Why Does My Pet’s Poop Look Different On Raw Food
Have you ever wondered why your pet’s poop is different colours on a raw diet? I have to do a pre-amble here to say…. I’m kind of obsessed with poop…. It’s gross but it’s true! Poop is one of the best ways to judge how your pet is doing. And it happens every day! Stool quality helps us determine gut health, microbiome health and also how foods in the diet might need adjusting.
A question that we get asked on a regular basis is “Why are my pet’s poops so varied on a raw diet?” This is a great question! If you’re used to feeding commercial food, you’re probably used to seeing the same consistency in your pet’s poop every day. But if you’ve recently switched to raw, you may have noticed a varied consistency to the poop. And this is often normal AND healthy! Different colours will appear depending on what you’ve fed your pet.
So, here’s a fun poop guide to help you decide what’s normal and what’s not!
Pet Poop Guide
Dark colour is usually indicated with the ingestion of dark coloured meat eg. organs like liver/kidney, beef, kangaroo, lamb, venison or buffalo. If you see darker coloured poop after feeding any of these meats, that is totally ok! Healthily-formed dark stool is just fine.
Light colour is often seen when you feed lighter coloured meat like poultry or rabbit. It also occurs when you feed more bone to your pet. Again, this totally fine as long as the consistency is good and there is not a problem passing the stool.
Hard poops usually happen with increased bone ingestion. You can actually use this poop trait to help determine how much bone you need to feed to your pet. If your pet starts having hard, dry poops that are crumbly and hard to pass, it’s an indicator that you’re feeding too much bone. Try decreasing the bone in the diet to literally customize your pet’s poop!
When I say soft poo, I don’t mean diarrhea (see below for that). Soft poo is ok from time to time but if it’s really soft on a regular basis, you might not be feeding enough bone in the diet. Some animals can’t eat raw bone and will need a calcium supplement to get enough calcium in the raw diet. In that case, it may be normal for your pet to have softer poops. But if they are soft every day and darker in colour, you may want to increase the bone content of the diet to firm up the stools a bit more.
Diarrhea is not the same as soft stool. Diarrhea is watery stool that may come on urgently, explosively, often with GI discomfort. It could even be accompanied by vomiting, in which case you may need to visit your veterinarian. Chronic watery stool isn’t normal either and a big red flag that your pet needs gut support. VERY IMPORTANT: I urge you to educate yourself on the difference between gut support for diarrhea vs. antibiotic treatment for diarrhea. Please contact us if you’d like more information on this. If you have problems with chronic diarrhea and/or vomiting, check out this blog for tips on how you might be able to address it through diet. And, be aware that antibiotic treatment of diarrhea can have serious side effects. Check out this video from Rodney Habib at Planet Paws on the effects of a very popular antibiotic used for diarrhea.
Constipation tends to be more common in cats than dogs but both species can be affected. Constipation is when your pet has trouble passing poop and/or doesn’t poop for several days. This is not healthy and needs to be addressed. If you have this issue, you’ll need to increase the fibre in your pet’s diet and most likely, decrease the amount of bone you’re feeding. Make sure you adjust these two aspects of the raw diet to find the best balance for your pet. Do it slowly and observe. Check out our blog on how to address constipation too. If you need help, be sure to reach out to a professional.
You can also download our FREE Stool Guide
Chronic vs. Acute Symptoms
Chronic issues are ones that go on for a long time, more than a few months. Acute symptoms are those that come on suddenly. Both need addressing and may need your vet’s or a nutritionist’s help. Don’t ignore them. They are a sign that your pet needs help, either through dietary adjustment or microbiome support.
The Importance of Gut Health in Pet's
VERY IMPORTANT! As you may be aware, the gut microbiome has been recognized as being up to 80% of the immune system. Poop is a daily visual indicator of microbiome health. If your pet suffers from chronic diarrhea or constipation, it’s a red flag and needs attention. The more varied the diet, the more diverse the microbiome becomes. And this is a good thing! You want as much microbiome diversity as possible. But sometimes this takes time if your pet doesn’t have much diversity and switching things up too fast can result in GI upset.
When Switching to Raw
If you’ve tried switching your pet to raw and had problems with vomiting or diarrhea, this might be why. Sometimes you need to “prep” them for the switch by adding a good quality, multi-strain probiotic and/or fermented foods and digestive enzymes before starting a diet change. All diet changes and new food additions should be done slowly and with observation of your pet’s poop!
We hope that helps you navigate this stinky topic with a little more confidence. And, as always, if you need help, please do not hesitate to contact us. Happy feeding and happy poop checking!