The Dog Digestive System
Digestive Tract and System Organs

Ever wonder if the dog digestive system is just like ours? The system organs are the same but when a dog is healthy and fed properly, digestion is faster.  For good reason. It saves him from illness.

The dog digestive system works great until we muck it up

How can it save him from illness? We'll get to that in a minute.

Just keep in mind that good digestion is key to health and could  boost dogs immune system.

There are more organs in this system than any other and there should be.

Digestion takes a lot of energy while food is being broken down in a way that can nourish every organ and every cell in the body to protect it from illness and disease.

Let's start with the big guys...

Digestive System Organs

  • stomach
  • pancreas
  • liver
  • gall bladder
  • small intestine
  • large intestine
  • colon

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.

dog teeth show dog digestion is different than ours

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.

Now Let's Talk Dog Saliva

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.

And On Down The Esophagus

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.

Dog Stomach, Enzymes and Acid

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.

The Dog Digestive System Organs

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.

Pancreas

  • Produces enzymes to break down food
  • Makes the hormone insulin (regulates carbohydrate and fat metabolism)
  • Produces glucagon (the opposite of insulin)

Liver

  • Produces bile to digest fats
  • Processes nutrients absorbed from the small intestine.
  • Detoxifies potentially harmful chemicals
  • Breaks down and secretes many drugs
  • Makes all the various chemicals the body needs to function
  • For more about the liver, see Dog Liver Health.

Gall Bladder

  • Stores and concentrates bile; then releases it into the duodenum to help absorb and digest fats

Small Intestine

  • Absorbs nutrients
  • Absorbs vitamins and minerals
  • Absorbs fats
  • Absorbs medications

Large Intestine/Colon

  • Absorbs water and any missed nutrients
  • Stores fecal matter until passage from the body

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.

What does the immune system have to do with digestion? I know you know the answer. There won't be anything to fuel the immune system without  a good dog digestive system.


Boost Dogs Immune System

First, What is the Immune System? I'll explain it in the most fun way possible so I don't bore either of us to death. Next I have a page where I share things you can do to Boost Dogs Immune System. Some are good for you too and cost no money whatsoever.

And lastly I'll share some surefire ways to boost the immune system with supplements. Your first clue was in the top picture on this page. Curious?


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