Ever wonder if the dog digestive system is just like ours? The system organs are the same, but here's what's different and what we don't think about - but we should.
First lets look at:.
Digestive System Organs
There are more organs in this system than any other
In addition to these organs, the dog digestive system includes the mouth, teeth, salivary glands, esophagus, rectum and anus.
To Chew or Not to Chew, That is the Question
Dog digestion begins in the mouth and this is where we humans make our first mistake in understanding.
I know you've noticed their teeth are different. Not only do they have fangs to grab, hold and tear, they have front teeth to scrape meat off of bones and molars to crush with.
Notice I did not say molars to chew with? Dogs cannot chew like humans! Why? They don't have a flexible jaw like we do. This makes it impossible for them to grind their food. (And their fangs would certainly get in the way if they could.)
Try it right now. Chew with only an up and down motion. Isn't that awful? It feels funny and would take forever to work wouldn't it?
Now we begin to see the difference in the dog digestive system compared to ours.
Our saliva has enzymes. The more we chew, the more the enzymes break down our food before it gets to the stomach. Dog saliva does not have enzymes!
Really. The dog digestive system is awesome. What best serves a dog is - their saliva kills
germs. If you've ever seen your dog eat something old and gross and not get sick, now you know why.
This also served my children when they got cuts and scrapes. The dogs were always willing to assist.
Here's another difference with the dog digestive system. Even though dogs cannot chew up their food before it goes down the throat, it must still be the right size and amount to fit. If not, the dog throws up! Your dog is not sick. It's just his body signaling him to do it again. This is totally natural. I know it's gross, but just leave the room and let him finish.
For both humans and dogs, hydrochloric acid and enzymes in the stomach helps break down the food. The acid in a dogs stomach is far stronger than ours so it can break down... you guessed it, chunks of raw meat.
Here lies another difference between us. Since a dog's stomach has far more acid and digests at a pH=1 (where we are pH=5 or so) the enzymes we use for breaking down certain foods are not available to dogs because those enzymes cannot survive the strong acid/low pH.
This is why dogs thrive on meat and cannot be vegetarians or eat an abundance of grains. (I wonder if that abundance in many commercial dog foods, also leads to canine diabetes, along with over-vaccinating.)
And it's also why whole nutritious grains must be cooked, and most vegetables should be pulverized, thus making them predigested.
Here is some of what each organ adds to the digestive process. Keep in mind these organs do more than this. I'll just summarize.
For more about the liver, see Dog Liver Health.
The dog digestive tract is much shorter than ours, so they have less time to absorb nutrients but they can also expel some toxins faster.