How does a dog's digestive system work?
by Bernie's Best
September 12, 2022
It starts when he starts to 'chew' the food and his body begins to create digestive enzymes to help break it down. As it is chewed, it goes down his esophagus through several organs and eventually the residual waste that isn't broken down and absorbed comes out his backside as poop.
The three main classes of nutrients he breaks down are proteins, fats and carbohydrates. Even though he's also likely taking in other nutrients like vitamins, minerals and even water, they are absorbed into his body in pretty much the same form they come in as, although they often need to be released from the carbs, proteins or fats they were attached to.
In your dog's mouth, saliva starts helping the digestive process. It has a lubricant (mucus) that coats it to make it easier when it's swallowed and to make it an easier trip through the digestive system.
Next Stop--Stomach City!
After your dog swallows his food, it goes down his esophagus. The muscles in the esophagus contract to help push it through (a wave motion called peristalsis) and get it to the stomach. The stomach is a multi-faceted organ. It stores food, mixes food (digestive enzymes and acids add in to help food break down) and it acts as a monitor valve that keeps it moving at an appropriate rate to its next stop, the small intestine.
In the stomach, protein-digesting enzymes are secreted (these are called proteases), as well as more mucus and hydrochloric acid (produced by the stomach). Pepsin in its inactivated form (pepsinogen) is secreted to stop the stomach from digesting the cells that it needs to continue to produce it and is activated when hydrochloric acid gets there. This activated Pepsin allows enzymes to do their work of breaking down food while mucus lubricates it more and protects your dog's stomach lining--otherwise, it would be digested by its own enzymes!
Canine Small Intestine: Big Workload!
The main site for digestion in the small intestine is the duodenum. At this point, even more digestive enzymes (proteases for protein, amylase for carbs and lipase for fats) are added into the chyme, with the goal of breaking food down even more for maximum nutrient absorption. The pancreas is one of the major glands of the body and it releases both digestive enzymes into your dog's gut and hormones into his blood.
Pancreatic juice also neutralizes the pretty acidic chyme because it has sodium bicarbonate (a common digestive aid). The pancreas also helps regulate blood sugar levels with the insulin it releases.
Where, Oh Where, Do The Nutrients Go?
The liver is associated with the small intestine and digestion in a big way. Bile is always being produced in your dog's liver and stored in his gallbladder. He passes it into his gut through the bile duct when it's needed for digestion. Bile has salts that turn fat into teeny little globules that lipase enzymes can process. It's actually the pigments in bile that gives poop its color. Food is fully digested in the small intestine and once it's broken into its smallest form, it's absorbed across the wall of the intestine into the blood. This is how the products of digestion are carried to the liver and metabolized. Fat is absorbed into lymph vessels before it gets transferred to the bloodstream.
Bernie's Perfect Poop: Poop The Way It Should Be
After all, a better diet supplemented with Perfect Poop means a better life!
Bernie's Notes On Nutrient Absorption
It’s me, Bernie!
Whew...who knew there was so much involved with getting food to turn into poop? Although, admittedly, we dogs aren't really interested in the back end as much as we are chowing down.
But what happens in your dog's digestive system is important and supplementing it well to ensure it does all it should is what makes it so we get all the nutrients we're supposed to from every bite.
So make sure you're adding Perfect Poop to every meal--it's going to make sure we're also getting every last bit of nutrition and that means a better gut and better health!
Wishing your dog perfection in digestion,
Chief Dog Officer