Structure and Function of the Gastrointestinal Tract in Dogs

Below is information about the structure and function of the canine gastrointestinal tract. We will tell you about the general structure of the stomach and bowels, how it works in dogs, common diseases that affect the gastrointestinal tract and common diagnostic tests performed in dogs to evaluate the gastrointestinal tract.

What Is the Gastrointestinal Tract?

The gastrointestinal (GI) tract or system is responsible for processing and extracting nutrients from food and collecting and passing waste material from the dog’s body. It is a very long and winding tube, beginning in the mouth and ending at the anus, through which food is swallowed and collected, then broken apart and digested. It is also where the nutrients from food are absorbed into the body. The GI tract includes the mouth, teeth, tongue, pharynx, esophagus, stomach, small intestine and large intestine.

Where Is the Gastrointestinal Tract Located in Dogs?

The GI tract is a large system that travels the length of the body. It starts at the mouth, extends into the throat, through the chest and abdominal cavities, and ends at the anus.

What Is the General Structure of the Gastrointestinal Tract?

For most of its length, the GI tract is a long hollow tube lined by different types of cells. The walls of the tube are composed of glands, nerves and muscles. Structurally, the cell type, muscle thickness, glandular elements, and nervous supply differ in the various functional regions, as does the diameter and shape of the tube.

The small intestine consists of the duodenum, the jejunum and the ileum. The duodenum is the first and most stationary part of the small intestine. Within the duodenum, openings are present that allow digestive juices to enter the intestines from the pancreas and gallbladder. The jejunum is the longest part of the small intestine and is free to move into whatever unoccupied space is available within the abdomen. The ileum is the short, terminal portion of the small intestine.

What Are the Functions of the Canine Gastrointestinal Tract?

What Are Common Diseases of the Gastrointestinal Tract in Dogs?

There are many primary disorders that affect the GI tract. Vomiting and/or diarrhea are commonly seen with gastrointestinal disease. Regurgitation (the effortless evacuation of fluid, mucus and undigested food from the esophagus) is commonly seen with esophageal disease. Some common diseases of the GI tract include:

What Types of Diagnostic Tests Are Used to Evaluate the Gastrointestinal Tract?

Numerous diagnostic tests are helpful in evaluating the GI tract.