Q. Healthy German Shepherd has extremely loose stools once a day. I added 2 spoonfuls of pumpkin puree that hasn't helped. No diet changes. Any advice?
JESSICA L DESROSIERS
A. Loose stools can be caused by a number of factors, and the first step is always to bring a stool sample to your local veterinarian to check for anything. Fecal exams can check for common bacteria and parasites in the stool that may cause chronic diarrhea.
Diet problems can also play a factor in loose stool as well as chronic illness. Dogs can be allergic to many different ingredients in the diet, however grains such as corn, wheat and soy products can be the most problematic. Adding a probiotic supplement can sometimes help such as a scoop of plain yogurt ever meal, or commercial product from your vet.
Illnesses and metabolic disorders may also cause chronic loose stools. German Shepherds are prone to a disease called Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency which is a problem with the pancreas (the same organ that dysfunctions in diabetes- however that is ENDOCRINE function in that case) producing enough digestive enzymes. This causes stools that may be loose, discolored grey or yellow and appear very fatty in color. Shepherds can also be prone to chronic small intestine infections that cause loose stool as well. Luckily, treatment for these conditions often just involves adding a daily digestive enzyme supplement to the food, or daily anti-biotic designed specifically for chronic bowel issues.