Your dog’s poo can reveal a lot about their health and as a pet owner it’s important to know what to look out for and how to identify any potential issues.
Diet and lifestyle are the biggest factors when it comes to keeping your dog’s insides happy and healthy. Dog poop should be compact, moist, and easy to pick-up, it should feel a bit like play doh when squished. Runny or watery faeces is an indicator of intestinal upset or can be a sign that something is not right with your dog’s tummy. And if your dog’s poop is hard or dry, it could be a sign of dog constipation.
What should your dog’s poo look like?
Dealing with dog poop can be one of the more unpleasant parts of being a dog parent. However, getting to know your dog’s poop and what is normal for them, can make it easier when spotting changes in consistency, colour, and frequency. Healthy poop generally means a healthy pooch!
During normal digestion, the gallbladder releases bile to aid the breakdown of food. Bilirubin is a pigment in bile that affects stool colour. Your dog’s stool may have some minor changes in colour due to diet, hydration, or dyes, but you shouldn’t see any substantial changes. Abnormal colour patterns that should catch your eye include:
Bleeding high up in the digestive tract may result in a tar-coloured stool.
This could indicate bleeding in the lower digestive tract.
Grey or yellow stools
This may reveal issues with the pancreas, liver, or gallbladder.
This could be a sign of a gallbladder issue or that your dog has been over-eating grass which could indicate stress or gut health problems.
This is usually due to an excess of calcium and other materials and is typically observed in dogs with a raw diet.
This can be closely connected to your dog’s diet and can tell you a lot about their overall health. When it comes to evaluating consistency, some vets use a numerical system to score a pet’s stool. The scoring system assigns a value to the stool, from 1 to 7, with 1 representing very hard pellets and 7 being a puddle. An ideal stool would be a 2 on the scale, which is a firm segmented stool shaped like a caterpillar and feels like play doh when pressed and holds its form.
It’s also important to look at the actual content of your dog’s poop. The inside of the stool shouldn’t look any different from the rest of it, so if you find any of the following in your dog’s poop, there could be an issue.
These could be either long and skinny roundworms or little rice-shaped tapeworm segments. It’s important to remember to check a fresh stool as one that has been outside for a few hours may have little creatures in it that weren’t there at the time of passing the stool.
These could include, grass, sock bits, plastic, rocks, or anything not meant for your dog, including human food. This is not uncommon in dogs and sometimes you don’t even realise that your dog is digging into the rubbish until you find something in their stool.
Big clumps of fur in the stool indicates over grooming, which can happen secondary to stress, allergies, skin disease or even boredom.
Your dog’s poop should not have a coating or film over it. If you’re picking up a stool from grass, there shouldn’t be any sort of trail left behind. A coating of mucus always accompanies large bowel inflammation and can occur alongside diarrhoea. Small streaks of bright red blood may also show up occasionally, usually due to straining to poo. A single red streak isn’t a cause for concern, but if you see repeated red streaks, you should speak to your vet.
How often should your dog poop?
The number of times that your dog poops each day should be consistent – whether that be once a day or three times. If it is the same every day, there is no need to worry. Typically, most dogs will poop once or twice a day, although some go many more times than that.
Paying attention to how many poops you’re scooping each day will help you to understand how your pooch is doing. If they go from being a regular once a day-er to needing to go four times a day, then they may be having some tummy troubles. Regular exercise and a low stress environment should help with some common stool-related problems, as can switching to a diet designed for dogs with sensitive tummies. Most issues relating to dog poop resolve on their own within 24 hours. If your dog is eating, drinking, and behaving normally, giving them a day to sort itself out wouldn’t be a problem. However, if they are not eating as normal or seems depressed then you should contact your vet immediately.