How to Read Dog Poop: Normal Dog Poop to Dog Poop Problems
Everyone who shares a home (and heart) with a dog at some point must deal with dog poop problems. Learning what’s normal, to yellow colored stool, or learning how serious blood in dog’s stool diarrhea may be helps get your dog help. While it may not be the most appealing topic, learning about your dog’s “creativity” and why is my dog pooping green offers important insight into his health.
Not only his food (and the weird things pets eat) but also your dog’s environment and emotional state, affects how his body works. Fear, anxiety, and stress can change a dog’s behavior, but also can disrupt digestion and cause enteritis. Eating cat poop or other animal waste (ew!) also can affects his poop.
Recognizing healthy elimination helps pet owners alert to abnormal eliminations. That way, when necessary, you can get your dog prompt medical help to diagnose and treat problems before they become worse.
Healthy Dog Poop
The consistency of feces varies a bit depending on his diet. In general, your dog’s poop should be chocolate brown, and of a rather firm consistency, like stiff bread dough. It also should look like small logs, with intermittent fissures that easily split apart. There shouldn’t be any “extra” matter sticking out of or coating the feces. Normal dog poop has an earthy but relatively mild aroma.
Pet parents following pooper-scooping rules recognize when something looks, smells, or “feels” off when they pick up dog waste. To check for abnormal dog poop, be alert to the texture, color, content, and smell for clues. Here’s what to watch for.
What’s In The Poop
Normal feces won’t have anything but uniform digested matter, with an overall consistency. If you see recognizable (or even mysterious) content mixed in the feces, get it checked out
Parasites: Visible worms moving in your dog’s fresh deposit clearly point to intestinal parasites. Tapeworm segments look like tiny white inchworms or dried grains of rice. Long white spaghetti-like strings typical of puppies point to roundworms.
Hair: During shedding and flea season, some dogs swallow wads of fur when they chew themselves to relieve itchy aggravations. This could point to allergies, skin conditions, or other issues your veterinarian should address.
Foreign matter: Dogs swallow all kinds of things they shouldn’t. Most small undigestible material passes out of the system with the poop. You may see grass, rocks, parts of toys, or cloth (dogs love to eat socks!). The danger lingers if not all material passes, and sharp objects can damage the gut. It’s always better to check with your veterinarian if you see something that doesn’t belong in the dog’s poop.
Mucus: Small amounts of mucus in dog poop helps lubricate the passage of normal stools. But an excessive amount could mean intestinal parasites like whipworms, tapeworms, or giardia. Mucus in your dog’s normal stool can indicate large bowel irritation (colitis). It often happens with diarrhea, which should be checked by your veterinarian.
Consistency in Dog Feces Matters
Abnormal dog poop consistency varies from liquid, to pudding-like consistency. It can go the other direction, too, with hard stone-like feces that can result in constipation and blockage. Liquid diarrhea poses dehydration dangers for dogs, especially youngsters.
Anytime diarrhea develops accompanied by vomiting, severe pain, fever, appetite loss, or lethargy, see the veterinarian immediately. An abnormal strong foul smell also needs attention. You already know that normal poop looks like tootsie rolls or chocolate logs. Here are examples of problem dog poop colors.
Poop Color Score
Pets don’t see color the same way we do. But we can use color to alert us to poop problems.
- Black or maroon (tar-like consistency): The reason for black stool is digested blood, probably from the tummy or small intestines.
- Red streaks: Bright red blood in dog’s stool probably comes from the lower intestinal track, or from irritated anal glands.
- Red/bloody diarrhea: A dog pooping blood has many potential causes, from internal injury to possible viral infection, such as coronavirus or parvovirus. Bloody stool from parvovirus has a distinctive foul smell.
- Pink or Purple: Especially if the pink poop looks like jam, this could be a sign of life-threatening hemorrhagic gastro enteritis (HGE). Get your dog to the emergency vet right away.
- Green: A dog with green poop may indicate rapid bowel transit—food moves too quickly and normal bile colors (from the liver) hasn’t enough time to absorb normally. It may also be due to diet (eating grass or green-colored treats).
- Yellow or orange: Yellow colored stool or orange poop could mean problems with the liver, pancreas, or gallbladder. Sometimes the orange color could result from your dog eating a lot of raw carrots. Yellowish puddinglike poop with a distinctive foul smell also may be associated with distemper.
- White or gray: Pale poop may point to problems with the dog’s liver or gallbladder.
Know Your Dog’s Normal
Becoming aware of your dog’s normal elimination habits provides the ideal way to monitor dog poop health. If anything changes from the norm–consistency, look of the feces, or even the dog’s potty schedule or ease of elimination changes, call your veterinarian! I’ve covered a LOT of potential causes for dog poop problems. You can learn more about them in my book DOG FACTS: The Pet Parent’s A-to-Z Home Care Encyclopedia. And may all your dog’s creativity be normal!
NOTE: This article first appeared in another form on the FearFreeHappyHomes.com site.
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Amy Shojai, CABC is a certified cat & dog behavior consultant, a consultant to the pet industry, and the award-winning author of 35+ pet-centric books and Thrillers with Bite! Oh, and she loves bling!