What causes loose stools in dogs?

Original Question: What is the best food to feed my 4-month-old puppy to keep his stool hard? His anal gland has been filling up and he has been having the fishy smell. I want to know how can I prevent that and the best food for his stool. - Iliana

What causes loose stools in dogs? Jul 21, 2018

Hi Iliana,

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 fill and become impacted, painful, inflamed and will 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

Summary
What causes loose stools in dogs?
Article Name
What causes loose stools in dogs?
Description
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.
Author
Publisher Name
Healthcare for Pets
Publisher Logo

Disclaimer: healthcareforpets.com and its team of veterinarians and clinicians do not endorse any products, services, or recommended advice. All advice presented by our veterinarians, clinicians, tools, resources, etc is not meant to replace a regular physical exam and consultation with your primary veterinarian or other clinicians. We always encourage you to seek medical advice from your regular veterinarian.

Related Q&A

  • Do you recommend a stool test for my dog who is on a raw food diet?
  • Answered by: Dennis Chmiel, DVM, MBA
  • Nov 25, 2020
  • Do small or large breed dogs have more problems with their teeth?
  • Answered by: Jeanne Perrone, MS, CVT, VTS (Dentistry)
  • Sep 5, 2020
  • How do dogs contract leptospirosis and how can it be prevented?
  • Answered by: Dr. Alex Avery, BVSc
  • Jun 21, 2019
  • What is the best diet to feed a dog?
  • Answered by: Dr. Alex Avery, BVSc
  • Jun 21, 2019