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Stool Hardeners?

November 17th, 2005, 12:05 PM
I've read that cheap foods have stool hardeners to fool people into believing it is a good food with good results. Which ingredients are the stool hardeners in these foods? Thanks!

November 17th, 2005, 12:59 PM
For one, "animal digest" or "chicken digest"- it would harden the stool because your dog's GI tract definitely doesn't have to work on it in digestion and the time to digest what is left of the proteins would be so short that the intestines would overwork it leading to a drier hard stool.

Beet pulp- it releases "Saponins" which are toxins that slow the normal peristalsis (contraction of the bowel to move the contents through). Soybeans also have a lot of saponins (as does ginseng but ginseng is not in dog food).

Oats have a bit, too, but oats definitely not the player that beet pulp and soybeans are (they are also usually processed into oatmeal, which might have less- I haven't found anything on that).

I'll keep researching and see if I come up with more.:)

November 17th, 2005, 03:40 PM
Ok, I thought it was chemicals or something that was used. I don't understand what's so bad about these ingredients? If they are natural ways to harden the stool, why not?

November 17th, 2005, 08:15 PM
The problem is the use of them and the type. Every doggy needs fiber, but putting too much fiber in the food in a bunch of different ways is just to harden the stool to make it look like your dog is digesting well and is always healthy. Even if your dog's body needs to have diarrhea, with beet pulp, there are chemicals that cause the blood vessels to constrict in the bowel, preventing the peristalsis- it's not like eating All-Bran. Even if that food is toxic and really wants to get out quickly, the walls are numbed and the food stays in there no matter what. You know what I mean?

Some foods, like bran are just not digested and push the foods through without releasing chemicals. Those keep a colon healthy. Foods that release chemicals to stop the food from moving through causing a sort of constipation do not help the colon. They help you think your dog is digesting well.

November 17th, 2005, 08:53 PM
I guess for any other dog this may be a problem. But I've been having big time trouble with firming up Kayla's stools. So she obviously has too much peristalsis going on inside! So if beets help stop it then I don't see why this should be a bad thing? I for one would definitely welcome not having to pick up her diarrhea every day!:rolleyes:

November 17th, 2005, 08:58 PM
It's not good because the peristalsis stops because of a chemical. Pumpkin also firms up stools in a different (better) way. You know?

November 17th, 2005, 09:07 PM
But the chemical is from a natural food source, and is only one of the many chemicals that make up the beet. Chemicals found in food sources are rarely in high enough doses to cause problems, which is often the danger of eating artificial chemicals. Dose makes the poison. I for one just can't believe that beets could contain so much of this chemical to cause digestive numbing. Perhaps if you isolated the chemical and gave it in high doses it would cause the numbing of the intestial system that you speak of. Water is a chemical, and pumpkin is also made of a multitude of chemicals. Everything we eat is chemicals!

November 17th, 2005, 09:31 PM
Every doggy needs fiber, but putting too much fiber in the food in a bunch of different ways is just to harden the stool to make it look like your dog is digesting well and is always healthy.

Ok, I'm not trying to contradict you or anything here but...

I compared 2 foods, Nutram and Solid Gold. Nutram (contains beetroot) has:

Crude Protein min. 24.0%
Crude Fat min. 14.0%
Crude Fibre max. 3.0%
Moisture max. 10.0%
1 cup = 395 cal

Solid Gold (no beetroot) has:

Protein, Min 18%
Fat, Min 6%
Fiber, Max 4%
Moisture, Max 10%
Calories per cup, 336

So really Solid Gold, without the beets, has more fibre than Nutram. Also, I was reading that beets are a cheap way to add sugar. Well Nutram has 24+14+3+10=61% protein, fat, fibre and water, and Solid Gold has 18+6+4+10=38% of the same things. Therefore Solid Gold must have more carbs (which means sugar) than Nutram, correct? Maybe this is why your dogs love it so much? Or is there something I'm missing?

Ok, I have done the unthinkable and dared say something possibly bad about Solid Gold... :p But I'm just trying to figure out dog food labels. I am very open to being proven wrong though so please feel free! ;)

November 18th, 2005, 12:05 AM
LOL welcome to the world of deciphering the truth from what the food companies tell you. It's very hard, and I don't claim to be an expert on it at all. I'm still learning more and more and I think I'm only at the tip of the iceberg. :o

Please don't hesitate to say anything bad about any food I peddle. I only recommend foods that I haven't heard anything bad about so far, but that can always change. Hey, I once recommended Eukanuba.:eek: :eek: I can't learn everything on my own, right?

Just to clarify, beetroot and beet pulp are different. Beetroot hasn't had all the nutrients squeezed out of it for use in another food prior to use in the dog food.

Just to define fiber:
The fiber in the guaranteed analysis is this (according to Purina):
Fiber absorbs water and lends bulk to the intestinal contents. This stimulates the movement of the intestinal tract and normalizes passage time through the bowel. Fiber sources also contribute to fecal consistency.

To me, beet pulp, might act as fiber in one way, but stopping peristalsis has the opposite effect of fiber. Fiber moves stuff along, the chemical released from the beet pulp stops it from moving along. No? It's hard to know what effect is more important without a concrete study observing the effects of just beet pulp on the digestive system. Because while the beet pulp does everything in it's power to stop the colon, the totally undigested corn is fighting its way though, rejected from the body. You know?

It's like a gas tank test I saw for the old Dodge Caravan. They hit the back of the van with a huge amount of force to see if the gas tank exploded. Well, the tank didn't explode, but the two front seats with the dummies still strapped in ripped out and flipped into the trunk. The test was just for the gas tank, so they didn't have to report anything about the seats and a whole bunch of people ended up dying before they actually admitted they knew all along. You never know what important secondary, possibly harmful, effects go along with feeding fillers like beet pulp or corn.

It's all hard to figure out because the companies, like Purina, who would have done the most research on different bits and pieces, (such that they may cut costly corners without jeopardizing dogs' health, or so they say), are also the ones that hide their research the most. I mean Purina won't even post their ingredients on their own website.

Another thing I found about fiber is that there are slower fermenting fibers (cause constipation) and rapid fermenting fibers (cause diarrhea). Beet pulp is nearer to the slower fermenter end and bran is closer to the rapid fermenter end (but they are close). While slower fermenters might help diarrhea, they wouldn't help the health of the colon as they would keep the digestive contents in the colon for a longer period of time. They say you need both rapid and slow fermenters (unless you are treating a medical condition).

So that's fiber, in a nutshell... Now we all know about fiber.;) Sorry if I'm all twisty and turny but I'm still researching as I write.:)

You also have to be careful in the wording. Crude protein and protein might not refer to the same thing. Crude protein might include proteins that are not digestible at all, and therefore don't contribute to the nutrition of the pet.

I don't know which solid gold food that is (is it the holistic veggie one?) because all the meaty ones have 22% protein-

Wolf King:
Protein, Min 22%
Fat, Min 9%
Fiber, Max 4%
Moisture, Max 10%
Calories per cup, 364

Which is 45% protein fat and carbs.
Whereas your Nutram is 51% (not 61% :o ), so the difference is not huge. Don't forget also, that the food you were looking at was 8% ash too.

I think it's not the carbs that make it tasty (all the meaty solid gold foods have almost the same guaranteed analysis, but not all are tasty), rather it's the salmon that makes it tasty. The salmon smells strongly, even to humans, so you can imagine what the doggy is smelling.

And just to compare apples to apples, here is Nutram's large breed formula (wolf king is for large breeds)

Crude Protein min. 23.0%
Crude Fat min. 13.0%
Crude Fibre max. 2.5%
Moisture max. 10.0%
Crude Ash max. 7.6%

So that actually ends up with 48.5% crude fat, protein, fiber and moisture, plus the 7.6% ash.

Personally, I think where the carbs are coming from is a lot more important than how much there is.

If you look at the Nutram major carb sources (not including the carbs from the meat/protein sources or the supplements):
Chicken meal, ground rice, ground yellow corn, chicken fat (preserved with Vitamin E), beet pulp, flax seed, dicalcium phosphate, chicken, chicken digest, potassium chloride, sodium chloride, lecithin, kelp meal, dried egg powder, choline chloride, dried cheese, chicory root, yucca schidigera, devil's claw extract, rosemary extract, garlic, aniseed, cinnamon, thyme, juniper, milk thistle, talin, glucosamine sulphate, chondroitin sulphate, Vitamin A, Vitamin D3, Vitamin E, Vitamin K (menadione), Vitamin B12, Vitamin C(ascorbic acid), riboflavin, niacin, d-calcium pantothenate, pyridoxine hydrochloride, thiamine mononitrate, folic acid, biotin, ferrous sulphate, iron proteinate, manganous oxide, manganese proteinate, zinc sulphate, zinc proteinate, copper sulphate, copper proteinate, calcium iodate, cobalt proteinate, sodium selenite.

And then you look at the Wolf King's major carb foods (not including what is in the meat or the end supplements):
Bison | Salmon Meal | Brown Rice | Millet | Cracked Pearled Barley | Oatmeal | Rice Bran | Canola Oil | Flaxseed Oil | Garlic | Amaranth | Blueberries | Yucca Schidigera Extract | Taurine | Carotene | Choline Chloride | Vitamin E Supplement | Iron Proteinate | Zinc Proteinate | Copper Proteinate | Manganese Proteinate | Potassium Iodide | Thiamine Mononitrate | Ascorbic Acid | Vitamin A Supplement | Biotin | Calcium Panthothenate | Selenomethionine | Pyridoxine Hydrochloride | Vitamin B12 Supplement | Riboflavin | Vitamin D Supplement | Folic Acid |

Can we agree that brown rice and oatmeal have more nutrients and are less "empty carbs" than corn and white rice? (They don't specify in the Nutram whether it's brown or white, but considering brown is more expensive, I can guess that it's white...). So more nutrients mean that more of the carbs in the Solid Gold are actually being used by the dog. ;)

And just for arguments' sake, if you were stuck on a desert island with ONLY a lifetime supply of dog food, which would you eat?

Here are two interesting websites I found:

Now, let's hope I can post this without losing it all...:fingerscr

November 18th, 2005, 10:17 AM
I see..

lol. Ok, your comparisons of Solid Gold to Nutram makes sense.. not even going to go there with the crude stuff since I will have to look it up to know what you'e talking about:p

BUT, (back to beetroot/pulp) IF a dog eats beet pulp, which in turn keeps the food in the digestive system long enough to absorb water and end up in a nice firm poop, I still don't see what is so bad about this. As is, Kayla has runny poo, which means she her digestive system isn't keeping it in long enough. I have tried different foods, and the only two common ingredients are flax and fish, so it's not like any ingredient (except possibly fish or flax) is necesarily toxic to her body.

Anyways, so just assuming her metabolism is just too fast, using beet pulp, with this lovely wonderous chemical, seems like a pretty good thing, right? I mean, it's just to hard to know exactly what goes on, but if the results are good (hard poo) and there isn't nasty ingredients like rancid fat that will be kept longer in the intestinal system because of this, then what's the problem? As long as it's human grade food, I think I should actually be looking for food with beetroot/pulp! And it's not like food is in there for ever and ever, it's just in there as long as it should be to form solid poo.

Hope that made sense, I'm still waking up and have only had one coffee (ok I know it's almost noon but I was up all night writing a stupid essay). Ready for rebuttal! (I love a good debate):p

November 18th, 2005, 10:39 AM
"Robert Abady successfully linked the development of bloat and various gastrointestinal disorders, including colitis, to diets that contained large amounts of soybean meal and beet pulp."

This quote is from that first web site. I just had to rant because this is like all the scientific "proof" out there that I can find on dog food. What exactly constitutes "large amounts"? Were they feeding dogs 50% beet pulp to get these results? Why can't these bloody scientists be more specific? If there's one thing I've learned in all these years at school it is to trust nothing scientific I read unless it is the primary research report including how the study was done, and the specific results are included.

"saponins suppress the vomiting reflex and can paralyse the gastro-intestinal tract"

I like how they mention that "saponins" do this, not 'beetrot" does this. Why? Because you aren't feeding the dogs the isolated chemical, you are feeding them a whole food. Did you know that apples contain arsenic? No joke. Dose makes the poison.

"Experiments on the effects of the intravenous injection of various amounts of broomweed saponins on pregnant rabbits resulted in abortions and death of the rabbits."

Again, who is isolating and intrvenously injecting sapronins into dogs?

Ok here is a true statment: "Apples contain arsenic. Arsenic can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and death"

Oh my god stay away from apples!:eek:

Ok sorry, I'm just extremely cynical of "scientific" statements that are so very vague like that. I have written a few scientific papers myself throwing together pieces of this and that, and knowing that the cause and effect I'm insinuating makes no sense, but still end up with A's on the paper. Start spouting off a bunch of scientific lingo and many people tend to just believe what they read. We are taught to see scientists as holier than though and to trust what they say. Personally I think anyone with good bs and creative writing skills would make a great scientist. ;)

Ok, that's my rant of the morning. I need more coffee.

November 18th, 2005, 10:49 PM
Yes, the dose matters, but in the case of Beet Pulp, it's function is to slow down digestion, therefore they are relying on the saponins. The beet pulp is only in the food for the saponins. You know what I mean? Beet ROOT would be in there for nutrition too, so it wouldn't be all bad, but the pulp has all the nutrients sucked out. It's like if you squeezed the apple till it was just nutrientless fibers full of arsenic and then put that in the food.

It all comes back to the purpose of the ingredient. Beet pulp serves nothing BUT to harden the stool. And you can harden the stool with other things who serve other functions along with hardening the stool. You know? It's like eating pure bran versus eating a banana bran muffin. Which brings your body more? The muffin would have more fat, protein, carbs and nutrients. The bran will bring fiber and minimal other nutrients.

As for crude, think of it like a salary- gross versus net. Crude is the protein measured scientifically pre-eaten, and net protein would be the Crude minus anything that comes out in the poop. Say your dog eats a clump of hair. It's nearly 100% protein, and you could sell bags of hair with a label that said Crude Protein: 100% (if that's legal :yuck: ) but the dog will not digest ANY of it, so the net protein would be 0% because it would all come out the other end.

I'm not saying that the Solid Gold protein is only the net, but it's definitely closer because they have far less filler foods in there to boost the protein. Also when a food company words things like "Crude," you have to be careful. They are VERY clever in the different words they use to say "it's this, but not quite..."

I did all the math on another thread a while back to analyse how much of a food is protein from good meat when you have corn and by-products in there too... Here, post 19 of this thread: Protein (

November 19th, 2005, 09:54 AM
Thanks for that post Prin.

It would be really nice to see some hard evidence about beet pulp, or saponins, or anything else these companies claim. It's not that I don't believe you, I'm just a very cynical person ;) I'm also still kinda of mind that if is gets good results, it's worth a try (in my case). I mean, even the beet pulp sucked of nutrients could do some good. No, not nutritionally but as a scrubber sort of effect, which is what most fibre is really good for. And maybe also the filler would help keep her full but keep the food quantity down. Didn't you say in another thread that if you cut down the food quantity it firms the up? I tried this with Kayla and she just started losing weight (she's already skinny so this isn't a good thing). So maybe having more filler is another sort of way of cutting down.. I mean I eat filler all the time, eg I eat tonnes of lettuce with my salad dressing and nuts etc. I really don't know, I've just tried so much for her already that I'm starting to get creative with my logic!;)

Prin have you ever seen anywhere online with laws about how companies must label dog food? THAT would be interesting to see! They don't have human standards, but most people apply human standards to them to make decisions, which probably end up being bad decisions most of the time because of this. Like can they really include inedible stuff in the protein percentage? Guess it makes sense with the words they use that I tend to overlook like "crude" protein.:cool:

November 19th, 2005, 09:59 AM
Feeding less only hardens the stool when there are no stool hardeners in it. If you overfeed with no hardeners, the digestive system can't digest it all fast enough.

As for the rules about labels, they were on here somewhere, I just have to find them....

November 19th, 2005, 10:02 AM
I just found them online:

This is another interesting site on how to compare protein levels by taking in account moisture levels:

Got this info about Crude Protein for ferrets, but I'm sure the same concept applies to dogs:

"Crude protein is the total amount of protein in the food, but it says nothing about its digestibility. The quality of the protein is very important. Tendons and plant seeds contain protein, but ferrets cannot digest them.

To get an idea of protein quality, compare the guaranteed analysis to the ingredients list. If most of the protein is from poultry or meat meal, about 80% of it will be digestible. Protein from ground yellow corn is much less digestible. The label on some premium quality foods will tell you the digestibility of the protein. So will the price of the food – good quality protein is expensive. The lower the price, the more likely it is that the crude protein is of poor quality and low digestibility. Ferret diets should contain over 30% crude protein, of high digestibility."

November 19th, 2005, 10:13 AM
Well, I learned something new:
The terms ‘‘meat’’ and ‘‘meat byproducts’’ shall be used on
a pet food label only if the meat and meat byproducts are from
cattle, swine, sheep and goats.

November 19th, 2005, 10:13 AM
That ferret logic really can be applied to dogs. They can't digest corn either. ;)

November 19th, 2005, 10:14 AM
Well that's good to know for when I look for fish-free food!:)

November 19th, 2005, 10:17 AM
Yeah, I thought meat included dogs and cats... (Remember the thread about people testing dog food and finding trace amounts of the drug used to euthanize cats and dogs?:eek: )