Want less dog poo? Check their diet

A US study suggests that what you feed your pup could slash the amount of dog poo you have to pick up by a whopping two thirds!

Researchers at the University of Illinois looked at how differing diets in dogs influenced their toileting habits – specifically, nutrient digestibility and “faecal characteristics”.

They discovered that some foods are easier for dogs to digest than others. And the more that is digested, the less poo they produce.

The study is far from conclusive – the sample size was just 12 dogs and four types of dog food. However, it does provide (if you’ll pardon the pun) food for thought…

What did the study find about diet and dog poo?

Kelly Swanson and her team at the University’s Department of Animal Sciences used 12 Beagles for their study. The dogs were fed four “commercially available” diets:

dog poo bags and treats
  • Blue Buffalo branded chicken and brown rice recipe kibble
  • Freshpet branded of roasted meals tender chicken recipe fresh dog food
  • JustFoodForDogs branded beef and russet potato fresh food made with human grade beef
  • Just FoodForDogs branded chicken and white rice  fresh food made with human grade chicken

Each dog was fed each of the four diets for 28 days. Blood and faeces samples taken at pre-determined intervals each time.

They found that the dogs had to eat more of the kibble than the other foods to maintain their weight. And eating more kibble then generated “1.5 to 2.9 times as much poop as any of the fresh diets”.

That’s right: the amount of dog poo each pup produced rose by up to three times when they ate dry dog food.

Surprising finding

However, that wasn’t all the researchers found.

“I did not expect to see how well the human-grade fresh food performed, even compared to a fresh commercial processed brand,” Professor Swanson said.

While eating the fresh dog food, the Beagles produced 1.5-1.7 times less poo than when they ate kibble. But on both of the human-grade diets, they created 2.0-2.9 times less poo than on the kibble diet.

“In conclusion, the HG [human grade] pet foods tested resulted in significantly reduced faecal output, were highly digestible, maintained faecal characteristics, serum chemistry, and haematology, and modified the faecal microbiota of dogs,” their study said.

The results matched an earlier study by the same team, which found human grade foods eaten by roosters were up to 40% more digestible than processed dried foods.

Why such a difference in the amount of dog poo?

Papillon dog hold dog poo waste bags

According to Professor Swanson, how much poo is created depends on two factors: the quality of ingredients and nutrients, as well as how the food is processed.

These directly impact the health of a dog’s gut bacteria.

“Because a healthy gut means a healthy mutt, faecal microbial and metabolite profiles are important readouts of diet assessment,” said Professor Swanson.

“As we have shown in previous studies, the faecal microbial communities of healthy dogs fed fresh diets were different than those fed kibble.

He continued: “These unique microbial profiles were likely due to differences in diet processing, ingredient source, and the concentration and type of dietary fibres, proteins, and fats that are known to influence what is digested by the dog and what reaches the colon for fermentation.”

Rise of human grade dog foods and treats

More and more, we pet owners are seeing dog foods that are made from human grade ingredients.

Even some treats – such as the dog treats we sell at Paws N’ All – use human grade ingredients, whether they be dried/dehydrated meats or baked treats.

As the study suggests, natural ingredients with no or minimal processing appear to be easier to digest. They also generally don’t have nasty chemicals and preservatives found in many processed foods and treats.

So it seems that you can keep your dog healthy AND reduce the amount of dog poo you have to pick up: human grade dog food and treats are the way to go!

Related article:


Journal of Animal Science


The New Daily


University of Illinois (College of Agricultural, Consumer & Environmental Sciences)