Dog poop isn’t a pleasant subject, but it is worth talking about. Why? Well, because it often paints a clear picture of your beloved pet’s health. Dog feces is actually a good barometer of how your pet is doing.
Here’s a guide to what signifies healthy poop and other signs that could indicate something is wrong.
What is Healthy Dog Poop?
As a dog owner, you might not take a second look at dog feces. You should, though, because it could help tell you if you need to have your pet checked out.
Now, healthy dog poop tends to be somewhat moist and firm. You should use this as a baseline so that you can tell when something might not be normal.
But what’s normal and what’s not can vary from dog to dog. For example, if your pet gets a lot of fiber, their dog poop might have a strong smell. If your dog is on a raw food diet, their stools may be smaller with less odor.1
The Consistency of Dog Poop
Another important consideration is the consistency of dog poop. There is actually a scoring system that’s assigned to dog feces. The system goes from 1 to 7. A “1” means the stool is very hard, and a “7” means it’s basically very runny, watery stool.
As it turns out, the best stool is generally considered to be a “2”. Pieces are firm, segmented, and shaped somewhat like a caterpillar.2
Dog Poop Content
A veterinarian can also tell a lot by looking at your dog’s poop. For example, they may notice worms in your dog’s feces. Now, worms in dog poop is a sign your dog has parasites like tapeworms or roundworms.
It’s not uncommon to see worms in dog poop. It’s also fairly common to see other things, including foreign materials like grass, plastic, or even rocks.
Pet owners know that dogs are notorious for eating non-food items. Often, pieces of these items are visible in stool.3
If dog poop has fur in it, that could be a sign of over-grooming. This could mean your dog has some sort of skin disease or allergy, or they’re experiencing stress.4
Mucus in Stool
Another red flag when it comes to dog poop is the presence of mucus. Be aware that even a little mucus can be a sign of an issue. Dog feces with mucus is easy to spot. It will look shinier and more slimy than normal.
There are several different causes of mucus in dog poop. For instance:
→ Stress – Like humans, dogs can get stressed out. This can happen due to a new addition to the family (such as a baby, or a new pet), or being boarded or away from the family for another reason. Stress can be manifested by mucus in stool.5
→ Dietary changes – Sometimes, dog owners will change up their pet’s diet out of the blue, without making gradual changes. This can lead to an increase of mucus in dog poop.
A dog’s digestive system is very sensitive. Any sudden change to your dog’s diet could If lead to issues. If there’s a lot of mucus, that could mean your dog is allergic to one of the ingredients in the new food.6
→ Parasites – Mucus accompanied by worms in dog poop could mean your dog has hookworms. These worms attack the gastrointestinal tract. There are several types of medications that can be used to address hookworms, so talk to your vet if you have any reason to believe your dog has been infected.7
One of the best ways dog poop can give you an idea of the health of your pet is through color. If it’s discolored, that could be a sign of a problem. Here are just a few examples:
Black dog feces, or very dark dog poop, should be a red alert for all pet owners. Black, tarry stools could mean a pet has some sort of gastrointestinal problems, such as ulcers.8
If you notice blotches or streaks of red in your dog’s poop, that could indicate bleeding in the gastrointestinal tract. It could be due to some sort of injury, or a disease such as colitis, which occurs when your dog’s colon becomes inflamed.
It could also be a sign of an infection affecting the anal glands.9
Purple or Pink Dog Feces
When dog poop comes out as a strange color, such as purple or pink, that could indicate dangerous bleeding due to a condition known as hemorrhagic gastroenteritis.
Hemorrhagic gastroenteritis is an emergency. Get your pup to the vet immediately. With prompt treatment, most dogs recover fully.10
Grey Dog Poop
This could be an indication of a problem with your dog’s pancreas. It might not be doing a good enough job of producing the enzymes needed for your dog’s body to digest fat properly. A veterinarian can address this problem.11
Yellow poop could be a side effect of suddenly changing your dog’s diet. It might be an indication that your pup’s system isn’t tolerating the new food. Yellow feces could also indicate an infection or inflammation in your dog’s GI tract.12
Sometimes, worms can take on the appearance of tiny grains of rice, making it look like your dog’s poop is white. Go to the vet to get the problem addressed.13
What does green poop mean? This is usually the result of your pet eating a lot of grass. In some instances, however, it can be something more serious, such as a parasite.14Get to the vet to be on the safe side.
This could simply mean that food is moving too fast through your dog’s digestive system to absorb bile, which gives poop its brown color. It could, however, be a sign of a liver problem.15
If you have any reason to be concerned about the color of your dog’s poop, take them to the vet. It’s possible there’s nothing seriously wrong, but you want to make sure. Your vet may show you a poop color chart to give you a picture of what’s going on.
Just about every dog – and every human, for that matter – will have a bout with watery, runny stool now and then. If it only happens once in a while and your pet seems to be eating and acting normally, it shouldn’t be that big of a deal.
However, if your dog starts acting differently and has this problem for more than a day or two, that should be a cause for concern for all dog owners. Runny stool accompanied by sluggishness could be a serious situation that needs to be addressed as soon as possible.16
At the other end of the spectrum is constipation. If it happens rarely, then you shouldn’t have too much to worry about. If it happens more often, something may be wrong.
Now, there are a lot of potential causes of canine constipation. It could be an injury that’s affecting the pelvis, a reaction to a new medication or some sort of intestinal blockage.17Have a vet perform a thorough examination to determine what is going on.
Blood in Dog Stool
It’s important dog owners know any sign of blood in dog feces needs to be addressed as quickly as possible. If the stool looks black it could mean bleeding in the upper part of the digestive tract. If it’s red, the problem is probably lower in your dog’s system.
Certain medications can cause bleeding in your dog’s gastrointestinal tract. In some cases, blood in the stool could be a sign of an ulcer. If that ulcer is allowed to develop, it could tear a hole in the intestines that requires emergency surgery.18
Never ignore blood in the stool – always get it checked out.
While dog poop never has a pleasant aroma, there are times where it may be excessively foul. This might mean your dog’s digestive system is having a hard time processing the fiber in the food they’re eating.19
Parasites, such as worms, can cause irregularities in dog poop. Certain parasites, including the giardia and coccidia varieties, can result in a watery or very runny stool. Sometimes, this can also lead to mucus and blood in the stool.20,21
When in Doubt, See the Vet
Don’t be nonchalant if you see something odd with your pet’s poop, be it color, consistency, or content. In many instances, the cause of strange poop isn’t too serious, but it pays to be cautious.
In some cases, strange dog poop can be a sign that something is wrong. If you have any reason whatsoever to be concerned, set an appointment with your vet. Don’t hesitate to seek medical help for your pet if you’re worried.
Causes of Blood in Dog Stool
Mucus In Your Dog’s Stool: What’s Normal, What’s Not?
Dog Constipation: Causes of Constipation and How to Help