. Dog’s metabolism work in a similar way as human but have some specific needs and different composition. Dogs need to eat nutritious food to stay active and healthy. The components of the dog’s diet are called nutrients after eating nutrient digested and processed by the body to fulfill needs.
What is digestion
The food that dogs eat break down into the simple form, into the smallest possible form that body can absorb and process called digestion. In the animals like dogs, this is a straight forward and simple process to understand, the digestion process takes place in the alimentary or digestive tract, whom we call the gut. It is a hollow tube that the food passes through and during this pass-through process, many acids and enzymes from the different organs discharge into this tube and mix up with the food. These enzymes which are called digestive enzymes speed up the process of hydrolysis; it is a process in which food is broken down to the minimum possible size. Moving forward it is necessary to look into all the aspects to get the answer to How long does it take for a dog to digest food? so let’s dig more.
Protein, fat, and carbohydrates are the primary nutrient need to be digested on priority. Other nutrients include vitamins and minerals digested as they found, but in most cases, they may be released from primary nutrients before they absorbed.
How Long Does It Take for a Dogs to Digest Food and How the Process Works
It starts with the saliva
Mouth breaks down the food mechanically and mixed with the saliva before it’s swallowed. So, the digestion starts right from the mouth. Dog’s mouth can crush the hard food easily as they are not strictly carnivores; their teeth suited to meat-eating. Dog’s mouth structure is strong enough to chew hard food like bones. Many dogs have a tendency to bolt down their food; they do not chew like humans but often chew only the toughest foods.
We are well aware that the taste and smell of food plays a critical role in the flow of saliva. You can see lip-smacking at mealtime and even dribbling that is a sign of saliva flow. The physical appearance of food also matters, and it is a reason dogs love to eat food with the toppings as it increases the production of saliva.
Saliva contains the mucus, a useful and practical lubricant that is helpful in many ways, but at first, it coats the food to help with swallowing.
The enzymes from the slobber are helpful to break down the starches into individual sugar molecules. The saliva moistens and starts the process of breaking down the food to help lubricate its way to esophagus down in to dog’s stomach. Saliva converts the food into a slippery blob that is called “bolus.” Here at this stage, more saliva means a comfortable journey and digestion as well.
Real Digestion Route
Now the bolus needs to make its way to the digestive system and needs to work its way through the esophagus. It pushes the bolus into stomach with its powerful muscles. These muscles work like motion waves and move bolus along the esophagus path and push it into stomach.
Super Acidic Environment - The Stomach
Food reach to the stomach within few second of swallowing, the stomach has several functions like
Store organ, it stores the diet that we eat all the food cannot make its way to the small intestine at the same time, so it’s stored in the stomach.
Mixing bag, yes it acts as mixing bag it mixes the good well with enzymes and lubricants that help to break down the food.
Regulating valve, it regulates the outflow of food from the stomach to the small intestine.
Protein digestion process starts from the stomach. It is a super acidic environment that can digest hard foods like raw meat and bones. Your dog is an omnivore, so its stomach and digestion system naturally designed for the same job. Here in the stomach of your dog, the bolus converted into an acidic goopy substance named as “chyme.”
The stomach muscles near the pyloric region (where the stomach connect with small intestine) are powerful; they act as a cement mixer. The contents are mixed thoroughly and pushed towards the muscular ring that acts as a valve and controls the intake of the small intestine.
The stomachs of dogs are more acidic as compared to humans, and the lining of the stomach covered with the mucus a thick substance that naturally protects the lining from the strong acids in the stomach.
Real Work of Digestion - The Small Intestine
The milky starch chyme has reached the small intestine, the key functions are performed here in which the nutrients are taken out from the food/chyme and injected into bloodstream that body can use those nutrients. The small intestine is the most extended digestive system in the body; it is nearly four times the dog’s body. If you are wondering How long does it take for a dog to digest food, it is essential to know how much time food spends in the small intestine. The small intestine of a dog has three distinct parts:
This part of the small intestine of your dog is approximately 10 inches long; here, chyme is treated chemically with the hormones and enzymes from the pancreas and liver. The acid level of chyme reduced in the result of this chemical treatment.
Pancreatic ducts and bile directly connected with the Duodenum, so the enzymes produced by both organs mixed with the chyme for further digestion process.
It is the most protracted part of the small intestine filled with the tiny finger-like projections that are known as villi. The millions of villi increase the surface area and allowing absorption of nutrients that taken into the bloodstream.
In this part of the small intestine, all the useful nutrients are absorbed and carry them into the bloodstream. They are used in the body as required by different parts of your dog and functions as well.
When the chyme reached this part of the small intestine, it turns thicker substance, and most of its nutrients are absorbed. It is a short section but similar to the jejunum because it also contains villi. The only function of this section is to ensure that no nutrients left in the chyme. It ensures all the nutrients are absorbed before the chyme makes its way to the large intestine.
Moving Forward Towards Waste Removal - The Large Intestine
By the time the food your dog eats reaches the large intestine, all the nutrients absorbed and digested. Water is absorbed in the part of the gut and some fermentation also takes place that is of dietary fiber by bacteria. This process is also associated with the flatulence, the production of gas. The material that enters into the large intestine consists of 60 to 70% of water and rest is undigested food and dead bacteria and some of the inorganic material.
Large intestine performs two functions the very first one is the absorption of water and second is the storage of waste until is removed from the body of your dog.
In the last stag, the feces are stored in the rectum and evacuated though the anal sphincter of your dog.
So, if everything in the process remains normal like a healthy dog always have then the waste removal will happen outside of your home especially when you take out your pooch for a walk.
How long does it take for a dog to digest food is no more a hidden myth for you, we can expect that you can better follow a feeding routine after reading this resource.
What are the Diseases that increase the Digestion Time
In the normal conditions when your dog is healthy and active the process remains really smooth, but some the internal diseases can increase the time of digestion. So when notice that the time of eating to waste removal is increased significantly and your dog is not eating normally that may be a cause of any under-listed disease, these diseases usually increase the digestion time.
- Congenital defect/ esophageal dilatation
- Parasites in the GI tract
- Gastrointestinal tumors
- Brochoesophageal Fistula in Dogs
- Esophageal Diverticula
- Foreign Objects in the Esophagus
- Inflammation of the Esophagus (Esophagitis)
- Esophageal Strictures
When you notice that your dog is taking more time to digest his food, you need to visit the vet on an immediate basis as early cure can resolve the problem easily.