A dog’s digestive tract consists of many similarities to our own. The functional organs—tongue, esophagus, stomach, small and large intestine—play equally important roles in the proper breakdown and absorption of nutrients in dogs as they do for people. Although many pet owners barely understand the basics of their own digestion much less that of a dog digestive tract.
However, it’s crucial to understand how dog digestion works when choosing the right pet food or when offering little bites of food. When it comes to your dog’s immune health, most people know to avoid common toxic foods like chocolate and certain nuts. But is that piece of raw chicken okay for them to eat? And how do you ensure your dog receives all the nutrients it needs for a long and healthy life? To answer these questions and learn more about the dog digestive system, read on.
Carnivores, Omnivores, and Herbivores
Before laying out the function of the individual organs, it’s easier to look at the digestive system as a whole. Carnivores, omnivores, and herbivores have different tracts that allow for the breakdown of different foods.
- Carnivores – Because meat is easily digested and rich in nutrients, true carnivores have short digestive tracts. Carnivores have incisors and canine teeth designed for killing prey and tearing muscle, with less emphasis on chewing.
- Omnivores – Humans, pigs, bears, and other omnivores eat both plants and animal flesh. They typically have a longer digestive tract, in line with those of herbivores and less acidic stomachs than carnivores. They can also have incisors and canines for biting and tearing but will also have premolars and molars for crushing and grinding.
- Herbivores – Only eating plant matter, herbivores have no need for incisors or canines. They eat seeds, leaves, and fruits by grinding their molars. Most herbivores have some form of a vat in their digestive tract where bacteria break down the plant cell wall, providing additional nutrients.
Dogs Are Omnivores
You might think dogs are carnivores due to their strong up-and-down jaw and that they’re part of the order Carnivora. However, pandas also belong to this order, and they eat nothing but bamboo all day!
There’s a lot of misinformation with regards to digestion for dogs (humans too for that matter, but that’s for another article.) One of the biggest errors is mistaking ancestry