COPR1129 WorkingDog Booklet Revision V2 - Flipbook - Page 8
THE COMPOSITION & FUNCTION
OF A DOG’S DIGESTIVE TRACT
1. THE MOUTH & ESOPHAGUS
Food is chewed using a grinding action which reduces particle
size and produces saliva. Saliva contains bicarbonate which
is a natural buffer for stomach acid. Saliva also contains
starch digesting enzymes. Chewing is an important process
for digestive health, for well chewed food more easily passes
down the esophagus and is better digested through the
gastrointestinal tract. The mechanical action of chewing is
also beneficial for the cleaning of teeth.
Humans chew food using an up and down and side to side
motion, however, due to a dogs canine teeth they cannot
perform any side to side movement. This movement limitation
means that food entering the digestive tract tends to be more
‘whole’ compared to humans, which means it requires more
breaking down in the stomach. Sometimes when dogs consume
their food too quickly they can throw up. This is the body’s way
of telling the dog it hasn’t chewed its food well enough to pass
through the esophagus (muscular tube connecting the throat to
the stomach) and into the gut.
2. THE STOMACH & SMALL INTESTINE
On reaching the stomach, food is broken down into a liquid
which enables the foodstuff to be sorted into its nutritional
components, and sent for the next stage of processing in the
small intestine. The walls of the small intestine draw nutrients
out of the food, circulating them in the bloodstream to the
appropriate cells around the body, ready to be utilised.
3. THE PANCREAS & GALL BLADDER
The pancreas’ role in the digestive system is to secrete
enzymes into the small intestine, which help to break down
nutrients ready for entry into the bloodstream. These enzymes
include: amylase (to assist the digestion of proteins), lipase (to
help the digestion of fats) and protease (to facilitate the
digestion of carbohydrates and sugars).
The pancreas also has a vital role in producing insulin and
secreting it into the bloodstream, its release depending on the
blood sugar level. Without maintaining proper insulin levels, a
dog can become diabetic or pre-diabetic. It is therefore
imperative for a dog’s wellbeing to maintain a healthy
pancreas. An additional critical role of the pancreas is in the
functioning of the endocrine (gland) system, which helps to
manage hormones and maintain the body’s metabolic balance.
The role of the gallbladder in the digestive system is to store
bile made by the liver. Bile is needed for the breakdown of fats,
which make them easier for the body to digest.
4. THE LARGE INTESTINE
The last stage of a dog’s digestive system is the large intestine.
Here the harder to digest food components are digested with
the assistance of stomach bacteria. In the large intestine water
and minerals which have not been absorbed by the body
produce faeces and urine which are excreted from the body.
NUTRITION THAT STACKS UP