How Long Does It Take A Dog To Digest Food - Types Of Dog Food

October 23, 2023


Thanks to seeing slower gastric emptying when full, our dogs hold more food in their stomach for a longer period of time than us. However, they will ultimately digest food faster than us because food passes through their intestines much faster due to a smaller intestine transit and higher and more variable intestinal pH.

Because our dogs can't really tell us when they aren’t feeling well, paying attention to our dogs’ digestive health is a great idea. As it can clue us in on issues that might be affecting their health, and, in particular, their digestive health.

Poor digestion can lead to many serious issues, including unstable weight gain/loss, trouble properly regulating blood sugar levels, and the inability to absorb vital nutrients. Additionally, poor digestion can cause gas, bloating, cramping, upset stomachs, bleeding, and pain in the belly, to name just a few.

To better understand our dogs’ digestive health, let’s look at how long it takes a dog to digest their food and the factors that affect it. Plus, we’ll look at how the ChefPaw dog food maker helps support optimal digestion.

What Is Digestion?

A mechanical and chemical process, digestion is the process of breaking down food so the body can absorb the nutrients and fluids along the walls of the intestines and gut.

Digestion starts the second it enters the mouth and finishes at the end of the terminal ileum (small intestine), where any last nutrients are absorbed — in particular, vitamin B12 is heavily absorbed here. However, the rectum and anus, along with the mouth, esophagus, stomach, small intestine, and large intestine, are all considered parts of the digestive system.

Factors That Influence A Dog’s Digestion Time

We learned above that while dogs hold food in their stomach longer than us, their shorter intestines allow them to digest their food faster than us. But how fast is that?

Well, there are several factors that will play into just how fast your dog can digest their food. Generally, dogs take four to eight hours to digest their food, but it can take up to 12 hours.

Let’s take a look at several factors that influence a dog’s digestion time, so you can better know what to expect with your dog.


As you might have guessed, smaller breeds typically digest their food faster than larger breeds. Some small breeds may be able to digest their entire food within just 4 hours, but it may take a large breed like a mastiff 10+ hours to fully digest their food.


We saw how different breeds digest their food at different rates due to their size. Not only will digestive times vary based on their size, but the consistency and amount will vary as larger dogs tend to produce softer and larger stools than smaller dogs. Not really what the average big dog owner wants to hear, but don’t worry, as diet adjustments can really help firm up their stool. We’ll help you with that in a moment.


As our doggos age, their metabolism, and overall digestive system, slows down. Not only does this put them at risk of weight gain due to them requiring fewer calories, but it can often lead to constipation and slow digestion. Then, senior dogs are also more prone to developing food intolerances that can promote poor and rapid digestion.

As we saw with larger breeds that have looser stools, a diet formulated to their health can help with digestion issues senior dogs may be prone to seeing.


Digestive health and health, in general, are huge factors in how long it will take a dog to digest their food. A poor gut microbiome can result in food passing through the digestive system too quickly, resulting in looser stools and poor nutrient absorption. Gastric stasis is a medical condition that slows contractions in the stomach, sometimes to a complete stop. This allows food to build up in the stomach which leads to bloating and build-up of gas in the stomach.


Certain medications can affect digestion rates, with them being more prone to speeding it up than slowing it down. For example, sedatives and anesthetics tend to cause a dog to pass loose stool quickly.


What you feed your dog will have some of the greatest influence on digestion. Insoluble fiber-rich foods, including fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains, help quickly move food through the digestive system. Too much fiber can slow digestion and cause constipation, but so can too little fiber.

Fats tend to be digested quickly, while lean meats, especially when uncooked, can take significantly longer. Kibble and raw diets as opposed to wet and fresh dog food diets will also take longer to digest as they require more time for the body to break the food down.

Many dogs struggle with food allergies and intolerances that can cause both rapid and slow digestion, which results in gas and digestive stress. These are all things the ChefPaw dog food maker can help with!

Promoting Good Digestion

When you notice your dog is having digestive issues such as diarrhea, gas, or constipation, there is a good chance they are not properly digesting their food. Fortunately, there are many things pet parents can do to help out their best furbuddies and their digestive health.

Reduce Stress

High-stress environments can wreak havoc on your dog’s digestive system. Anxiety can result in food passing through too quickly through their GI tract, leading to vomiting and diarrhea. Fortunately, besides working to create a calmer environment, supplements such as CBD oil and probiotic aids can help with both digestive health and stress.

Regular Exercise

Regular exercise helps increase your dog’s metabolism, allowing them to digest their food faster while promoting better nutrient absorption. Besides helping to reduce constipation, regular exercise is good for your dog’s muscles and helps limit undesired weight gain.

Proper Hydration

Besides insoluble fiber, all foods require water for them to be successfully broken down by the digestive system, so make sure your dog always has access to fresh water. Proper hydration will help firm up loose stools while ensuring the stool isn’t too firm, which can lead to constipation.

Switch To A Better Diet

A diet rich in fiber from vegetables and grains, along with healthy servings of lean meats, is perfect for promoting optimal digestion. Many pet parents notice smaller, firmer, and less smelly poos after switching their dog to a fresh diet. These are all things we want to see, as it indicates your dog is as much from their food as possible.

Along with switching to a fresh dog food diet, make sure to keep tablescapes and treats to a minimum, ensuring you never give your dog a food item that’s prone to upsetting their stomach.


Dealing with a dog’s digestive problems is never fun. Thankfully, there are many things we can do to promote good digestive health. To help your dog properly digest their food, make sure you are regularly exercising them, that they always have access to fresh water, and you’re keeping their stress levels to a minimum.

Last, but certainly not least, is ensuring your dog is on a diet that cares for their digestive health. And a fresh diet rich in vegetables and lean proteins is perfect for supporting their digestive system. Not only will a fresh dog food diet greatly promote optimal digestive rates, but it will also promote unparalleled nutrient absorption.

Because fresh dog food diets can still be victim to many of the issues commonly seen in commercial foods, such as salmonella contamination or preservatives that can hurt digestive health, consider creating fresh meals for your dog at home. Thanks to the ChefPaw dog food maker, that’s now very easy and affordable to do!


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