Updated: Nov 24, 2020
A dog can present with soft poop for a number of reasons, some of which can be serious, others not so. If your dog has runny, soft poop, when is it necessary for you to take him to the vet? Are there safe options you can try at home to help firm up your dog's poop?
Is your dog's soft poop serious?
Soft, runny poop is one of the most common symptoms that people contact me about. Sometimes a human can panic if their dog's poos are soft. On many occasions, that panic is not necessary because the dog's soft poop may clear up in a day or two. On other occasions, panic may be warranted.
First of all, you should have an understanding of what your dog's poop normally looks like. A good poop is one that is brown, firm and moist and doesn't have a strong odour.
If your dog's poop is occasionally soft, but mostly firm, then it's probably no cause for concern.
Generally speaking, you don't need to be too concerned about your dog's soft poop if:
it clears up in 24-48 hours;
there is no blood in his poop;
he is eating normally;
his energy levels haven't reduced;
he's not vomiting;
he doesn't have a fever;
he doesn't have a sore or sensitive belly;
the poop isn't black.
On the other hand, if the poop doesn't firm up again after 48 hours and any of the other symptoms above are present, you would be best to take your dog to the vet.
Causes of soft poop
Your dog's poop could be soft for a number of reasons. Ask yourself:
Has he eaten something he shouldn't have (including any foods he is intolerant or allergic to)?
Have I fed him any new food recently?
Is he or has he been on medication?
Has there been stress at home or has the routine changed at all?
Each of these things can contribute to soft poop and so it's a great idea to establish whether any of these things may be the cause of your dog's soft poop.
If your dog's poop is watery, then your dog has diarrhoea. This can be more serious than just soft poop.
Some causes of diarrhoea are quite serious such as bacterial or viral infections, parasites, inflammatory bowel disease, tumors, liver disease, pancreatitis or cancer.
Some dog breeds are also more prone to diarrhoea or soft / inconsistent poops. For example, I am commonly seeing cavoodles with digestive issues presenting with soft or inconsistent poop.
If your dog's poop problems continue for longer than 48 hours, or he presents with any of the other symptoms listed above, you should take him to your vet for testing and diagnosis.
More often than not, a vet will recommend prescription food and medicine. Both of these options can prove problematic down the track because of the processed, pet grade nature of the food and the long term side effects of many veterinary medications. Oftentimes, these are what I call "bandaid" solutions. They don't treat the cause of the symptoms. Instead, they may stop or reduce the symptoms but the underlying cause remains, which can cause health problems down the track.
Changing your dog's diet to one that is more nutritious, dog-appropriate and treating with safe, natural remedies can fix the underlying problem, giving your dog the best chance of optimum wellness.
Home remedies for helping to firm up your dog's poop
There are a number of safe home remedies you can try that can help to firm up your dog's poop.
Feeding a natural, fresh and human grade diet to your dog can go a long way to helping resolve your dog's poop situation. It can bring balance to your dog's entire body, including his digestive and immune systems, and can help him to be healthy and achieve optimum wellness.
Psyllium husk or slippery elm can be a good addition to a dog's diet for extra fibre. Psyllium husk can be added to your dog's food (up to 1 tsp per 10kgs of body weight) with filtered water (2 tsp) or slippery elm can be made into a paste or syrup (1/2 tsp of slippery elm to 1/2 cup of water). Slippery elm may hinder the absorption of nutrients or medicines so it is best to feed away from main meals and medicine. You can mix with a small amount of food to encourage your dog to eat it.
Probiotics can be beneficial, especially if you're in the process of changing your dog's diet or he has recently been on medication. Choose a dog-specific probiotic supplement and/or include prebiotic and probiotic foods in his diet eg coconut yoghurt, kefir, raw honey, raw garlic.
Digestive enzymes can also be helpful if you're adding new foods to your dog's diet or otherwise, if he has problems digesting food generally.
Adding bone broth to your dog's diet can help with digestion and therefore may assist in firming up your dog's poop. Make sure you buy one with no onion or added salt. You can even make your own.
Mashed pumpkin can help due to its high fibre content and is generally liked by all dogs.
Fasting your dog on just water or bone broth can be beneficial. Similarly, the traditionally recommend bland diet of boiled chicken and rice can be ok for the short term (but feeding pumpkin instead of rice can be more nourishing and gentle).
If there's stress at home, removing the stressor is a good idea. Natural remedies like herbs, flower essences and reiki can also help.