This might seem like a funny topic to talk about, but your dog’s poop could be a sign of something going on with their health that you’d otherwise be unaware of. Dogs don’t show signs of discomfort, as pack animals, it’s not in their nature. And maybe even they don’t know there’s something wrong, so poo could be the answer!
You see, your dog’s belly does far more than digest food. Their stomach and intestines are home to billions and billions of tiny bacteria, which is part of their gut microbiome. The gut microbiome is the collections of bacteria, fungi, viruses and other microbes that situate in the digestive system, and can dictate the overall health of your pup if out of balance.
The gut microbiome helps the body to digest food and get the essential nutrients from that food – otherwise, a healthy diet would go to waste! Not only that; it also supports the immune function, which is vital to fighting illnesses; protects against pathogens that could cause serious diseases; and can even impact your dog’s mood!
The gut is sensitive to changes in diet and hydration, and environmental changes as well. That’s why it is so important to keep your dog in constant good health. Feeding them with a diet that provides them with all the right nutrients so that their guts can function well could lengthen the years of their life!
One way of recognizing any digestive or immunity problems in your dog could lie in their fecal matter. There’s a reason why vets might ask you for a stool sample, as poop can tell a lot about overall health. But before it gets to that, there are certain things you could look out for. And they are, the four C’s...
The “perfect poo” tends to be a chocolate brown color, with a rather firm consistency that would break into smaller segments if you were to move it. Preferably, there’d be nothing sticking out of it, too. But let’s move on and find out what we might see that could imply there’s a tummy problem. Luckily, most stomach issues resolve themselves within 24 hours, but it’s good to keep an eye on your dog’s bowel movements.
There are four easy things to assess if you want to check your dog’s poop. They lie under the four C’s: color, content, consistency, and coating.
Dog poo is usually a chocolaty shade of brown. When the digestive system is working well, the gallbladder releases bile, which helps break down the food, and in that bile, there is a pigment called bilirubin, which changes the color of the stool. Things like diet, hydration, and dye in certain foods can slightly alter the color, but not too much! The more colorful the poo though, the worse it could be. Here’s a color key to get an idea of what could be wrong:
Brown: Great! It should be brown.
Green: If your dog’s stool is green, they could be eating too much grass, possibly as a way of soothing an upset stomach.
White spots: If you see white spots in their poo, it could be that your dog has worms.
Yellow: This could be an indication that there’s something wrong with the liver, pancreas or gallbladder.
Red streaks: When you see red in the stool, it could suggest that there’s bleeding in the lower gastrointestinal tract.
Black/Maroon: This can also imply bleeding, but more likely higher up in the stomach or intestines.
The consistency of the poop should be reasonably firm, and if you’re not sure of how it would feel…you might have to feel it. Of course, use a plastic bag or some gloves, but if the stool is rock hard or lacks firmness, the intestines may not be working properly, or your dog could be dehydrated.
Vets actually rate the consistency of feces with a numerical scale, from 1 to 7; 1 being the hard end, and 7 being more like muddy water.
Ideally, you want a number 2 (no pun intended!). Feeling firm and looking a bit like a caterpillar, so that segments separate when you press it. If the stool is too firm, that could be a sign of dehydration and would be painful for your dog to pass. If the stool is runny and doesn’t really form a shape, the large intestine may not be absorbing water properly. Having runny poo or diarrhea can also be the cause of dehydration.
Having a particularly stiff or runny poop once shouldn’t be cause for concern, but if it persists, you should seek medical attention. Ensure your dog is hydrated, and only feed them simple foods if you have concerns.
Your dog’s poop should not have a coating on it. When you pick it up, there shouldn’t be a trail left on the ground – for example, mucus, which often occurs with large bowel movements or with diarrhea. If you do see a strange film or layer in their excrement for more than 24 hours, it would be wise to take them to the veterinarian.
Seeing a streak of red in the stool may appear at times, which as said earlier, could be a sign of bleeding in the lower gastrointestinal tract. If you see one streak, it might be that your dog had difficulty in passing the stool. If you see more than one streak, it is more likely an internal problem.
Most bacterial content can only be seen with a microscope, so it’s really a job for medical professionals! But dogs are explorers, and as they explore, they might pick up one or two things…
If you want to check yourself, there are ways. Now, this is the least pleasant part, as it could include dissecting the poop. Again, use gloves or a bag to push the muck around, or perhaps a stick. The poo shouldn’t change when you reach the middle of it, it stays the same throughout the density of it.
If you suspect that your dog’s stomach is suffering, these things could be sitting within their poop:
Worms: It’s best to look for these from a fresh sample, as creatures may be attracted the excrement after it's been planted. There are two types of worms; long and skinny roundworms, and little tapeworm segments. Worms can damage the intestine, so seek medical help if you do notice them.
Foreign Objects: The more curious of the pooches out there might be roaming your garbage can without you knowing or picking up bits off the street. So if you notice pieces of plastic, socks, rocks, or food wrapping, try to keep a closer eye on where they have access to, and restrict any access to things they may consume.
Fur: You may find large clumps of hair gathered in their poo, due to overgrooming. Dogs might do this due to stress, boredom, allergies, or possibly skin disease. So, finding fur is an indicator of other potential health problems.
The best thing to do is to keep an eye on your dog’s consumption, and their bowel movements, on a regular basis. Having an occasional funky stinker isn’t something to worry about, but consistent problems in the nether regions could be cause for concern, and something a veterinarian will want to check. When you do take them to the vet, save time by bringing a stool sample if you can.
Having a good diet and keeping hydrated is key to having well-working guts, which will keep the poop looking and feeling good. If you’re worried that your dog isn’t getting all the nutrients they need for the healthiest insides, a well-rounded multivitamin supplement could be your answer.
Here at the Petlab Co., we’ve formulated these incredible Multivitamin Chews for dogs, to help with all-round good health! All ingredients are organic and ethically sourced, including Manganese, which improves digestive health and the production of energy. We’re so confident you and your dog will love them, we offer a 90-day money back guarantee.
Looking, feeling and examining a piece of poo is maybe not what you had in mind to do with your afternoon, but it’s part of being a pet parent! Looking after their health is essential for your dog to have a long and happy life, which is why they need to have the right nutrients and hydration to form healthy stools. Here at the Petlab Co., we understand how stressful and confusing it can be looking after your beloved pup, which is why we encourage you to know as much as you can about every aspect of your dog’s wellbeing, even the stinkier ones!