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Dogs are incredible creatures, and their digestive systems are just as fascinating. Like ours, their systems are complex and intricate and are responsible for breaking down food into small particles that can be absorbed and utilized by the body. The only difference is that theirs are much shorter and more robust. 

Let’s take an in-depth look at a dog digestive system, dog digestion time, what you can do to ensure their system is healthy, and answer the question “how long does it take for a dog to digest”.

How does a dog digestive system function?

Although the dog digestive system is complex, we’ll break it down as easy as possible. Dog digestion is a process that begins in the mouth with mastication and lubrication, where the food is mechanically broken down by the teeth and mixed with saliva, which contains enzymes that start the process of breaking down carbohydrates. While you’ve probably seen some dogs swallowing kibble whole, they’re usually pulling their food to the back of their mouth where their molars chew the food into easy-to-swallow-sized pieces.

With the help of the saliva, the food then passes down the esophagus and into the stomach, where it is mixed with gastric juices that further break down the food. According to Wellness, the stomach is an extremely acidic environment, which is necessary for the breakdown of large pieces of meat and bones. Inside a dog’s stomach, there are three main dog digestive enzymes responsible for the breakdown of food: pepsinogen, trypsin and chymotrypsin. 

From the stomach, the partially digested food moves into the small intestine, where it is mixed with bile from the liver and dog digestive enzymes from the pancreas. The small intestine is made up of three parts where the majority of the nutrients from food are absorbed into the bloodstream. First is the duodenum, which helps to alkalize the stomach acids. Second is the ilium which serves to absorb nutrients and remove waste and lastly is the jejunum which helps with further nutrient and water absorption.

The remaining undigested food particles then move into the large intestine, where water is absorbed, and the waste products are formed into feces. At the end of the dog digestion process, there’s only one thing left to do: grab the poop bags!

How long does it take a dog to digest food?

Dog digestion time is incredibly fast! Dog digestive systems are the quickest of all mammals and can digest food within as little as 6 to 8 hours. Wow!

Factors that affect a dog’s digestive system

There are several factors that can cause dog digestive issues. These include:


A dog’s diet plays a significant role in its digestive health. Dogs require a healthy diet that is appropriate for their age, breed, and activity level. Poor-quality diets that are high in fat, low in fibre, or contain excessive amounts of  carbohydrates can cause digestive problems. A raw diet is a great example of food to help dog digestion.


Exercise is essential for maintaining a healthy dog digestive system. Regular exercise helps to stimulate the dog digestive system, promoting regular bowel movements and preventing constipation.

Person walking dog


Stress can have a significant impact on a dog’s digestive system. Dogs that are stressed may experience digestive problems such as diarrhea or constipation.

Medical conditions

Certain medical conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), pancreatitis, and liver disease can affect a dog’s digestive system and lead to digestive problems.

Can dogs digest carbohydrates?

According to VCA Canada, dog digestive systems are capable of digesting carbohydrates but use proteins and fats as their primary energy sources. However, complex carbs like grains are tougher on their bodies and more digestible when cooked.

dog getting treat

How to promote a healthy dog digestive system

If you’re wondering what helps dog digestion, there are several things that you can do to promote a healthy dog digestive system. These include:


Regular exercise helps to stimulate the digestive system, promoting regular bowel movements and preventing constipation. Go for a run, take a long walk, or throw a ball around at the park!

Avoiding stress

Minimizing stress in your pet’s life can help to promote a healthy dog digestive system. This can be achieved by providing a safe, secure environment for your dog, avoiding sudden changes in routine, and providing plenty of positive reinforcement.

Feeding a healthy diet

Feeding a healthy diet that is appropriate for your pet’s age, breed, and activity level is essential for maintaining a flourishing dog digestive system. We recommend easy to digest dog food like a Bold by Nature raw diet.

Providing plenty of water

Providing your dog with plenty of fresh, clean water is essential for maintaining a healthy digestive system. Water helps to keep the digestive system hydrated, promoting regular bowel movements and preventing constipation.

Do standing with owner

What is the best food to help dog digestion?

For pets experiencing dog digestive issues, we highly recommend feeding them Bold by Nature raw food for dogs. Since they’re low-glycemic and single-protein and consist of the most basic and essential ingredients that your dog needs, raw diets make an excellent option for digestive dog food.

Raw diets are made up of natural, unprocessed, highly digestible ingredients and nutrients, meaning more is absorbed and less comes out. Carbohydrates and other fillers that are normally found in a kibble diet take longer to digest and as a result, are not fully absorbed by your dog. The crushed bone found in a raw diet also helps to firm up stool, making these diets great for dog digestive issues. To go one step further, our Bold by Nature Select diets contain green beef tripe, an ingredient that is loaded with dog digestive enzymes to assist your pet’s gut after a meal.

When mealtime comes around, just keep in mind that since all pets are different, how much raw food for a dog will all depend on its weight and size.

What is the best way to switch my dog to raw food?

The best way to do it is by going cold turkey. For real. Our Bold by Nature Turkey makes a great gateway into raw as it’s a delicious protein that doubles as an easy to digest dog food. To get started, just combine a protein like turkey with smaller, more frequent meals throughout the day, allowing your dog to adjust to it easier. If your dog already has digestive issues, we suggest having them fast for a whole 24 hours before switching them over to their new raw diet.

Is raw food also good for cat digestion?

Yes! Our Bold by Nature cat recipes are also rich in taurine, an essential amino acid that is crucial to your cat’s healthy lifestyle and makes it a great choice of food for cats with digestive issues or cat constipation symptoms. Essential amino acids are amino acids that the body cannot synthesize on its own, making them a significant part of your cat’s diet. Taurine itself plays a strong role in supporting your cat’s vision, digestion, heart, and muscle function while helping to maintain a strong immune system.

Cat waiting for raw cat food

Is there anything else that can support the dog digestive system?

Believe it or not, pumpkin can be used to give the dog digestive system a boost! Our Bold by Nature+ Pumpkin with Inulin Prebiotic is a natural supplement that promotes a healthier dog digestive system. Along with the amazing pumpkin benefits for dogs, this supplement also contains an added source of fibre, which helps to soothe digestive tracts and any sort of digestive upset your pet may be experiencing. The added inulin also aids in healthy intestinal bacteria which promotes favourable gut flora, making this an extremely helpful dog digestive supplement.

Where can I find Bold by Nature products?

If you’re looking for Bold by Nature products like digestive dog food or dog digestive supplements, you’ve got two choices! You can either shop online or at a local retailer that carries Bold By Nature products. If you’re unsure of which stores carry our products, you can use our location finder to explore a retailer near you. If you have any further questions, like “can dogs get salmonella” please contact us!