You know you are around a bunch of dog people when the poop talk starts and no one misses a beat! Poop watching gives you a view into our dog’s health and knowing the difference between an off-day poop-wise versus something like a blockage can be the difference of life or death!
A Quick Lesson on Digestion
When your Weim eats, food gets pushed down his esophagus and into his stomach where it’s partially digested. It takes about 12 hours for everything to move to the small intestine where nutrients are absorbed. Then it all moves on to the large intestine where water is removed — and finally you’ve got poop!
Food should be digested by the time it reaches the large intestines. If it’s only partially digested when it gets there, normally occurring bacteria in the intestines ferments the partially digested food, causing gas. No wonder it smells so bad!
The problem isn’t the bacteria. All mammals naturally have bacteria in their digestive system, and this bacteria is good. It protects the gut, breaks down food and keeps the system acidic. These bacteria are essential to keep your dog healthy.
When your Weim has soft poop or gas, the problem is that your dog isn’t digesting his food well. Food is speeding through his system and/or there’s so much irritation and inflammation that he’s not getting a chance to absorb those nutrients. And you can tell by what’s coming out the other end!
Getting to Know Your Weim’s Poop
All dogs have occasional bouts of diarrhea or gas, and this usually isn’t a cause for concern as brief episodes will usually resolve themselves. These minor digestive issues can turn up especially if changes are made to their diet or environment, and Weims in particular are notorious for eating too fast and for getting into things they shouldn’t!
It’s important to understand that digestive issues can range from minor to deadly, so keeping tabs on the gas and poop is an important part of your job!
Normal poop is brown and firm. Excessive gas, poop that is soft, watery (diarrhea), mucus-y, tarry, bloody, the wrong color or smells worse than normal could mean a problem — especially if it’s persistent. Persistent means more than a couple days.
Quick and Easy Changes You Can Make to Avoid Digestive Problems
- If you have a gulper, sometimes it’s simply a matter of your Weim swallowing too much air when he’s eating that is causing the gas. Brake-Fast bowls are oddly shaped bowls that forces your Weim to slow his eating. DIYers, put a big rock or chain in his food bowl to slow him down instead. Or feed him from a muffin tin. It works the same way.
- Guard the garbage can and clean your counters. ‘Nuff said. 🙂
- De-stress him, sometimes diarrhea is just from anxiety or excitement.
- Exercise can help the digestive tract work, eliminating gas bubbles. Make sure to wait two hours before and after exercise to feed him to avoid bloat.
- Make sure that your dog’s food manufacturer hasn’t changed formulas. This happens more often than you think!
Quick Fixes for Minor Acute Gas and Poop Problems When They Do Happen
- Withhold food and let his gut rest. A 24 hour fast is harmless, but if you aren’t comfortable with this, feed your Weim some cooked chicken and white rice in small meals. You are looking for low fat and bland here, to keep the gut calm.
- Canned pumpkin or yams. Kennel workers are usually familiar with this trick. The stress of boarding can cause a day or two of loose stools and canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling, just plain pumpkin) will usually firm everything right up. Yams or sweet potatoes do the same thing. Just throw them in the oven. They’re great treats too!
- Activated charcoal or chlorophyll is said to work well in some dogs to quell that gas.
- Loperamide (Imodium is the brand name) is safe to give to your dog for diarrhea at a dosage of 0.05-0.1 mg/pound for 1 to 2 days.
- For gas, Simethicone (Gas-X is the brand name) in human adult doses, is also safe for your dog. This is an important medication to have on hand to help cut the risk of bloat if your Weim goes overboard on anything. Not that ours ever do… 🙂
If your Weim is excessively gassy and his stools are soft and frequent, there are some things you can change at home that might help.
Add to Your Weim’s Diet
- Probiotics is the good bacteria found in yogurt and Kefir. It’s not uncommon for Weim owners to dole out a daily dollop of yogurt on their dog’s food as a matter of course. (It also helps keep ears clean, by the way!) You can just get the unsweetened kind from the grocery store, or purchase probiotics in pill form. Any of them will work, but some dogs have issues with the dairy in yogurt.
- Pancreatic enzymes or other digestive enzymes.
- Seacure supplement is recommended by our breeder friends.
Remove from Your Weim’s Diet
- Try eliminating grains. Corn could be a problem, but any of the grains could be the culprit.
- Ditch any soy and soy products. Same goes for dairy.
- Eggs can be great in moderation, but they can cause gas.
- No more table scraps (or only allow protein sources) if you think these could be causing the problem.
When To See a Vet
If the changes above don’t work, and your Weimaraner is experiencing chronic gas and diarrhea you may want to run a Nutriscan test to help with allergy identification, and if the issues are caused by Irritable Bowel Disease. IBD is actually a catch-all term to describe any ongoing irritation of the gut that causes long term diarrhea. Weimaraners are an at-risk breed, and IBD can be classified as an immune mediated disease, part of a “hyper-inflammatory syndrome” which also includes allergies, vaccine reactions and Hypertrophic Osteodystrophy. Basically, as Weimaraner breeders would tell you, many Weims just tend to have immune system problems!
Conventional treatment includes prescription diets, anti-diarrheal medications, and even steroids and immunosuppressive drugs. Some of these treatments can have some serious side effects, so before going that route, please read Amy and Chaucer’s story and their experience with IBD!