February 12, 2020

Dog Poop 101: What It’s Telling You What To Do

Every pup poops. As unpleasant as picking up after them may be, it’s a great way to make sure everything is working regularly for your dog.

Poop can be a key indicator of your pet’s health. Most vets will ask about your dog’s poop, so it’s important to know what to look for.

The four C’s —color, consistency, content and coating — are fundamental to examining canine feces. Your vet looks at these characteristics to determine if they are representative of a healthy dog.

With the four C’s in mind, we cover everything you need to know as an owner about dog poop. It’s always important to consult a veterinarian if you have questions about your pet’s health — so use this as a starting point to spark conversation.

What Does Normal Dog Poop Look Like?

normal dog poop

Whether your dog is a puppy or a senior, their poop should look the same. Over time you will start to know what “typical” poop will look like for your dog. The amount can vary based on the type and amount of food consumed.

In fact, one of the most influential factors in your dog’s health is their diet. This is why their poop is directly correlated to their health — the better the diet, the healthier the poop.

In this section, we’ve broken down each of the Four C’s and describe the characteristics of a healthy poop.

Color

The color of your dog’s poop should be a deep, chocolatey brown. Think classic “poop brown.” This indicates there’s no intestinal bleeding. The brown should be relatively uniform throughout and no streaks of other colors/shades should be present.

Consistency

Vet’s use the “Consistency Scale” when evaluating a dog’s poop. This scale runs from 1-7. A rating of one is a very hard, solid stool, whereas a seven equates to extremely runny, almost entirely liquid diarrhea.

Ideally, your pup’s poop should be within the 2-3 range. This will vary from time to time depending on their meals, but in general anything too runny indicates an illness.

Content

Plainly put, there should be nothing in your dog’s poop if they are healthy. You may find small traces of fur or food, but only in minute amounts. Anything more than this is a reason to contact your vet.

It’s difficult to completely see the content of your dog’s stool without dissecting it — so be sure to wear gloves or bring a sample to your vet (we explain how to do this below) if you decide to do so.

Coating

As with content, your dog’s poop should have no coating. Look at the grass or ground when you pick up your dog’s poop — any sort of sticky or watery remnants mean the feces has a coating. This can mean your pet isn’t digesting food properly.

What Does Abnormal Dog Poop Look Like?

abnormal dog poop

Since you now know what top-notch poop looks like — you may be wondering about what to do when it’s not pristine? Our canine friends are curious creatures and can ingest things they shouldn’t, as well as get sick on occasion.

In both cases, their stool is a good place to look for clues. Each of the four C’s have certain characteristics that are telltale signs indicating different types of conditions.

Color

dog poop color

Depending on what’s going on internally, their stool will have different streaks of color in it. The most common unhealthy streaks include green, red, black, yellow and white.

  • Green: Not always a sign of a serious illness, green stools usually indicate your dog is eating grass. However, this sometimes means they have an upset stomach which can produce vomiting and evolve into something worse.
  • Red: Red streaks in your dog’s poop typically indicate internal bleeding. This bleeding is most likely occurring in the lower areas of their digestive tract.
  • Black: Black stool can indicate your dog has internal bleeding as well. In general, this bleeding will be coming from the beginning stages of the digestive tract like their stomach or small intestine.
  • Yellow: Yellow streaks are usually caused by an unhealthy liver or gallbladder. This can be serious and a vet should be contacted immediately.
  • White: If your dog’s poop has white spots in it, there is a high probability they have worms.

What to do:

Streaks of color in your dog’s stool determine the next appropriate steps. If it’s green or red, monitor them closely and watch for any other symptoms, like vomiting, that could denote an upset stomach.

If your dog’s stool is black, yellow or white a vet should be called immediately.

Consistency

dog poop consistency

Unhealthy consistency in your dog’s stool is rated as 4 and higher. Too much liquid in a stool means they are not digesting and processing their food properly in the large intestine.

Sometimes too hard of a stool will occur as well. In these cases, it almost always means your dog is dehydrated.

What to do:

If your dog is having a watery poop, monitor them. Extremely watery to the point where it’s diarrhea requires you to call the vet. If the poop is able to be picked up in full, monitor them and if they have another poop like this call the vet.

If their poop is too hard, ensure they drink water. Bring along extra water for walks and don’t overwork them if it’s hot out. Keep them cool and always have a water dish nearby. If the problem continues, call a vet.

Content

content in dog poop

As mentioned, your dog may eat things it’s not supposed to. This can cause indigestion and sometimes the item won’t be digested at all. For this reason, finding foreign objects in your pup’s stool could mean they got into something harmful.

  • Fur: Excessive fur in dog poop means your dog is most likely over grooming themselves. Overgrooming is triggered by anxiety, allergies or skin disease.
  • Worms: You may also find worms in your dog’s stool. These will look like small white pieces of rice. Roundworms may also be present. These will be long and skinny cylinders.

What to do:

If you notice any of the above objects in your dog’s poop, call a vet. There may be parts of undigested food or slight amounts of fur within their poop — but anything more could mean indicate a serious condition.

Always use fresh stool while determining its content. Put the sample in the fridge after collecting until the vet appointment.

Coating

coating on dog poop

Most unhealthy dog stools have a film or stickiness to them. This coating is a telltale sign that something is off and a vet should be contacted. An unhealthy poop will leave a wet or sticky trail behind. An off-characteristic stench can also indicate the poop’s coating is abnormal.

To determine if your dog’s stool has a coating, look at the grass after you pick it up off the ground. If a sticky film is present, your dog should be checked by a vet.

What to do:

When it comes to coating, use your best judgment. If your dog’s poop has a coating that looks abnormal, it probably is. In this case, call the vet and be prepared to take in a sample for them to examine.

How to Bring a Dog Poop Sample to the Vet

sample of dog poop

If you notice your dog having out of the ordinary poops, you’ll need to bring them into the vet. The vet may require you to bring in a sample of your dog’s stool as well. If this is the case, follow the steps below to ensure an accurate and clean test.

Above all, make sure the stool is fresh and hasn’t been sitting on the ground for more than a minute before collecting.

To collect dog poop:

  1. Wear protective, disposable gloves.
  2. Take pictures of poop as it is on the ground.
  3. Put the poop into a plastic bag meant to carry dog poop.
  4. If the poop is watery, gather as much as possible and ensure photos have been taken.
  5. Tie the bag off.
  6. Put the bag into an airtight shallow container (Tupperware works).
  7. Refrigerate if not heading directly to the vet.

A dog’s stool is a gateway into their heath. Know what to look for so you can take action when the time comes. Being a responsible dog owner means being ready for illness before it happens with your dog. To plan for a lifetime of happiness, discover how Gallant can be there when all other options can’t.

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