While it’s not the most glamorous topic, the quality of your dog’s stools shouldn’t be taken lightly. Believe it or not, those seemingly inconsequential droppings can tell much about their health and overall well-being.
Why are firm stools so important? For starters, they indicate that your dog’s digestive system is working like a well-oiled machine. On the flip side, loose stools, or dreaded diarrhoea, can cause concern.
Loose stool in dogs is a sign that they struggle to digest their food properly. And this could be because of a lack of fibre in their diet, allergies to certain ingredients, an underlying condition, or all three.
So, without further ado, let’s unravel the mysteries behind your dog’s stools and discover the best food options for firm stools.
If you’re a no-nonsense guy who isn’t interested in a guide. Don’t worry. I’ll start with a list of 6 handpicked dog food products best for this situation.
1. Lily’s Kitchen Dry Dog Food
Dry Chicken by Lily’s Kitchen is the best dog food for dogs who need firm stools to maintain healthy gastrointestinal hygiene. At £6.15 / kg, Lily’s Kitchen is affordable even though it uses all-natural ingredients to make its grain and dairy-free that’s jam-packed with fibrous vegetables.
Moreover, for dogs with sensitive stomachs, you’ll be pleased to know it’s also Gluten-Free, Wheat Free, Barley Free, Soy Free, Dairy Free. You may think to yourself – what IS in it then?
The recipe of choice for us is chicken which includes 31% fresh chicken and 30% sweet potatoes as opposed to white potatoes, which some dogs don’t agree with. The fruits and vegetables are peas, lentils, apples, carrots, spinach, cranberries, and alfalfa.
The kibble itself is tasty and crunchy. We recommend mixing it with some wet food to make it a little more chewable, though. Thoroughly recommend it; it will help firm your pup’s poops.
2. The Honest Kitchen
Are you looking for nutritious dog food made with human-grade ingredients? Look no further than The Honest Kitchen.
They take pride in using 100% human-grade, nutrient-rich whole foods in their products. The Honest Kitchen starts by carefully selecting and mixing the finest ingredients in its human food facility.
Then, these nutritious ingredients are transformed into delicious, bite-sized clusters through a cold-pressing process. The final step involves baking and gently dehydrating each batch to lock in human-grade nutrition.
You’ll find three delectable One Pot Stew recipes in this variety pack. These recipes are crafted with ingredients you’d recognise from your kitchen, ensuring your dog gets the same quality and safety standards as people’s food.
Did you know The Honest Kitchen is one of the best eco-friendly dog food brands? We just featured them in our other guide. You can check them here:
3. Alpha Sensitive Complete Dry Dog Food Chicken and Rice
It’s called sensitive because many common ingredients that trigger allergies have been stripped out, and gentle natural ingredients have been left in.
Chicken and rice, for a start, is an easily digestible combination and one of the most common meats and carb sources in these kibbles, designed to firm up stools.
This food has a high proportion of protein, which is great for building and maintaining muscles and an essential building block for any dog.
Alpha cooks their foods slowly so the vital nutrients and minerals aren’t destroyed. The complete chicken and rice flavour is gluten and wheat free but not grain-free (due to the rice).
The only drawback for us is that there are other foods we’ve recommended with higher levels of fibre, so if a lack of fibre is the cause of loose stools, then perhaps this isn’t the solution.
4. Rachael Ray Nutrish Limited Lamb & Brown Rice Recipe
Give your pup the nutrition they need with Rachael Ray’s lamb and rice recipe. This dog food is carefully crafted with only six essential ingredients, omitting anything unnecessary like fillers, artificial preservatives, flavours, or colours.
The star ingredient in this recipe is lamb meal, which serves as an excellent protein source for smooth digestion. Following the lamb is brown rice, providing a wholesome and easily digestible carbohydrate source.
This makes it a fantastic choice for dogs with chicken allergies, as it offers an alternative protein option. While the formula does include chicken fat, it is unlikely to interfere with any chicken allergy and provides valuable omega fatty acids for your dog’s overall health.
It’s important to note that the kibble size of this dog food may be a bit large for smaller breeds. Some dogs may also take time to adjust to the new formula, as individual sensitivities can vary.
5. PRO PLAN VETERINARY DIETS HA Hypoallergenic Dry Dog Food
Our last entry is perhaps the most ‘extreme’ recipe as it is, as the name describes, a food used by Vets to help determine if your dog’s loose stools are caused by certain ingredients.
It’s made with a single hydrolysed protein broken down into small parts that the dog barely needs much work to digest. However, owners with dogs who seem to have loose stools no matter what they eat may finally have a lifeline.
This food is designed to not be fed to them all day, every day; it’s designed to be used temporarily to rule out any allergies they may have.
If they are on this food for a week and you notice their stools firming up and they’re in good health, you can add more ingredients slowly over time and see if you notice any changes. You can buy this stuff yourself to self-diagnose, or your vet may recommend it after a checkup.
How do dogs get loose stool?
There are three common causes of loose stools in dogs:
- A poor diet with limited minerals, nutrients and lack of fibre
- An allergic reaction to a certain ingredient in their dog food
- Underlying issues such as IBS, stress, anxiety etc
You should ask yourself if anything has changed lately – have you changed dog food brands? Perhaps a cheaper brand?
Do you regularly feed them table scraps on top of their normal diet? This can often lead to a bout of diarrhoea. Next, of course, is the overall quality of the dog food they’re on.
Does it have ‘roughage’, which helps bulk up the stool and keep the digestive system healthy? Does it have natural ingredients full of nutrients and minerals, and is it free of ‘filler’ ingredients?
If not for the ingredients, abrupt changes in diet can also trigger loose stools in dogs. Introducing new foods without a gradual transition period can disrupt the delicate balance of the digestive system, causing gastrointestinal distress.
Additionally, certain food allergies or sensitivities to specific ingredients can lead to loose stools in dogs. Identifying any potential food allergies or sensitivities and eliminating the triggering ingredients from the dog’s diet is essential.
By asking these questions and identifying the causes of loose stools in dogs, you can easily take proactive steps to address the root of the problem.
Buyer’s Guide: How do you choose the best dog food for firm stools?
We consulted as many veterinarians and canine nutritionists to complete our list as possible. Here’s what I found.
1. Go Natural
Foods made with natural ingredients correlated highest with firm stools. This is because dogs’ digestive systems are not evolved enough (neither is a human’s, for that matter) to break down a lot of processed and man-made food without issue.
Many unnatural fillers, preservatives or artificial colours can increase gas (flatulence) and undigested residue.
In fairness, only a few modern dog foods include a lot of this stuff, thanks to the excellent work of the Food Standards Agency.
2. Include Fibre & Moisture Content
Fibre is the building block of the digestive system and is crucial to maintaining the whole thing. A lack of fibre essentially leaves your dog’s digestive system having to work with one arm tied behind its back, and that won’t end with the firm stools you desire.
Fibre comes from vegetables and fruit; you should look at the ingredients list carefully to see where the fibre will come from. Manufacturers commonly use beet pulp, but many modern brands will put a few varieties of vegetables in there, such as carrots, kale, peas, cabbage and apples.
Additionally, you must focus on the moisture content. Ensuring your dog stays hydrated is crucial for maintaining healthy digestion and firm stools.
Dry kibble tends to have lower moisture content than wet or canned dog food. If your dog prefers dry food, add water or broth to their meals to increase moisture intake.
3. Other Ingredients For Added Bonus
- Prebiotics are the fibre that may be supplemented instead of the natural source or added as a bonus. Prebiotics feed the ‘good’ bacteria in your dog’s stomach, which helps them release nutrients to feed the colon to help it perform at its best.
- Fish oil is a powerful tool to reduce inflammation in the colon, but it also has the added benefit of helping joints and the brain. Fish oil can help alleviate any existing problems with the colon or stop it from happening in the first place.
4. Individual Dietary Modifications
Every dog is unique, and what works for one may not work for another. Some dogs may have specific dietary needs or sensitivities contributing to loose stools. Make sure to consider that before swiping your card.
5. Consult With A Veterinarian
It’s an invaluable step in determining the best approach for your dog. They may recommend a specialised diet, such as a portion of limited-ingredient or hypoallergenic dog food, to address any underlying sensitivities or allergies.
Read More: Best Wet Dog Food to Buy in the UK 2023
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
1. How can I tell if my dog’s stools are firm?
Firm stools are typically well-formed, easy to pick up and maintain shape. They should not be excessively hard or dry, nor should they be soft, runny, or have a pudding-like consistency.
2. What common dietary factors can contribute to loose stools in dogs?
Certain food ingredients, such as low-quality fillers, excessive fat, or sudden dietary changes, can cause loose stools in dogs. Food allergies or sensitivities to specific ingredients can also lead to digestive upset and loose stools.
3. Can specific dog food ingredients help firm up stools?
High-quality, easily digestible protein sources, such as chicken, turkey, or fish, can promote firm stools. Additionally, dog foods containing moderate levels of fibre from sources like brown rice, sweet potatoes, or pumpkin can also aid in stool firmness.
4. Should I switch to grain-free dog food for firm stools?
Generally speaking, there’s no need. While some dogs may benefit from a grain-free diet, it’s important to focus on the overall quality and digestibility of the ingredients. Many high-quality dog foods that contain grains can still promote firm stools and provide balanced nutrition.
5. Can a dog’s age or breed affect its stool firmness?
A dog’s age and breed can influence its stool consistency. Puppies and senior dogs may have slightly softer stools due to their developing or ageing digestive systems. Some breeds are also more prone to sensitive stomachs, affecting stool firmness.
6. How long should I give new dog food to see if it helps firm up my dog’s stools?
It’s generally recommended to give a new dog food for at least four to six weeks to properly adjust and assess stool quality. Monitor your dog’s stools during this transition period and consult your veterinarian if issues persist.