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Dog Has Diarrhea? Diet Tips to Firm Up Their Stool

Dog Has Diarrhea? Diet Tips to Firm Up Their Stool

Understanding Your Dog’s Digestive System

Experts in human medicine are constantly learning more about how important the gastrointestinal tract is for overall health. That’s also true of your dog’s digestive system. Your dog’s gut, just like your own, is a critical part of their health and well-being. Before learning how to firm up dog poop, it’s important to understand how that gut works.

You see, sometimes dietary changes, stress, and diseases like inflammatory bowel disease, bacterial infections, and parasites, among other problems, can have a dramatic impact on your dog’s health. And one of the first symptoms you might see in that case is your dog’s loose stools.

Now, you might be wondering just how you can firm up your dog’s stool since digestive health is so important. You also might want to know what your dog’s poop is supposed to look like and what you can do to help with soft stools. Well, let’s dive in and explore your pooch’s digestive health, what loose stools mean, and the steps you can take to firm up their stool.

The Scoop on Doggy Digestion

The digestive system is responsible for numerous important functions, including processing food, absorbing vitamins and nutrients, and disposing of waste matter. When compared to humans, the dog’s digestive tract is actually shorter. This means a healthy dog will digest their meals in approximately one-third of the time it takes a human to digest their food.

Dogs also have different digestive enzymes in their stomachs and saliva, which is why they can eat and digest certain foods that us humans cannot. Because of the critical role the gastrointestinal tract plays in your best friend’s health, their bowel movements are going to be a good indicator of their gut health.

What Healthy Poop Looks Like

When it comes to how your best friend’s poop should look, consider the four C’s: color, consistency, content, and coating. Normally, dog stool is a nice, chocolatey-brown in color. This color is affected by the pigment bilirubin, which is released in bile by the gallbladder. The color can vary a bit and still be normal, but some abnormal colors that you’ll want to keep an eye on include yellow, white, red, or black.

As for consistency, your veterinarian will use a numerical score to evaluate it. The scoring system they use is a 7-point scale, where 1 is rock hard (too hard), and 7 is a total puddle of poop (too soft). Ideally, your dog’s poop should score a 2 – firm, segmented, and shaped like a caterpillar. It should feel like Play-Doh when you press on it, and hold its shape.

If your dog’s stool is too soft and runny, it means their large intestine isn’t reabsorbing water as it should. And if it’s too hard, it can indicate dehydration and other issues. It’s also important to look at the actual contents of your dog’s feces. You might see things like worms, pieces of plastic, or even fur, which could indicate an underlying problem.

Lastly, your pooch’s poop shouldn’t have any kind of coating or film on it, and it shouldn’t leave a trail behind when you pick it up. If it does have a mucous coating, that could indicate inflammation in the large intestines, which is associated with diarrhea.

Diarrhea vs. Soft Stools

It’s important to understand that there’s a difference between diarrhea and soft stools. Soft stools still have some form, and you can pick them up. Diarrhea, on the other hand, is runny and you won’t be able to pick it up.

Diarrhea can be caused by all sorts of things, like bacterial, viral, or parasitic infections, as well as chronic health problems like inflammatory bowel disease. It can also be brought on by dietary changes, stress, or even certain medications. If your dog has diarrhea three or more times a day for more than a day or two, it’s time to call the vet.

Soft stools, on the other hand, often indicate dietary insufficiencies, food intolerances, or chronic stress. They may not be as serious as diarrhea, but they can still lead to bigger health issues down the road if left untreated. So, it’s important to keep an eye on your pup’s poop and try to identify any recent changes that could be causing the problem.

Tips to Firm Up Your Dog’s Stool

Alright, now that you understand a bit more about your dog’s digestive system and the difference between diarrhea and soft stools, let’s talk about what you can do to firm things up. Here are some tried and true tips:

1. Keep Them Hydrated

Your dog should always have access to clean, fresh water for drinking, but it’s particularly important if they have soft stools or diarrhea. The main role of the large intestine is to reabsorb water as waste moves through. When your dog has diarrhea, the waste is moving too quickly and the intestines can’t reabsorb enough water, leading to dehydration.

You can also give your furry friend over-the-counter oral rehydration solutions (ORS) by mixing them in with their drinking water. If you don’t have access to an ORS, you can easily make one at home by mixing 8 teaspoons of sugar and 1 teaspoon of salt in a liter of water. This will help rebalance their electrolytes.

2. Try a Bland Diet

Fasting for 12 to 24 hours can help slow acute cases of dog diarrhea, especially if the culprit is dry kibble or something else not agreeing with them. After that, you can introduce small portions of a bland diet, like chicken and rice or pureed pumpkin or bananas. These have higher fiber levels to help firm up their stool.

3. Adjust Their Diet

For normal, healthy bowel movements, dogs need sufficient levels of digestible protein. Chicken and turkey are probably better choices than beef or other protein sources. Limit foods with a lot of preservatives, as well as paté-style dog foods. Stick to natural ingredients and transparent nutritional labels.

You’ll also want to avoid dairy, as it’s a common cause of soft stools in dogs. Fatty foods can also cause diarrhea or soft stools, so opt for blander, milder foods.

4. Give Them Probiotics

Just like us, there are good bacteria living in your dog’s intestinal tract. These bacteria produce important vitamins and help with digestion. But the bacteria in a dog’s gut is different from ours, so you’ll want to give them a probiotic supplement made specifically for canines, like Fortiflora.

5. Add Fiber

Finally, adding fiber to your dog’s diet is a great way to firm up their poop. Fiber helps absorb extra fluid in the digestive tract, making stools firmer. Pumpkin and white rice are excellent sources of fiber, as are some raw fruits and veggies.

Now, I know it can be tempting to try over-the-counter medications for your dog’s diarrhea or soft stools, but you really want to be cautious with those. Some can actually do more harm than good, especially if you don’t know the underlying cause. That’s why it’s best to check with your veterinarian before giving your pup anything.

If the dietary changes and home remedies I’ve suggested don’t seem to be doing the trick, definitely make an appointment with your vet. They can run tests to determine the root cause and get your dog’s digestive health back on track.

In the meantime, remember that keeping them hydrated, adjusting their diet, and adding fiber are all great ways to help firm up that poop. And if you’re looking for a dog food that’s gentle on sensitive tummies, be sure to check out the recipes from Their meals are made with fresh, whole ingredients and no preservatives. Your pup is sure to love them!

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