Log In

Reset Password

Doggy doo-doos

Your dog’s poop can tell a lot about its wellbeing

Disclaimer: Don’t read this if you are about to eat your lunch; we are touching on the delicate and sometimes smelly world of pet poop. (It’s a vet’s life. Sigh)

You would be amazed how much you can learn from checking your pet’s poop, and these days it is even easier as we are all good at picking up after our pets with a handy poop bag.

You should be able to easily pick up all your dog’s poop leaving no residue behind. If you cannot do this, your dog’s poop is too soft, and you may need to address why.

I’m not talking about the occasional soft stool maybe once a month, when your pet has eaten something that they shouldn’t. I’m talking about the consistently soft stool day in and day out. This is not normal, and you should speak with your vet about it. I am always amazed at how many owners have become completely accustomed to their dog’s soft stool and just live with it.

The biggest culprit for causing a soft stool is an inappropriate diet. Healthy food in, well-formed stool out. It really is that simple. But it’s often hard for owners to know what a healthy diet is since there is currently no regulation of the dog food industry. With a huge array of cleverly marketed products on sale, it’s easy to get confused or just follow the fads without checking the facts.

If you are finding that when your dog poops the motion starts off normal and formed but ends up soft or runny, you are likely feeding a good food but just too much of it. The extra calories they do not need get rapidly pushed through the digestive tract as a soft ending to the stool. Try cutting back the amount you are feeding, including treats, by 25 per cent and see if that helps.

We do see some nasty gastric parasites which can play havoc with the poop formation. These can mostly be detected by your vet using a fecal screening process, and then treated appropriately. This is important as many of these parasites are zoonotic, meaning they can pass between animals and humans. Another thing to look for are little white spots in your dog’s stool, like grains of rice. If you see them, it is likely time for some routine deworming treatments for your household pets.

The colour of the stool can also be revealing. Normal poop is a chocolate brown colour, but it can range from green to yellow to red to black or grey, depending on the associated issue.

A green stool most likely indicates your dog has been eating grass, but it can also indicate a gall bladder problem. Bright orange or yellow stool could indicate a biliary or liver upset. Streaks of red blood are often present with an inflamed or irritated bowel, or if your pet has cuts on his anus. A black or tarry stool can indicate bleeding in the upper gastrointestinal tract. Whereas a grey or greasy poop may indicate a pancreatic or biliary issue.

The consistency of the poop is also telling. A very wet or watery stool means that the large intestine is not properly reabsorbing water, whereas a very hard stool may indicate dehydration. And don’t forget about the smell. I once diagnosed a dog with Parvo virus before I came around the corner and saw him, the smell is unmistakable.

As good owners, we are looking at our pet’s stool daily, so pay attention and speak with your vet if you have concerns. You furbaby will be thankful you did.

Lucy Richardson graduated from Edinburgh University in 2005. She started CedarTree Vets in August 2012 with her husband, Mark. They live at the practice with their two children, Ray and Stella, and their dog, two cats and two guinea pigs. Dr Lucy is also the FEI national head veterinarian for Bermuda

You must be Registered or to post comment or to vote.

Published October 06, 2022 at 8:00 am (Updated October 05, 2022 at 4:54 pm)

Doggy doo-doos

What you
Need to
1. For a smooth experience with our commenting system we recommend that you use Internet Explorer 10 or higher, Firefox or Chrome Browsers. Additionally please clear both your browser's cache and cookies - How do I clear my cache and cookies?
2. Please respect the use of this community forum and its users.
3. Any poster that insults, threatens or verbally abuses another member, uses defamatory language, or deliberately disrupts discussions will be banned.
4. Users who violate the Terms of Service or any commenting rules will be banned.
5. Please stay on topic. "Trolling" to incite emotional responses and disrupt conversations will be deleted.
6. To understand further what is and isn't allowed and the actions we may take, please read our Terms of Service
7. To report breaches of the Terms of Service use the flag icon