Aside from the cuddles, playtime and trips to the dog park, one major component of dog ownership is something much less fun: picking up poop. Pet parents get all too familiar with their dog’s poop every day, whether it’s outside in the backyard or in the park during a walk.
Although poop is gross, it can be a good indicator of your dog’s health. If you’ve ever looked at your dog’s poop and wondered, “Is that normal?" here’s some information to help you distinguish between healthy poop and poop that indicates a health issue.
What normal dog poop looks like
Normal, healthy dog poop is firm and brown. The color of your dog’s poop might change depending on its diet and can range from light brown to dark brown.
Normal poop often has some odor to it, but the smell should not be completely overwhelming. Overpowering stenches, whether in poop or through gas, could indicate a digestive issue.
Your dog’s poop should also be moderately firm and sized to the amount of food your pup eats. The size of the stools will be different depending on your pet’s size.
Most importantly, your dog’s poop should be consistent day after day. If you go to clean up after your pooch and the smell, size, texture or color is different, keep a close eye on its next stool and consider taking your pup into the vet if it looks concerning.
Abnormal poop and what it can mean
There are a lot of variations that your dog’s poop could have, but not all of them are normal or healthy. If you notice things like blood, diarrhea, different colors or other odd changes, they could indicate a problem with your dog’s digestive tract or overall health.
Blood in the stool may appear as bright red spots or streaks, or it could show up in a darker, almost black form that is sticky and tar-like. It may be caused by bleeding in the intestines.
Blood in stool is not normal whatsoever and should be discussed with your veterinarian to discern what the problem is.
Your dog’s poop should be brown, not a strange color like red, yellow, green, gray or black. Discoloration can sometimes occur due to changes in diet or something else your dog recently ate, but the stool should return to normal soon after.
If the stools remain discolored, it may be due to a health problem. Different colors may indicate different ailments. For example, gray stools may be caused by problems in the pancreas, while yellow poop could be caused by liver disease.
If your pet’s stool is not firm but is runny and thin, it’s suffering from dog diarrhea. Diarrhea may be caused by changing food too quickly or your dog eating something it can’t easily digest. It may also be caused by stress.
Usually, diarrhea will resolve itself after a day or so, but if it doesn’t stop, larger gastrointestinal issues may be at hand, such as food allergies, parasitic worms, GI conditions like IBS and more. Chronic diarrhea can be dangerous for your dog because it may cause dehydration and may also indicate poor nutrient absorption.
Firm stools are good, but too firm of stools can be both painful and a sign of poor health. They may also indicate constipation, which makes it difficult, painful or even impossible for your dog to produce stools. More water can sometimes ease constipation.
If your dog’s poop has an overwhelming odor that’s impossible to ignore, its food is usually to blame. Many dog foods contain ingredients that are difficult for it to digest.
Worms or eggs
If your dog has intestinal parasites, worms or eggs may be present in its stool. Usually, parasites will cause your dog to produce softer stools, some of which will contain tiny pieces of worms or eggs as the parasite attempts to reproduce and spread.
Dogs naturally produce mucous in the bowel, but it usually doesn’t show up in your pet’s stools. If your dog is producing poop that is coated in mucous, it might be experiencing inflammation in the bowels, which causes excess mucous production.
When to seek veterinary help
Sometimes, dogs get into things they shouldn’t, and their bowels experience slight irritation or distress, but these issues normally resolve themselves after one or two stools. If your dog passes one strange stool, keep an eye on it and make sure it’s back to normal during the next.
If the stool appears abnormal after a day, contact your vet and describe the problem. You may also want to take a sample of the stool in to have it tested.