What Stinks?! Stool guide for the conscientious pet owner.

 Understanding your pet's health through awareness and other methods.

Understanding your pet's health through awareness and other methods.

Pet owners need to be aware that a vital way to monitor their pet’s health is knowing what dog poop should look like. Being able to identify what normal dog poop looks like compared to abnormal poop, enables an owner to notice the signs warning of risks to their dog’s health.

What Normal Dog Poop Looks Like
An owner needs to be familiar with what is normal for their dog as far as poop goes. Then any change in size, smell, color, or consistency is immediately noticed. Healthy dog poop is, generally, easy to identify. It is segmented, slightly moist, chocolate brown in color, and firm, with a mild odor. 

Size and Smell Matters
If a dog produces large amounts of poop and it is noticeably stinky, then it likely is caused by a mostly kibble diet. Is this necessarily a bad thing? Consider how it affects dog poop.

Most kibble manufacturers add extremely high amounts of fiber to even so-called “diet” or “lite” foods. Think 15-28% compared to the vet recommended 4-6%. This is why many vets prefer owners feed raw food to their pets.

The stronger odor is due to the fact that a dog’s body isn’t meant to absorb certain nutrients that are found in kibble diets. Dogs aren’t designed to absorb grains and other starches. Neither can they absorb unnaturally high amounts of potato and pea used in many “grain free” foods.

In contrast, raw food diets give dogs less poop in a quantity that is also more normal in size and smell. Their stool will turn much lighter in color within a 24 hour period and quickly disintegrate. This is consistent with the signs of healthy dog poop.

Consistency Concerns
Knowing the consistencies of dog poop can mean the difference between making a slight, temporary diet change to calling the vet’s emergency line. The ideal healthy dog stool is like children’s modeling clay dough: firm enough to keep its shape, yet soft enough to give way when pressed.

Some veterinarians use a fecal scoring system to evaluate a dog’s poop. The scale is from 1 to 7, with 1 being like hard pellets, and 7 being a puddle. The healthiest dog poop should be around 2. If a dog produces stool inconsistencies that could be scored anywhere else on the scale and it persists for more than a day or two, the owner should take their dog to the vet.

Soft stool without blood or mucus can simply be a sign of a dog’s dietary change or indiscriminate eating. In such cases, it won’t happen for long as the dog adjusts to the new diet, or returns to their regular food. Nevertheless, it can also mean there is an intestinal parasite, such as giardia, or signal IBS or serious food intolerance.

Watery stool may signify stress, or be a warning sign of a viral infection like parvovirus, or a parasitic infection. Such stool can quickly lead to dehydration, especially in puppies, and needs immediate veterinary attention. Soft stool with mucus is another indicator of parasites or the parvovirus.

Another example of stool inconsistences is poop that is partly firm followed by partly soft. This is a case of small bowel diarrhea and indicates any number of causes such as a bacterial overgrowth of the small intestine, food intolerances, IBS or other serious issues.

Other Signs of Unhealthy Dog Poop
Red colored stool means there is fresh blood or clots in the poop. The brighter the shade, the lower down in the dog’s digestive tract the bleeding problem will be found. This sign is warning of a serious health problem requiring urgent veterinary attention.

Black stool, sometimes described as a tarry stool, indicates the presence of old blood in the dog’s digestive system. The darker the black stool, the higher up in the digestive tract the issue is. It can stem from an injury caused by indiscriminate eating, or be the warning of a serious danger like cancer.

Gray or yellow colors are associated with issues connected to bile, so gray or yellow stool can signal liver, pancreas, or gallbladder problems.

White stool with a chalky texture from a dog on a raw-food diet indicates too much calcium or bone. A slight change in diet usually returns the stool to what dog poop should look like.

White specks in soft or watery or otherwise normal looking stool are actually worms or eggs. Worms or eggs means the presence of parasites.

Stool that looks greasy may indicate excess fat in a dog’s diet, which can set off a painful inflammation of the pancreas, or be a sign of an enzyme deficiency. In either case, consulting a vet for diagnosis and treatment is best.

What an Owner Can Do
Once an owner knows what dog poop should look like, they can then discern when a dog is having a brief episode of unhealthy stool or needs to see the vet. Whether healthy or not, when taking a dog in to an appointment, bring a stool sample for vet to get the best care possible. 

Pet health is important. The Emergency Pet Express Shield plan can help when a dog has stool issues. It includes CBC, Chem Profile Fecal Study, X-ray and Emergency Examination. Call or sign up!