The Straight Poop on Firm Dog Stools
Let it not be said that this column doesn't bring you the straight poop! Taking that promise very literally, let's tackle today's topic: stool and how to keep it in good shape.
Put another way, we're talking easy ways you can help your dog get his $#it together.
The quality of a dog's stool is an excellent indicator of gastrointestinal health, so when things turn runny and malodorous, it's time to give Spot something to tame his upset tummy. Whatever's ailing your poor dog's digestion- whether it's an unidentified edible object s/he picked up off the street, or the unfortunate side effect of a prescription medication - can usually be corrected with a slight dietary adjustment. The best part is, what works for dogs also works for us human animals- so keep this list handy the next time you experience gastric discomfort.
Years of analyzing and scooping dog poop (not to mention cleaning it off of every imaginable surface) have qualified me to make a short list of stool firmer-uppers. And at the top of that list is pumpkin.
Canned pumpkin - the same stuff used as the main ingredient of pumpkin pie - is readily available at any supermarket. The good ol'Libby's brand works fine (unless, of course, you have to have organic, in which case you'll need to look a bit harder, but more and more supermarkets carry an excellent brand called Farmer's Market, which is certified organic by Oregon Tilth; the company also makes a dedicated pumpkin product for dogs called Nummy Tum-Tum).
A few tablespoons of this creamy, orange stuff, added to your dog's food, will help soothe digestive upset and firm up his poop beautifully. There's no need to heat it up or do anything else to it - it's already pre-cooked and ready to serve. And most dogs love the taste, but if you want to make pumpkin extra-palatable, add a dash of ground cinnamon.
Whenever a new rescue dog comes to me having eaten a diet of questionable quality - often, I don't even know the brand or flavor of food s/he was on - I make sure to add pumpkin to his regimen. What works to firm up Spot's stool is pumpkin's high dietary fiber content. But considering pumpkin's many other health benefits, you may want to consider making it a staple of your dog's diet, especially if you have a senior dog.
Pumpkin is rich in beta-carotene, which protects against heart disease, regulates blood sugar, and reduces the severity of osteoarthritis. Plus, the beta-carotene in pre-cooked canned pumpkin is more bio-available than the beta-carotene in fresh pumpkin, so your dog's body can assimilate and process it more efficiently.
Another simple way to firm up a dog's stool is to feed him canned dog food. This comes in especially handy when you're switching a dog's diet. Something about the soft, wet food makes it much easier on a dog's digestion than hard, dry kibble. So, even if you ultimately plan to feed your dog exclusively kibble, feeding canned food for a few days first will definitely help ease the transition, cut down on K9 flatulence, and make cleanup easier on you.
Another staple of my stool-firming arsenal is powdered acidophilus. I use Pet Dophilus by Jarrow, the same brand I take every day, and have found that hiding the powder in a large dog's canned food at every meal works wonders to firm up even the softest stool. You can also stir the powder in and add cinnamon to "sweeten" the taste. Just as they do in humans, the probiotics work to restore balance to the dog's intestinal flora, so his digestive system can cope with any dietary change.
Finally, SeaCure is a magic bullet in the fight against doggie diarrhea. It's a powdered supplement made of ocean fish (Whiting caught in the Pacific Northwest, to be exact), so it has a pungent fishy odor that most dogs find irresistible. The amino acids and peptides in the fish protein work wonders to right any digestive wrong, in humans as well as canines. This incredible stuff is hydrolyzed (i.e. pre-digested), so it soothes even the most irritated intestines, and it comes in powdered and chewable tablet form.
Do you have a favorite home remedy for firming up K9 stool? Please share it in the comments!