While the act of scuffling around your back yard with a shovel in one hand a bag in the other, while searching for brown landmines is not the most exciting part of pet ownership, it is an important one. Your pets stool will tell you a lot about how their Gastrointestinal (GI) Tract is performing and if their food is adequate. The look, shape, smell, size, amount and softness all play a part in understanding your dog inside and out.
But the most common question that I come across, is “How do I know if my dog is pooping too much?” If this is a question that has been plaguing you, or you have always wondered how to ‘read’ your dogs poop, then this article will help provide some great insights for you.
WHAT AFFECTS HOW MUCH A DOG POOPS?
On average, a dog will poop between 1-5 times per day. Anything outside of this, can be an indication that something else is going on internally.
When it comes down to understanding why your dog poops at the level he does, the answer is relatively simple… the type/quality and amount of food. If your dog is suffering from any health conditions than this will potentially have an impact on stool output and I would recommend discussing your doggies do do’s with your Veterinarian.
If your dog eats excessive amounts, then he will of course smear your green lawn with brown, but if you are following the feeding recommendation as per your dogs weight, then you should only find 1-5 stools per day on average. I feel it is important to mention here that you should always feed to your dogs ideal weight, not current weight. This goes for dogs that need to gain weight, as well as those that are carrying a few extra love handles. Feeding recommendations are calculated and tested to maintain that weight range. Meaning if your dog is 30kg but should be 25kg, then you should be following the guide for a 25kg dog.
Outside of the amount your dog is eating it is the quality that will make a big impact. If you are feeding a balanced raw food diet, chances are your dog is already doing A1 stools in your back yard. If you are feeding a kibble, one of the best ways for me to explain the difference between a quality natural kibble and a poor quality one (without naming names, I am sure you have a couple on your head for either end of the scale. If you need any help with this, please reach out to me), is by the quality of the ingredients. Poor quality kibble will use fillers such as corn and ‘meals’, in a bid to lower the price while filling your dogs belly up. When ‘fillers’ are used they are not digested well and pass through, therefore ending up in a steamy oversized mess your backyard, leaving your dog with a lack of nutrients to sustain and grow healthily.
WHAT SHOULD HEALTHY STOOLS LOOK LIKE?
While staring at an infographic of every kind of dog poop may put you off your lunch, don’t turn away yet… I also have a video to top it off and make sure you can accurately judge the landmines in your backyard the next time you go for a walk.
This video has a great explanation of the different stool types and what each can be an indication of:
WHY PUPPIES POOP MORE THAN ADULTS
It may seem like your puppy is a pooping machine that is determined to spread your yard with their ‘unique’ scent, and its main focus is to keep you tied to a shovel and carrying poop bag. But the good news is that this stage is temporary, of course, depending on what his long term diet and intake is like.
There are a couple of reasons why puppies poop more than adult dogs, and one of these is the fact that their stomachs are small. Puppies require smaller portions of food at regular intervals to grow and flourish healthily. Where as adult dogs can feed much less infrequently. The constant stream of food keeps the digestive tract moving and a steady flow of poop for you.
Secondly, puppies have a much faster metabolism along with their abundance of energy. Meaning their bodies will metabolise food at a much faster rate than an adult, and therefore have more stools to scatter across your yard.
While puppies will graze throughout the day, it is important to not overfeed them. Overfeeding can lead to obesity, joint strain and skeletal problems as they grow.
IS IT A MEDICAL CONDITION?
Now that you are an expert in ‘the perfect poop’, I am sure you will be able to easily detect significant changes in your dogs stool. Slight variations in firmness and softness is fine, but it is when this change lasts for days or more is when you should take some action.
If your dog is experiencing soft stools without abdominal pain or vomiting, then providing a bland diet for a few days is often enough to give the GI tract a break and a chance to heal itself. Chicken and rice is a great supplement diet for this period of time, but not recommended ongoing.
Any dog releasing stools containing blood, worms, whole food, black in colour, putrid smell or are completely liquid, should be checked over by a Veterinarian as more than a bland diet may be required to recover.
Puppies with diarrhoea should always be seen by a Veterinarian as soon as possible. At this age they are fragile and go downhill very fast, much like our own two legged babies.
GETTING THE DIET RIGHT
Your dogs stool is the best indication that the food you are feeding is right for him or not. Oversized stools either mean he is getting too much food (accompanied with weight gain), or that the food you are feeding is not nutritionally adequate and he is pooping out a lot of what is going in. In the long term this can cause a nutrient deficiency, leading to a number of health conditions and some serious depletion of your bank account.
I am not out to name brands, but if you are feeding a kibble, look at the ingredients… the first few ingredients should be meat. If it includes ingredients like corn and others listed as ‘meal’ take high priority on the list, my recommendation is to keep looking. A quality kibble will include quality sources of fat, carbs and proteins, along with healthy vitamins and minerals.
There is a lot of debate around feeding a raw diet, but in all of my research and personal experience, a balanced raw diet is the best option and it packs your dog with available nutrients allowing him to flourish. Simply throwing some meat and vegetables in a bowl is not enough, it must be balanced and calculated to it meets his needs.
When it comes to treats… everything in moderation is the key. It is best to stick to natural, preservative free treats, such as Bully Sticks and Moo Tubes. Australian sourced will eliminate the risks of illness from foreign countries. There are countless cases of hospitalised dogs and deaths from overseas treats that have been imported and carried illnesses into our homes here in Australia.
HAPPY POOP EQUALS A HAPPY POOCH
Maintaining healthy stools throughout your dogs life is one way to maintain a healthy GI tract. As with us, ongoing issues with constipation or diahorrea will negatively impact on intestinal growth.
A dog that continues to strain in order to have a bowel movement, can, over a period of time suffer from medical conditions such as Megacolon and experience some severe discomfort. If diahorrea is the ongoing issue, then dehydration is one of the biggest concerns, particularly in puppies and senior dogs.
As much as your dog would like some privacy to do his ‘business’, the key is to actually see your dog having a bowel movement so you can assess if it passes easily or with strain. Then, inspect it and assess it! You now have the knowledge to know if a dietary change is required, if Veterinary care needs to be sought, or, if you are lucky enough to have the perfect dog with the perfect poop!
If you have any experiences that you would like to share, or questions, please reach out to me. I would love to hear from you.
Founder & Veterinary Nurse