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Should you look at your dog while pooping?

Dog Poop: What Can It Tell You?

If you’ve ever wished your dog could talk to you, look no further than their stool. Dog poop is an important indicator of your dog’s general health. This is especially true since dogs can’t tell us what’s happening in their bodies! We’ve provided a dog poop color chart to help determine your dog’s health.

Josh Richman and Anish Sheth write, “Not unlike a snowflake, each bowel movement has a uniqueness that should be regarded with wondrous appreciation.” Like humans, dogs’ digestive tracts play a leading role in their health. While we often focus on what goes in, what comes out is important too.

Next time your dog goes to the bathroom, take note of the four C’s: Consistency, Coating, Contents, and Color.

Dog Poop Consistency

Many veterinarians use the Bristol Stool Score dog poop chart of 1-7 to rank the consistency of stool. The scale ranges from a 1 or 2 (constipation) to 7 (watery diarrhea). The ideal stool is easy to pick up and doesn’t leave any markings or residue on the ground.

dog poop consistency chart with images

Dog Poop Coating

Normal and healthy dog stool should be free of any coating. If a coating is present, such as mucus or blood, this can be a sign of intestinal distress or GI inflammation. Mucus is a sign of a functioning dog digestive and immune system. It can look like:

  • A shiny, thin coating over the stool
  • Slimy, goopy, or jelly like discharge
  • Milk colored, opaque section of stool

Dog poop white mucus usually comes from your dog’s large intestine, and is often observed when bathroom breaks are more frequent or urgent. If the quantity is high or this is an ongoing issue, please check in with your veterinarian.

If you notice blood in your dog’s stool, don’t panic. First, note if the color of blood is bright red or dark, almost black red. Bright red blood generally comes from the large intestine (where stool forms) and can result from something as simple as stress. Dark red blood originates in the small intestine (your dog’s major digestive organ) and usually has more serious causes.

Dog Poop Color

Normal dog poop color varies from dog to dog. Normal can even change from time to time, depending on key inputs like your dog’s diet. For most dogs, the healthy and ideal poop color is a medium chocolate brown to a darker coffee brown. Protein type can also impact color. High poultry diets are often more yellow or have a bi-color coating. Raw fed dogs can even have white colored stool, which is totally normal.

Light grey or ash dog poop color indicates too much calcium. Very dark or black color may be from eating too much organ meat (like kidney, liver, and heart). Green dog poop can be from large amounts of grass or greens in your dog’s diet, but it can also signal a parasite. See your vet if the changes persist for 1-2 days to be safe.

Dog Poop Content

Dogs have the shortest digestive tract of most mammals, averaging 6-8 hours. If your dog eats fresh food, like carrots, greens or peas, these harder to digest foods may come out in your dog’s poop if they’re not digested in time. Puree vegetables or legumes before feeding to help your dog’s digestive system.

Another dog poop content that we see, especially in puppies or shelter dogs, are worms. While large, adult worms in dog poop are hard to miss, worms can also look like small pieces of rice. These white specks in dog poop tend to be tapeworm segments. Don’t worry if your dog has worms! Treatment is simple with dewormer from your veterinarian or online.

Dog Poop Smell

Lastly, we’d be remiss to not comment on the smell. The less smelly your dog’s poo is, the healthier! Stinky bowel movements are a sign of poor digestion or absorption of key nutrients. Additionally, foul smelling farts can be a signal of excess carbohydrates in your dog’s diet.

As you can tell, there is a lot to learn from dog poo! Tracking your dog’s poop on a regular basis can help to prevent major health issues. Plus, knowing the basics of the dog poop chart 4 C’s is important when there is an issue.Want to improve your dog’s poop? We recommend probiotics, especially for dogs who eat dry food, by feeding goats milk kefir or powder probiotics. (Note: Studies and tests show that dog kibble claiming to contain probiotics almost never do.)

Get the DIG Labs App

Download the free DIG Labs Digestive Health Tracker to get personalized insights and recommendations for your dog based on their stool.

Is Your Dog’s Poop Normal?

From bloody poop to diarrhea, all your dog’s poop problems explained.

August 26, 2021

A black dog ​​with a tilted head looks attentively at the camera while sitting in grass.

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I’ll be the first to admit that I stand outside watching each and every performance of my dogs’ “poop show.” Watching your dog poop isn’t just a weird sort of voyeurism — it’s actually a good way to know what’s going on with their health.

If you, too, like to see what’s coming off the production line, keep in mind that consistency is the number one thing you should see. Stools should generally have the same color, size, and texture every time. Abnormalities in your dog’s poop color and consistency may indicate an underlying health problem.

That said, many things can cause variations in your dog’s stool. Some of the more common are a poor diet, general dietary changes, stress (known as stress colitis), infectious disease, inflammatory conditions, or obstructive issues. There are even times when we vets don’t know what causes a significant poop change. That’s why it’s important to pay attention to your dog’s number twos. Keep reading to learn what to lookout for, plus how to treat common poop problems.

How to Decode Your Dog’s Poop

While normal stools can be many shades of brown, some abnormalities in color and consistency may indicate an underlying problem. Here are some signs and changes to take note of:

1. Streaks of bright red blood and/or mucus.

When red mucus discoloration appears on the surface of a mostly normal, formed dog stool, it’s generally caused by inflammation in the large intestine where mucus on the dog poop is secreted to help protect the intestinal lining. While bloody mucus in dog stool does not necessarily indicate an emergency, it’s a good idea to keep a close eye out for further changes in their behavior and stool.

2. Soft-formed to liquid brown diarrhea.

This type may or may not feature streaks of blood, and is often referred to as a “cow patty” or “soft-serve ice cream.” As with the previous type, red blood indicates inflammation and bleeding in the colon, but does not necessarily mean your pet is bleeding internally. This type of poop is slightly more concerning than the last because the stool is softer, however, it’s generally not life-threatening as long as improvement happens within 24 to 48 hours and there are no other causes for concern. If your dog is acting normally otherwise — eating well, not vomiting, good attitude — you can take a wait-and-see approach.

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3. A large volume of bloody, watery diarrhea.

This one does require immediate veterinary attention, especially in smaller dogs, as it can be an indicator of a common condition called hemorrhagic gastroenteritis, or HGE. In this disease, the bloody poop is characterized by red tissue-like chunks often described as “raspberry jam” or jelly-like.

4. Black, tarry stools.

Black dog poop generally indicates bleeding somewhere higher up in the GI tract such as the stomach or small intestine, which requires an urgent trip to the vet. More specifically, it can signal a bleeding ulcer (often caused by steroid or NSAID use) or more generalized bleeding (from rat poison, heat stroke, or an immune-mediated disease). The stool is black due to the presence of digested blood, and can indicate that a large amount of blood is being lost. In these cases, I usually recommend blood work and an ultrasound to better assess the lining of the intestinal tract.

5. Yellow-orange or pasty, light stools.

This may indicate the development of liver or biliary disease, or a stool’s too-rapid transit through the small intestine. A more thorough examination and diagnostic tests are in order.

6. Grey, greasy stools.

A possible indicator of inadequate digestion and malabsorption of nutrients from the small intestine, this type of stool is typical of exocrine pancreatic insufficiency (EPI) also called maldigestion, a disease in which the pancreas no longer functions as it should. The pancreas is responsible for producing digestive enzymes and without them, nutrients cannot be properly absorbed. Both German Shepherds and Rough-Coated Collies are commonly afflicted with EPI.

7. Green stools.

In the ER, I’ve seen dogs with green stool, and upon examination of the fecal contents, have discovered the cause to be undigested rat bait mixed in with normal stool. This condition also calls for emergency care. Although relatively uncommon, rat poison can also cause bright bloody and dark, tarry stool, so whether or not you think your dog accessed it, please let your veterinarian know of any possible rodenticide exposure.

8. Worms.

Most of the time, you will not actually see worms in dog stool. We typically diagnose worms by looking for their eggs under the microscope — we can tell what type of parasite is present by the shape of the eggs. Occasionally, however, you may see white spaghetti-like shapes in the stool — particularly with puppies — which are typically roundworms. You may also see small flat worms on the outside of a dog’s stool or rectum, or “dried rice” in their sleeping areas. This typically indicates tapeworms, which take over when fleas flourish. Although seeing worms in the stool is not an emergency, an appointment with your vet is in order so you can get the appropriate medication.

An important note: After a bout of diarrhea, a dog may not have a bowel movement for 24 to 48 hours. As long as the dog is doing well otherwise, this can be considered normal.

Home Remedies for Dog Poop Problems

Most cases of dog diarrhea are generally self-limiting and resolve without elaborate treatment. My own dog suffers from low-grade inflammatory bowel disease and we use a combination of a bland diet, probiotics, and slippery elm for his flare-ups. We also occasionally implement an antibiotic — generally metronidazole (Flagyl) — if the diarrhea contains a lot of blood or doesn’t improve within a couple of days. Here are some ways you can help your dog properly digest at home:

Implement a bland diet.

Many people think that when a dog’s suffering from diarrhea, food should be withheld for 24 hours. That’s not really the case. Food actually helps the gut heal by stimulating cells in the intestinal tract lining. To treat diarrhea in dogs, simply introduce small and frequent feedings of a bland diet (lean protein such as boiled chicken or ground meat mixed with boiled pasta, cooked rice, and low-fat cottage cheese or scrambled eggs) over the course of two or three days, and then slowly reintroduce your dog’s regular diet in small amounts.

Try probiotics.

Many probiotics are available, and your veterinarian is best suited to give you a recommendation. Many probiotics are available as a palatable powder that can be sprinkled over a meal once daily. A dollop or two of yogurt can also be given with each meal to help restore normal GI flora.

Consider slippery elm.

An easy-to-find Western herb, slippery elm is one of my favorite natural remedies. It contains mucilage, a substance that becomes a slick gel when mixed with water, and works by coating the stomach and intestines. It also has antioxidants that help relieve inflammation. Provided as a loose powder or in capsule form, the usual dose is 400 milligrams per 20 to 30 pounds of body weight every eight to 12 hours. It should be given with water, after your dog takes a drink.

Please note that because slippery elm coats the digestive tract, it will slow down the absorption of other drugs, therefore it must be given two hours before or after other medications.

Avoid anti-diarrheal meds.

I do not believe in using Imodium or other anti-diarrheal medications in dogs. If you have ever resorted to these medications yourself, you know about the painful gas cramps that can accompany them. This happens because the drug essentially forces all that waste matter to stay inside when the body is working hard to eliminate it. There are physiological reasons for diarrhea, and it is best to allow the natural process to happen. Anti-diarrheal medications do not fix the underlying problem, and while your carpet may be cleaner, your pup won’t be happier.

What to Do if Poop Problems Worsen

If your pet suffers from chronic (long-term and/or frequent) diarrhea and you don’t see improvement in an episode after 24 to 48 hours, there may be a bigger issue at hand. Common causes of chronic diarrhea include inflammatory bowel disease, food allergies (which can develop later in life), tumors in the intestinal tract, or digestive disorders. That said, if your dog refuses food or water, vomits, or acts ill or “off” after an extended diarrhea experience, a trip to the vet is definitely necessary. As with most health issues, it’s far better to rule out problems than to ignore them.

Upon visiting your vet, they may ask you to bring in a stool sample for analysis. A tablespoon is generally plenty. Also, freshness counts — fecal samples less than an hour old give the best results. If you’re not able to collect one that quickly, get a morning sample, double (or triple!) bag it, and keep it refrigerated until your dog’s appointment.

Testing for gut abnormalities usually starts with a screen for giardia and “O & P,” specifically looking for giardia protozoa as well as eggs and parasites. During this evaluation, the laboratory technician will also check for overgrowth of normal gastrointestinal bacteria, which we refer to as clostridial overgrowth. Depending on what is found there, other diagnostics such as blood work and radiographs may be in order.

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