Ever wonder about your dog’s digestive tract? Does it look the same as a human’s digestive system or does it have strange, unheard-of canine-specific organs? No worries, this basic overview will help you figure out exactly what goes on in your dog’s digestive tract.
Most people assume that a dog’s digestive tract starts at the mouth, just like in a person. However, dog’s mouths are designed differently than their human companions. A dog’s mouth is designed to bite off, chew and swallow larger pieces of meat from their chosen prey.
From the Mouth, Through the Esophagus and Into the Stomach
In a dog, much like in a person, the food passes from the mouth, through the esophagus and into the stomach. However, most veterinarians agree that the mouth and the esophagus are not part of the digestive tract; but rather are vessels that carry food to the digestive tract.
At the entrance of the stomach is the cardiac sphincter, which is similar to a valve in appearance. The stomach contains hydrochloric acid and digestive enzymes which work together to break down the foods that the dog has recently eaten.
The Small Intestine of a Canine
The small intestine of a dog is divided into three parts: the duodenum, the jejunum and the ileum. The duodenum is the first part and food enters the duodenum from the stomach through the second sphincter, known as the pyloric sphincter. The jejunum is the middle portion of the small intestine and it is the longest portion, followed by the ileum, which is the the smallest portion of the small intestine.
The duodenum continues processing the food further, and once the food reaches the jejunum, the nutrients begin getting absorbed by the dog’s body.
The Large Intestine of a Canine
The ileum of the small intestine attaches to the large intestine, which as indicated by its name, is larger than the small intestine. For example, a small dog of 40 pounds may have a small intestine that is 10 inches long and a large intestine that is 16 inches long. The largest part of the large intestine is commonly known as the colon, though colon and large intestine are often used as interchangeable terms, according to veterinarian Race Foster.
The large intestine stores processed food, or feces, until it is ready to be expelled from the body through the dog’s anus.
All in all, an owner can estimate that it will take between 8 and 9 hours for the entire digestive process to occur in their canine.
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