Dog Poop- What Your Dog’s Poop is Telling You
The proof is in the poop.
Have you ever studied your dog’s poop? Or considered what it could be telling you about your furry friend?
Most pet owners just want the business over and done with, but there could be useful insights about your dog’s health in his or her poop.
By paying attention to any changes, it helps both you as a pet owner, and your vet, to work out what your dog’s digestive system is trying to tell you.
The Inside Scoop
Taking a closer look at your dog’s poo might seem unpleasant and even a little invasive, but it can be key to ensuring their overall health is positive. It also provides an opportunity to intervene before things get any worse and make any necessary adjustments.
From the colour of your dog’s stool to it’s texture and odour, there are a lot of insights to be gained by analysing your dog’s poo before popping it in the bin.
You should also monitor the frequency of your dog’s bowel movements as too few or two many stools throughout the day can be a sign of poor digestion.
Some of these signs might be nothing to worry about and could simply indicate a minor dietary issue that can be resolved by making some adjustments to their dog’s health.
Others however, can point to a more serious condition and will require diagnosis and treatment.
Dog Poop Cues:
Your dog’s poop can say a lot about their health and well being, and can be crucial in spotting serious problems and infections at any early stage.
It’s important to note, that while the below examples can be very useful in helping you to spot signs early on, each dog is totally different, and what’s ‘normal’ for one canine friend could be abnormal for another.
Whatever your concerns, speak to a vet who will be able to put your mind at ease and offer some clarity around the issue.
A healthy stool should be quite firm and a little moist. It’s important you familiarise yourself with your dog’s normal stool to help you spot any changes that could indicate a problem with their health or diet.
Check the colour, odour, texture, and volume of stool as dogs with too much fibre in their diet produce a higher volume with a stronger odour. Going forward, this information is useful as you can start reducing the amount of fibre in your dog’s diet.
It can be difficult to establish what’s ‘normal’ as each dog is totally different. Usually a healthy stool is chocolate brown in colour. By monitoring your dog’s stools over time you will be able to spot any irregularities or changes much easier.
If you notice your dog’s feces is white/ speckled, you should take a sample of it to the vets fairly quickly. This includes finding tapeworm segments (small white grains that resemble rice) or roundworm which are long, white, stringy parasites.
Taking these samples to the vets is key as your vet will be able to diagnose which worm your dog is suffering from and treat it accordingly.
They will probably treat your dog twice to ensure all parts of the parasite lifecycle that are ‘cycling’ through your dog get eliminated.
All dogs and cats in the household should be wormed on the same day, otherwise there’s more chance you’re going to keep the lifecycle going in one of them, and they can re-infect the others.
FUN FACT #1
Did you know that the common flea carries tapeworms?
Yes you got to hand it to them. The adaptation of tapeworms to be spread by fleas is hands-down a genius move by them.
Therefore, if you get a flea infestation, not only do you have to treat the fleas appropriately* – but you should also treat the tapeworm.
*If you want to get rid of the flea problem, you need to treat each and every one of your animals with a size and species specific flea treatment AND buy a good spray product for your entire house as well – even for the rooms animals don’t enter! You should do all the animals and the house on the same day for best results (complete flea elimination)
FUN FACT #2
Dogs scraping their bottoms along the ground – is not normally a sign of worms!
It is actually actually a sign of anal gland discomfort. If you notice your dog doing this, or trying to lick their bums, you should go to the vets for an anal glands check.
If they are left not only are they uncomfortable when they are too big, but they can burst and abcessate – which means a lot of pain for the dog in question but also of course a course of antibiotics and anti-inflammatories. This can all be avoided by timely visit to the vets if you see a bum scoot.
White chalky stool
Raw dog food diets high in calcium/ bone, usually cause stools to be white and chalky in appearance. This can cause dogs to be at risk of obstipation, meaning they are unable to pass stools without help.
If this keeps happening, it can lead to loss of appetite, vomiting, and lethargy. Furthermore, it can cause great pain and discomfort for your dog if they are struggling to defecate.
This might require changing their diet to reduce the amount of calcium they’re consuming.
Keep samples of these stools and take them to the vets who can analyse them further.
Soft/ loose stools
Have you recently changed your dog’s diet? If yes, this could explain why their stool is soft/ loose. Keep monitoring any changes in the poo such as appearance and texture and if it continues, you might need to alter their diet back or seek help from a vet to calm the tummy down.
With any change of diet, you should mix the old food and the new food, incrementally over at least 7 days.
Day 1: new food 10%, old food 90%
Day2: new food 20%, old food 80% etc
Any sudden change in diet can prove problematic for a dog’s stomach.
For that reason, if you are planning on changing flavours or brands, always try to make sure you buy your new bag of food when you have ¼ of the old bag still left!
Alternatively, your dog may have eaten something they shouldn’t. By nature, dogs are scavengers and love to explore, which sometimes means they eat something inappropriate when off-lead on their walk.
If their stool is runny or loose, make sure you give them plenty of water to keep them hydrated.
This means keeping their water bowl close and topped up with fresh clean water. You could also consider feeding your dog one meal of boiled brown rice to help settle their stomach, and hopefully their poo will return to normal within 24-48hrs.
If the runny poo persists, it could indicate something more serious such as being a sign of infection or intestinal parasites. Make sure you keep a small sample (or ideally two!) and visit the vets for a check up.
If your pet’s poo suddenly takes on a black, ‘tarry’ discolouration, it could be down to a number of digestive conditions causing a bleed in the stomach or small intestine. You should go to the vet immediately for a check up and bring a sample of the poop with you.
This usually indicates rapid bowel transit, which means their gut is moving too quickly.
As a result, the normal bile pigments don’t have enough time to be reabsorbed from the gut. Green discoloration could also mean that your dog is eating too much grass (might be an indication they are feeling sick or need a bit more fibre in their diet, so definitely worth a vet visit if persists for more than 24-48hrs).
There are also some rodenticides (chemicals used to kill rodents) that have a greenish coloring and can cause a dog’s poop to turn green if accidentally consumed. If you have been walking on farmland or you know or suspect a neighbour has been leaving rodenticide ouT, it’s worth a vet visit for a blood ‘clotting time’ test and a check up.
Orange and yellow discolouration should also be monitored. They are usually indicative of something minor like a recent change in a dog’s diet.
More serious issues could be from the liver or the gall-bladder, which sits right next to the liver, so it’s always best to get your dog checked if this does not resolve after 24-48hrs, especially if your dog seems off-colour.
If there’s some red colouration around or red streaks through the poop… it may well be blood. It often indicates ‘colitis’ (which means inflammation of the colon, the lower part of the intestinal system).
Often, but not always, you will see mucus/ a clear or yellow jelly-like substance too. Blood and mucus together are very much the hallmarks of colitis. If there is no improvement within 24-48hrs, you should seek vet help – this may include a kaolin containing paste and gastrointestinal food for a few days (which often has a special type of fibre to help calm the colon down).
If you see colitis flare ups regularly, this is something that needs to be discussed with a vet. If infectious causes are ruled out or not initially suspected, they will likely start your dog on a special dietary supplement, or a change of their food long-term might be necessary.
If there is just blood and no mucus, it might be worth your vet doing an anal gland check to make sure the anal glands on the inside of your dog’s bottom are not infected or too full, which could be causing blood streaks.
If there is ALOT of blood – pooled around the poop or dripping from your dog’s bottom, then you should get to the vets immediately – again if you can get a sample (of poop, not just of the blood!) then that is likely to help get to a diagnosis more quickly.
POOP GLOSSARY: ‘-itis’ means inflammation of Colitis (inflammation of the colon), Gastritis (inflammation of the stomach), Hepatitis (inflammation of the liver),Pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas). Etc etc!
Grey/ greasy stools
If your dog has too much fat in their diet, their poo might be grey/ greasy in appearance.
If this continues you might need to look into what you’re feeding your dog and make some necessary adjustments to reduce their fat intake.
Too much fat can be a serious health problem for your pooch as it can lead to inflammatory conditions such as pancreatitis. These conditions can either be relatively mild or life threatening so understanding your dog’s diet is essential.
Soft stool with mucus
This could be a sign of parvovirus or parasites so it’s really important to keep monitoring your dog’s stool to spot these changes.
If you notice any worms or eggs in soft/ watery stools then this could also be a sign of parasites and your dog will need treatment.
However, by keeping up with your regular check ups at the vets, they will be able to catch these infestations before they become evident in the feces. This is why it’s so important to keep an eye on your dog’s bowel movements and keep any samples to take to the vets if you have any concerns.
Diarrhea – Quantity and Frequency
If your dog has between 3 or more bowel movements per day which each contain high volumes of watery diarrhea then this is likely the small intestine (which is next to the stomach) is upset. With small intestinal diarrhoea you may see vomiting and weight loss.
Causes are pretty varied and range from change in food, to injury, to viral, bacterial and parasitic infections, food allergies or intolerance all the way to inflammatory bowel disease and cancer.
In contrast, if your dog has 3 or more bowel movements a day with small quantities of diarrhea, this more likely indicates a problem with their large intestine. There is often, but not always mucus and/or blood. Potential causes include worms, polyps, colonic ulcers, or cancer. There is usually no weight loss.
If you have any doubts at all about the consistency of your dog’s stool and the amount of diarrhea in it, always seek advice from your veterinarian.
Another factor to consider is ‘stress diarrhea’ or ‘stress colitis’. Just like humans, our great pals can suffer from anxiety from time to time, which can trigger digestive problems.
The root of your dog’s anxiety can vary but could include events such as moving house, adoption, separation, and the introduction of new members of the family.
How Often Should My Dog Poop?
How often your dog poos depends on your dog. There is technically no ‘set’ amount that is right or wrong, but knowing what’s ‘normal’ for your dog, helps you spot any changes that could signal a problem.
This is why it’s important to regularly monitor your dog’s potty habits so you can identify changes or irregularities from the outset.
If your dog usually poops once a day and it’s healthy and brown (refer to the description above for a healthy poo) then that’s fine, it’s the condition of the stool that’s important.
However, if your dog is suddenly desperate to go outside for a poo 3 or 4 times a day, this could be signalling that something has changed in their digestive system. Maybe you’ve switched them from dry to wet dog food? There could be many reasons as to why this is happening.
As mentioned, it might be nothing to worry about, but knowing your dog, and what’s ‘normal’ for them, helps you to read and understand their dog poop better.
Why is My Dog Eating Poop?
When understanding your dog and their pooping habits, one question which many owners (and experts) have is, why do dogs eat their own poo?
When dogs eat poop, either their own or that of another dog, it’s called coprophagia. Many experts still aren’t totally sure why they choose to do this or what attracts them to the idea in the first place.
Whilst many people are in total disgust even at the thought of this, it is common and does happen at some stage of a dog’s life.
There have been several suggestions made which aim to make sense of this habit:
- Getting attention – Dogs can be mischievous, and it could be that they know by eating their poop it will attract their owner to come over and stop them (and it won’t be lost on them that this attention is more quickly bestowed by doing this – than anything they have ever done before)
- Nutrition – It’s possible your pooch isn’t receiving all of the vitamins and minerals they need so are trying to get more nutrients from what they have already eaten. In a day and age where most dog diets are pre-prepared and we thankfully know a lot more about dog nutrition than we used to (although there are still gaps of course), that this is less likely. However, talk to your vet about trialling a multivit with minerals for a month or two to see if signs allay.
- They like the taste. Dogs are revolting which is one of the reasons we love them so much – the things they do crack us up, make us hurl in revoltment, and yet we adore them and go round fitting our lives around them.
- Habit – Poop eating can become a bit of a normal ritual for them once they do it a few times. You can try to break the habit by keeping a very close eye on them and using the command ‘NO’ and pointing to the poop if they start to approach it. Alternatively put a muzzle on them (when they are out in the garden unattended or off-lead on walks) for 2-4 of weeks to break the sniff-poo-and-eat-it cycle. Importantly, ensure you pick up their own poop as soon as it happens.
You can try the old fashioned method of feeding one or two cubes of tinned pineapple with their meals for a few days. You’d think that poo already tasted pretty disgusting.. But with the addition of pineapple, poo can be really off puttingto some of the most dedicated canine coprophagia offenders.
Whilst there is little supporting evidence surrounding why dogs actually eat their own faeces, it’s important to talk to your vet if it keeps happening. It might be nothing to worry about, but it’s always best to be on the safe side.
How Can a Vegan Dog Food Diet Help?
There’s some good news!
When dogs follow a plant-based diet, often their poop will smell a lot better which is a big win if you have the important job of scooping the poop.
If you’re re-evaluating your dog’s diet before switching to vegan, then consider possible sensitivities and allergies to different foods. Animal protein allergies are much more common in dogs than grain or plant-based allergies, which may come as a surprise.
Consistent exposure to allergens are not only uncomfortable, but can also lead to more serious issues including inflammation of the stomach lining. This has the potential to lead to other health problems if necessary adjustments aren’t made.
Plant-based diets remove many of the most common allergen culprits which contributes to better health and improved digestion for your pet. This filters down through their poop and reduces the likelihood of diarrhea and other bowel problems.
Want to see for yourself how a plant-based diet can improve your dog’s well being? Take a look at our 100% nutritionally complete, cheesy flavour plant-based Noochy Poochy range!
Dog Poop – What Your Dog’s Poop is Telling You
Analysing your dog’s poop might be an unpleasant thought.
You’re out for your daily dog walk and all you want to do is quickly pick it up and bin it.
But, there can be important insights to be gained by looking further into your dogs potty habits.
As pet owners, you probably know what is ‘normal’ for your own dog, but what does it mean if your dog’s poop suddenly changes colour? Or why has it suddenly started to smell more?
You can learn a lot about your pet’s general health and wellbeing through their stools. From changes in shape, colour, odour, and texture, don’t ignore any irregularities as they could be a sign of something serious.
When it comes to having any concerns, always keep a small sample of your dog’s stool ( better still, a small sample from each of 2 poos on consecutive different days) and take it to the vets. They will be able to start taking steps to determine what’s causing the change and suggest any necessary lifestyle/ dietary adjustments.
With that said, a plant-based diet might be a good start. From helping your dog’s poop smell better to reducing its size so it’s more comfortable to pass, there are numerous benefits to this dietary conversion.
Take a look at our sustainable, delicious cheesy flavour, plant-based dog food here, which is 100% nutritionally complete!
By being ‘complete’ it means our dog food contains the essential amino acids dogs need to thrive including Methionine and Taurine and has met all the guidelines set by FEDIAF.
Not only does Noochy Poochy have a whopping 28% protein content, but we use a special combination of olive oil, rapeseed oil and linseed oil to give our products an overall Omega 6:3 ratio of 4:1. This ratio is considered optimum for dog health.
Order your first bag today!
Want to see how your dog food stacks up? Look at the back of the pack – Divide the omega 6 value by the omega 3 value.
If the answer it’s more than 10 then you should consider changing it up.