Healthy StoolBy Jennifer Stoeckl, MAT - Dire Wolf Project CEO, May 1, 2018
There have been quite a few health posts recently regarding our dogs' stools. Some have noted that their dogs seem to have diarrhea easily and some have expressed their concern that it seems to be a chronic issue.
First of all, I would like to say thank you to everyone here for being a part of this group and sharing your dog's health experiences openly with all of us. It is the sincere dedication to one another that make us rather unique in the dog world and I am extremely grateful for such a dynamic community of friends.
Secondly, as you all know, the Dire Wolf Project is dedicated to eradicating health issues from our breed in as much as humanly possible. Of course, we are not God and cannot eliminate every health issue from happening. As always, though, we will remain open and transparent about what we do and why we do it. It is only through your dedication to sharing your experiences with us that we can obtain a much broader picture of the health in our dogs. When something does arise, we are dedicated to eliminating it as quickly as we can.
Now, let's turn our attention to the issue of stool health in our dogs. It is important to first make sure we remember that dog stool can vary, just as human stool can, without any health issue being the cause. Dogs can have upset tummies for a little bit and their stool may appear sloppy afterwards as things naturally get back under control. Dogs can also have a softer stool than normal as a general occurrence without any cause for alarm. So, soft stool, cow pie stool, or even diarrhea happens occasionally and if your dog is otherwise healthy and eating/drinking normally, there is no real cause for alarm.
Also, it is perfectly normal for a dog that is switching between foods to show a softer than normal or even runny stool until the dog's system gets used to the new food. Raw food is an exception to this. I have never experienced any soft/runny stools in my dogs when switching to or occasionally using raw food. There are also dogs that seem to not show a soft/runny stool when switching foods. These dogs can switch between foods regularly without any difference in stool. We have a few such dogs in our program, but as with all dog breeds, the majority of our dogs do show a propensity for some softer/runny stools when switching between processed dog foods. Some dogs may even show some stool softening between bags of the same food. Each bag of food may be from a different batch at the processing plant, so minor changes in consistency can occur.
[I should take this short segment to state that some dog kibble is basically the equivalent of feeding your dog chips and cookies at every meal. Of course, they love the chemically palatable food, it is engineered that way. Your dog may be healthy enough eating it for a while, but obesity and other health concerns may be a permanent result. All grain based dog kibble would fall into this category. Now, imagine only eating junk food every day for every meal. We have an obesity epidemic in the US for a reason... and it comes with a bunch of health issues, possibly causing stomach upset which changes stool consistency and color, depending on the dyes used in the kibble.]
That being said, if your dog is experiencing consistently runny stools or diarrhea for more than two days and you have not switched foods, then it is time to take your dog's stool in to the vet to be checked.
The very first thing you should eliminate is whether your dog has any parasites. Check for worms, giardia, and coccidia at a minimum. Medication can last 5 to 10 days, so be prepared to see softer/runny stools until this is cleared up.
If you have not switched foods recently and you have officially ruled out parasites through a vet stool check and you are still seeing consistently runny stools for more than three weeks, then we move into the realm of chronic diarrhea, which is a different beast altogether. Please make sure that your dog is drinking plenty of water at this point so that it does not become dehydrated and make an appointment with your vet.
Remember, we are talking about consistently runny stools for three or more weeks after ruling out parasites and making sure you are consistent with your kibble.
At this point, things become much more serious and there can be many different causes based on the symptoms presented along with your dog's diarrhea.
Your veterinarian should perform a thorough physical exam on your dog as well as a possible endoscopy and take biopsies from the intestines. Fecal samples, blood chemical profiles, urinalysis and electrolyte panels can help in a diagnosis, as well.
I want everyone to hear this... now we are talking about a LOT more money in vet costs, so please do not take your dog to the vet for diarrhea unless your dog is in the chronic diarrhea stage and you have ruled out food change and parasites beforehand. Please do not allow your vet to begin with all of these tests without doing the preliminary fecal sample first.
Now, I am not saying do not take your dog to the vet if you are worried. I am saying, do not start with all of these more invasive/expensive tests unless you have ruled out the other stuff first. Again, there is no need to panic with the occasional soft or runny stool. There is also no need to panic about parasites. The time to panic and worry is when your dog has chronic diarrhea lasting for three weeks or more. That is very worrisome and we will also be worrying about your dog right along with you at this point. We want to know the cause and make sure that your dog is feeling better as soon as possible.
Lastly, please know that we breeders are behind you 100%. We have heard your concerns about soft stool in your dogs. We have already discussed your various concerns on our breeder's group and are working now to make sure our breeding dogs are not showing these same signs. None of our breeding dogs have chronic diarrhea, but we do see the occasional softer/runny stool. We will be going through the same process as I described for you here. First of all, we will make sure to have a consistent diet throughout the study period. Then, we will rule out parasite involvement. At that point, we will assess whether we continue to experience the occasional softer/runny stool. If so, we will note it and track how often it occurs and which dogs are affected. Our findings will be presented here at the culmination of the study.
Thank you all, again, so much for your dedication to the American Alsatian strongbred dog breed and your willingness to be a loving and generous community.
We would like to send you a free gift for spending some time with us at the Dire Wolf Project.
10 Ways to Alter Your Dog's Diet for Immediate Health Results
Jennifer Stoeckl is the co-founder of the Dire Wolf Project, founder of the DireWolf Guardians American Dirus Dog Training Program, and owner/operator of DireWolf Dogs of Vallecito. She lives in the beautiful inland northwest among the Ponderosa pine forests with her pack of American Dirus dogs.