Canines have the ability to consume large quantities of food at one time and can rest between meals. In the wild, this is known as "gorging," which is beneficial in hunting large game. Canines, like carnivores, can devour large meals after a hunt, and, thanks to the digestive function, can then leisurely wait until the next meal opportunity arises.

To keep your canine's gastrointestinal system functioning at its finest, a healthy, well-balanced diet is of the essence. The quality of the diet can be measured in its ease of digestion. Large, malodorous stool is a reliable indicator that something is amiss in the digestive tract -- and the food going into it would be the most likely perpetrator.

Your canine's digestive system is an impressive, powerful function of the mouth, stomach, small and large intestines, aided by the liver and pancreas.

Digestion begins in the mouth, where saliva lubricates the food and passes it down the esophagus. The canine's teeth -- sharp, jagged, blade-shaped molars -- are designed for gripping, tearing and shredding, and are specifically suited for its digestive capabilities. Other mammals have flat molars, characteristic of grinding. The canine's jaws, however, are incapable of moving sideways, and instead are hinged. This allows them to open widely and ingest large chunks of meat whole.

Swallowed food passes down the esophagus to the stomach. The stomach of a canine is very acidic with a pH registering as low as 1. Food is well mixed and broken down before contents leave the stomach as chyme.

Chyme is the fluid that passes easily into the small intestine, where the pancreas and liver provide additional digestive enzymes. These enzymes continue protein digestion and also provide carbohydrate and fat digestion. Nutrients are absorbed from the small intestine into the bloodstream.

By the time any food reaches the large intestine, most of the nutrients have been processed and absorbed. It is here that water and electrolytes are assimilated and bacteria can break down undigested fiber. The wastes are then excreted.

Understandably, large amounts of vegetation, grains and fiber are difficult for canines to process. With their short and simple digestive tracts, they are incapable of fermenting and absorbing these foods like an herbivore would. High-grain, high-fiber diets, then, only result in a much larger stool volume. The canine has a short digestive tract that helps to easily digest animal flesh and fat. The food spends a much longer time in the stomach, which produces a higher amount of hydrochloric acid, and aids in the breakdown of animal proteins, bones and fat.

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