Picking up dog poop is not the most fun thing to do every time you go out for a walk. Sometimes we go into ‘force of habit’ mode’, where we just clean up the mess without looking at it.
We shouldn’t overlook the appearance of our dog’s poop. Stool can actually tell us a lot about their health. Factors like size, shape, consistency and color can tell us about diet, hydration and much more.
If you want to be an expert at knowing the different types of dog poop, keep reading! We share what is normal, what isn’t and what it means.
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Dog Poop 101
Normal dog poop should be solid but not very hard, chocolate brown and elongated like a log. The best description is it should be “chocolate brown, log-shaped and slightly soft in consistency”.
There are many things you should look at to determine if your dog’s poop is normal.
First watch your dog, are they straining or having difficulty evacuating? Or do they have no trouble at all?
You should also take into account size, consistency, color and shape.
How much your dog poops will depend a lot on the size of your dog and how much they eat. For example, small breeds like a French Bulldog will only poop a log that is about as long as your finger. Larger breeds like Labradors will poop more like the size of a thick sausage.
Diet and recent food can also slightly change how the poop looks.
For example, carrots make the poop have shades of orange. Beetroot will cause it to look a bit red. Eating too much bone marrow will make it sloppy and yellow, while sweetcorn will cause the poop to have corn pieces in it.
In general a dog’s poop shouldn’t stray too far from a chocolatey brown log, if they are healthy. Colors such as red, yellow, or black suggest that there is something wrong with their diet or health.
You will also occasionally need to look at what is inside the poop.
Sometimes you might find pieces of whatever your dog has recently eaten that they couldn’t digest. Fiber, grass, or even their own hair are quite normal and common.
Poop that is more liquid is a sign of diarrhea.
Stool that is too hard suggests dehydration.
Foreign material, blood or anything that seems to be moving in the poop should be a warning sign. If you see little white bits, then your dog has parasites and you should immediately go to your vet to get your dog dewormed.
Now that you know what normal poop looks like, what does abnormal look like?
Types of Dog Poop Explained
Poop that is very liquid and mushy is diarrhea.
Watery poop can come in many different colors, from brown to red or with streaks of yellow, depending on what is causing the diarrhea.
Diarrhea happens when the intestine isn’t able to absorb water or releases it.
Things like parasites can prevent an intestine from absorbing water, and all of this water gets passed down with the dog’s poop, which is why it is so watery.
Other things that can cause diarrhea in dogs include:
- Change in diet
- Stressful events
- Eating human foods
- Diseases such as parvovirus
- New medications
The best way to help your dog is by treating the root cause of the watery stool, not the diarrhea itself.
If your dog has diarrhea because of parasites, your vet will deworm them to remove the parasites and give your dog fluids to re-hydrate them. The diarrhea will stop once the parasites in the intestine are eliminated and the intestinal wall cells recover.
Sometimes diarrhea is food or medication related, and then simple actions like slowly changing the diet can help.
It is important that if watery stool continues for more than 48 hours, you speak with your vet, as this could be a sign of an underlying disease.
Soft stool that is not diarrhea is normally not a reason for worry.
Loose poop is usually a lot squishier than normal, but still maintains the log-like shape and normal brown color.
Sudden changes in a dog’s diet or a bit of indigestion from eating the wrong food can cause the stool to be a bit loose, but not entirely watery.
If you do change their food, do it slowly. This gives their body time to adjust to the new diet.
Mix the new food with their old food over a period of 7-10 days. With each passing day, increase the amount of new food and reduce the old food. This will prevent the stool from becoming too loose, as the change is less of a shock for their body.
If your dog ate something that is causing mild indigestion then just observe them for the next 24 hours and make sure that it does not turn into diarrhea or vomiting.
Dry Dog Poop
Dry stool is very dark, round and hard.
Hard stool in dogs can sometimes look like pebbles and is a sign of constipation.
If your dog is having constipation and the poop is rock-solid, then they might be dehydrated.
Water is needed to soften the stool and pass it through the intestine and rectum. If your dog does not have enough water in their body, then they will not be able to soften the stool.
During the summer months (or when it gets especially hot) you might want to have your dog drink more water.
Excessive exercise can also be a cause of dehydration. This is why you should always give your dog water after any outdoor activity.
Once your dog is well-hydrated again they should be pooping normally.
If your dog is drinking enough water, but still has dry poop, then there are other factors that can make hard stool in dogs.
Not eating enough or too much fiber, not getting enough exercise, blocked or infected anal glands, eating too much dog hair from self-grooming, or a blocked digestive tract can also cause constipation.
Dog poop that looks like sausage casing is often a sign they are overeating!
Has your dog been eating more than they are supposed to?
Overeating might be reflected in the size of their poop. Dogs that evacuate large amounts of poop (so much that they look like brown sausages in a can) likely have just been a bit gluttonous with their food. This is very common in English Labs!
If their poop looks like sausage casing then you might need to adjust the amount you are feeding. You should also make sure they are not stealing food from the pantry.
The quality of the food you give your dog might also be a factor.
Foods that are poor quality with ingredients that your dog can’t really digest, or with too many carbohydrates, will increase the amount that your dog eats.
Other causes can be excessive stress and anxiety.
Anxiety can increase bowel movements, so relieving your dog of whatever is stressing them out might decrease the amount of poop.
You might want to speak with your vet if the large amounts of dog poop continue for more than 48 hours, or if it starts becoming watery. If your dog has a bacterial infection, then they can be prescribed antibiotics to fight off the infection.
Brown poop that looks slimy or greasy means that there is mucus in the stool.
Sometimes the poop might appear loose or watery too.
A little bit of mucus in dog stool is normal as it lubricates the inside of the intestines and helps the poop travel through.
Large amounts of mucus in dog poop mean that the colon is inflamed. Diseases such as Inflammatory Bowel Disease, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, and Granulomatous Colitis cause excessive mucus production.
Other causes for mucus in a dog’s stool can include intestinal parasites and viral infections.
You should see your vet if you see mucus covering nearly all of the stool, especially if you see other symptoms such as vomiting, loss of appetite, dehydration and lethargy.
The vet will want to check their abdomen to find the root cause and may perform diagnostic tests such as blood work, fecal sample analysis, ultrasonography and X-ray imaging.
Poop that appears tarry and dark black in color can be a sign of bleeding in the small intestine. This type of bloody stool is called melena.
Poop has to travel from the small intestine, through the large intestine and the rectum before exiting through the anus. In the time it takes for the stool to travel, the blood becomes darker which is why it does not appear red.
There are many reasons why your dog might be bleeding into the upper GI tract:
- Inflammatory disorders
- Objects that make tears in the intestinal wall
It is important that you immediately see a vet if you notice that your dog’s poop is black.
Usually your dog will be showing other signs in addition to the black poop. Some of these signs can be vomiting, appetite loss, lethargy, anorexia and refusal to exercise.
The treatment plan will depend on what is causing the bleeding and the other symptoms.
Blood in Dog Stool
If your dog’s poop has a normal consistency and shape, but has bright red blood in it, then your dog is likely bleeding in their colon, rectum or anus.
Frank blood that is bright and fresh is called hematochezia.
This type of blood could mean that your dog has an injury on their bottom, or that it is inflamed.
If you see bright red blood in dog stool then you should check their anus for any signs of tears or irritated skin.
Other causes of bright-red blood include:
- Colitis (inflammation of the colon)
- Parasites like hookworms
- Inflammatory bowel disease
- Anal sac infections
Your vet will try to treat the cause of the blood, either by tending to any wounds or by giving medications that will help with the inflammation and prevent any infections.
Dog blood in jelly-like stool can be a sign of serious bleeding within the lower gastrointestinal tract. Serious diseases like parvovirus can cause your dog to bleed with watery jelly-like poop.
It is important that if you see this type of poop, you contact your vet immediately so that your dog can be tested.
Parvovirus can be fatal, especially in puppies, because they can become dehydrated, leukopenic (have low white blood cell counts), and lose many electrolytes due to the diarrhea and vomiting.
If your dog does test positive for parvovirus, they will go into a strict regime of supportive therapy. This treatment includes fluids to rehydrate and maintain electrolyte balance, nutritional supplements, and antibiotics to prevent secondary infections.
Parvovirus itself is not treatable as it is a virus, but with supportive therapy, about 70%-90% of dogs will survive. After recovery, their poop will return to normal.
Yellow Dog Stool
Dog poop that is entirely yellow is often a sign of pancreas, liver and/or biliary issues.
Dogs with liver problems may develop a condition called jaundice where their mucus membranes, skin and sclera may appear yellow. This yellowness can also be seen in their feces.
Bilirubin is a yellowish molecule that forms from the breakdown of red blood cells. Usually the liver is able to process it and excrete it via urine. If a dog’s liver becomes injured (or affected by toxins) then its ability to metabolize, detoxify and store compounds is compromised.
When the liver isn’t properly functioning, bilirubin can accumulate in the blood, which is often why you will see yellow dog stool.
Health issues that can lead to yellow poop include:
- Liver diseases
- Autoimmune diseases
- Certain drugs or medications
- Biliary problems
- Bacterial or viral infections
You should seek help immediately if your dog is pooping yellow and has other signs like lethargy, loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea and icterus or jaundice. The vet will then perform various diagnostic tests to try to find the root cause and design a treatment plan.
White worms in dog stool can look like white grains of rice.
If your dog’s poop is otherwise normal, then these small white worms mean that your dog has a tapeworm infection.
Tapeworms are a type of parasite that live inside the digestive tract. They can be eliminated from the digestive tract by using dewormers such as praziquantel and fenbendazole. Your vet will administer the deworming treatment and will probably suggest that your dog go on preventatives.
It is important that you keep your dog on tick and flea preventatives to avoid tapeworm infections in the future.
If you do see these white worms in your dog’s poop then take a picture or sample. Tapeworms do not always appear in poop, so it is important that you have evidence to show the vet.
Dog Poop Meaning Chart
|Watery||Brown, yellow or red||Liquid, smooth and not solid||Can range from mild indigestion to serious diseases. Often caused by changes in diet, eating things other than dog food, infections, parasites or stress.|
|Loose stool||Brown||Mushy, but still has log-like shape||Dog might have mild indigestion. Most commonly occurs with changes in diet or eating foods other than dog food.|
|Dry||Dark brown||Very hard, like a rock or pebble||Dog is usually healthy, but dehydrated.|
|Lots||Brown||Slightly soft to very squishy||Often caused by eating too much food or changes in their diet.|
|Mucus in stool||Greasy brown||Slimy and slightly squishy||Mild to serious health conditions such as Inflammatory Bowel Disease, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Granulomatous Colitis, parasites, bacterial and viral infections.|
|Black stool||Black||Jelly-like or tar||Parasites, inflammatory disorders, infections, ulcers, foreign objects or trauma to intestinal wall.|
|Bloody stool||Brown with streaks of red||Solid and slightly squishy||Lacerations in rectum or anal area, colitis (inflammation of the colon), parasites, inflammatory bowel disease or anal sac infections.|
|Jelly-like bloody stool||Red||Jelly-like, watery||Viral infections like parvovirus, bacterial infections, hemorrhagic gastroenteritis or cancer.|
|Yellow stool||Yellow||Solid, mushy or liquid||Liver disease, pancreatitis, biliary issue or obstruction.|
|White worms in stool||Brown with white specks that look like rice grains||Solid and slightly squishy||Tapeworm infection|
A dog’s feces can say a lot about their health!
Some changes in your dog’s poop might be due to a harmless change in food or indigestion. These changes include poop that is a bit loose, or just too much.
In these cases you might want to change their food slowly or try to prevent them from eating things they shouldn’t.
Even hard poop isn’t too much of a concern as long as you keep your dog well-hydrated.
White grains of rice in poop mean that your dog is infected with tapeworms. Tapeworms can easily be treated with dewormers and preventatives.
If you see any type of blood in your dog’s stool, then you should see a vet as soon as possible. Blood in dog poop can be jelly-like, bright red streaks, tarry black or bloody diarrhea.
Mucus or yellow poop indicates a health problem, especially if your dog shows other symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy and anorexia.
Picking up after your dog might not be the most appealing part of taking care of one! However, dog poop is something that you should be paying attention to.