How do I firm up my dog’s stool?
Original Question: My mother sent me your email as I am having some issues with my +1 year old Cockapoo. Since I had her she has been a picky eater, enjoying her kibble for short periods of time. I started her on Arcana and tried all flavours - again she would gobble it up no issues for a week ad then become finicky and not eat all day long. I then went the route of making her food to add to it which she seemed to enjoy, however, it became too much work to manage on my own. We then switched to raw food where I feel she reacted to it as what the web advised with much smaller and denser stools. She had been on raw for ~1.5 months when I left for vacation - upon my return her sitter advised that she had a couple of diarrhea issues. This continued for about 1 week and included 2 nights of vomiting. We went to the vet where she received some meds and digestive soft food x 1 week...while the vomiting stopped her stools continue to be inconsistent. All tests came back negative. She has been back on raw for ~2 weeks and the diarrhea has returned - assuming this diet is not in her favour I am now in search of a good sensitive food diet to feed her. In searching the web I found a few recommended brands. Would you have any recommendations or feedback based on her experience? Much appreciated. - Leanne
Thanks for your question.
A solid bowel movement will put pressure on the anal gland and cause it to express so that it doesn’t stay full and become irritated. If the stool is soft, the anal glands have the potential to fill up and become impacted, painful, inflamed and possibly rupture.
Loose stools in dogs may be due to an intestinal problem rather than just the diet. I would recommend that you rule out any medical conditions first with your veterinarian. You could perform fecal testing for parasites, a rectal exam for abnormal structures in the colon, radiographs to image the area, blood work for metabolic diseases and a urinalysis for kidney related issues. Maybe it has less to do with the food and more to do with a disease process you need to address. You’ll also want to talk to your veterinarian about conditions such as chronic pancreatitis, colitis, inflammatory bowel disease and pancreatic insufficiency.
If everything is clear then it could be dietary and you can start experimenting with different diets. Consider trying a food for good digestive health or something formulated for food allergies. Simply trying a food with a novel protein that you have never bought before could be a good start. Keep in mind that digestive issues could be solved not just by food, but also by adding something like probiotics or vitamins. I’ve seen a lot of pets with digestive issues improve by using simple probiotics and seeding the gut with good bacteria. This can aid in more efficient digestion and absorption of the food.
Any food you select has to have a trial period before knowing whether it is ideal or not. To avoid this risk, I would recommend that you introduce any new food very slowly over the course of 3 weeks. Monitor your dog’s response to it very closely as you switch over to the new diet. If diarrhea or vomiting develops, I would stop it immediately and seek medical attention if it does not resolve right away.
If you don’t want to address a possible medical condition because of how expensive it can be, it could be risky. Something could be occurring under the surface which could progress while you waste time trying different diets. If you are comfortable with the risk, which I don’t recommend, you could try the different diets anyways and offer something to help digestion such as probiotics.
I hope this helps,
Dr. Clayton Greenway
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