Dog Poop: What It Can Tell You

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No one ever seems to want to talk about dog poop, yet elimination is an important part of digestion and one you should pay attention to.

Even if you’re paying for filet mignon, the best bones and organic vegetables, there’s no guarantee your dog is using it all. I’ve been practicing dog poop patrol for several years now.  It’s just as much of a routine as serving meals.

The basics I look for are:

  • Constipation – I want to be sure my dogs are not straining. Not only is constipation uncomfortable, it indicates help is needed.
  • Diarrhea – Could be a one time thing because your dog ate something she shouldn’t have or it could be the beginning of a more serious problem.
  • Undigested particles – Any part of the meal not digested will come out looking rather like it did in her bowl.
  • Size and frequency – these tell their own story: how fast your dog is digesting her food and how much of it is being used.

Constipation

If my dog shows signs of constipation the first thing I ask myself is if she ate anything different in the past several hours. The next question is whether she’s getting enough water. I pay attention to how often I’m filling the bowl and do the skin test to check for dehydration. (To do this, pinch a fold of skin on your dog’s neck. It should bounce back into place in a second. Any longer and your dog may be dehydrated.)

Constipation could be due to too much bone in the raw diet that day or the day before. If this happens, feces will have white in them and look chalky or crumbly. If so, I make sure the next meal has a higher liquid and meat content.

Diarrhea

I always take diarrhea seriously. Soft stools don’t bother me so I just monitor. The closer to liquid they are, the more concerned I am. If I see liquid diarrhea three or four times in one day, I fast my dog for a minimum of 24 hours.

Fasting gives the body a rest and a chance to heal itself. In lieu of food, I serve a homemade broth I call healing broth. You can make a healing broth by boiling some bones and maybe some fresh ginger into a stock.

My 13-year old dog once had diarrhea that just didn’t go away. The one day fast didn’t help and he was too thin to keep fasting. Then I noticed his urine output was abnormally high, indicating kidney troubles.

Healing broth, tiny meals with herbal kidney support and a Chinese mineral tonic got him back on track. I’m happy to say he’s full of energy, eating well now and his weight is normal.

Undigested Particles

You might be surprised what your dog is getting into, but there’s more to it than just putting up the kids’ crayons.

What I mean is undigested food, not socks or crayons. When I first switched to raw for my five pit bulls, I also served cooked brown rice. Everything appeared to be fine for several months. Then two of them started passing the rice undigested. I switched between rolled oats and quinoa which worked better for them.

I didn’t have a problem serving grains at the time because none of my dogs had skin or ear problems.But eventually I felt they would be better off without them and that solved my food particle problem completely.

Size and Frequency

The larger the dog poop, the less food is being digested. That’s why commercial kibbles cause big stinky feces … because they’re mostly undigestible filler.

How often your dog eliminates tells you how long it takes to digest her meal. Any changes may be a signal there’s a small battle going on inside.

As a dog health care coach, when someone comes to me with a problem, I often ask what kind of poop the dog passes. I can’t help but laugh at those who seem to think it’s a private matter they shouldn’t be watching.

Nothing could be further from the truth. If you feed raw and there is a poop size increase, it may be time to add probiotics or enzymes to help the digestion.

A Bonus

One of the best surprises of changing my dogs to a raw diet was better dog poop. Living in the South with five pit bulls each over 65 pounds, it used to seem like an endless smelly job to clean up the yard. I think the Georgia heat and humidity increased the odor as well.

Not long after the raw food switch, armed with my trusty shovel and some plastic bags, I went out for poop pick up. Guess what?  Healthy poop decomposes! Not only that, after I’d patrolled the yard awhile, the few that remained had almost no odor at all!

My dog’s fecal output was less than half the size it had been on manufactured dog food – and I was a happy woman!

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