What Can Dog Poop Tell You About Dog Health?
A dog’s poop can tell you a lot about their health. The size, color, consistency, and shape of a dog’s poop are all indicators of your pet’s internal health and wellbeing. If you’re noticing some unusual colors, shapes, consistencies, or sizes on a regular basis, there may be a reason that you should change your pet’s diet or even take your dog to the vet.
Of course, to understand what unhealthy poop looks like for a dog, you first have to know what healthy poop looks like. If a dog is eating well and getting enough exercise and rest, their poop will show it. So, let’s look at healthy and unhealthy dog poop and the causes of each.
Healthy Dog Poop
Healthy dog poop should have a very specific size, shape, consistency, and color. It should be:
- Appropriately sized. There isn’t a specific volume of dog poop that works for each dog. An average dog should poop an average pile, while larger or smaller dogs may pass larger or smaller piles depending on their size and diet. Plus, your dog should be pooping only a few times a day in proportion to how often they eat—more or less poop could indicate an issue.
- Log shaped. Healthy dog poop is shaped much like a log. It can be a bigger or smaller log, based on the size of your pup, but shouldn’t be pebble-like or puddle-like.
- Consistent. Dog’s poop should be moist but not runny and compact but not hard. It should be easy to pick up without leaving a lot of residue but not solid like a rock.
- Brown. Normal dog poop is brown—not too dark and not too light. It should be something like the color of milk chocolate.
If your dog’s poop is healthy, it’s a sign that their digestion is working well, they’re getting the right nutrients, and they’re getting enough exercise to keep their bowels moving at the right speed. If, however, your dog’s poop is not healthy, there could be a problem.
Unhealthy Dog Poop
As you might imagine, unhealthy dog poop will have something off in one of the four indicators of healthy dog poop. It may be off in size, shape, consistency, or color. Let’s take a look at a few ways your dog’s poop could be off and what this might mean.
In most cases, a dog will poop in proportion to what they eat. So, if your dog eats two meals a day, they are likely to poop about twice a day. If they eat only what you give them, they should pass a moderate pile of poop, nothing tiny (which could mean constipation) or huge (which could indicate diarrhea).
If your dog gets extra treats, digs around in the trash, or gets a lot more fibrous food one day, they may poop more. Or, if they skip a meal or don’t get as much exercise as normal, they may poop a little less. Neither of these situations is something to worry about.
However, if your dog is off in how much they poop for several days and shows any other symptoms, you may have a problem and might want to consider a trip to the vet.
Dog poop should be shaped much like a log. If it’s small and pebbly, your dog is probably constipated. If their poop is coming out in a soupy mess, your dog is probably having diarrhea for some reason.
There are tons of reasons your dog may be suffering from constipation or diarrhea. A common reason for constipation is dehydration, so be sure that your dog is getting enough water. Consider adding liquid to their food if they don’t seem to be drinking enough.
Diarrhea also has all kinds of causes, ranging from a trip to the trash to a food sensitivity to a serious digestive issue. Try feeding your dog some plain chicken or canned pumpkin to boost their fiber intake and harden their poop. You may also want to look closely at their food, especially if you’ve recently switched brands.
Generally, consistency goes right along with shape. If your dog’s poop is so runny you can’t pick it up without residue, if it’s hard as a rock, or if it’s full of debris (worms, pieces of trash, etc.) you may want to check it out.
In some cases, your dog may just be getting into something that they shouldn’t be or eating strange things (household items or toys) out of boredom. However, wrong consistency can also indicate upset digestion, so if you can’t pinpoint a reason, don’t hesitate to visit the vet.
There is no reason that your dog’s poop should be any color other than chocolate brown. If it’s a lot darker or if it’s an unusual color, your dog may be suffering from a problem in their intestines.
- Red poop is usually an indication of blood. Most often, red blood in the poop is a sign of distress in the lower intestine from a ruptured ulcer, a break in the intestinal wall, or even a tumor. They may also be bleeding around the anus if they are straining really hard to poop due to constipation.
- Black poop usually indicates blood in the poop as well but is more commonly caused by distress in the upper intestine. This could be caused by parasites such as worms, by an infection, by internal bleeding, or even by allergies. If your dog has black poop, take them to the vet!
- Orange or green poop is usually a sign of something off in the dog’s digestion. These colors could simply mean your dog ate a lot of grass or some sort of food that lent an orange or green hue to their poop. However, these colors can also indicate issues in the liver or gallbladder, so if they persist and accompany any other symptoms, a trip to the vet is a good idea.
- Yellow poop usually indicates bile, which could mean that your dog is having a hard time digesting their food or is having an allergic reaction to something they’re eating. It can also indicate giardia, a type of parasite that you’ll want to get antibiotics for.
- White poop usually indicates an excess of calcium, often from eating bones not made for dog consumption. If the poop is gray and greasy, you might be seeing signs of pancreatitis or another intestinal issue that is causing your dog digestion issues. Try to keep your dog away from bones and other hard-to-digest foods and see the vet if their poop is especially greasy.
- Speckled poop usually means your dog has worms, which means they will need to get an antibiotic treatment. Be careful when handling worm-filled poop as it is possible to pick this infestation up and carry it to humans.
As you can see, there are many ways that your dog’s poop can indicate a state of ill health. If your dog’s poop is the wrong color, size, shape, or consistency, don’t hesitate to reach out to your vet for help and take a good look at your pup’s diet to be sure they’re getting all the right nutrients.
Need help picking up your pet’s poop and keeping an eye on its health? Don’t hesitate to reach out to us at Idaho Poop Scoop so that we can offer you the help you need. We’ll get your dog’s poop cleaned up in no time and we can even alert you if we see a problem. We want to help you keep your dog healthy and your yard clean at all times!