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Introduction to What Should Dog Poop Look Like?
Dog poop is an important indicator of the health of your dog.
It should be small, firm, and brown to dark brown.
The texture should be firm, not runny or sticky like diarrhea, and the smell should be pleasant.
If you notice any of these changes, talk to your vet.
In the meantime, here’s some information about poop and what it should look like.
Dog poop is made up of undigested food, bacteria, and cells that have been shed from the lining of the intestinal tract.
It is important to know what healthy dog poop looks like in case your dog has diarrhea or constipation.
Healthy dog poop is about the size of a jellybean.
It will be firm to the touch and looks like
Since dogs can’t talk, we spend a great deal of time trying to interpret other signs of their health.
How is he acting?
How is his appetite?
We perform exams, take histories, evaluate blood samples.
Also, we check their poop.
This gives us a tremendous number of clues as to a dog’s digestive and overall health.
When your dog is healthy, his poop shows it.
It can be large, firm, and range in shades of brown.
A sudden change, like blood in your dog’s stool, tells you something is wrong.
Learn how you can spot health problems simply by looking at your dog’s poop.
The Four C’s of Poop
While dog poop isn’t the sole indicator of your puppy’s health, it’s one of the few things you can see every day.
The appearance of your canine companion’s poop can vary from day today.
Usually, small differences are no cause for concern.
When you’re examining your pup’s stool, here are some things to look for.
Under normal circumstances, the stool is a chocolate-brown color hence the many Tootsie roll analogies.
During normal digestion, the gallbladder releases bile to aid in the breakdown of food. Bilirubin is a pigment in bile that affects stool color.
The stool may have some minor deviations in color due to diet, hydration, or dyes in his or her food, but you shouldn’t see a substantial amount of changes.
Some of the abnormal color patterns are:
- Black stool: bleeding high up in the digestive tract may result in tar-colored stool
- Red streaks: this indicates bleeding in the lower digestive tract
- Grey or yellow stools: may indicate issues with the pancreas, liver, or gallbladder
If abnormal colors persist for more than two stools, call your veterinarian.
You may be surprised to know that some veterinarians use a numerical system to score the consistency of a pet’s stool.
The fecal scoring system assigns a value to the stool from 1 to 7, where 1 represents very hard pellets and 7 is a puddle.
The ideal stool is a 2: a firm segmented piece, caterpillar shaped, that feels like Play-Doh when pressed. A formless stool means the large intestine is not properly re-absorbing water; hard stool can be painful to pass and may indicate dehydration.
The ideal dog stool is the consistency of Play-Doh, easily squishable, and holds its form without melting into the grass.
I tell owners that one super-soft or super-hard stool isn’t a cause for concern, especially if the pet is normal otherwise, but if it persists for more than a day, give us a ring.
There’s only one way to get to the inside of poop, and that means dissecting it.
We pay our staff to do this so you don’t have to, but some people just really need to know for themselves, and I salute those determined pet owners.
The inside of a stool shouldn’t look any different from the rest of it, but here are some abnormal things you may find:
- Worms: long and skinny roundworms, or little rice-shaped tapeworm segments. Remember, stool that has been outside for hours may have little creatures in it that weren’t there at the outset, so it’s important to know if this is a fresh sample.
- Foreign materials: grass, sock bits, plastic, rocks. Pica, the eating of non-food items, is not uncommon in dogs, and sometimes you don’t know that your dog is digging into the trash until you find a bit of Ziploc in the stool.
- Fur: big clumps of fur in the stool indicate overgrooming, which can happen secondary to stress, allergies, skin disease, or even boredom.
Poop should not have a coating or a film over it. If you’re picking up your pet’s stool off the grass, there shouldn’t be any sort of trail left behind.
A coating of mucous often accompanies large bowel inflammation and often occurs concurrently with diarrhea.
Small streaks of bright red blood may also show up on occasion, usually secondary to straining to defecate.
Fortunately, for all the uncomfortable and unpleasant sequelae of poop issues, the vast majority resolve on their own in 24 hours.
If a pet is eating, drinking, and behaving normally otherwise, giving it a day to sort itself out should be fine.
If he or she stops eating, seems depressed, or continues to have digestive symptoms after a day, it’s time to call the vet, as we have lots we can do to get things back on track.
Two Types of Diarrhea
Drug or toxin-induced diarrhea, parasites, a viral or bacterial infection.
Occasionally an extra-intestinal problem such as pancreatitis, bloat, or liver disease will lead to acute diarrhea.
Causes may include some of those mentioned above as well as a host of other diseases such as inflammatory bowel disease, fungal disease, pancreatic disease, food allergy, protozoal diseases (toxoplasmosis), bacterial overgrowth, cancer, liver and kidney disease, irritable bowel syndrome, many more.
These cases can be very challenging to diagnose and even more difficult to treat.
Chronic diarrhea is often managed, not cured, and relapses during times of physical or emotional stress, dietary indiscretion.
A color change in your dog’s poop can be indicative of a problem, even if the consistency is normal.
Light brown to dark brown is normally based on your dog’s diet.
Black and tarry poop may indicate the presence of digested blood in the stool, fresh blood with mucous is common with large bowel disease, and white stool can occur if there is a problem with bile excretion or liver disease.
Yellow or orange poop can also be present with liver disease or if the stool is moving too quickly through the GI tract.
Certain antacids or medications can affect the color of the poop.
Dogs that like to eat grass or have ingested certain toxic mouse baits can have a green-blue-colored stool.
What If Your Dog is Constipated?
Fiber is great! It is the great poop regulator and is as close as the plain canned pumpkin at Trader Joe’s.
Because it contains both soluble and insoluble fiber, it can bind some of the excess water in the intestinal tract, bulking up the stool and slowing digestion.
The insoluble fiber in pumpkin can benefit those suffering from constipation, but it is best to avoid feeding too much insoluble fiber since it can act as a natural laxative.
Helpful if you are constipated, not if the stools are already loose.
Keep an accurate history of your dog’s habits including appetite, frequency and effort of bowel movements, and environmental changes such as boarding.
You should have a Pet Butler technician frequently scoop poop to minimize the spread of disease and yard contamination as well as to monitor your pet’s poop for spaghetti or rice grain type parasites, color, or consistency change.
For acute causes of diarrhea, we often recommend fasting for 24 hours with access to water only if your pet is not lethargic or vomiting.
Then, we gradually resume feeding limited amounts of a bland diet which can include boiled chicken or ground turkey, scrambled eggs or cottage cheese, and a bland carbohydrate source like rice or pasta in a 1:4 ratio.
To get the gut back on track, small frequent meals are best with a gradual return to the pet’s normal diet.
Collecting the Stool Sample
It’s very likely that you have found many different ways to clean up poop around your yard or while out for a walk.
From pooper scoopers to special biodegradable bags, when it comes to cleaning up dog feces, there is no shortage of equipment.
So, when you’re collecting a healthy dog poop or even an unhealthy stool sample to take to the vet, be sure to use a clean bag, pick the sample up gently, and place it into a clean, shallow plastic container with a lid.
Refrigerate the sample until you are able to get it to the vet. If the poop is too watery to pick up, be sure to take a few clear photos with your smartphone to show the consistency.
You can also try to get some of the wet poop into a container using a clean craft stick or plastic spoon.
Never take a stool sample that has been sitting in the heat or in the grass for long periods of time.
These samples could have dirt or parasites that were not part of the stool.
One last thing to note: cleaning up dog poop quickly is also beneficial to your dog.
Too much feces lying around in the backyard could lead your dog to start eating their own poop.
There are also issues with public health where dog feces can seep into the water table and contaminate water sources.
It should also be mentioned that you should wash your hands after picking up any poop even if you wear gloves or use the bag over your hand just to be safe.
Final Poop Pointers
Remember, your dog’s stool tells a lot about their health. Follow these tips to better understand their dog and their health:
- When your dog poops, look for the four Cs: color, content, consistency, and coating.
- Always take fresh stool samples to every vet appointment.
- Clean up dog poop immediately whether on walks or in the backyard.
- If your dog has an accident in the house, get them outside right away and try to positively reinforce proper poop procedure.
- Notify your vet immediately if your dog’s stools change drastically, your dog starts eating their own poop, having frequent accidents in the house, or if they’ve gone more than 24 hours without pooping.
Dog poop isn’t a subject matter that we all enjoy talking about, but it can be a good indicator of your dog’s overall health. Catching signs early can help ensure you keep them healthy.