A healthy digestive system is an essential part of your dog’s well-being, and the digestive system serves many vital functions, including ingesting food, absorbing important nutrients and vitamins, maintaining fluids and electrolyte balance, and also eliminating waste products. But, when it comes to your pup and their digestion, you may wonder how long does it take to digest food for your pooch? On average, the canine digestive system digests a meal anywhere from 8-10 hours. Still, it may take up to 12 hours, depending on the dog.
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What affects a Dog’s Digestive System?
Several things affect a dog’s digestive system, and these include some of the following.
- Breed. One of the factors involved in how a dog’s digestive system works is breed and genetics. Some breeds such as the German Shepherd, are notorious for gastrointestinal issues and sensitivities, and other breeds such as the West Highland Terrier  are prone to food allergies. Dogs who have food allergies often show signs of vomiting, diarrhea, and itchy skin, and their digestive systems cannot handle certain ingredients in dog foods such as beef, chicken, or corn.
- Age. Age is also a factor when it comes to your pup’s gastrointestinal (GI) health. In younger dogs and puppies, their digestive systems are just developing, and they need smaller meals and more frequent bathroom breaks. They also need more protein than older ones to help them grow. Adult dogs also differ in their nutrition requirements from senior dogs. Senior dogs have slower metabolisms as they age and require about 20% fewer calories than a growing puppy.
- Size. The size of a dog also matters when it comes to nutrition and digestion. For example, it may take less time for a Miniature Poodle to digest a meal than a St. Bernard. However, size does not always matter when it comes to how long it takes for a dog to digest a meal, and other factors come into play such as diet and lifestyle.
- Activity level. Exercise also affects the digestive process of your dog. As with people, the more energy your pup uses, the faster his body will use that meal and pass it through the intestinal tract. Athletic dogs and ones who are constantly in motion will burn more calories than couch potatoes. Their energy input should match their output. It’s important to offer your active pup the necessary nutrients and calories needed to maintain a healthy weight, and if you skimp on these essentials, you can cause your pooch some GI distress as well as unhealthy weight loss.
- Diet. Different types of foods digest at different rates. For example, a high protein meal will take less time to digest than a grain-based meal. A diet high in fiber will produce increased absorption of water into the GI tract, and as a result, more poop deposits.
- Health conditions. Health and medical issues can also affect the digestive processes in dogs. For example, a dog diagnosed with exocrine pancreatic insufficiency (EPI) will show symptoms of weight loss, diarrhea, and extreme hunger. Exocrine pancreatic insufficiency is caused by a reduced production of digestive enzymes by the pancreas. It can be treated with special diets and medications that contain digestive enzymes.
- Food allergies. Food allergies are perhaps one of the most common factors affecting a dog’s digestive system. In canines with food allergies, the immune system overreacts and produces antibodies to fight these allergens. Common food allergens consist of dairy products, beef, lamb, chicken, soy, or gluten. In an allergic reaction to a food, symptoms generally consist of itchy skin, diarrhea, and vomiting.
How long Does it take a Dog to Digest Food?
If we look at the dog’s GI tract, it covers quite a bit of territory. It consists of the mouth, including the teeth, tongue, and salivary glands, the esophagus, the stomach, the small and large intestines, the liver, the pancreas, the rectum, and the anus. The small intestine of a dog contains about 25% of total gastrointestinal volume, which is the same as humans and other omnivores.
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Food moves through the canine stomach a bit slower than ours, but food movement through the intestines is a little faster. Most people will digest a meal between 20 and 30 hours, while it takes a dog about 6-8 hours to digest a meal. According to the Innovative Veterinary Care Journal, humans and canines have their digestive storage capability reversed. For example, it was found that dogs contain 70% of their ingesta in their stomach and only 30% in their intestinal tract. In humans it is the reverse, we keep 30% of our ingesta in our stomachs and 70% in our intestinal tract. This means that canines digest food slower in their stomachs than humans, but it travels faster through the intestines.
When considering your dog’s digestive system, a meal takes quite a trip through their body. Food digestion in the dog starts with the mouth, where enzymes in the saliva start to break down food particles, then on to the stomach, where stomach acids and enzymes break food down further. Then the meal travels to the small intestines where remaining nutrients are absorbed, and then to the large intestine where waste products are formed. The last part of the journey concerns the waste products passing through the rectum and out the anus.
Since it takes about 6-8 hours for the average canine to digest a meal, it does not necessarily mean that he will defecate immediately afterward. Although the canine’s intestinal tract moves food through faster than a human’s, an adult dog may not defecate after a meal until 8 hours.
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What Common Problems Do Dogs Have With Their Digestive Issues?
There are several issues in dogs and their digestive systems, including some of the following.
. Dogs can get indigestion and heartburn just like humans. Researchers have found that stomach acids in dogs are similar to those in humans in a fasted state. However, after eating, dogs tend to produce more stomach acid than humans do. Some pups may be sensitive to certain foods and may suffer from heartburn, just as humans do. They can benefit from special diets and the use of antiacid medications. However, never give your pup medications without consulting with your veterinarian first.
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Vomiting and diarrhea
Gastrointestinal (GI) diseases often account for about 10% of veterinary visits, and diarrhea is among the more common complaints. Vomiting and diarrhea can be the first sign of a disease such as a kidney, liver, and some endocrine disorders. If your pup has vomiting, your veterinarian may suggest a 12-hour fast to “rest” the GI tract followed by a bland diet. Vomiting and diarrhea can also be signs of other issues, such as food allergies, colitis, or ingesting too much table food. If you have questions about your dog’s diet, and have noticed that they suffer from bouts of vomiting or diarrhea, consult your veterinarian.
How can I Promote a Dog’s Digestive Health?
Some owners may think that their dogs have an iron stomach and can eat anything. But the truth is they can’t. Although canines are omnivores, there are items that they cannot eat, including grapes, chocolate, and onions. Promoting digestive health in your pup starts with a conversation with your veterinarian. Each dog is unique, and just as each of them has its own personality and traits, each breed has many factors that affect its digestive system.
Veterinarians and nutritionists have put a lot of time and energy into canine nutritional research, and it is known that a well-balanced diet for your pooch should include an adequate amount of vitamins, minerals, essential amino acids and proteins, and specific essential fatty acids. These nutrients are necessary to build and maintain body functions, and the recommended amount of each nutrient depends on the dog’s age and life stage. For example, puppies and nursing mothers need more protein in their diets than adult dogs to meet their energy needs.
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Promoting digestive health in your dog entails communicating with your veterinarian and researching which diet is bPromoting digestive health in your dog entails communicating with your veterinarian and researching which diet is best for your canine companion. There are many commercial and veterinary diets available, as well as recipes for homemade diets as well.For example, many pet owners will adddog probiotics that helpwith digestion to their pup’s food. However, while probiotics can help support the immune system and maintain proper gut flora, they can’t make up for a poor diet.The important thing is to ensure that your pup is getting the nutrients and calories he needs to be healthy and happy.
READ MORE: How Long Can a Dog Go Without Pooping?
How long does it take for a Dog to digest food and poop it out?
The answer to this question depends on your dog’s breed, size, diet, and overall health. These factors affect how long it takes to digest food and eliminate it in the form of feces. In puppies, young dogs, and smaller breeds, the average time from meal to defecation is about 4-6 hours, and in larger pups, it can take about 8 hours. As mentioned above, food moves slower through the canine stomach than in the human stomach but moves faster through the small and large intestines. On average, it takes a dog 6-8 hours to digest food and eliminate it, in contrast to humans, where it can take up to 30 hours.
How long does food stay in a Dog’s stomach?
Depending on the diet, breed, and size of your dog, it can take between 6-8 hours for food to pass through a dog’s digestive tract. But perhaps the more important factor here is diet. Diets high in protein will pass through the stomach faster than those high in fiber and carbohydrates. High fiber diets help the intestines absorb more water, affecting the consistency and volume of your dog’s stools. Also, the overall health affects the length of time food stays in the stomach and whether they suffer GI issues or heartburn.
How long does it take for a Dog’s stomach to empty?
Compared to other mammals, dogs have a fairly simple stomach structure. Once the stomach is filled with a meal, it will empty within a few hours as the meal moves along into the small intestine. In the typical canine, it takes about 8-10 hours for a stomach to empty, at which time the empty stomach will send signals to the brain that it’s hungry and it’s time to eat again.
How long does it take for a Dog to poop something out?
When considering the dog’s digestive tract, it is really a long tube that passes from the mouth down the esophagus to the stomach, through the small intestine, forming stool in the large intestine pushing waste products out of the rectum. It takes about 10–24 hours for a meal to move through the entire digestive tract to elimination for the average dog. An interesting note is that some owners may wonder why their pooch might poop so much. The answer is that many commercial dog foods contain fillers that are not absorbed by the dog’s digestive tract. The canine’s digestive system is very efficient at extracting needed proteins, vitamins, and fats. It will eliminate those elements that are not nutritionally needed, resulting in larger volumes of feces.
- “German Shepherd.”Central Texas Veterinary Specialty & Emergency Hospital, 20 Feb. 2019, ctvsh.com/services/dogs/breeds/german-shepherd.
- Fadok, Valerie A. “The Basics of Dermatitis and Atopic Dermatitis in Westies.”Westie Foundation of America, westiefoundation.org/assets/dermatitisfadok-ebook.pdf.
- Coile, Caroline. “How to Feed the Senior Dog.”American Kennel Club, 24 Oct. 2018, akc.org/expert-advice/nutrition/how-to-feed-the-senior-dog/.
- Royal, Barbara, et al. “Understanding Pet Digestion.”IVC Journal, 12 June 2018, ivcjournal.com/understanding-pet-digestion/.