a large dog eating dog food

How Long Does It Take for a Large Dog to Digest Food?

Large breeds really do get the short end of the stick sometimes.

It takes longer for them to grow to full size, they are more prone to hip and elbow dysplasia, and to top it all off, they have poorer digestion.

Although large dogs do take a little more effort from dog owners, these gentle giants are known to be sweet.

large dog eating fruits
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Why is it more difficult for a large dog to digest food?

It comes down to anatomical differences between them and other breeds.

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at a big dog’s digestive system and how to promote a healthy gut.

Understanding a Large Dog’s Digestive System

large dog breed with a large digestive system
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Simply put, a large dog’s digestive tract is different. One of the key differences includes the percentage a big canine’s digestive system takes up in the body.

A large canine digestive system is about 3% of the total body weight compared to 7% in smaller dogs.

What does this mean?

It means there is more strain on the digestive system in a large dog since there is a smaller area for absorption and the overall digestive process.

The digested food also spends more time in a large dog’s colon compared to other sizes. The time spent in the colon will cause water buildup in the colon, which then leads to watery stools.

Knowing this, there are certain actions we need to take to insure your large dog can digest food healthily.

How to Promote Healthy Digestion in Large Dogs

some superfoods in the earthborn holistic dog foods that can help promote good digestion
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To promote healthy dog digestion, added fiber in dog food is a top recommendation by experts and vets.

However, the difficult part is identifying the right type of fiber. You have fermentable, non-fermentable, indigestible, and digestible fibers.

Digestible and indigestible fibers are the primary classes of fiber with the former two types falling under digestible fiber.

Indigestible fiber is what a dog needs in general when he needs to firm up his poops. Indigestible fiber is excellent for dogs who suffer from anal gland problems and chronic loose stools.

This type of fiber does its job and passes through your dog’s body and gets expelled with the poop. On the other hand, digestible fiber stays in the body to help with digestion.

As said, digestible fiber is classified as fermentable and non-fermentable. Fermentable fiber is used by your large dog’s colon to produce lactic acid and fats that result in the colon drawing extra water to the area. This is what causes water retention in the colon and loose stools in large breeds. To solve the watery stool problem in large breeds, the key is to reduce the amount of fermentable fiber. A type of fermentable fiber is plant gum such as guar gum.

Replace fermentable with non-fermentable fiber, which can be done via supplements. It’s worth it to note that while non-fermentable fiber helps large dogs prevent watery poops, they have an extreme effect in some smaller breeds and can cause constipation.

How to Maintain a Healthy Digestive Tract for Large Dogs

organic food vs natural food for dogs healthy digestive tract
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The dog digestive system has a major role to play in terms of overall health.

How can we aid our large breed dog’s digestion without causing adverse effects?

A dog’s intestinal tract is home to good bacteria that helps with dog digestion.

In order for your dog to digest food effectively, the bacteria combined with other elements work together to break down the food and transform it into nutrients to be absorbed by the body.

Let’s look at how.

1. Probiotics

A common suggestion by vets and experts is to add probiotics into your dog’s food. A lot of dog food already has small amounts of this, but if your dog’s digestive system is weaker, we would recommend adding more.

The supplements can come in powder form and can be easily mixed in with your dog’s diet. Aside from improving your dog’s digestive health, probiotics also work to fight off infections.

2. Fermented Food

Fermented food possesses high amounts of microbes that can set up shop in your dog’s intestinal tract within the dog’s digestive system to aid in the breakdown of food.

3. Prebiotics

It’s imperative not to confuse the purpose of prebiotics with probiotics in the dog digestive system. Probiotics improve digestion and prebiotics foster the growth of microbes in your dog’s system.

Many dog food options already have amounts of prebiotics as well, but adding additional supplements can help to reduce inflammation.

4. Avoid Human Food

Although your dog may find what’s on your plate to be extremely enticing, you must avoid giving in to those puppy dog eyes at all costs. Dogs cannot handle heavily seasoned and flavored foods along with oily ingredients.

Aside from that, there are certain things that we love such as onions, grapes, and chocolate that can be lethal to fur babies.

Cutting out human food will save your dog’s stomach from a lot of grief

5. Raw Diet

Raw food is still a debated topic within the dog community. You have some experts standing firm in their belief that an ancestral raw diet is a way to go.

You then have experts on the other side of the argument that argues against a raw diet, saying that it’s unnecessary and that a dog’s digestive process has evolved since its more primitive years.

Raw food can be good for some breeds, especially if your dog’s stomach is extra sensitive.

However, if you do not pick the freshest ingredients for a raw diet, your dog could contract bacterial diseases such as Salmonella and E. coli.

Before committing your dog to a raw diet, consult with your vet first.

6. Grain-Free Diet

You can also choose to go grain-free, as grains are known to cause allergies in some dogs.

Don’t get us wrong, grains aren’t always bad, and some commercial dog foods use too much as filler ingredients.

7. Vitamins

Adding more vitamin intake can also improve digestion. Vitamins function as a catalyst to help produce more enzymes, which then aid digestion.

Again, vitamins are something most commercial dog foods incorporate into the ingredients, but they may not be enough.

Aside from vitamins A, B, C, D, and E, the B12 vitamin is crucial. Vitamin B12 can help metabolize nutrients more effectively than others.

Factors that Impact How Long It Takes Dogs To Digest Food

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Once the food enters your dog, the digestive process begins in the mouth. The food then journeys to the stomach, then the small intestine, makes its way to the large intestine, and then the colon before making its way out again.

How long does this digestive process take?

There is no definite answer to how long it takes a dog to digest food. There are a number of variables that can impact the time period.

For example, the type of food your dog eats, your dog’s health, the dog breed, the life stage period, and even how much water your canine drinks can affect how long it takes for digestion.

Large breed dogs will take longer to digest food than smaller ones, so it’s very important for large adult dogs to wait for a significant amount of time before it exercises after mealtime.

Full digestion can take a few hours to a day. Wet food digests more easily than dry kibble, and raw food takes an even shorter amount of time. A dog that’s often sedentary and lazy will also take much longer to digest a meal than a dog that’s highly active.

The best way to make sure your dog is digesting food in the least amount of time with the highest level of efficiency is to ensure he gets enough exercise and water.

Try to support your dog’s digestive tract with what we suggested above – supplements, no human food, and look into various types of diets that could be more beneficial.

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Frequently Asked Questions

How long does it take for a large dog to digest food and poop?

It can take a large dog anywhere from 6 to 8 hours and over to digest food and poop. On average, it takes large dogs longer to digest food compared to smaller breeds.

It’s also unfortunate that large dogs have a more difficult time digesting and many big dog breeds suffer from watery poops.

Many other factors can influence how long it takes for a large dog to digest food and poop such as the amount of water the dog drinks, how much exercise it gets, and the food it eats.

How long does it take for dogs to poop after eating?

On average, it can take anywhere from 6 to 8 hours for a dog to poop after eating. However, for puppies, this time is greatly reduced and for large dogs, this period can exceed 8 hours.

What type of food are you feeding your dog?

Do you go on walks every day?

Is your dog getting enough water?

All of these questions address factors that can either lengthen or shorten the digestion period.

Why does it take my dog so long to poop after eating?

If you have a large breed, it can take your dog a while to poop after eating. It could also be because your dog is constipated, not getting enough water or exercise, or not eating the best food.

You can work with a pet nutritionist or your vet to identify what’s causing your dog to take longer to poop after eating and what measures you can take to resolve the problem.


Dog digestion isn’t far off from ours. Dogs can benefit from added supplements to aid in healthy digestion as we can and switching to a different diet can improve or worsen the situation.

Large fur babies will require more care and monitoring, but with the right food, supplements, and access to water, your large breed dog can have a happy and healthy gut.

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