What you need to know about your dog's digestive system

What you need to know about your dog's digestive system

Posted by PetDirect on 19th Oct 2021

The canine digestive system is different from humans. That’s why it’s important for us to understand how dogs digest their food so we can give them the proper digestive care. Knowing so will not only help us give them the right pet food diet but will also make us aware when something’s wrong with them.



The first few months of a puppy are termed the “immunity gap”. It is at this time that puppies are more susceptible to digestive problems like diminished efficiency in digesting nutrients or microflora imbalance. This is also the time when you give your puppies immunity shots or vaccinations. Puppies typically receive 'maternal immunity' from their mother's milk, which is high in antibodies to support their pups immune system.

Digestive health

Puppies grow 20 times faster than adult dogs, which means they need three times more calories per kilo of food and require a special diet for their physical development. It is recommended that a specially formulated growth food be given to puppies at intervals that are evenly distributed to prevent distending or stretching their little stomachs.

It is ideal to feed your puppy four meals a day up until around four months, after which you can switch to three meals a day until your pup’s six months old. By this time, you can start feeding him two meals a day. Because puppies are prone to digestive problems, watch out for any signs of sensitivities connected to the food you’re feeding them.

Check out Addiction Foods’ Salmon Bleu for Puppies that is rich in Omega-3 from salmon and flaxseed to aid skin & coat health. It's also enriched with chelated minerals to help boost your puppy’s nutrient absorption

Adult dogs

Small dog breeds usually reach adulthood on their 9th month while large breeds on their 15th. When they hit adulthood, you have to feed them dog food formulated for adults. By this time, your dogs have built up their immunity and will not get sick easily, but you still have to watch what they eat.

Specific dog food formulas, like Addiction Dry Dog Food, can help target a dog’s nutritional needs. Dog food with probiotics can improve the digestion of your canine pets by rebalancing the microflora in your dog’s gut. Consult your veterinarian or dog nutritionist so you will know what to feed them.

High quality protein source

Proteins from high-quality sources also aid in maintaining a healthy digestive system healthy. It helps prevent any digestive sensitivities from getting worse. Pet food from New Zealand, such as Addiction, boasts of premium quality as its ingredients are responsibly sourced from one of the world’s cleanest and purest places to manufacture pet food. Addiction's range of pet food include high-quality novel proteins from salmon, lamb, venison, brushtail, and even kangaroo.

Adult dogs also need fibre in their pet food. The right balance of fibre helps dogs easily absorb nutrients without causing their gut unnecessary stress. Addiction's Grain-Free Wild Kangaroo & Apples Dry Dog Food is purposely formulated for dogs with skin and digestive sensitivities as it is free from common allergens such as chicken or poultry by-products, wheat, potatoes, corn, soy, and gluten (plus apples are high in fibre).

Take into consideration your adult dog’s lifestyle and breed when choosing a diet that will support their digestive health. For instance, large dog breeds need larger kibbles. That’s because if they chew on smaller kibbles, these might get clogged in their throats.

Senior dogs

Dogs reach their senior years depending on their breed. Small breeds age faster and may be considered seniors when they reach their 10th or 12th year. Large breeds, on the other hand, may be considered seniors when they reach their 5th or 6th year. Many veterinarians though consider a dog senior when they hit their 7th or 8th year. When dogs get old, their health and stamina slow down. Metabolism also slows down so senior dogs require fewer calories from their pet food. Some senior dogs though may require more calories if they have digestion problems. Always consult a vet to see what kind of pet food formula is suited for your senior dog.

Digestive health

Senior dogs having digestive problems are common. That means you, as a pet parent, should be watchful of your old canine pets so that the problem won’t get worse. The symptoms are restlessness, vomiting or regurgitation, painful or bloated stomach, refusal of food, and diarrhoea. Here are some causes:

  • Spoiled food, fatty food, food that your senior canine pet should not eat.
  • Food allergies, intolerances, or sensitivity
  • Illness, virus, infection or inflammation
  • Parasites
  • Inability to absorb nutrients

Digestive care

Because senior dogs require fewer calories, you can break the amount of food you give them into 4 or 5 equal portions. While you’re actually feeding them less, your pet will have something exciting to look forward to several times a day.

Pet food that’s easily digestible might be recommended by your vet. You might also need to supplement it with probiotics just to keep their gut healthy. As always, ask your vet what’s the best supplement for your pet.

A well-balanced diet should be low in calories, high in fibre, and with adequate proteins and fats. A diet lower in protein can help decrease the workload on kidneys for senior dogs, especially those with decreased kidney function. Older dogs are also prone to constipation, so high fibre diets can aid with gastrointestinal health.

For some older dogs, you can continue to feed them their regular food but in smaller quantities. However, pet food formulated for senior dogs is highly recommended as they typically are lower in calories, high in fibre, and help to create a feeling of fullness.

Addiction's range of dog food is suitable for senior dogs, with quality protein sources and added taurine for heart and eye health.

Water intake

Water is also important for dogs, especially senior dogs. So make sure fresh water is available and easily accessible. Make sure your pet is drinking enough water and does not get dehydrated. An increase in water intake is a warning sign that your senior dog might be sick from something. For the record, dogs should drink 15-30mL of water per kilogram of body weight per day.

Food supplements

Some dogs, such as senior dogs, will also benefit from food supplements for their nutritional needs. Older dogs tend to absorb fewer vitamins, minerals, and electrolytes through the intestinal tract, and lose more of them through the kidneys, and urinary tract. For instance, if your pet lives with arthritis (which a lot of senior dogs have), they might be given glucosamine with chondroitin sulfate. Other food supplements for senior dogs that will help promote gut health are EFAs or essential fatty acids like Omega-3 and Omega-6, and probiotics.

Addiction Foods believes that understanding your dog’s dietary needs and health are the first steps to giving your pet a long and healthy life. Article supplied by Addiction.

Feel free to contact our friendly customer care team on 0800 200 240 for support or advice on choosing the right food for your dog.

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