Cleaning up after your dog is likely no one’s favorite part of being a pet parent, but all dogs poop, and observing said poop can tell you a lot about their overall health and help you spot problems early.
What does healthy dog poop look like?
All dogs are unique, and so are their poops! If you notice any significant changes to their normal routine, consult with your veterinarian. In general, your dog’s poop should be brown in color, log-shaped, and the size proportionate to what they have eaten. For example, diets high in fiber will produce more voluminous stools. Healthy dog poop should have the consistency of play-doh and hold its form when picked up.
How often should a healthy dog poop?
Again, this varies based on the individual dog and his or her diet. Dogs should pass feces at least once a day, but many will go two or three times, depending on what you are feeding and how often. If your dog hasn’t eaten much one day, then he or she may not have a bowel movement. Puppies will defecate more frequently than adult dogs.
If your dog doesn’t have a bowel movement daily, then it could be due to constipation. This would normally be accompanied by straining to pass feces, frequent attempts to poop, or showing signs of discomfort. If your dog doesn’t pass feces one day, don’t worry, just monitor the situation over the next 24 hours.
What changes might I notice with my dog’s poop?
The color of your dog’s poop may vary slightly with what they eat. For example, foods with color additives or strongly colored vegetables may discolor their poop. In general, dog poop should be a mid-brown color. Dramatic changes to this may warrant a visit to your veterinarian.
Red-colored poop may indicate bleeding in the last part of the intestine or the anus. Black or tar-colored feces may indicate digested blood from the first parts of the intestinal tract. Both of these are abnormal and, if more than a one-off event, consult with your vet.
Gray or very pale poop may indicate problems with your dog’s pancreas or digestive enzymes. Yellow or green feces may suggest a problem with the liver or biliary tract.
Normal dog poop should be segmented and squishable when picked up while still holding its form. The consistency may change depending on what your dog has eaten or had to drink that day. Small, hard pellets may mean that your dog is dehydrated. Very loose or liquid consistency feces is diarrhea.
There are lots of causes of diarrhea ranging from parasite infestations, infections, dietary intolerances, or problems with the function of the bowel. If these changes persist for more than a day or two, talk to your vet. Seek advice sooner if your dog is showing additional signs of being unwell.
A coating of mucous or slime over the poo may indicate inflammation of the large bowel or colon. Again, as a one-off event, there is probably little to worry about, but if the changes persist, seek advice from your veterinarian.
You may find undigested bits of food in your dog’s poop, such as grain or sweetcorn, though in general, poop should be uniform throughout. It is common to find grass in your dog’s poop; eating grass and certain plants is normal behavior for most dogs and is rarely an indication of a bigger problem.
Foreign material in poop such as plastic or rocks is a concern. If your dog is regularly eating foreign material, this could cause more serious problems such as an intestinal blockage.
Some worms (particularly tapeworms) can be seen in poop, whereas others are too small to be seen with the naked eye. If you notice small, white segments (like a grain of rice) or long, thin worms in the feces, seek veterinary advice about treating your dog for worms. Prevention is better than cure with most things, and worms are no exception, as they can damage your dog’s intestines and overall health. Ask your vet for advice on a preventative worming regimen for your dog to avoid any unexpected visitors.
There is blood in my dog’s poop… what should I do?
Don’t panic if you see blood in your dog’s poop. Straining to pass feces can cause small tears to the rectum or anus if your dog is constipated. Some infections can cause blood in the feces or an upset stomach from your dog eating something he or she shouldn’t have.
There are more serious causes for blood in stool, as well, such as masses in the rectum or bowel, clotting disorders, stomach ulcers, or other illnesses. If you see blood in your dog’s poop, seek veterinary advice. A sample or at least a picture of your dog’s poop can be useful to take to the appointment.
Why does my dog’s poo smell so bad?
We love our furry friends, but unfortunately, their poop is always going to smell. However, any dramatic changes to this could indicate a problem. A particularly stinky poop or flatulence could signal a change in your dog’s healthy gut bacteria. This could be because they are struggling to cope with a new diet or ingredient in their diet. A sudden change to their food, introducing more treats, or human food could be the culprit. Always make changes to your dog’s diet slowly.
If the problem persists, or if you notice other changes with your dog’s poop, then it is best to seek veterinary advice.
Knowing what healthy dog poop looks like is important when it comes to the care of your dog. Changes in color, consistency, and contents can all indicate a problem with your dog’s digestive system, and a vet visit may be in order.