Dog's Digestive System

A dog’s mouth

A dog’s jaws and teeth are designed differently than yours or mine. A humans jaw can move up, down and side to side. Our teeth have some pointed teeth for cutting and flat molars for grinding. In contest a dog’s jaw moves up and down and has pointed teeth for grabbing and pointed molars for crushing bone.

A humans saliva is full of enzymes to start the digestion process. Human saliva breaks down carbohydrates to sugars. A dog’s saliva functions primarily as a lubricant.

A dog’s stomach

A common concern when feeding raw meat is bacterial contamination that might make your dog sick. As stated early a dog’s stomach produces very strong acids with a ph of 1. This low ph prevents bacteria from becoming pathogenic. The low ph and a dog’s very short digestive tract make the perfect combination for digesting raw meat and bones, even if they are contaminated with bacteria. A meat and bones diet also passes through a dog’s digestive tract rapidly, in about 8 hours.

A dog’s intestines

A healthy dog’s intestines have naturally occurring populations of microbes. These microbes living inside your dog’s intestines are beneficial to your dog and function well when in balance. I like to think of them as an efficient little farm where everyone is working hard and none is causing trouble. However, there are times when the balance is disturbed by outside stress or viral infection. A microbe imbalance can also be promoted by feeding a dog improperly. An over growth of the yeast candida is brought about by improper feeding.

Candida yeast live inside a dog’s system in small populations. They are kept in check by other microbes and the overall environment inside your dog’s intestines be a little hostile the the yeast. A dramatic shift happens when dog’s are fed high carbohydrate content dog foods. The high carbohydrates supply the candida yeast with lots of food (sugar) so they multiply into huge colonies. The high carbohydrate content of dog food also changes the environment inside your dog’s system to one that is friendly to the candida yeast. The friendly environment allows the candida yeast to multiply even more. At this point the candida yeast turn pathogenic and start migrating through out your dog’s entire system and cause your dog to have a yeast infection.

Yeast infections in dogs

Chronic ear infections, paw licking, red skin and foul odor are some symptoms of a candida yeast infection. There are medications that can treat yeast infections but they are temporary fixes. To cure a yeast infection you must get to the root cause and that is diet. Dog’s fed raw meat and bones with added supplements will not have yeast infections. How is this possible? Yeast need sugars to feed and the sugars are supplied through the carbohydrates. Raw meat diets have low sugar content and in turn starve out the yeast. The raw meat dog food also creates an environment inside your dog’s system that is hostile to the candida yeast and this makes it hard for the candida yeast to live.

Comments

  1. I just found your website. I have a 15 year old JR/chihuahua mix who has high liver enzymes. She won’t take the pill no matter what we do; she throws up about once every 2 weeks to get rid of the bile. Is your raw food diet good for her?

    Also, I was always told giving little dogs bones is bad for their stomach. My poor dog wouldn’t know what to do with one.

    What about corn on the cob?

    Thanks!

    • Darcy,

      Can you tell me what you are feeding your dog? Have you looked at my “Easy raw dog food recipe”? You can view the dog food recipe by clicking here. This recipe does not contain bones. It does contain finely crushed egg shells for calcium.

  2. My 3.4 yr old Boxer male is now going through his second bout of acute pancreatitis. I have always fed him “premium” dry dog foods and nothing else. My vet now wants him on Science Diet for intestinal issues, I want to start feeding him food made at home so that I know exactly what is in the food. I know I have to go with a low fat, high fiber food mix. I prefer to feed chicken or turkey for protein as well as a mix of gluten free rice, ground flax, and a mix of grains. My question is vege’s. Can dogs eat peas, carrots, squash, pumpkin, corn, etc.?

    • Marie,

      Dogs can eat the vegetables but not digest them well. The vegetables need to be thoroughly cooked and finely chopped or blended. You can use lean meats and fish oil as a fat source. My understanding is fish oil and its omega 3′s actually help. You can click here to view a good fish oil supplement for dogs.

  3. Christa says:

    I need some input! I have a 6 month old American Bully who has had several stomach issues. which began around 15-16 weeks. She has had constant diarrhea issues, and last week she began throwing up a lot. Followed by having runny stool with blood in it. I rushed her to the vet. One vet said she could of possibly have fabric in her stomach (from chewing her bed up) another vet said it was just a sensitive stomach and to switch her from Nature Variety Instinct (what I was feeding her prior to her getting sick and throwing up which is a grain free diet) to the prescription Hills ID Gastrointestinal for sensitive stomachs. Since switching she is itching herself and she isn’t 100% like before. What should I do????? Please help me!

    • Christa,

      You may want to try the yeast starvation dog food recipe. Generally dogs digest this recipe well. Or try the easy raw dog food recipe first and see how she does on that dog food.

      • Hi there, I am interested in started a raw food diet for my female German Shepard rescue Amora, she has been having a lot of stomach issues in the past 2 months, went from chicken bagged buffalo blue dog food to lamb and brown rice to cooked chicken and rice when they finally discovered shes potentially has an allergy to chicken , beef and lamb, she is now on Holistic Select, getting a few hard boiled eggs every few days. She hates it and is now on meal 3 of not eating, so my question to you is; can I sub out the beef for turkey and skip the rice and use another filler instead, if you know of one that would be wonderful because we are trying to eliminate any and all grains from her diet. I hope to hear back from you.
        THANKS!!!

        NATASHA~!

  4. Hi Ed,
    We have a nearly 9 year old sheprador, a lab/shepard mix. She has had many stomach issues until we discovered that she couldn’t handle gluten. Obviously, your website has explained this thoroughly and since we switched to a gluten free food, she has been much better. In the last 6 months, she has had problems with what we found out recently was a torn acl. A friend who breeds rottweilers recommended burger and rice along with greek yogurt as an alternative to help her heal since she’s considered too old for the surgery. We just started that today, and she thinks she’s in heaven! Is there anything you would suggest to help her along with this change in her diet? We are also giving her raw beef bones to supplement calcium and help keep her teeth clean, she loves them and her teeth are as clean as a puppy now! Thanks for any advice you might have to help us with the injury issue.

  5. Carolyn says:

    Hello! Just found your website and I’m sure there’s a comment somewhere about this but I wanted to ask about your experience with dogs eating one of your raw or cooked recipes who have a history of food sensitivities? I have a 3 year old mixed breed female that started throwing up yellow bile and not wanting to eat (which was VERY unlike her, she used to be an inhaler of her food so much so that I had to buy one of the “slow-down” bowls) a little over a year ago. A GI blood panel showed she had low folate & vitamin B12 levels (lab comments stated: “consistent with distal intestinal disease, EPI, or small intestinal bacterial overgrowth”). The vet recommended Hill’s prescription D/D (Duck & Potato) and she has been eating this (both dry and canned) as well as receiving a monthly B12 vitamin injection. This regime of prescription food and monthly vitamin injections has for the most part improved her issues over the past year. However, she does go through phases still of not showing interest in food and throwing up the yellow bile. I am not comfortable with the ingredients in the prescription food and am searching for a more pure and natural diet for my sweet girl. I wondered what your thoughts might be and if you have any experience with these types of intestinal issues? Thank you for your time!

    • Carolyn,

      I’ve not had experience with your dog’s condition. Did the lab culture the pathogen? Did they give a possible cause? Personally, I think it is alway best to feed an animal food they are designed to eat. Doing this usually solves a host of problems.

      • Thank you for your reply! I do not think they did a culture on the pathogen and it was assumed to be a food sensitivity/allergy and she was not absorbing the necessary nutrients and having symptoms such as IBS in humans. I am going to take your recipe to my vet and talk to her about switching the diet…I agree that providing a more natural (what she is designed to eat) has got to be healthier than pumping her full of medicine and prescription food!

        • Carolyn,

          Sounds like a good idea but brace yourself for negative feedback. Many veterinarians are against homemade dog foods and have very little training in nutrition.

          • Ed, I definitely agree with your comment about vets and homemade food! I posted our story last night and don’t see it, yet. But in all fairness to vets (at least mine, whom I love) they are NOT typically trained in nutrition and food. One vet told me that their “banner” recommendation for digestive and allergy problems is Hills Science Diet foods aka “prescription” food. They also are a bit eager (in my experience) to prescribe antibiotics without knowing the underlying cause. But I also find this to be true of human physicians as well.

            Feeding and caring for dogs (for me) is as important as feeding and caring for a child. My dogs ARE my children. Pet owners MUST be educaated on the problems with the US pet food industry, which IMHO is literally killing our pets. And that includes their treats as well. The pet food industry is a huge money making machine, and unfortunately, we Americans are led astray by their advertising, their lack of information of contents and origin, and the lack of regulation of food processing.

            OK, that’s enough on my soap box for now. I am stepping down. But I hope more dog owners will find your site and heed your comments. It is up to US the owners and care takers to get the best for our dogs.

  6. Grace Keyer says:

    Good morning.
    My best friend is a 13 year old female Rottie. She’s having difficultly holding down her meals.
    When she does throw up, It comes up with very little effort or distress. Sometimes its undigested food, sometimes its white stuff….(very gummy, or snotty) so sorry for the word choice but it is the best description. Everything else about her seems fine. Gums are red, eyes are fine, personality is normal. She was, for a few weeks feed bread, by neighbor who was dog sitting…He meant no harm…but…bread is bad for dogs digestive systems, yes? Ed what do’ya think.

    • Grace,

      Dogs are easy vomiters. What is she eating now?

      • Hi Grace,
        I came in search of a possible solution to help my pup gain some weight and stumbled upon your question. The symptoms of your gal match the symptoms of the condition that my 10 month old pup is afflicted with. It’s called Megaesophagus. If it hasn’t been a problem for her up until now, she may have an obstruction in her esophagus causing food to pool in there also causing it to swell like a balloon. Another form of it is neurological. The nerves that tell the muscles of the esophagus to move food down cease to do so. I’d take her to the vet for an X-ray. I have to liquify my pups food and feed him on stairs so that gravity can help get his food into his stomach, but otherwise he leads a very normal life. Here’s a website with a general outline of the condition: http://www.caninemegaesophagus.org
        All the best and good luck with your girl!!

  7. Linda Clark says:

    Sadie is a 9 year old Lab/boxer mix. She had blood in her stool/diarhea; vet diagnosed colitis and prescribed antibiotics and another med; cleared up the problem in a couple of days but it came back after two weeks. She’s been eating Science Diet for mature dogs. I started feeding her boiled chicken and rice and my once very fussy eater gobbled it up. Blood is gone, stools are becoming more solid. I want to try one of your diets – not sure if it should be raw or cooked; I want to stick to chicken at least at first because of the colitis. Do I have to make her fast for 24 hours and follow the feeding schedule, since she’s already eating your diet, minus the eggs/shells? Also, what about switching between chicken and beef – can you do that, or do you have to do the 24 hour fast?

    • Linda,

      Switching between homemade dog food recipes does not require a fast. I just posted a chicken and rice dog food recipe that may work for you.

      • Linda Clark says:

        Thanks, Ed! I’ve started Sadie on the chicken/rice recipe – and I’ve added some cooked, pure pumpkin , because she still has soft stools – but no blood, thank goodness. Any other advice to make her more healthy and have more normal stools would be appreciated.
        Linda
        PS Sadie says thanks for the delicious recipe – no more fussy eating!

  8. Hi Ed,
    I have a 10 month old dog that has a condition called Megaesophagus and I’m having trouble getting him to gain weight. I feed him a liquid diet in an upright position 4 times per day and he gets LOTS of exercise. I was wondering if you might have some suggestions as to a balanced diet high in calories that’s easy to puree. I’m worried about loading him with too much fat because with this condition, fat buildup around the heart could cause his esophagus to not allow anything into his stomach since the spot where it is tightest is at the aorta. I keep adding more and more white rice, but it’s not really bulking him up at all and I’m concerned about a possible lack of essential nutrients.
    Thank you very much for your time and possible advice.
    ~Jill

  9. I have just start my research about raw foods. I have a 5 year old Great Pyrenees who is having difficulties having bowel movements. I have taken him to the vet multiple times and after many enemas and laxatives he seemed fine. However, they have told us to start putting metamucil on his food regularly as he would not eat the high fiber diet we started putting him on. This worked for a couple of weeks, now he is back to the way he was (backed up) and we have to give him more laxatives. It just doesn’t seem natural to be doing this. Someone mentioned to me that raw food may help with his digestion. The vet thinks his digestions and/or intestines are just not working right which is awful news. Poor boy is in pain. Is the raw food diet good for this sort of thing? how will he get the proper amount of fiber to help him? Thanks for your time.

    • Jomahna,

      I’ve never had a dog with constipation problems. Have you ever tried probiotics to help his digestive tract?

      • Yes, I started giving it to him when he started having problems. He is still having difficulties. I have been reading more about the raw food diet and I am becoming more nervous about it. I read how if your not balancing the meals appropriately then you can cause more problems. I had mentioned it to my vet and she didn’t seem to know much about it. Its so hard to tell what is legit. I’m sure every breed has slightly different needs as well. I will keep researching before I switch over. If you happen to come across anything that you think would apply to Benson’s difficulties and the relationship to raw food, could you please respond? If I find anything I will also update you. Thanks

  10. Osama Williams says:

    Hi Ed! This is my first time on your website and I love that easy recipe with the eggshell and all! Now I put the used eggshell in my stale bread, cracker mix for the birds as they need it for digestion but I never thught you could do that for dogs. Wow! What a wonder we don’t learn by doing research. Thanks for letting other animal lovers know about the positive benefits of a natural food diet for our beloved pets. I mean really, if the commercial dog food is all that great and healthy then why does it say NOT fit for human consumption? Hmmm, now I have an issue with that! Why would I feed my dog poisons but yet I don’t want it in my diet? Treat our furry critters as we want to be treated also! Thank you so much and my 3 APBT just love their natural food fare! They whine like your 2 didin the video but they are so healthy and happy and just full of energy. Yes they love fish especially salmon. Ahhhh! What a life they have! God Bless you and yours.

  11. I have an 8 month old Cavachon. She started having diarrhea here and there about 6 weeks ago. We had her poop tested at the vet but no parasites. She had been eating Diamond Puppy. A side note, she had been eating her poop if we didn’t get it away from her. We switched to chicken and rice and diarrhea got better. Interesting note, on chicken and rice, she no longer ate her poop. Whenever we tried to put her back on Diamond Puppy, diarrhea would come back. So, back to chicken and rice. During that time, she ate part of a yard ornament and was given meds to make her vomit. After that, she had diarrhea even staying on chicken and rice. The vet gave her antidiarrheal meds for 10 days and it finally went away. Meanwhile, she was still on only chicken and rice. After several days with nodiarrhea, I tried to give her a little Diamond Puppy again (mixed in with chicken and rice) and it started to come back again. I know I can’t keep her just on chicken and rice forever. I came across your cooked dog food recipe. I ordered Dinovite and Licochops. Before making the full recipe, I gave her a little Dinovite in her chicken and rice for the past 3 days. Her diarrhea is back. I also caught her trying to eat her poop again. (Not sure if there is something in the Dinovite that makes her want to eat her poop.) I am currently making your cooked dog food recipe, but want to know your opinion on how to proceed since she will be starting while she already has some intestinal upset. Other than the diarrhea , she is acting happy and healthy.

  12. I have a one yr old raggle(beagle/rat terrier) who has pica and is eating Harmony Farms dry and canned food. She loves sweets and breads. She constantly has stomach issues. I give her a puppy multivitamin and she eats grass daily. She gets treats that have no artificial flavors, colors or preserves. What I want to know is if there is anything else I can do to help her with the stomach issues. Any info would be greatly appreciated.

  13. I have a MinPin, Grace, whom is 2 years old. She is absolutely our baby. Sometime in November, I was cutting the red ring off of our bologna. I laid the small ring of paper on my table, and Grace ate the red paper. I have not seen her poop out the paper. Can she actually digest this paper or should I take her to the vet? I certainly do not want her to go through surgery, yet, I cannot stand to lose her. I would appreciate any comment, as I am very concerned about my Grace.

  14. luana pecore says:

    Sorry, I forgot this question, is cooked beef hard on a dogs digestive system?

  15. My dog ate glass. hes pooing it out but wat can i feed a dog to clear everything out?

  16. Jeanine Baggett says:

    Hi – Thank you very much for your informative website. My husband and I own an 8.5 year old male boxer that has begun to suffer from mild pancreatitis in recent months. We were purchasing the “high grade” commercial dog foods; however he began to shun his food and drool before eating. He has always been very healthy. I changed him to a home cooked diet of cooked chicken breast; brown rice and sweet potato. He loves the food; but was losing a lot of weight.
    I found your website about 2 weeks ago and substituted the rice for white potato in addition to adding hard boiled eggs. He is currently on Omega supplements; however his Vet recommended to supplement safflower oil for fat – I see that you recommend extra virgin coconut oil. Although his weight is still in the healthy range; he has gone from 75 lbs to 65 lbs in the past 3 months since the diet change. His recent bloodwork is excellent and energy level is good – I just feel like he is very thin. I am concerned about giving him the right fats.

    Thank you again for this wonderful website – many blessings.
    Jeanine

  17. MY MIN PIN says:

    Dear Ed
    what do you reccomend for a dog who has a high ph of 6 and is not producing enough acid on her own to keep from getting sturitve stones and is getting constant bladder infections she has gone through surgery to remove the stones and is a special deit of royal canin urinary so wet and dry and for six months was given a clean bill of health by her vet but now she has and infection again and crystals im being told by her vet that its time to possibles start her on a monthy antiboitic treat meant to hopefully get her system back on track which im really concerned about

  18. NicklesandDaisyMae says:

    I’m really considering starting my dogs on the raw diet. I have a 6-month-old puppy Daisy Mae (not quite sure of her breed since I adopted her from a shelter, but we think she’s maybe a shih tsu mix) who weighs about 6 lbs., and a 2-year-old German Pincher, Nico, who weighs about 25 lbs. Neither have any known health problems and no skin issues. From reading your site, I know I need to fast Nico, but do I need to fast Daisy Mae? I’ll be ordering the Dinovite and Lickochops as soon as possible to get them started. Daisy Mae is scheduled to be spayed on 8/12. Can I start her on the raw diet right after that?

    I’ve found the raw & cooked diet recipes, but can’t find the one for organ meat. Are there any others I’m missing. I’d like to give them some variety.

    Also, what about my cat. She’s about 8 yrs. old. Can she also eat a raw diet safely?

    Thanks SO much!

    • Dogs are gorgers and fasters by design it’s no sweat for them to do so and actually has some benefits. Yes, cats can eat a raw diet safely just eliminate all the carbs because they have no use for them at all.

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