An Introduction to Dog Digestion

In order to take all possible causes of dog digestion problems into account, one must also consider the dog's mouth. As soon as dog food, grass or whatever else a canine puts in his mouth comes into contact with the teeth and tongue the digestion process begins.

The Digestion Process

The dog's mouth immediately starts producing saliva to help soften the food and to ease the chewing process. Chewed food then passes from the mouth to the esophagus and down into the stomach where stomach acids begin breaking food particles into something more digestible.

As the semi-digested food is moved from the stomach to the small intestine, nutrients from the food pass through the walls of the organs and into the bloodstream. Enzymes excreted from the liver and pancreas further speed the process of digestion.

The final leg of digestion occurs in the large intestine where the remaining fiber is broken down and where the last of the electrolytes and water are harvested from remaining food particles. Dog digestion ends when the remaining waste products are flushed from the body through defecation or urination.

How Dog Food Affects Digestion

An unbalanced diet can greatly affect regular digestion in an otherwise healthy dog. Processed foods made for human consumption are a regular culprit in dog digestion problems because these foods often contain substances that a dog's body cannot efficiently handle. Complex sugars and carbohydrates, grease and high fat content can all wreak havoc on your dog's health.

Even dog-specific foods can adversely affect digestion if overfed or fed incorrectly. A meat-only diet is not suitable for every dog just as dog diet food may provide insufficient energy to a working dog. When determining the ideal diet for your dog, you should consider everything from his size to his breed to his age and purpose as well as any pre-existing conditions like diabetes or hypothyroidism which may affect a dog's ability to effectively metabolize and digest certain substances.

How to Tell If Your Dog Has Indigestion

Some symptoms of indigestion include:

  • Irregular appetite
  • Refusing food
  • Eating grass or garbage
  • Vomiting
  • Foul breath

If your dog shows one or more of these symptoms, he likely is suffering from indigestion. Make sure he has plenty of water, and if the indigestion does not pass quickly consider a change in diet. Your veterinarian can diagnose the problem professionally and give you suggestions of how to ease your dog's discomfort.

Indigestion is a common problems in dogs who are not well fed or who simply are not eating foods which are suited to them. A change in diet can help soothe indigestion so your dog can live more comfortably and healthily.