Like it or not, as a pet owner, you are intimately familiar with your dogs’ poop. You pick it up at least twice a day. You'll be the first to know about any little change in the consistency, color or smell of what’s in that doggy poop-bag.
And sometimes it can worry you a bit, right? After all, if your dog’s poop isn’t normal, there must be something wrong with his gut.
We asked our veterinary experts Dr. Keith Latson and Dr. Rob Franklin to talk us through the delightful topic of dog poop. (Someone has to do it!)
Just like you, they’ve picked up plenty of dog poop over the years. Keith has two nine-year-old Golden Retrievers (Chester and Sydney) and Rob has a cute six-year-old Dachshund (Woody) who’s had enough gut issues for a dog ten times his size.
But more importantly, because Keith and Rob are veterinarians, they know all the causes and treatments associated with problems in your dog’s digestive system as well as how to read the signs that trouble may be happening.
“If your dog’s stool is healthy, it doesn’t necessarily mean your dog is healthy. However, if your dog has loose or diarrhea stool, it is definitely a sign that something is wrong.” -Rob Franklin, DVM, DACVIM
What Should My Dog’s Poop Look Like?
A normal or good stool is different for every dog, and you’ll quickly get used to your own dog’s perfect poop. But as a rule, healthy dog poop is solid but soft, with tapered ends. It will smell, but the odor shouldn’t be so bad that you gag as you clean it up. What you feed your dog will affect the color of his poo, but any huge change in color from day to day can be a warning sign.
And struggling to go, or diarrhea, is a sure sign that something is wrong.
The Bad - Loose, Off-Colored and Smelly
Dog poop that’s too soft to pick up properly is a sign that his diet contains too much grain-based feed.
A soft poo isn’t always something to worry about, but it can be embarrassing if he decides to go on the sidewalk or right outside somebody’s home!
If you notice a change in color, whether it be darker or lighter, you will want to pay attention to the way your dog acts for the next couple of days.
And smell is always an indicator... A stronger and more pungent smelling stool is a warning sign that something is amiss in your dog’s gut.
The area between very “soft” and “diarrhea” is a bit gray. Erring on the side of caution is best, so if the poop is closer to a liquid than a solid, take note: you may be dealing with dog diarrhea.
The Ugly - Diarrhea
If things go from bad to worse, and the situation actually escalates to dog diarrhea, you need to fix the problem. When there’s a major problem in your pet’s GI tract, and frightening symptoms, such as bloody diarrhea, intensify, you need to get a veterinarian involved ASAP.
What Can Cause Common Digestive Problems in My Dog?
Even though our dogs seem happy and ready for anything, they are sensitive creatures. Plenty of factors can stress a dog so much that he develops diarrhea.
The most obvious is a change in food type, amount or frequency. Feeding inappropriate dog supplements (or changing the dosage too quickly) can wreak havoc inside his gut.
Although antibiotics are a wonderful discovery for fighting infection, they unfortunately kill both the good and the bad bacteria in the digestive tract. This annihilation leads to instability of the microbiome, most often leading to your dog’s diarrhea.
Stress and Anxiety in Dogs Plays a Major Role!
Your home and your family are your dog’s entire world. Any changes or disruptions of the norm could stress him out. Some of the more common causes are:
- Moving to a new house
- Competition - being exposed to other dogs
- Athletic activities - hunting and trial dogs often display higher stress levels
- Kennel time or having a sitter - always a high-stress situation
- Loneliness or abandonment issues – anxiety often affects digestion
- Introducing a new pet or a new baby can disrupt a happy routine
Dogs can’t talk out their problems the way humans can. And even if they could, they’d probably soldier on because they’re so eager to please! Instead of voicing their stress, dogs keep it bottled up in their bellies until it all gets to be too much.
In extreme cases, environmental stress can lead to stress colitis - inflammation of the large intestine or colon.
The take-home point here is to be mindful of factors that can make dogs stressed.
Stress-related gut issues don’t take a big change. Even the little things can cause stress and anxiety. As good dog owners, we must do our best to manage doggy-stress.
Get To Know Your Dog’s Digestive System
Your dog’s digestive system starts with his teeth, jaw, mouth and saliva (although saliva is much less important to a dog’s digestion than it is to us humans).
A dog’s mouth was designed to bite off large chunks of food and wolf them down quickly.
While the mechanics of his mouth are important, the stomach is really the first stop on the road to digestion. Hydrochloric acid starts to break down the food. It then passes into the small intestine where the liquid food is processed into various nutrients.
The large intestine is the final stop before you get to see what your dog’s poop looks like today. (Lucky you!)
Did You Know?
The dog digestive system is one of the shortest GI tracts of all mammals.
The entire canine digestive process only takes about eight hours (even less for puppies).
Compare this to humans, who have an average digestion time of 53 hours! Even children’s bodies average 33 hours from meal to poop.
So if something is wrong with your dog’s GI tract, you’re going to know soon enough!
How Can I Keep My Dog’s Gut Healthy?
Provide Quality Dog Food
Many of today’s commercial dog foods are formulated with ingredients that a dog wouldn’t eat naturally in the wild.
Processed kibble, unnatural fillers, various grains and preservative agents are a few of the main culprits that can negatively affect your dog’s sensitive digestive system and gut microbiome.
Some dog owners think a raw or paleo-style diet is the best way to feed their dogs, but even then they might eat something their guts can’t handle. Dogs evolve rapidly, and many breeds are now able to eat things that their great grandparents couldn’t.
But, as we mentioned earlier, your dog’s poop is your best guide.
Taking the time to research dog food and cross-reference information from a variety of reliable resources is well worth the effort to keep your dog’s digestive system happy and healthy.
Asking your vet for basic dog gut health advice and purchasing the best quality dog food you can afford are good starting points.
Being aware of stress factors and trying to keep them limited is an easy way to help keep your dog’s gut healthy.
Invest in the Best Probiotics for Dogs
There are three main reasons you would want to carefully consider supplementing your dog’s diet.
- Your dog has had digestive-related issues in the past
- Your dog is currently having a digestive issue
Your dog is high-risk
(Your dog is high-risk if he has recently been on a course of antibiotics, is on a long-term treatment plan or is stressed; remember these factors can cause small to dramatic changes in your dog’s gut microbiome.)
Supplementing your dog’s diet is a way to get ahead of digestive health issues or help fight the issues once they occur.
The most successful strategy is to use a specifically designed dog supplement with a formula containing a combination of probiotic, prebiotic and digestive enzymes
There are two factors to consider the most when choosing digestive supplements for your dog:
- The right ingredients - There are MANY probiotic strains, and they all have different functions and perform differently in the digestive tract. If you think of them like vitamins, one probiotic strain would be as different from another as Vitamin A is from Vitamin B. Saccharomyces boulardii (S. boulardii) is the most effective probiotic for diarrhea and GI health in dogs.
- The concentration - Choosing a supplement with a high enough concentration to be effective is very important. If your doctor prescribed 500mg of Ibuprofen for a migraine headache, would you think a 50mg aspirin would have the desired effect?
Don’t forget to choose a product specific to your dog’s age (an adult or senior dog product won’t be suitable for a puppy) and appropriate dose for your pet’s weight.
Why the combination of probiotics and prebiotics?
Probiotics help fight pathogens and stabilize your dog’s microbiome. Prebiotics feed your dog’s own, natural, beneficial bacteria for quicker recovery. Enzymes work in the stomach to help break down food so it’s not only easier to digest, but can also help to get more of the good nutrients out of the food and into your dog’s body.
Should You Try Home Remedies for Dog Gut Health?
Dog digestive problems are sometimes caused by well-meaning owners feeding the wrong supplements.
These usually include inappropriate products (herbal extracts or food products designed for humans or other uses) or poor-quality dog supplements.
Although dog owners mean well, these products are not usually the best way to treat your pup’s health issues.
A lot of alternative remedies lack scientific data (verifiable, measurable results that have been peer-reviewed by other scientists with no “skin in the game.” Stay away from anecdotal evidence. Anecdotal means that users report seeing or feeling a change).
We are not making claims for or against home remedies - merely pointing out the facts.
Because dogs can’t tell us how they are feeling, seeking out the best treatment for their diarrhea is even more important. If you go the pet store route, you could easily end up wasting your money on a product that contains ineffective ingredients in the wrong dosages for a dog much smaller or bigger than your pet.
Overdosing your dog is incredibly easy when using a home remedy, and under-dosing is easy, too.
Mis-dosing usually occurs when the information on a dog supplement label is misleading and that happens more often than you’d care to believe!
Choosing the Best Probiotic Supplement for My Dog
A 2011 study by Scott Weese scientifically tested and reviewed 25 animal probiotic supplements - including most of the major brands.
The results of his study were shocking!
You don't want to gamble with your dog's health by choosing poor products or those with misleading labels. Make sure to purchase supplements you have studied and can trust.
Make sure that the dog products have all active and inactive ingredients listed individually, concentration levels of the actives and precise dosages clearly explained on the label.
Be wary of “proprietary blends” or “special formulas” that don’t list the ingredients individually.
Why is FullBucket’s Dog Supplement the Best?
We take extreme pride in our concentrations, ingredient sources and use peer-reviewed, scientifically-proven ingredients to craft our formulas.
Our dog probiotic supplements are designed to restore the normal gut flora of your dog’s digestive system so his body can heal itself and fight pathogens.
FullBucket’s Dog Probiotic Paste product contains 12.5 billion CFUs (Colony Forming Units - how probiotics are measured). You would need to give 50 doses of the closest competitor’s probiotic product to equal this amount!
Our FullBucket Daily Dog Maintenance Powder, which you sprinkle on your dog’s food, has 5 Billion CFUs, which is still ten times stronger than the leading competitor!
But most importantly, we care about animals and the families they serve. For every FullBucket you buy, we give one to an animal in need.
You may not be able to adopt every shelter dog in the world, but you can help a dog who needs it while helping your own pet!
Who is FullBucket?
Two veterinarians dealing with gastrointestinal issues such as gastrointestinal disease and diarrhea in their patients started FullBucket. Not able to find any products on the market that were both effective and healthy, they set out to create their own
FullBucket uses all-natural solutions that work with the dog’s digestive system instead of against it, as do most all pharmaceutical solutions.
Our products are made in the USA, and we provide a 100% money-back guarantee for ANY reason if you’re not completely happy.
The FullBucket team are dog, cat and horse owners and lovers who consider their animal's family. If you have a question, they will go the extra mile to get you the right answer.