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A dog's stools are a reliable indicator of its digestive health. They constitute a valuable clue about the quality of the food that they eat. A highly digestible diet promotes small, infrequent stools and of optimal consistency. Is that the case with your dog?

Dogs’ faeces are a reliable indicator of their digestive health. They offer valuable clues about the quality of food that they eat. A digestive diet for dogs will result in smaller, less frequent stools of optimum consistency. Is this the case for your dog?

What is digestibility?

The definition of digestibility is the proportion of food that does not appear in the faeces, and therefore has been absorbed in the gastrointestinal tract. To put it another way, the digestibility of a food tells us the capacity that the digestive system of the dog has to obtain and absorb the nutrients contained in the raw materials that make up that food

Therefore, choosing a food with good quality ingredients that are easy to digestive will be pivotal to their performance and well-being. It will basically determine their health.

What does a digestive diet have to do with a dog’s faeces?

Raul Sancha is a member of Nutro’s veterinary team and an expert in canine nutrition. He explains how faeces can be a fairly reliable indicator of the quality of food that a dog consumes: “Frequent, smelly, large or semi-liquid stools generally indicate that a dog’s digestive system is absorbing fewer nutrients. This kind of excrement can indicate that the food the dog is consuming is not being adequately absorbed into its body. It can therefore be a sign of an inappropriate diet, and a warning sign for long-term health problems.”

What should I expect from the faeces of a dog with an appropriate diet?

The optimum digestibility for a food is 85% - therefore of 100g a dog eats, 15g should be passed as faeces. This helps to ensure that nutrients are absorbed and that the faeces is of good consistency, passed without difficulty.

  • Frequency: Higher frequency means lower digestibility. In other words, your dog’s bowel movements should occur as infrequently as possible, which would indicate that the food you are providing is being optimally absorbed into their body.
  • Size: Larger size means lower digestibility. Small stools indicate that more nutrients are being absorbed in the dog’s digestive system.
  • Smell: The smell of the faeces also gives away the quality of the food that the animal has consumed. Generally speaking, a good-quality digestive diet for dogs should not lead to overly smelly faeces.
  • Consistency: Digestive diets result in small, compact stools. If you notice that your dog’s stools are very soft or even liquid, consult your vet. It’s possible that the diet that you’re offering is not of sufficiently good quality, or that your dog is suffering from some kind of food allergy to certain ingredients

Digestive diets for dogs: what are they?

If you are wondering how to tell what a digestive diet for dogs is, bear in mind that the digestibility of any diet is the result of:

  • the composition of the ingredients
  • the quality of the ingredients
  • the quality of the production process

In general terms, in order for a dog’s diet to be digestive, it must meet at least the following criteria

  1. The main ingredient should be animal-based protein: Dogs are carnivores and, as such, require a diet based on animal protein. This type of diet is the most appropriate in biological terms.
  2. It results in less defecation: We have already seen that the easier a food is to digest, the less waste it generates. That’s why a digestive diet for dogs, i.e. a high-quality diet, tends to result in less frequent, compact and relatively inoffensive stools.

To summarise... A higher-quality diet can lead to better digestibility, greater absorption of nutrients, and less frequent and smaller faeces. This is the basic premise that you should have in mind when caring for your dog’s digestive system

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