Diarrhea is one of the most common health problems faced by dogs. In this guide, we will discuss how feeding your dog the correct formula can improve their stools. We have created a buying guide, too, so that you understand what to look for.
We have spent hours searching for the best dog foods for firm stools so that you don’t have to, and we have detailed reviews below. Only seven food picks made it onto our top list, but you can be sure they will do the job. So, please take a deep breath, and let’s talk all things stools.
Disclaimer: The foods reviewed here were chosen because they have certain characteristics that might help with some of the causes or consequences of this medical condition. However, they are not a medical treatment or a substitute for medical treatment. Keep in mind that each medical case is different and what works for some pets may not work for others. Your veterinarian is the right person to advise you on the best diet for your pet’s individual case.
Quick Comparison of Our Favorites – Reviews 2023
|Best Overall||Hill's Prescription Diet Gastrointestinal||
|Best Value||Rachael Ray Nutrish Just 6||
|Best for Puppies||Taste of the Wild Pacific Stream||
|Blue Buffalo Wilderness Adult||
|Wellness CORE Grain-Free||
The 7 Best Dog Foods for Firm Stools
1. Hill’s Prescription Diet Gastrointestinal Food – Best Overall
Hill’s prescription diet was formulated by a team of canine nutritionists and veterinarians to tackle the issue of gastrointestinal problems. It uses their exclusive ActivBiome technology, which is designed to work the bacteria in Fido’s gut. It releases postbiotics, which support your dog’s gastrointestinal tract (GI) to break down the food they consume.
It will encourage healthy and firm stools, reduce the risk of unhealthy stools in the future, and improve the digestive system. Real chicken is the first ingredient, and it provides an overall well-balanced diet. The fiber content in this product is 9%, and ingredients such as ground pecan shells, oats, and dried beet pulp aid in the stool-firming process.
Hill’s is a prescription formula, meaning you must have an authorized prescription from your vet to buy this product. However, for dogs with a super-sensitive system, it is the best overall dog food for firm stools.
2. Rachael Ray Nutrish Just 6 Natural Food – Best Value
This is our best value option because it is the best dog food for firm stools for the money. The size of the bag is considerably large, considering how much it costs, which is great for owners on a tighter budget.
It is a limited-ingredient diet with just six ingredients for simple digestion. It has everything that your dog needs to firm their stools and nothing that they don’t need. Lamb meal is the primary protein source, and it is the first ingredient, too, which is essential for a dog’s nutritional needs. Lamb is known to be gentle on the gut.
It is a good option for dogs allergic to chicken, which is the most common ingredient used in dog foods. The only reason this kibble didn’t make it into the number one spot is that it has a lower fiber content (4%), which, for many, is not enough to firm stools. Thankfully, there are some dogs that need a lower fiber content for firmer stools.
3. Taste of the Wild Pacific Stream Food – Best for Puppies
This is the best food for puppies struggling with their digestive health. Taste of the Wild is renowned for its gentle formulas with probiotic ingredients. These fermentation ingredients promote a friendly gut, which helps with regular digestion.
It has a low fiber content (3%), but it is not an issue for many dogs. Instead, it relies on a k9-specific strain of probiotics to make the stools firmer. Dried chicory root and yucca schidigera extract are known for stool firming and reducing odor.
Salmon and fish meal are the first two ingredients on this list, which provide enough protein and omega fatty acids for puppy growing power. Also, a variety of vitamins and minerals support the developing immune system. It is a chicken and egg-free recipe, making it an excellent option for puppies with intolerances. Some reviewers commented that the kibble smelled strongly of fish, but it doesn’t seem to deter most dogs.
4. Blue Buffalo Wilderness Adult Chicken Dry Dog Food
Blue Buffalo is known for its high fiber content, which is essential for some dogs and their digestive system. The fiber content is 6%, thanks to peas, flaxseed, dried chicory root, and alfalfa pellets.
It lists probiotic fermentation ingredients to ensure easy digestion, as well as yucca schidigera extract for a less pungent odor. This kibble is also great for dogs without loose stools. If you have a multi-dog household, this kibble is ideal for all, eliminating the need to buy various recipes.
The protein content is the highest on this list, making Blue Buffalo a good option for dogs that are very energetic or have a large muscle mass. Also, it is super tasty thanks to deboned chicken, chicken meal, and fish meal.
It also has its exclusive LifeSource Bits that aid the digestive system. The only negative we can see is that some reviewers found that their dogs ate around the LifeSource Bits. Thankfully, most didn’t.
5. Wellness CORE Grain-Free Dry Dog Food
This formula is designed for overweight dogs that need to lose a few pounds. The reason this recipe is good for stool firming is that it has a very high fiber content (12%), which some dogs need for a healthy and regular digestive system.
Fiber also helps keep dogs fuller for longer, decreasing the chances of them scavenging for more snacks. Thankfully, Wellness CORE also focuses on your dog’s complete nutritional needs.
It is a protein-rich recipe and provides lean proteins such as turkey and chicken. It contains prebiotic fiber such as spinach, broccoli, kale, and those all-important probiotic fermentation ingredients. Yucca schidigera extract is listed, too.
Wellness Core is a premium product, and it is very high-quality. However, premium recipes also have a premium price tag, so it isn’t suited to all owners and budgets.
6. Nutro Wholesome Essentials Adult Dry Dog Food
Nutro Wholesome essential is made with lamb and brown rice, which are known to be easy-to-digest ingredients. It is an excellent value recipe, and you get a lot of bang for your buck. It has a below-average protein content (22%), making it a good option for dogs who find meaty products too rich.
It is a grain-inclusive diet, which makes it a better option for some dogs, as their digestive system needs extra grainy fiber for regularity. It uses gentle grains such as brown rice, oatmeal, and chickpeas. It has a variety of vitamins and minerals to help with regular digestion and overall health.
The only criticism we have of Nutro is that it does not contain as many probiotic ingredients as the other products on this list. However, it is highly rated by owners of dogs with sensitivities, so it isn’t a concern for all dogs.
7. Zignature Kangaroo Formula Bites Dry Dog Food
This is a premium recipe that is designed with the very best ingredients. The only reason Zignature isn’t listed higher is its premium price tag, making it unsuitable for some with a tighter budget. But if you can stretch your budget, Zignature is a fantastic option.
It is designed for smaller canines, many of whom are known to have sensitive stomachs. The primary protein ingredient is kangaroo, which is not only tasty but has twice the amount of vitamin B12 compared to most other meat sources. Vitamin B12 is vital for digestive health, and many dog owners found that this product solved their pup’s digestive issues.
It has an average fiber content (4%), but it still has fibrous ingredients such as chickpeas and lentils. It is a grain-free formula that is easy to digest.
Buyer’s Guide: Selecting Best Dog Foods to Harden Stool
To understand how to rectify the runny stool situation, you need to understand what could be causing the problem in the first place. It’s important to remember that not every dog is the same. So, if your vet hasn’t recommended a dog food, you might need to try a few brands before you find the one that works for your dog.
What Causes Soft Dog Stools?
Diarrhea is the result of little to no water or nutrient absorption and fecal matter passing through the intestines too quickly. There are a variety of reasons why your dog’s stools aren’t as firm as they should be. Most of the time, it is nothing to worry about.
Maybe your dog has eaten something that didn’t agree with them, or perhaps they picked up something they shouldn’t have on your recent walk, such as bird feces or a spicy chip. It could be because they have an allergy to the food or they are merely experiencing a little stress.
Sometimes, however, it is a sign that something else is at play. It could be a symptom of a more severe problem that you need to get checked out.
When Should You Worry About Dog Diarrhea?
If your pet has diarrhea that has gone on for longer than 48 hours, it’s time to take them to the vet. Diarrhea can be a sign of intestinal worms, inflammatory bowel disease, colonic ulcers, polyps, or cancer, to name just a few. The sooner you get it looked at, the sooner you can get your dog on the road to recovery.
If your dog is experiencing any of the following signs in addition to runny stools, it is vital to get them to a vet straight away:
You might get to the vet, and they’ll tell you it is because the food you feed them isn’t working well. It is essential to switch to a kibble that will rectify the problem, such as the ones above.
How Firm Should Dog’s Poop Be?
A firm stool is one that you can pick up in a poop bag, and it does not squish in your hands as you scoop it up. If it resembles soft ice cream, that is considered to be a soft stool. If it just happens once or twice, the likelihood is that it is a result of eating something they shouldn’t have. If it happens regularly, it might be because they are allergic to something you are feeding them.
What Ingredients To Look Out For To Harden His Stool
Nutrition is a great way to firm up the stools if it doesn’t require veterinary intervention. However, the issue is that not all dogs are the same, and they need different ingredients to firm up their stools.
Natural Ingredients To Harden Dog Stool
Dogs with regular soft stools usually have sensitive systems that need higher-quality foods. Higher-quality foods usually list natural ingredients. Natural ingredients are better for a dog’s digestive system.
The exception is kibbles made by leading brands, such as Hills Science Diet, where scientists and veterinarians believe some man-made ingredients are necessary. However, they never use ingredients that are known to irritate digestive systems.
Artificial preservatives, colors, or additives are known to agitate sensitive dogs, so steer clear of those ingredients. If you see ingredients such as butylated hydroxyanisole or ‘Blue 2’ or ‘Red 40’, put it back on the shelf and move on to the next.
Dog Prebiotics and Probiotics
Prebiotic fibers are essential for firm stools because they essentially add bulk to the poop, making it less runny. Prebiotic fibers are wholesome veggies, fruit, and grains, such as bananas, chickpeas, chicory root, and oatmeal. So when you are checking out the ingredient label, if you spot any of those, it’s going to help toughen his poop.
To keep it simple, probiotics are the friendly bacteria that eat the prebiotic fiber. Ingredients to look out for are lactobacillus acidophilus and bifidobacterium animalis, to name just a few. Many high-quality formulas will fortify their kibbles with these ingredients, which provide live yogurt cultures with every bite.
Fiber is a tricky one because too much and too little can wreak havoc with doggy digestive systems. 2% to 5% is the average fiber content in most kibbles, and a high-fiber diet is anything between 6% and 12%. Most dogs with runny stools need a higher fiber diet, but if you have any questions, be sure to speak to your vet.
Some dogs are allergic to specific proteins, and you can be sure that if they are allergic to chicken, their runny stools are the least of your worries. Lamb is often used in limited-ingredient diets because it is gentler to digest.
So, if you suspect protein is the culprit, try a lamb-based kibble. Sometimes, dogs can struggle to digest recipes that are too high in protein, and as such, you should look for a kibble that provides less.
Yucca Schidigera Extract
With runny stools usually comes stinky gas, and if your dog’s poop or gas is smelling funky, this could ease the burden on your nostrils. Yucca schidigera is a herbal plant that is used in pet foods to reduce the smell of your dog’s poop. It can reduce the odor by up to 26%. Higher-quality food will list this ingredient, but cheaper ones will not.
How Do You Know That It Is Working For Him?
Once you feed the new food, examine your dog’s stool when you go for a potty break. If the feces is still just as runny over the next 48 hours, there is a good chance that the new food is not working. If it has firmed up slightly, there is a chance that it is. Keep an eye on the poop, and in 48 hours, it should start to firm up considerably.
Hopefully, you now understand why your dog’s stools are runny and what you can do to make them firmer. By feeding your pup a better quality kibble that focuses on their digestive health, their condition should improve.
You need to determine what works for your dog, and you’ll undoubtedly know when it isn’t working for him. When you find the perfect recipe, it will be worth the trials and tribulations.
By sticking to our recommendations above, not only will you save yourself a lot of time searching through hundreds of different products, but you can be sure one of them will work for your dog.
Our best overall product is Hill’s Prescription Gastrointestinal Biome Diet, but remember you need a vet prescription before you buy it. Our best value for the money pick is Rachael Ray Nutrish Just 6 Natural formula.