Short answer: Digestion time is six to eight hours for adult dogs, depending on the size and weight. But there are a lot of things that can affect this process. The answer to the question is complicated and since each dog is an individual, the answer varies with each individual. An understanding of the digestive process and the types of events and things that can have an impact on that process is very helpful when trying to understand the domestic dog and how long it will take for him to digest his dinner.
How The Dog's Digestive System Works.
The dog's digestive system begins with the mouth and includes the esophagus, stomach, liver, pancreas, intestines, rectum, and anus. The process of digestion begins when the dog picks up food with its mouth and starts eating. Dog's teeth are designed more for tearing than chewing; that is why they often seem to gulp their food. Food enters the dog's digestive system at the mouth, and finally, the leftovers exit through the anus. Saliva has no role in the digestive process, except as a moisturizer. The functions of saliva include lubricating the passage of food to the stomach and moistening the oral mucous membrane. Saliva helps dogs to regulate their body temperature too.
The dog food is chewed, or not, and passes from the mouth and throat through the esophagus for the dog to begin breaking down the dog food in the stomach.
A dog's digestion means that a healthy dog ingests raw materials (food), changes these raw materials into usable nutrients, and excretes in the form of feces those substances that have not been digested or that are not needed.
Digestion begins in the dog's stomach, where nourishment can be stored long enough to be mixed with gastric juices. These juices are highly acidic and contain protein-digesting enzymes and hormones.
One of the differences between dog digestion and a human one is that the role of the large intestine is reversed. In humans, food is digested in the large intestine and passed to the small intestine for refinement. In canines, food is prepared for digestion in the large intestine and passes to the small intestine for digestion and utilization.
The Dog's Stomach
The dog's stomach is a large, muscular sac located between the esophagus (throat) and the small intestine. Assisting in the early stages of digestion through three important functions.
A short-term food storage site, permitting dog food to be eaten quickly, while it is available, and saved for later when it can be digested over a longer period of time.
A blender, or mincer, in which food is ground into tiny pieces as it's mixed with enzymes, hydrochloric acid, and other substances to create a liquefied food called chyme.
And the stomach controls the rate of release of chyme into the small intestine, releasing the chyme only as needed.
The inner surface of the stomach sits in large folds which enable it to expand substantially when a meal is eaten. Nourishment doesn't move uniformly through the digestive system and doesn't leave segments of the digestive tract in the same order as it arrives. The stomach absorbs very few substances.
Chyme is gradually released from the stomach into the small intestine, where the process of digestion continues. The stomach controls the rate at which chyme is released according to the energy needs of the dog.
The Dog's Small Intestine
The small intestine comprises three segments (duodenum, ileum, jejunum). Each has a slightly different structure and function, but their overall function is to complete digestion so that absorption can occur.
A dog's digestive system will only use as much food as needed for the physical output of energy, keeping the rest of the food stored in the stomach until more energy is required. As the meal becomes chyme in the stomach, it is slowly released into the small intestine for further digestion and absorption of nutrients. The amount of time it takes for a dog to digest food in the stomach varies with the meal's ingredients and several other factors.
Defecation; passing waste from the anus, occurs when the stomach is filled. There is a chemical trigger that signals the brain that space is needed to accommodate the fresh supplies. A dog will poop after a meal, but it is not the most recent meal that is evacuated. What is thrown out is the waste from the prior meal, making room for the waste of the current meal.
What Can Affect The Process Of Digestion?
Highly processed foods can interfere with the time it takes for a dog to digest food since it is not the diet the dog's digestive systems have long been adapted to. Many drugs also impact how long it takes for a dog to digest food. Stress, too, can change a dog's digestive system, sometimes producing diarrhea and or vomiting.
Exercise is an essential part of dog digestion. The more energy a dog uses, the more rapidly their body will take the chyme stored in the stomach and send it to the intestinal tract where it can be turned into energy to power the output of physical strength. For dogs, humans, and many other animals, food is fuel that should be burned off actively rather than stored and saved for later. When it comes to older dogs, sometimes they need some extra stimulation for the message to reach the colon that evacuation is necessary. That is when it becomes a necessary kindness to encourage walking after a meal.
What Is The Dog's Normal Diet?
Dogs are carnivores, meaning "meat-eaters". They get their energy and nutrient requirements from a diet consisting mainly or exclusively of animal tissue, whether through hunting or scavenging. Domestic dogs don't depend solely on animal flesh for their nutrient requirements, and those that also consume non-animal food are called facultative carnivores. This means that domestic dogs can benefit from a more varied diet, as long as the main source of protein is meat.
The trouble with feeding raw meat is first that dogs are not wild animals who hunt for food. They have been domesticated for hundreds of years; therefore, they have evolved to eat foods similar to humans that have starch and carbohydrates present in the diet. This might mean that if a dog is fed purely raw meat, it will be deprived of essential minerals and vitamins. As with humans, a varied diet is best, with everything in moderation. Raw meat might be given as a treat, provided there are no bones to get stuck somewhere in the digestive system. Fish, like sardines, provide a welcome variation in the diet as well and are also full of available calcium.
Two of the most popular pet foods in the USA are EVO Red Meat and California Natural. The meat meal has these ingredients listed: Beef, lamb, eggs, herring oil, apples, carrots, tomatoes, chicory root, alfalfa sprouts, cottage cheese, sunflower oil, buffalo, potassium chloride, natural flavors, minerals, and vitamins. The chicken meal has these ingredients listed: Chicken meal, peas, pea fiber, sunflower oil, potassium chloride, chicken fat, natural flavors, minerals, and vitamins. These two pet food varieties are a mixture of several ingredients designed to give the animal the maximum benefit.
Do Dogs Digest All Foods At The Same Rate?
Different foods are digested at different speeds. Some prepared pet food has a large amount of grain and will be digested more slowly than food that is protein-rich. The dog's digestive system craves a diet full of protein as the high caloric content fuels their active lifestyle.
Grain is a staple ingredient for most dog foods. Dry kibble is often heavily grain-based, while most wet canned food has a higher protein and calorie content. Wet food will usually yield a faster digestion time, whereas dry food will yield a slower burn. Canned dog food is pre-cooked and offers no challenge to the dog digestive system; canned food is digested about 3 or four times faster than raw meat or dry preparations.
A well-balanced diet is a critical part of keeping your dog's digestion healthy and regular.
Digestive Problems In Dogs.
Dogs can get indigestion and heartburn. Conditions that affect a dog's digestive health are sometimes similar to those which affect human beings. When eating, dogs produce a lot more acid than humans, and sometimes this acid causes indigestion and heartburn. Some believe that a canine digestive system has been adapted over time to survive on what is available in the wild, and that therefore, a dog needs to be fed raw meat for optimum health. The evolutionary process is continuously unfolding, and a dog's diet these days involves more hunting at the supermarket than hunting in the forest. Some people think raw meat is dangerous to humans, and it is much more likely to harbor parasites and other harmful things.
Parasitic infestation of the animal, both internal and external, will also have an impact on dog digestion. Intestinal parasites are parasites that live inside the host animal's gastrointestinal tract. Examples include worms, like roundworms, whipworms, hookworms, tapeworms, and protozoa, such as giardia and coccidia.
Animals can contract intestinal parasites in many ways. Parasites are usually transmitted when an animal ingests parasite eggs or spores from contaminated soil, water, feces, or meat. In the case of tapeworms, they can also be transmitted when a dog eats an infected flea. Intestinal parasites can cause malnutrition, weight loss, vomiting, diarrhea, and anemia. Besides making our pets sick, many of these parasites can also affect people.
Fleas can make your pet's life miserable. Fleas progress through several distinct life stages in which the pests transform from eggs into blood-sucking adults. Fleas can lead to flea allergy dermatitis with itching and skin infections. Fleas are also carriers of tapeworm eggs, and your dog can be infested by tapeworm after eating a flea. A large infestation with fleas can also lead to anemia.
Metabolism is a term used to describe the body's complex process of converting food into usable energy. This process involves the interaction of the digestive system, the endocrine system, the muscles, and the nervous system. Factors that interfere with an effective metabolic rate can include things such as age and weight. An overweight animal, or human, will have a slower metabolic rate. This is reflected in slower rates of digestion and digestive function. So: a healthy animal will have a fast, efficient metabolism and therefore digest food faster than an animal that has its health compromised in some way. Age is one key variable in understanding the length of dog digestion. Generally, the older the dog, the longer it takes for a dog to digest.
How Long Does It Take A Dog To Digest Food?
In the prime of the dog's life, with no parasites or other health issues, an adult dog's digestion will be healthy and digest a meal in 6 to 8 hours. Eating a meal will result in defecation in 15 to 20 minutes; making space for the new meal. Just as it is with humans, a dog's digestion and digestion time is a complicated matter and subject to many variations.
Instead of asking, "How long does it take a dog to digest food?" Ask, "How long will it take for my healthy 2-year-old Labrador that is fed 50/50 canned meat and kibble to digest it's meal?" Bearing in mind that the dog is very healthy but spends her time foraging for anything edible she can find and will eat a huge variety of things that she finds in the garden. Dogs are individuals. What, and when they eat and digest and defecate is determined by many factors. A working farm dog may have different dietary needs to those of a Chihuahua, or a Labrador.