Why is my dog constipated on raw dog food?

Why is My Dog Constipated on Raw Dog Food?

If you’re wondering why is my dog’s poop dry or why is my dog constipated on raw dog food, his or her raw meals are likely not properly balanced.

So if your dog is constipated on a raw diet, here’s my advice for you:

Reconsider the amounts of individual cuts of meat you’re feeding. Specifically the amount of raw meaty bone!

Too much bone is usually the culprit when your dog has dry crumbly dog poop.

Likewise, too little bone and/or too much fat tends to be the problem with dog stool that’s very loose. 

But no worries, in this blog post, you’ll learn about the following:

  • Dog constipation symptoms
  • What can I for constipation as a natural laxative for dogs
  • How to avoid constipation on a homemade raw dog food diet
  • How to avoid constipation on a pre-made raw dog food diet
  • Other reasons why a dog may be constipated

Why Is My Dog Constipated On Raw Dog Food?

Why is my dog constipated on raw dog food

Disclaimer: This blog post contains affiliate links. I may earn compensation when you click on the links at no additional cost to you.

Dog Constipation Symptoms

It’s pretty easy to “diagnose” constipation in your pup:

  • Dog poop is very dry and crumbly
  • Straining and/or whining when trying to poop
  • Dog hasn’t pooped in several days although he or she has been eating 

What Should Dog Poop Look Like on a Raw Diet?

In preparation for this blog post, I figured it would be helpful to show you what dog poop should look like from a raw-fed dog.

What should dog poop look like on a raw diet?

Wally was gracious enough to let me take a picture of one of his recent poops.

As you can see, it’s neither loose or liquid, nor dry and crumbly or white.

It’s somewhere in the middle, the “perfect poop” so to speak. 

Wally's non-constipated dog poop is not dry and crumbly on a raw diet
Wally’s non-constipated dog poop is not dry and crumbly

What Can I Give My Dog for Constipation?

So, if your dog poop is dry and crumbly, how do you make a constipated dog poop quickly? 

My secret sauce is this:

  • Hold off on food
  • Offer plenty of water and 
  • Give your pup pumpkin puree. 1 teaspoon per 10lbs of body weight twice daily.
  • Slippery elm syrup is another great alternative. 1 teaspoon per 15lbs of body weight twice daily.

For pumpkin puree, you can use either the canned kind from the grocery store or your own homemade kind.

The canned pumpkin puree usually sits in the baking aisle, but make sure to feed only 100% pumpkin, not the pumpkin pie mix!

My favorite canned pumpkin puree is the kind by Libby’s.

Tip: You can also order Libby’s canned pumpkin puree on Amazon

Canned pumpkin puree from Libby's works great for healthy dog treats that keep your pup regular

To make your own homemade pumpkin puree, check out my pumpkin puree recipe here.

I like to keep a few containers in my freezer and/or cans in my pantry at all times.

Wally with his homemade pumpkin puree

It works really great for constipation AND diarrhea because it’s a fiber-filled superfood (a fruit to be exact). 

You can also add a spoonful to your pup’s meals on a regular basis to entice them to eat if you have a picky eater on your hands!

…and yes, if you have a kibble-fed dog and want to help him poop easier, pumpkin puree also offers constipation relief to dogs who eat dry dog food. 

For slippery elm syrup, you’ll need to get slippery elm bark powder first. You can find it on Amazon.

Unless you have super quick same day or 1 day delivery available where you live, you may want to use pumpkin puree for a quick fix for constipation relief.

Most slippery elm bark powders for dogs include a measuring spoon
Slippery elm bark powder

But it’s a good idea to have slippery elm powder in your pantry for future needs. I never travel without it!

It’s an anti-inflammatory that coats, soothes and lubricates your dog’s digestive tract and their esophagus.

So it’s also great to use when your pup has diarrhea or vomits, and is also useful to help your dog pass foreign objects.

Think socks, kids’ toys, etc.

It also helps dogs with megaesophogus because it makes it easier to swallow and drink.

You can read all about it in my blog post Slippery elm for dogs – what it is, how to make it & more.

Raw Diet Constipation - Help your dog poop easier

How to Avoid Constipation On A Homemade Raw Dog Food Diet

It’s important to understand the feeding formula for homemade raw dog food in order to avoid raw diet constipation.

That’s because it’s easy to over-or underfeed your dog on certain cuts of meat.

For example, on raw meaty bones.

They’re an integral part of raw dog food, but if you feed your dog too much bone, he’ll have dusty poo.

Essentially, white dog poop.

Raw Feeding Percentages

Average adult dogs are fed 2.5% of their target body weight in raw dog food per day. 

I say average because doggie athletes and pregnant dogs need considerably more raw dog food, up to 4% of their ideal body weight. 

Puppies are also fed at a higher feeding percentage during their first 12 months since they’re still growing.

But for this blog post, we’ll look at the raw dog food components an average adult dog needs to eat per day.

Without crumbly poop or the opposite, liquid poop!

70-80/10/10 Raw Feeding Formula

Here’s what 80/10/10 or 70-80/10/10 raw dog food consists of:

  • 80% muscle meat
  • 10% raw meaty bones
  • 10% secreting organs (5% liver, 5% other secreting organ)

If you want to feed veggies (which I personally do and recommend), decrease the muscle meat amount to 70% and add 10% of mostly veggies and a little fruit.

You have to feed plant matter a certain way to make sure its nutrients can be absorbed by your dog’s body.

To learn more, check out my blog post Raw dog food with vegetables – yes or no?

How to Calculate Your Dog’s Daily Raw Dog Food Allowance

Divide your dog’s target body weight by 100, then multiply it with the feeding percentage of 2.5.

That gives you the amount of daily raw dog food (in pounds or kilos) that your dog needs to eat.

Example for a 30lb dog: 

30/100 = 0.3 x 2.5 = 0.75lb.

That’s 0.75lb = 12 oz that your dog needs to eat per day.

If you divide that up into 2 meals (breakfast and dinner), you’ll feed your dog 6 oz per meal.

How to Break Down the Individual Components of Raw Dog Food

The next step is to break down the 12 oz into muscle meat, raw meaty bone, secreting organ and veggie amounts.

You’ll have to do some more math here, but even if you’re not a math hero, just ask Google for help 😉

  • 70% (muscle meat) of 12 oz: 8.4 oz
  • 10% (raw meaty bone) of 12 oz: 1.2 oz
  • 5% (liver) of 12 oz: 0.6 oz
  • 5% (other secreting organ) of 12 oz: 0.6 oz
  • 10% (veggie/fruit) of 12 oz: 1.2 oz

Or get my ebook Understanding the Math in BARF & PMR Raw Dog Food – it comes with precalulated charts and worksheets!

And there you have it - almost!

How Much Bone vs Muscle Meat Is On Raw Meaty Bones?

The last piece of the puzzle is to understand how much bone is on a raw meaty bone.

Because a raw meaty bone is NOT just made up of bone, right? The “meaty” part of the name gives that away.

It also consists of muscle meat!

Let’s look at the bone percentages of common raw meaty bones:

Chicken Bones:

  • Wing. 45% bone, 55% meat.
  • Foot. 60% bone, 40% meat.
  • Neck w/o skin. 50% bone, 50% meat.
  • Neck with skin. 45% bone, 55% meat.
  • Breast. 20% bone, 80% meat.
  • Drumstick. 33% bone, 67% meat.
  • Leg quarter. 26% bone, 74% meat.

Turkey Bones:

  • Wing. 33% bone, 67% meat. 
  • Breast. 14% bone, 86% meat.
  • Neck. 40% bone, 60% meat.

Duck Bones:

  • Head. 75% bone, 25% meat.
  • Frame. 75% bone, 25% meat.
  • Neck. 50% bone, 50% meat. 
  • Breast. 15% bone, 85% meat.
  • Foot. 60% bone, 40% meat.
  • Wing. 40% bone, 60% meat.

Rabbit Bones:

  • Head. 75% bone, 25% meat.

So to come up with a raw meal that your 30lb dog could eat in a day, it’s best to first figure out how much bone is on a raw meaty bone you’re planning to feed. Then you can plan the muscle meat around that.

Let’s assume your raw meaty bone of choice is a chicken wing that weighs 3 oz. 

  • Chicken Wing: 45% bone, 55% meat.
  • 45% of 3oz = 1.35oz bone
  • 55% of 3oz = 1.65oz meat

Let’s remember the raw dog food cheat sheet I gave you for the 30lb dog:

  • 70% (muscle meat) of 12 oz: 8.4 oz
  • 10% (raw meaty bone) of 12 oz: 1.2 oz
  • 5% (liver) of 12 oz: 0.6 oz
  • 5% (other secreting organ) of 12 oz: 0.6 oz
  • 10% (veggie/fruit) of 12 oz: 1.2 oz

The 30lb dog can have 1.2 oz of bone per day, so the 1.35oz of bone from the chicken wing comes pretty darn close!

It’s so close that I would feed the entire wing and see how your pup does with it (likely fine). If you find that it’s slightly too much bone after all, cut off a tiny amount. 

Tip: Poultry shears work great for that!

Now, since the chicken wing consists of 1.65oz of meat, you’ll have to add another 6.75oz of muscle meat (8.4-1.65).

That can be a mix of bone-free ground meat and heart and some herring (fish), for example.

Next, you’ll need to add 0.6oz of liver and 0.6 oz of another secreting organ. For example, kidney or pancreas. 

Last but not least, add 1.2oz of veggies and there’s your meal for the day!

You can either prepare your own veggies (broccoli, spinach, pumpkin, celery etc) or use a pre-made veggie "base" mix from brands such as these.

How to Avoid Constipation On A Pre-Made Raw Dog Food Diet

If all that sounds too complicated, you may have to stick with pre-made raw dog food from a trusted brand.

The 3 I mention below offer raw dog food home delivery:

I’ve fed all 3 for many years and highly recommend each one.

Good to know: Raw Paws Pet Food and Raw Feeding Miami also carry many individual cuts of meat for raw meal prep.

Darwin’s carries a few select cuts here and there, but they don’t advertise them on their website. You’ll have to specifically ask a brand rep about them (green tripe, necks).

For starters, I would order 1 week worth of pre-made raw dog food and see how your dog does with it poop-wise. 

From experience, I can tell you that all 3 brands do a great job at properly balancing their ingredient amounts for the average adult dog.

None of my pups EVER got constipated on their “completes” (Raw Paws Pet Food), “grinds” (Raw Feeding Miami) and “meals” (Darwin’s).

But keep in mind that some dogs have different needs than others, so if your particular pup needs a little less bone (or more!), you’ll have to add some food. 

If you find that your dog has a hard time pooping and you're dealing with white dog poo, add some muscle meat.

If the pre-made raw dog food doesn’t have any veggies in it, you can also add 5-10% of veggies. 

Some ground meat from the grocery store is perfect for that. For example, ground beef, bison, lamb, chicken, turkey or pork. 

You can also try out a few different brands and see which one your pup does best on!

Other Reasons Why A Dog May Be Constipated

Keep in mind that constipation in dogs can also have other causes besides an improperly-balanced raw meal.

For example:

  • Hip dysplasia (particularly in older dogs)
  • Internal blockage
  • Tumor

All those causes can make it difficult for a dog to squat and take a poop!

If you're in doubt about the cause of your dog's constipation, take him or her to your vet to rule out any illness first.

Why is My Dog Constipated on Raw Dog Food: Bottom Line

So, raw fed dog, crumbly poop?

I hope that you found an answer to your question Why is my dog's poop crumbly!

If your dog's poop is white and chalky, that's a sign that he's constipated and it's very likely that their raw meals aren't properly balanced.

To fix the problem, you'll have to ensure that he or she isn't getting too much bone.

In order to do that, make sure to calculate your dog's daily raw meaty bone allowance.

The formula for this is known as the 80/10/10 formula and it works in combination with the 2.5% maintenance percentage:

  • 80% muscle meat
  • 10% raw meaty bone
  • 10% secreting organs (5% liver, 5% other secreting organ)

If your dog is constipated on pre-made raw dog food from a specific brand, figure out how much raw meaty bone is in the formula.

You can add a little muscle meat to balance it out or try out a different brand.

If you need to offer your dog immediate relief from constipation and are looking for a natural laxative for dogs, do this:

Hold off on food, provide plenty of fresh water and give them 1 teaspoon of canned or homemade pumpkin puree per 10lbs of body weight.

Another option is slippery elm syrup, but keep in mind that you need slippery elm bark powder to make it.

Unfortunately, grocery stores don't carry that one, so if your dog needs help for an acute case of constipation, pumpkin puree is the way to go.

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Barbara launched her blog K9sOverCoffee in 2014 and has been feeding her dogs raw dog food since 2015. As a former professional dog walker, she’s passionate about balancing species-appropriate exercise with healthy dog nutrition. Barbara is raw dog food nutrition certified from “Dogs Naturally Magazine” and the author of several e-books about minimally processed, balanced raw dog food.


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