Great Danes are wonderful dogs and make great companions or family pets, but like any animal, there are less, ah, pleasant aspects to caring for them. Great Dane poop, or stool, can tell us a lot about the health of your Great Dane, as well as how it’s feeling in the moment.
Great Dane’s have extremely sensitive stomachs and also require special feeding from the moment they’re born. The breed experiences what’s known as an extended growth phase, and they are generally not done growing until around 24 months of age. Throughout that period, Great Danes are consuming anywhere between 2,500 and 3,000 calories of food per day, spaced out in multiple meals. What this means for you as the owner is that you will become, early on, extremely familiar with the bowel movements of your Great Dane. You will also become quite familiar with what constitutes a “normal” poop for them, which is great because often times it’s possible to identify a health problem based on a dog’s stool.
What should a healthy stool look like in Great Danes?
The answer to this question depends on the age of the Great Dane in question.
In Great Dane puppies, it’s common for this cohort to experience soft stool up until around one year of age. Their digestive tract is still developing and learning how to function efficiently, not to mention there maybe some growing pains with regard to finding the dog food that best agrees with your Dane! What this looks like is, unfortunately, diarrhea. It’s very common for Great Dane puppies to experience the doggy runs, as gross as it is for their loving owners to deal with.
Many things can trigger diarrhea in your Great Dane puppy. One of these is known as a “dietary indiscretion,” which is just a fancy way of saying your pup ate something weird. (Dietary indiscretion is also known as “garbage gut.”) Great Dane puppies, like all baby canines, can be sneaky and quick little food thieves, often swiping table scraps or getting into the garbage. They may also feel called to eat the grass or ingest something that smells especially interesting or feels good to chew on (because why not just eat it at that point?). In any case, it’s almost certain that your Great Dane puppy will experience diarrhea as a result of ingesting something strange, and these episodes are typically non-serious and clear up on their own within 24-72 hours.
If your puppy is producing diarrhea towards the later end of that spectrum, there are a few steps you can take to try and promote firmer stools. The first may seem a bit paradoxical, but ensuring that your puppy is properly hydrated is key to keeping the gastrointestinal tract healthy. By regularly ingesting fluids, your puppy’s gastrointestinal tract remains lubricated and equipped to move along pathogens they may have ingested. If your Great Dane puppy seems disinterested in its water dish, try adding some pet-friendly meat-flavored broth. It’s rare that a puppy can resist this tactic!
You can also temporarily alter the diet of your Great Dane to be blander. Similarly to humans with upset stomachs, the sensitive stomach of a Great Dane responds well to food such as white rice, boiled chicken, and even pureed pumpkin when their digestive tract is upset. Probiotics such as those found in yogurt provide a great infusion of nutrients that will soothe their gut and hopefully relieve them of their diarrhea. If the condition continues, you can consult with your veterinarian about providing an over the counter medicine such as Pepcid.
In other cases, resetting your Dane’s gut with a fast may be an option. During this time, there are certain home, liquid-based remedies that can be provided to your pup in order to keep them hydrated while their gut recovers from the stomach irritant. For example, boiling a high-quality white rice and then serving that rice water to your Great Dane provides both time for the gut to heal and hydration. While some people might be inclined to take the healthy food choice one step further and provide brown rice, this is actually not advised due to the amount of fiber contained in this grain. The result would be an increase in stool, rather than less.
In some cases, diarrhea may persist in a puppy to the point where it needs to be taken to the vet. Normal diarrhea typically has a melted chocolate quality to it and is usually easily addressed via home remedies centered around rest and hydration.
If your Great Dane puppy experiences ongoing diarrhea for more than 2-3 days, you should take it into your veterinarian for a consultation was there may be more serious health issues afoot. If at any point your puppy appears to have abdominal pain, verbalizes their pain, is visibly lethargic or bloated, or begins to vomit, take it to the vet immediately. Chronic diarrhea zaps the body of essential nutrients and can cause serious damage to the puppy’s immune system.
In a healthy Great Dane puppy, their stool should be firm, segmented, and shaped like a large worm. The consistency should be soft and malleable – hard stools are a sign of dehydration. It’s common knowledge that dog poop smells pretty bad, but getting regular whiffs of the healthy kind can help you identify a problem if you suspect one later on. Typically, slight variations in odor signal that the dog got its mouth on a human food or extra treats.
Although it can be funny to think, there is such a thing as a “quality poop” when it comes to Great Danes. These animals will produce massive piles in their adulthood, and as their owner you will become familiarized with their particular feces as you raise your Dane. Typically, puppies must pee and poop after each meal. For a Great Dane puppy, this means that they are peeing and pooping a minimum of three to four times a day. As adults, Great Danes typically need to relieve themselves of stool 8-12 hours following their last meal. In many feeding schedules, this routine looks like pooping once in the evening, and once in the morning.
What if my Great Dane is having a difficult time doing to the bathroom?
There are various factors that can influence the ease with which a Great Dane is able to relieve itself. Sometimes, Danes can be afflicted by constipation, which makes it difficult for them to pass stool.
If you suspect that your Great Dane is constipated, there are a few at-home remedies you can try to encourage the stool to pass. Firstly, ensure that there are no distractions around your Great Dane when it is trying to the bathroom. The dog must understand that the purpose of going outside is to go to the bathroom, and that this activity takes priority over others, such as playing or receiving pets.
Increasing the fiber in your Great Dane’s diet is another option, and canned pumpkin provides this nutrient in abundance. You can also boost their food with Metamucil or powdered fiber.
Many owners turn to wet food to encourage their Great Danes to pass stools because wet food is naturally higher in water content, which promotes hydration and a healthy gastrointestinal tract. When providing wet food, owners should also ensure that their dog generally has fresh water on hand at all times so that they can self-hydrate. Finally, some owners swear by adding a little of the over-the-counter drug MiraLAX to their Great Dane’s diet. This medication retains water in the stool, which makes it easier for the Great Dane to pass the stool. The medicine also uses water already present in the dog’s body to facilitate their poop, which means that a hydrated Dane stands a good chance of relieving itself after ingesting MiraLAX.
There are different dosages that are appropriate for different sized dogs, so owners considering using MiraLAX as a treatment for diarrhea will have to consult with their veterinarian on the best treatment plan for their pup.
Simple remedies such as going for a walk can also be helpful in stimulating a bowel movement. Movement encourages movement, if you get the drive. Finally, fish oil and/or fatty acids are known for being beneficial to the gastrointestinal tract, although too much can have the unintended effect of making your dog’s stool loose and runny.
If your Great Dane is truly struggling to pass stool you should be very vigilant and preparedto bring the dog in to see your veterinarian. Early warning signs that a trip to the vet may be in the cards for a Great Dane include signs of strain while attempting to poop, as well as lack of stool production for more than two days. Although there are many home remedies available to Great Dane owners looking to relieve their Great Danes’ gastrointestinal woes, sometimes the best treatment is professional.
On a separate-but-related note, you may notice that your Great Dane sometimes eats its poop. This is called coprophagia and considered repulsive behavior by many humans, but is in fact quite normal in dogs. Around 20% of dogs feel compelled to ingest their feces, an instinct that harkens back to their days as the final cleaners at human campsites. After the humans would pack up and leave, their canine guardians would move through and ingest anything and everything that could possibly have caloric value. In the case of feces, many dogs find the taste enjoyable, and they particularly seem to enjoy consuming their waste when it smells like human food they ingested several hours ago. In fact, associated feces with a negative connotation is a human construct, and Great Danes do not experience any sort of shame or reserve with respect to their behavior towards their poop.
Sometimes, Great Danes may also consume their poop due to more concerning reasons. Boredom and anxiety may drive a Great Dane to stimulate itself by ingesting its own poop. In order to avoid this rather gross demonstration, you can encourage your Dane to seek alternative solutions to its boredom by providing it with an interesting and dynamic toy.
Many Great Danes also retain the base canine instinct of wanting to clean up after themselves. If you know that you could be more diligent about cleaning up your backyard and notice that your Great Dane is consuming its own feces, it may in fact be trying to take care of the clean-up for you.
In these cases, consuming poop is a product of circumstance, but there are cases when Great Danes are motivated to consume their own feces as a result of a health issues. Once you have ruled out this as a likely possibility, you can focus on redirecting the energy a Great Dane would like to put into consuming its feces to another activity, such as going for a brisk walk or otherwise distracting the Dane from its impulse.