Discussing our canine companions’ bowel health may not be the most glamorous topic, but it plays an essential role in ensuring their overall well-being. As a veterinarian, I often get asked about ways to harden a dog’s stool, so if you’re asking yourself the same question, you’ve come to the right place.
Throughout my career, I have encountered various cases of soft stools in dogs, and so I’ve gathered first-hand experience using different tactics to improve their bowel health. With a mix of dietary adjustments, supplements, and lifestyle changes, you can take proactive steps toward fixing your dog’s loose stool while looking out for any warning signs that may indicate a more serious underlying issue.
In this article, we will explore some safe, natural, and effective remedies that you can try at home to firm up your dog’s loose stool.
What Can I Give My Dog to Harden His Stool?
1. Add Fiber to your dog’s diet
Often the first things I suggest to owners struggling with the consistency of their dog’s stools is adding fiber to the diet. Fiber can help normalize stool consistency and harden their stools by adding bulk to the food, which slows the speed at which food moves through a dog’s gut, allowing more time for proper digestion. Fiber absorbs excess water from the gastrointestinal tract, which helps firm up the poop. Fiber also has bonus hidden benefit of helping prevent anal gland issues in dogs.
Sources of fiber include:
Probiotics, or beneficial bacteria, can promote a healthy gut ecosystem in dogs, aiding digestion and nutrient absorption. When your dog’s digestive system is balanced and functioning well, it can result in your dog’s poo becoming firmer.
Sugar-free natural yogurt is one way to incorporate probiotics into your dog’s diet, however, just be aware that some dogs may be lactose intolerant so this could actually make their poop worse.
Because of that, I’d recommend a dog-specific probiotic supplement such as FortiFlora by Purina ProPlan. It comes in a powder form that is easy to add to your dog’s food or water.
3. Change Your Pet’s Diet
A well-balanced diet plays a crucial role in maintaining healthy digestion and can improve the consistency of a dog’s stools.
Think about what you feed your dog – do you feed a lot of treats or human foods? Too much variety or poor quality processed foods can result in a soft dog stool. A poor diet can even contribute to conditions like inflammatory bowel disease.
Similarly, you should try to avoid raw food diets as these contain a lot of harmful bacteria that are not only a risk to your dog’s health but human health too.
After evaluating their current diet, I often recommend switching to easily digestible, high-quality dog foods like the Royal Canin Gastrointestinal High-fiber diet. Change the diet gradually, over 7-10 days, to allow your dog to acclimate to the new food.
4. Keep up to date with worming treatments
Regular deworming can eliminate parasites from your dog’s body, allowing their digestive system to function optimally. Parasite infections cause damage to your dog’s gut and result in poor absorption of food and loose stools.
I’ve found great success using SentryHC dewormer to effectively kill any worms that may be present in dogs.
5. Pay attention to what your dog eats
One of the most common reasons I see for loose stools in practice is dietary indiscretion; that’s the term we vets use to describe your dog eating something they shouldn’t.
Dogs are natural scavengers and are naturally curious, often ingesting things that are not ideal for their digestion. These can include animal feces, garbage remnants, certain plants, and even toxic substances they encounter outdoors. These items can upset your dog’s stomach, leading to diarrhea or loose stools.
The same goes for human foods; while you may think that you’re giving your dog a treat, it’s likely just going to lead to stomach upset and diarrhea later on. Many human foods are even toxic to dogs, so it’s best to steer clear.
6. Provide plenty of fresh water
It may sound obvious, but you’d be surprised how many cases of diarrhea I see that respond to some simple rehydration. Encouraging your dog to drink can also help flush out any potential toxins that they have in their body, speeding up recovery.
If your dog isn’t keen on water, you may want to consider introducing a doggy electrolyte drink to make the water more appealing or try wet food to increase their fluid intake.
7. Keep your dog as stress-free as possible
Stress can significantly affect a dog’s digestive health, leading to issues like loose stools or diarrhea. Much like humans, dogs have a brain-gut connection, meaning their emotional state can impact their gastrointestinal function. When a dog is stressed, their body goes into ‘fight or flight’ mode, which can speed up digestion and result in loose stools.
Regular exercise, a consistent routine, plenty of rest, and positive reinforcement can all contribute to reducing stress levels in your dog. If you suspect your dog’s softer stool is stress-related, it might be worth exploring calming techniques or seeking advice from a vet or a dog behaviorist.
You could even try a supplement such as zylkene for stress; this daily capsule can help calm your dog, reducing the likelihood of stress-induced loose stools.
8. Increase the amount of time between your dog’s meals
Increasing the time between meals can help firm up your dog’s stool. This allows food to be fully digested before introducing more into their system and can prevent overfeeding, which is a common cause of loose stools in dogs. So, it’s worth considering a suitable feeding schedule for your dog.
Feeding your dog at regular intervals, with a significant gap between meals, can also help regulate their bowel movements. Consistency in feeding times can lead to consistency in digestion and elimination, which can ultimately contribute to firmer stools.
Allowing more time between meals can also prevent overfeeding, which is a common cause of loose stools in dogs. Overfeeding can overwhelm a dog’s digestive system, leading to undigested food and loose stool. By spacing out meals, you can ensure your dog is receiving the right amount of food and not more than they can handle.
Most common causes of soft stools in dogs
As a veterinarian, I’ve come across many cases of dogs with soft stools and worried owners searching for reasons behind this issue. Here are some of the most common causes to help you understand the possible reasons behind your dog’s soft poop.
Understanding these common causes can help you take appropriate actions to address your dog’s soft stool issues when they arise. Consulting a veterinarian is essential to diagnose and treat the specific issue affecting your dog’s health.
When to See the Vet for Your Dog’s Loose Stools
Loose stools in dogs can sometimes result from dietary changes or eating something unsuitable. If you’ve recently switched your dog’s food or if they’ve ingested something they shouldn’t have, it might be okay to wait a couple of days and see if their stools firm up on their own. Just ensure they stay hydrated and monitor their behavior closely during this time.
However, certain situations require prompt medical attention. If your dog shows additional symptoms such as blood in the stool, vomiting, lethargy, or a painful/hunched appearance, these could indicate a serious health issue that needs fast veterinary care. Similarly, if your dog seems uncomfortable or refuses to eat or drink, consult your vet immediately.
It’s important to see your vet if your dog has had diarrhea for more than three days. Prolonged diarrhea can lead to dehydration and other health problems. Even if your dog appears to be acting fine, loose stools lasting this long warrant a check-up to rule out underlying issues. As a qualified veterinarian, I’ve seen countless cases where early intervention made all the difference.
When in doubt, always consult a veterinarian to ensure your dog’s health is in expert hands. Remember, our furry friends rely on us to make the best decisions for their well-being.
What foods firm up dog poop?
As a veterinarian, I often recommend incorporating high-fiber foods such as canned pumpkin and sweet potatoes, protein-rich lean meats like chicken or turkey, and easily digestible options like boiled white rice and boiled chicken. Additionally, probiotics such as yogurt and commercial dog foods formulated for digestive health can help. It’s important to be aware of which human foods are safe for dogs.
Why is my dog’s poop so sloppy?
I’ve seen many cases where a dog’s sloppy stool is due to dietary changes, ingestion of unsuitable food, stress, parasites, or underlying health issues. If your dog’s condition lasts more than a couple of days or is accompanied by other symptoms like vomiting or lethargy, consulting a vet is essential.
What can I give my dog to harden his stool?
To improve your dog’s stool consistency, consider increasing their fiber intake with high-fiber foods like pumpkin or sweet potatoes. Providing a balanced, high-quality diet rich in proteins and easily digestible ingredients is crucial. In my experience, if the issue persists, it’s best to seek advice from a vet.