Spending the next five minutes reading about poo may not be the most delightful of activities but your dog’s waste holds clues to their health. Knowing what to look for can help you spot a problem early on.
If your pet is ill, their poo or the frequency of pooping will likely change. So, drop any food you might be snacking on and find out what poo colour, texture and contents can tell you about your pet's health.
What healthy dog poo looks like
Healthy poos have a chocolate brown colour that can range from light to dark brown, depending on your pet's diet. It should be firm but moist, free of any coating such as mucus, and easy for your dog to pass (and for you to pick up).
Healthy dogs poop at least once a day. Some larger breeds or doggies that eat a lot may poop up to three or four times a day. The number of times healthy dogs poop stays similar on a daily basis. A sudden increase or decrease can signal a problem.
Changes in consistency, colour and contents can also indicate a health issue.
What to look out for
Poo colour can change if your dog's munched on something particularly colourful, like grass, mango or beetroot. If you suspect this is the case, discontinue the offensive food and monitor them. If their poo doesn't go back to normal within 48 hours something else might be going on. The colour of your dog's poo can indicate what the problem is.
Green could signal that there is a digestive problem, such as a gall bladder issue, while a black, maroon or tar colour might mean bleeding, high up in the digestive system, that requires immediate veterinary attention.
Red streaks on your pet's poo could indicate an injury. For example, when they have diarrhoea, frequent pooping can make their bottom sore. It might be worth checking their bum for any scrapes or wounds. If you see no obvious reason and the issue lasts longer than 48 hours, it's best to see a vet.
A greasy-grey poo is often seen in dogs with digestive issues such as pancreatitis. Try your pet on a low-fat diet and monitor them. If there's no improvement in 24-48 hours, speak to a vet. If your pet refuses to eat, it might be in pain due to pancreatitis and must be treated as soon as possible.
Similarly, yellow or orange poo could be caused by food; but if it doesn't go away in 48 hours, it could indicate a liver problem. Especially if the dog is showing other signs of illness.
Chalky white poos are usually seen in dogs that have too much calcium in their diet. This can be the case with raw fed dogs whose food is too high in bone content. A raw-food diet can be tricky to balance but a pet nutritionist can help you get it right. You can ask your vet for a referral.
Healthy poos are firm. Loose poos are usually a sign that your pet's eaten something that doesn't agree with them, they're stressed, their diet is unsuitable or they have worms.
While slightly loose poo is usually a reaction to minor tummy irritation, very liquefied poos are usually caused by a viral or bacterial infection or medication. For example, non-steroidal anti-inflammatories, like meloxicam also know as Metacam or Loxicom, can lead to very loose, watery faeces, sometimes with traces of blood.
If that's the case, the best thing to do is to stop the medication and get a vet's advice as soon as possible.
A sudden change in diet and salty seawater can also lead to very liquefied faeces.
A mucus coating can give the poo a shiny or slimy appearance and often indicates bowel inflammation. If your pet's poo is not back to normal within 48 hours it is best to speak to a vet.
The contents of your pet's poo can tip you off to both physical health and problem behaviours. For example, while blood can indicate an infection fur can indicate stress.
Blood or blood clots can be of real concern, especially in large amounts. Often the faeces smell very offensive and the dog can be extremely unwell.
If you often spot fur in your pet's poo they might be overgrooming. If you catch them in the act, try to distract them.
Because dogs often explore the world with their mouths, it is not unusual to also find foreign objects, such as socks or toys, in their poo. If the object has passed and they are showing no signs of illness then there's no cause for concern.
However, sometimes things can get stuck. If your pet starts vomiting or passing thin abnormal poos this could indicate that something is lodged further up their digestive system and needs help from the vet to pass.
Another curious thing you might see in dog poo sometimes are white spots that look like grains of rice. These are usually worms. Giving your pet a dose of de-wormer can take care of the problem. If you're not sure how much to give, speak to a vet.
Of course, not all worms are visible to the naked eye, which is why giving preventative worming treatments every three months is so important. If you're worried your pet might have parasites you can send a poo sample to a veterinary laboratory, like wormcount.com to have it analysed.
How to help your pet if it's suffering from loose or runny poo
Tweaking your pet's diet can work wonders for their tummy. There are a few things you can do. For example, instead of feeding them one or two large meals, try lots of small meals throughout the day.
Add fibre to their diet - canned pumpkin is brilliant. It helps with constipation and diarrhoea and keeps those poos firm. Fibre is especially important after they've had diarrhoea. When dogs have the runs, their anal glands may become full. Firm poos can help them empty.
Lots of bottom licking, chasing or chewing their tail, scooting their bum along the floor, and a fishy smell to the breath are all signs that their anal glands may be full and uncomfortable.
Dogs that have ongoing issues with pooping can benefit massively from a good protein source too. Scrambled egg is great for the short term but for dogs with ongoing digestive conditions like IBS or pancreatitis lean meat sources, like kangaroo, are best. Avoid chicken if your pet has never had it before as many dogs are allergic and it can make the problem worse.
Get your pet a pro-biotic paste. Prokolin and Probinds are two examples of easy to administer pastes that can soothe their gut and slow it down. Check with your vet first, but this non-prescription treatment can help to restore their poo to its original natural beauty.
If you're worried or you pet is unwell, speak to a vet. Bought By Many customers have 24/7 access to free video calls with vets through the FirstVet app.