Dog News

The Scoop on Poop, Nutrition and Behavior Issues

by Leslie Fisher

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The scoop on poop covers a lot of scope, doesn’t it? My main mission this week? To raise awareness in general on quality versus not so good dog foods, and the possible impacts of feeding a lower grade food. In my opinion, far too many dog foods include corn and other low end grains as unnecessary fillers, high on the list of ingredients. Dogs are classified as carnivores by nature but realistically will pretty much eat anything put in front of them: hence the term of opportunistic omnivore. Dogs actually do not need grains in their diet; in fact, some dogs have a tough time digesting grains at all.

You may be aware of the gamut of grain free foods on the market. The Look What Lab trio of Bridget, Talley and Doobie consume no corn in their diets. Large amounts of fiber fillers in a dog diet tend to produce large bulky and often loose stools. Think landmines. In general, higher end foods with whole grains and quality ingredients produce less waste, therefore more solid compact stools. For this I am grateful as I pick up the yard daily. Better foods cost more but you need to feed less of it.

Are you confused about what your dog is eating? The K9 Cuisine Dog Food Rating Tool is a wonderful resource for evaluating the canine diet. Lots of problems (just as in humans) can be diet related, so it pays to pay attention and be educated about canine food sources. For some dogs, like my English lab Talley, grains and processed foods can be a constant source of inflammation to the colon. Since switching to a raw diet, Talley no longer has loose unformed stools and accidents associated with inflammatory urgency. Learn more here about raw diet. Surely raw feeding is not for all, but Talley is tremendously improved. Her stools are now a thing of beauty! As we produce no landmines around here, there are no such pics. Besides, I needed to show a little restraint.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder
As Pretty As Poop Can Be

Moving on to behavior, Nan Arthur, in Chill Out Fido!  references corn in her popular book and quotes canine researcher James O’Heare: “A common protein source in dog food is corn. Corn, however, is unusually low in tryptophan and represents some risk to animals sensitive to serotonergic under activity.”  Behaviorists often recommend complete elimination of corn from the diet. Dogs can react just as humans do to dietary factors such as: food allergies, added sugar, food coloring and preservatives. Bottom line, if your dog has significant behavior issues, it would behoove one to address diet along with all other treatments. I am a huge proponent of behavior modification treatment from all angles, as discussed in the former resource.

Recognized expert, Dr. Lorie Huston, Pet Health Care Gazette has this to say about corn and canine diets: “”While I recognize that corn can serve as a source of carbohydrates in dog food, I prefer to see some form of meat (beef, poultry, fish, etc.) as the primary protein source. There do seem to be a number of dogs that do not digest corn well. For those dogs, there are many other carbohydrate sources that can be considered instead, including oats, potatoes, sweet potatoes, and others. Fortunately, today’s marketplace offers pet owners a wide variety of foods for their pets and owners can easily choose between a number of different ingredients and even choose a grain-free diet, if preferred. In the end, there is no one best food for every dog. Each dog is different and will have different nutritional needs.”

Talley loves to hold the dead head zinnia blooms.
Ending On A Cute Note

Here is hoping that I have left you with resources and points to ponder, in my poop nutrition and behavior ramblings. Good luck perusing the resources and finding the perfect diet for your pal. Who knows what next week will bring??!!  Until then,

Leslie Fisher PMCT CPDT-KA and the labbies, Bridget Talley and Doobie

Rainwood Kennels, Elkton MD