What Does My Dog’s Poop Mean? | Pupford
May 5th, 2023
Filed under Health + Wellness
Let’s talk about poop. Yes, really.
It may not be the most fun or glamorous topic we cover, but it’s important nonetheless.
To warm us up, let’s start with some poop trivia!
So next time you scoop up some poop, take a look at it instead of holding it at arm’s length and sprinting to the nearest trash can. You may end up discovering valuable information about your dog’s diet or health.
Here’s what your dog’s poop might be trying to tell you.
Just a note before we get into the poop talk – what we’re outlining below is a general guideline. It’s important to learn what’s “normal” for your dog and let your vet know of any significant changes.
But in general, you can follow these ground rules to know what’s going on with your dog’s poop.
WHAT DOES MY DOG’S POOP MEAN?
1. BODY LANGUAGE WHILE POOPING
It’s totally normal (and kind of weird) for your dog to circle around a spot and make direct eye contact with you while pooping. What isn’t normal, however, is any sign of distress or straining while doing their business.
Excessive straining to poop can be a sign of a number of conditions like:
- Impacted anal glands
- Object or growth in the intestine
- Intestinal inflammation
- Spinal pain
- Other intestinal or neurological issues
While some of these conditions are more easily treatable than others, they all require the attention of your vet.
Healthy dog poop should be a chocolate brown color – sorry to ruin dessert for you! Occasionally you may notice changes in color due to certain foods your dog eats, but they should primarily be brown.
Different colored feces could indicate different conditions. Here are some common colors and what they could indicate:
- Green – gall bladder issue, or your dog is eating a lot of grass
- Orange/yellow – liver issues or other bile-related conditions
- Red streaks – blood in the stool (this could have varying causes)
- Black – bleeding in the GI tract
- Grey – pancreas issues or other bile-related condition
- White spots – potentially a sign of tapeworms
Your dog’s poop should be log-shaped and maintain that form. If you notice smaller, rounded poops or pebble-like droppings, it could indicate or constipation. You’ll want to bring this up to your vet if it happens consistently.
We know not all dog poop is created equally – a chihuahua is definitely not going to produce as much waste as a St. Bernard. What’s important is that your dog is pooping proportionately to the amount of food they take in.
So if your dog is on a regular feeding schedule with no change in fiber intake, but their poop is smaller or larger than normal, it may be an indication that there’s a digestion issue at play.
Think: brown Play-Doh. Your dog’s poop should be compact and formed, but moist and soft. It should be easy for you to scoop up your dog’s poop with a baggy without leaving some behind.
If your dog’s poop is dry and hard, it can be a sign of dehydration or slow intestinal movement. This will likely be accompanied by the signs of discomfort we talked about earlier. Sometimes the fix to this is as simple as a diet change, but your vet can guide you through the best way to gradually do so.
If, on the other hand, your dog’s stool is loose, soft, or watery, a deeper investigation may be necessary. While it’s normal for your dog to have a soft stool once in a while, if they have multiple in a row or it’s consistent over a few days, it can be a sign of one of these health conditions:
- Intestinal worms or parasites
- Bacterial overgrowth or infection
- Viral infection
- Object in the digestive tract
Your vet will likely test your dog through a fecal analysis for signs of bacteria, viruses, parasites, and food sensitivities to figure out the best course of treatment. Fair warning: this will involve you collecting their loose stools, which is not always the most fun challenge.
How often your dog should poop depends on a few factors.
Puppies will typically poop more frequently than adult dogs, given their frequent feedings and smaller digestive tracts. Also, dogs on certain medications can poop more or less frequently than their non-medicated counterparts.
All dogs should poop at least once per day. However, if your dog is pooping two or three times a day, it’s not necessarily anything to be concerned about. Five or more daily bowel movements may be worth bringing up to your vet.
It’s more about what’s normal for your dog, which is why it’s important to keep tabs on their potty habits. That way if they deviate from their typical pattern, you can catch any health concerns sooner rather than later.
If you’ve ever muttered “What the heck is THAT?!” when picking up your dog’s poop, you’re not alone. Sometimes dogs eat things they shouldn’t or they have trouble digesting, and it gets passed through their poop.
A speck here or there is usually nothing to worry about, but here’s what you should keep an eye out for in your dog’s poop:
- Consistent foreign objects – if you consistently notice bits of rocks, carpet, sand, fabric, strings, etc. in your dog’s stool, it may be a sign that your dog is consistently getting into things they shouldn't be. Not only is this an annoying destructive habit, but it could also eventually lead to intestinal blockages. Make sure your dog is in a fully puppy-proof area at all times, especially when unsupervised, and contact your vet ASAP with any changes to appetite or disposition.
- Fur – the presence of your dog’s own fur in their stool could mean they have a skin irritation that they’ve been licking at. Check them for redness, sores, bald patches, etc.
- Blood – bright red streaks or black tar-like marks in your dog’s stool can indicate bleeding in the GI tract.
- Mucus – slimy mucus in your dog’s poop most often indicates a large intestine issue
- Worms – Long, spaghetti-like worms, short rice-like specs, or small egg shapes in your dog’s poop can indicate an intestinal worm or parasite and require immediate treatment.
Remember, if you have any concerns or doubts at all about your dog’s poop, your vet can help with a physical assessment and/or a fecal analysis test. It’s always better to be safe than sorry, especially when it comes to your #1 and their #2!
And if you’re looking for ways to better support your dog’s digestion through nutrition, check out the in Pupford Academy. It will give you in-depth information about the role your dog’s microbiome plays in a number of health factors, and tips for improving gut health.
It’s a great way to support your dog’s overall health and help get healthy poops every time!
Phew, that’s enough poop talk for one day!