dog eating

How Long Does It Take For Puppies To Digest Food? Understanding Your Pup’s Digestive System

Dog owners tend to humanize their furry friends. It is perfectly normal though. You communicate with your dog and you look after it. Sooner or later, it becomes your best and most faithful friend, so your companionship digs some deep roots. You would do anything for your dog to be well – you would starve if that would mean your dog has something to eat.

When it comes to your dog’s health, it is essential to become familiar with its body, the fundamentals of its operation and the biology. You want to make the best possible choices in terms of exercising and dieting. You might have to educate yourself a little and learn some more about your dog’s internal systems. Digestion is probably one of the most important systems because there are lots of question marks.

For instance, how long does it take for puppies to digest food? How often do I need to feed a dog in the growing stage? How much protein? Is fat alright? Are there are any restrictions based on breeds? Are human foods alright for dogs? All these questions can make dog dieting confusing, but before moving on to more complicated stuff, it is important to know how quickly your dog can digest food.


A few words about your dog’s digestive system

A dog’s stomach is more important for a dog than a human’s stomach is for the human. Up to 70% of what they eat is processed in the stomach, while the rest is taken to the intestines. For people, the stomach only does about 30% of the job. In other words, people can do with more small meals throughout a day, while dogs will eat a couple of times a day and they will do it at extremely fast rates.

At the same time, the dog has lots of saliva that will lubricate specific foods and break them down without too much chewing. Your dog also has muscular tissues in the esophagus, which helps in the process. The main nutrients are selected before the food actually reaches the intestines.

Now that you know the basics, how long does it take for puppies to digest food?


Different breeds come with different requirements

The truth is the answer to this question varies widely and depends on more factors. The breed is one of them. A large breed will take longer to digest food than a smaller breed. This is because a large dog will eat way more food than a small one. It will need more nutrients for its muscular mass and given the size, it has a long digestive tract. The food has to travel some more.

On the same note, the digestive system will require more time to extract the required nutrients from food and push the through the body, which inevitably adds to the digestive process too.

With these thoughts in mind, a large breed puppy that is relatively small in size will be similar to a small breed dog – adult or not. Therefore, small dogs and puppies will need about four hours to digest their food. A big breed will require anywhere between six and eight hours.

More athletic dogs will also rush the digestive process and can sort it out faster than a slow breed – imagine a German shepherd and a basset hound. The German shepherd is closer to its ancient relative, while the basset hound is well domesticated and has a slower metabolism.


Does age matter in the process?

Age is important in the process too. Puppies digest food faster than adults. As they grow up, you will notice their digestive systems slow down a little – mostly because the metabolism slows down too. This is why young puppies need to eliminate more often than grown dogs – usually, in places that you do not want them to.



So, how long does it take for puppies to digest food? On average, a puppy will need about four hours to digest food, regardless of the breed. Puppies eat a lot and more often than adults, so they will digest food faster. Their metabolism is pretty quick too.

With time, things change and your puppy becomes a grown adult – the metabolism slows down too and the digestive process will take longer. Depending on the breed, the digestive process can take anywhere between six and eight hours.

Remember that there are more factors that could change the digestive process, such as the amount of exercise your dog gets, the actual diet and the level of hydration.​

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