What every dog owner needs to know about feeding their pet the right stuff!

As a dog trainer and pet care expert, I work with my clients to optimize their pet’s health. Nutrition plays a key role in keeping your pet healthy.

This follow-up post to what’s the scoop with poop will give you even more specific tips on how to determine if your dog has a health problem.

Let’s start with the food you feed your dog

By now many people know that a minimal to no grain food is a recommended for many dogs. By no means should you ever buy treats manufactured in China or any third world country.  PLEASE  LOOK AT THE LABELS AND R.E.A.D.

Disguising the problem with your dog treats

Manufacturers can be very illusive in their packaging. I have thrown out several bags of treats that were packaged in the USA but in fine print “Made in China.”  I work with my Doggie Day Care and In-home Pet Care clients to help them understand the critical need to watch what you feed your pets.

If you recall,  an  alert was issued  by the FDA that dog treats, primarily the chicken tender jerky, was making dogs very ill.  Unfortunately, these bags are still at PET SMART right in front of the door even after I brought it to their attention.

A quick check list for healthier dogs

Here are some tips out of the Dog Owners Veterinary Handbook about what may indicate that your dog is not well just by looking at their stool.

  • Color = yellow or greenish; likely location = small bowel/ Black, tarry = Stomach or small bowel / Pasty, light = Liver
  • Consistency = Watery; small bowel/ Foamy = small bowel / Glistening or jelly like = colon
  • FREQUENCY = Several small stools in an hour with straining = Colon
  • Three or four large stools a day = Small bowel, pancreas

Causes of diarrhea in your dog

Intestinal parasites are a common cause of acute and chronic diarrhea in puppies and adults.  The greatest problems are caused by roundworms, hookworms, whipworms, threadworms, and giardia.  Check under your dog’s tail and look for little crawling worms. This could indicate a tapeworm infestation.

Certain drugs can also cause diarrhea.  I see a lot of emotional diarrhea that can be induced by change of scenery, excitement or anxiety and sudden living changes.  You can treat diarrhea at home providing there is no vomiting.  If your dog vomits and has diarrhea, you should call  your veterinarian.

They may ask you to wait for 24 hours to see if there is a positive change.  Do not let your dog become dehydrated.  If they refuse to drink or drink very little in the 24 hours please let your veterinarian know this and never – never let your dog NOT drink in fear of urinating in the house.  Dehydration in dogs comes on quickly and costly.

What to feed a dog with Diarrhea?

I get questions from my clients about what/how to feed their dog at the onset of diarrhea.  You should let the GI tract rest.  This means no food for 24 hours = OUCH, it is hard to do.  Remember make sure they are drinking.  I have also recommended supplementing the water with diluted Pidialyte (unflavored).  There may be some dog sport drinks available = check it out on the web.  Dogs need the electrolytes that are lost just like people when there is diarrhea/vomiting.  You can also try Kaopectate or Pepto-Bismal.

After 24 hours of no eating, only drinking introduce boiled hamburger/chicken (no skin) with cooked rice.  Some other food products that are light on their stomach is macaroni noodles, cottage cheese, cooked oatmeal.  Sometimes pumpkin added to their kibble also helps to keep stools firm but pumpkin has also been given to dogs who are constipated.   Feed them several small meals a day but  for no longer than 3 days. If the stools are black/tarry, their behaviors are low, fever, or vomiting you need to contact the veterinarian right away.

Signs of problems with your dog’s health

Scooching along on your favorite rug could indicate they have tapeworms, their anal sacs need to be expressed, and soar inflamed anal skin or fleas.  Time to go to the veterinarian and get this checked quickly.  They could be leaving deposits of something that should not be in your home.

A dog with enlarged anal sacs is very uncomfortable and this condition can be very painful.  If untreated, they can burst internally leaving your dog very ill and your pocket book very empty!  I recently witnessed ruptured anal sacs and it is sooooo unpleasant for everyone especially the dog.  Soft stools is one of the culprits of filled anal sacs.  The stool when it passes, if it is soft will not burst them naturally.

Please take the time on your walks or when they go in the yard at least 2x /week, check out their stool.  Sure, if you must you may look to see if anyone is watching. But like NIKE says just DO IT!!

If your dog frequents areas where feces from wild animals is left behind, dog parks where the poop is not cleaned up, your dog could become the next victim of some of the above ailments.  Read the labels on your dog food/treats and if you can’t pronounce the food ingredient your dog should not be eating it.

Curious as to how Heide’s Pet Care solutions will work for you? Contact me (Heide Maxwell) for more information or scheduling.