This is an odd topic, but what does healthy dog poop look like? This is a question many dog lovers ask, especially when their dog’s poop isn’t the typical brown color. Poop can reveal a great deal about your dog’s health. By observing specific characteristics of your dog’s feces, you may be able to identify problems early or perhaps prevent future health difficulties.
The Information in Your Dog’s Poop
Next time you pick up your dog’s poo, use the opportunity to gather some information. The shape, size, color, consistency, and even smell of your dog’s feces can reveal a great deal about his overall health.
What’s Normal, Healthy Dog Poop Look Like?
Each dog is unique, and “normal” varies depending on the animal’s food (kibble, raw-fed, homemade), age, and other factors. Once you develop the practice of observing your dog’s feces, you will know what is normal for your dog and notice if anything changes. Consult your veterinarian if this occurs, as any change in your dog’s excrement may indicate an issue with their health.
Why is Poop Brown?
Bile, a yellow-green fluid produced by the gallbladder, breaks down the fat in your dog’s diet. Enzymes and bacteria modify the chemical of bile as it travels through the digestive system, causing it to turn brown. So brown feces are a positive indicator.
The Colors of Poop: What Do They Mean?
If your dog’s food contains added coloring or you’re feeding your dog a raw diet, those colors might show up in their poop. But “funny” colors—such as purple, gray, or green stool—could also indicate other serious health issues or even ingestion of poison.
Consult your veterinarian right away if you see any of these signs:
Red streaks in the stool can indicate fresh blood. Constipation can cause bleeding, but red blood in the stool may also be a sign of parasites, ulcers, or even tumors.
Black, tarry stool indicates digested blood, which may result from bleeding in the upper gastrointestinal (GI) tract.
Green poop could be the result of eating grass, or it may indicate a gallbladder problem.
If Your Dog’s Poop is Dry
Small, solid feces could indicate that your dog is constipated. An inappropriate diet might lead to constipation. Or your dog may not be consuming enough water. Constipation is frequently the result of decreased colon motility, meaning that material moves too slowly through the colon.
Certain drugs (such as opioid pain relievers) or muscle weakness in the colon, which in dogs is most typically associated with hypothyroidism (low thyroid hormone levels) and hypercalcemia, can slow colon motility (high levels of calcium in the blood). Small, solid stools may also be caused by colorectal disease and colonic obstruction (e.g., due to a foreign object).
If Your Dog’s Poop is Wet
Diarrhea is characterized by stool that is more watery than usual, which may manifest as mushy piles, loose puddles, runny excrement, or watery squirts. The absence of well-formed feces indicates that your dog’s food is not being adequately digested, usually because the material is moving too quickly through the gastrointestinal tract.
There are numerous causes of loose stools, including a new food or treat, parasites (such as roundworms), food sensitivities or allergies, stress, infection (such as Salmonella, E. coli, or parvo), an imbalance in the gut flora, intestinal illness, and other concerns.
During this time, it is acceptable to provide slightly more vegetables or starches, as the goal is to cleanse the body and firm the stools.
Feeding bones is another alternative. A few raw or dehydrated chicken or duck feet or wings (do not give cooked; instead, feed raw, dehydrated, or freeze-dried) may be beneficial.
Mucus in Your Dog’s Stool
Stool mucus may signal an infection, such as colitis (inflammation of the large intestine). It could also be caused by intestinal parasites or foreign bodies. Notify your veterinarian if you observe mucus in your dog’s stool in more than two or three bowel movements.
A stool with a greasy sheen may indicate that your dog consumes too much fat or that their pancreas is not properly breaking down fat. Additionally, greasy stools may indicate a gastrointestinal problem.
Your Dog’s Poop Aroma
Some dog owners might think the smell of poop is unimportant. After all, it’s not like their dog is going to give them flowers or write them a poem about how much she appreciates them. But the smell of your dog’s poop can tell you a lot about his health.
If your dog’s stools have no odor at all (or they have an offensive odor), this could be a sign that he isn’t getting enough water or food. It can also mean he has an infection in his digestive system, which needs immediate veterinary attention.
If the odor of your dog’s stool is mild and doesn’t linger after he goes to the bathroom but does leave lingering odors if you walk through it in socks on your way outside—and especially if it smells sweet instead of fishy or fruity—you may need to change what you’re feeding him because something like corn-based kibble could be causing a gas buildup in his intestines.
Large Piles of Poop?
Your dog’s feces should be proportional to the amount of food they typically consume. Since fiber is a form of carbohydrate that is not digested by the body but is instead processed by the gut bacteria, a high fiber intake will result in an increase in stool volume.
Nonetheless, if your dog seems to be producing a large amount of feces, or if you observe a shift in the volume of feces, it may be a sign that their digestive system isn’t processing their food properly, which prevents them from absorbing all the nutrients.
Veterinarians correlate the volume of feces with the site of gastrointestinal distress: a big volume of loose stool at once is indicative of problems in the small intestine, whereas many loose stools of little volume are indicative of problems in the large intestine.
If You’re Concerned
In this article, we’ve looked at what healthy poop looks like and how it can tell you about your dog’s health. You should be able to tell when something isn’t right with your dog’s poop if it falls outside the normal range of colors or smells, but by keeping an eye on these basic indicators, you’ll be able to catch problems before they get out of hand!