In search of less poop

I’ve got 3 decent sized dogs & they make a very decent amount of poop.   I’ve been dealing with pet poop for 18 years (actually longer, if you consider that I was the Poop Scooper for my dad’s dogs from age 8.) & have spent a lot of time figuring out how to make poop less of a chore.

My cats were easy enough (Cats are just unbelievably easy compared to dogs.   Seriously.) but with my dogs there were many new factors to healthy, & smaller, poop.

Good food = better (& less) poop

My 2 cats, Honeygirl & Puppy (he was given that name before I ever knew I would own a dog), taught me that high quality petfood resulted in a litterbox that was

  1. less stinky, &
  2. less full.

This was huge.   In fact, the one time that I was tempted into buying that $5 bag of Meow Mix it turned into the most expensive & painful cat disaster in my life.   Puppy survived it, but my carpet didn’t & I probably dropped over $2k in one year.   So yeah – high quality food is good.   There isn’t a handy website for cats like there is for dogs, but here’s a pretty indepth Yahoo! Answer.

My bulldogs get Instinct, which is rated fairly well on Dog Food Analysis.   I buy both the Duck/Turkey & the plain Turkey & mix it together in the kibble container.   This is because my pet store is constantly running out of Duck & sometimes I have to fall back on the Turkey.   Even though pets aren’t supposed to get the runs from changing flavors within high quality foods like Instinct, mine do, so I mix the 2 flavors together to buffer any changes.

I don’t really deviate from Duck & Turkey.  To be honest, I can’t afford to.   Instinct averages $60 per 30 lb bag & I need about 4 bags per month.   Also, as just mentioned my dogs get diarrhea when I change flavors.   If they start to look super bored & disillusioned at meal time I’ll consider a flavor change, but until then Duck & Turkey is where it’s at.

Madeline & Boomer get Instinct because it is grain free, not just wheat & corn free.   Chie gets Prairie (rated well, but only 5 stars) because she isn’t sensitive to anything in it.   Its second ingredient is barley, the third brown rice, & just half a meal of this turned both Madeline & Boomer into pink, itchy dogs.

Prairie is totally affordable; something like $45 for the 40lb bag.

I can’t give you a comparison between my dogs’ poop output on premium dogfood vs. crap dogfood (Pedigree, Purina, Iams, etc.) because they’ve only ever had expensive kibble.   My opinion on lower filler food comes from my experience with my cats & everything I’ve read about dog food quality.

Raw food = even LESS poop.

I can tell you that on a raw diet my dogs made even less poop.   They also , of course, had no allergies.    There are several different websites that discuss the benefits of a raw dietBARF, Rawlearning, Dog Training Central, & more.   One of the fun things I’ve explained to many friends is that it really is ok for dogs to eat chicken bones, if they are raw. Also, if you have taught your dog how to chew up a chicken bone & not just toss it back like a shot of tequila.

To do this, my brother would introduce a puppy to a chicken thighbone holding the thighbone with a pair of tongs – no sense in losing any fingers; we’re not training them on human bones! – & hold it firmly so that the puppy is forced to chew rather than snatch.   I was able to hold the bones with my own hands with my own dogs but only because we did focused anti-snatch training.    And, some may think it’s excessive, but I actually coach my dogs on how to eat their kibble – as they eat I tell them to “Crunch it up” & whenever they chew I praise.   As a result everyone chews well now.   I used the same coaching when giving bones & they knew exactly what to do.

I couldn’t keep up with a raw food regimen – it’s costly & time consuming to maintain a truly balanced raw food diet if you are assembling it yourself.   In Hawaii it’s pretty hard to find everything you need, especially stuff like green tripe.   There are excellent frozen raw food diets available at pet stores but I can’t afford them.   However, if I could I would definitely switch back to raw feeding.   It’s way more fun to watch at mealtime.   And the dogs really enjoy it.

Three meals a day vs. two meals a day

I understood that it was normal for adult dogs to have 2 meals a day.   When I was little my grandfather’s dog only got one rather large meal a day, but even at 4 years of age I felt sorry that he couldn’t eat dinner when the rest of us ate dinner.   My dogs grew up on three meals a day – basically whenever I ate, they ate.   Recently I tried switching them to a two meal per day schedule & not only did they poop significantly more, but Boomer lost weight.   I hadn’t changed his serving size; he was pooping it out.

On three meals a day my daily poop pick up was about 2 scoopers full.   On two it was 3 scoopers, sometimes a little more.   I switched them back to three meals a day & everything went back to normal.

Plain yogurt: cheap probiotics

In addition to feeding three meals a day, I add a teaspoon of plain yogurt to each dog’s dish at every meal.   This has reduced their poop output by half.   On three meals a day with yogurt my dogs make a single scooper of poop per day.   A carton of plain yogurt costs me about $6 & it lasts a month.   Honeygirl likes it too; she always waits for me to finish spooning the yogurt out so she can lick the spoon clean.

Honeygirl, in recent years, has been throwing up a lot.   Initially I thought it was because she was gorging herself so we switched from free feeding to several small meals per day.   Since she began eating yogurt she has practically stopped throwing up.   I haven’t seen her puke in a few months.   I probably just kaiboshed myself but there it is.

So that’s my experience.

I’m certainly not an expert, but these are the conclusions I’ve come to in 4 years of feeding my dogs.   Well, & 18 years of feeding my cats.   My brother, who has 3 American Bulldogs (Madeline’s brother, Boomer’s father, & Boomer’s sister), helped me a lot when it came to understanding about white dogs’ allergies & ins & outs of raw food.

Honeygirl has been really hard to please as far as catfood, & frankly the options at the pet store have been kind of limited.   I’ve been rotating her between Instinct, Prairie, & Innova, & she hates all of it.   Recently the pet store got a new catfood called Addiction – grain free with probiotics – & since Honeygirl eats so little I decided to splurge & get it ($19 for 4 lb bag).   She tore into it while I was still opening the bag & hasn’t gotten tired of it since.   Looks like I’ll be buying that from now on.

And for myself, some Top Ramen.   That’s all I have money left for.

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