Have you ever been taking a look at your dog's poop when you pick it up from the sidewalk or during your walk in the woods? Maybe you should start doing that. Even though picking up dog poop may not be your favourite activity, it can provide you with valuable insights into your dog's health. By keeping a close eye on your dog's feces, you can prevent several health problems.
Regular bowel movements are a sign of a healthy dog, so it's an important topic to address—even if it may not be the most pleasant. There are primarily four things to observe in your dog's feces: colour, coating, consistency, and content. We will cover all four aspects here to ensure that your dog remains healthy and well, at least when it comes to their stool.
WHAT DOES HEALTHY DOG FECES LOOK LIKE?
Optimal dog feces should have a chocolate brown colour and a firm consistency. The shape should resemble small logs, with small cracks allowed. At the same time, the poop should be easy to pick up, which you can tell if it's neither too hard nor too soft. Lastly, there should be no coating or mucus on the stool. You can read more about that below. So, you can be confident that your dog has healthy feces if it's brown, firm, and without any coating.
Your dog should go one to two times a day. If your dog does this, it is a good indicator that their habits are healthy. However, if they suddenly stop having regular bowel movements or if they occur more frequently than normal, you should be more attentive.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR IN YOUR DOG'S FECES
On the other hand, if the dog's feces fall outside the above-mentioned category or if there are changes in colour or consistency, you should be extra vigilant.
MUCUS AND COATING ON THE STOOL
One thing you can relatively easily determine, which has a significant impact on your dog's health, is mucus. Slimy feces can be a sign of diarrhea and inflammation in your dog's intestines. The mucus on or in the stool is produced by the colon to protect itself. You can check if the dog's feces are slimy when you pick it up. A perfect dog stool will not leave anything on the ground. So, if the grass or soil does not have any mucus on it after you have removed the dog feces, you know that the stool is as it should be. If you can see mucus on the ground, it is a good idea to contact your veterinarian, who can advise you on what to do next.
WHAT COLOR IS YOUR DOG'S FECES, AND WHAT DOES IT MEAN?
The colour of your dog's feces can vary depending on what your dog eats and how well organs like the intestines and liver are functioning. Therefore, it is an easy way to spot health problems in your dog. Each colour can indicate different things.
Brown feces: If your dog's stool is a regular brown colour, it indicates that your dog is healthy. The perfect stool should be chocolate brown.
Black feces and blood stains: Black or reddish-brown feces can be a sign of bleeding from the intestine or stomach. The same is true if the feces has red streaks. If the feces is black, it means that the blood has already been digested, indicating bleeding in the upper part of the digestive tract. If there are small spots of red blood that persist for about a day, it is most likely due to tears in the rectum. If the bleeding is larger and persists for a longer period or is accompanied by other symptoms such as vomiting or fever, you should contact a veterinarian. Worms can also be a cause of bleeding.
Green feces: On the other hand, if your dog's feces is green, it may indicate that your dog has eaten grass. In itself, it is not a major concern, but the dog may have eaten grass to alleviate an upset stomach, so it's something to be aware of.
Yellow feces: If your dog's feces is yellow or pale yellow, it may indicate problems with the dog's liver or pancreas. You may also notice yellow mucus in the feces. In both cases, you should consult your veterinarian.
White spots in the feces: Small white spots in your dog's feces can be a sign of worms. You can read more about it further below.
Content of the feces
It is not just the color of the dog's feces that can indicate irregularities. The content of the feces can also reveal health problems, such as hair clumps and worms.
Hair clumps in the feces: If you see a larger amount of hair in your dog's feces, it can indicate several things. Pay attention to how often you see hair in the feces and contact your veterinarian if it continues. Hair clumps in the feces can be a sign of allergies, a skin condition, or excessive grooming.
Worms in the feces: As mentioned earlier, small white spots in the feces can be a sign of worms. However, they can also be long and thin, resembling actual worms. Contact your veterinarian if you discover worms in fresh feces. Be aware that this does not apply if you only find worms in feces that has been outside for a long time. In that case, the worms may have made their way into the feces by themselves.
Other objects and foreign bodies: Dogs are curious animals, and most dog owners can relate to catching their dog eating everything from plastic to fabric scraps. Typically, most of it will pass through the digestive system, but there is a risk that something may still get stuck. Therefore, it is always a good idea to contact your veterinarian if you discover small pieces of things that are not part of the dog's diet. The veterinarian can take an X-ray to determine if there is still a foreign body in the dog's system.
THE CONSISTENCY SAYS MORE THAN YOU THINK
Your dog's feces can have many different consistencies. As mentioned, the ideal consistency is firm and cylindrical. However, the feces can be thinner to varying degrees, and this is where you need to be extra vigilant. There's nothing wrong with it being slightly thinner as long as you keep an eye on the consistency.
Most veterinarians measure the consistency of feces using a scale from one to five, where five is the most optimal (firm form). If the thin feces persist, it's a good idea to contact the veterinarian. It's recommended to bring a stool sample with you.
Tips for a stool sample: A stool sample is generally a good idea for your dog's health check, as the feces can hold many relevant pieces of information about your dog's health. Make sure the stool sample is as fresh as possible, and store it in a cool place until you take it to the veterinarian.
WHAT CAN YOU DO TO AVOID OR TREAT UNHEALTHY STOOLS?
Our first advice is always to go to the veterinarian if you experience irregularities in your dog's feces. However, there are also several things you can do yourself to prevent and help with conditions such as diarrhea and constipation.
You can ensure that your dog receives enough fiber-rich food, which can help with constipation. If your dog has an upset stomach and diarrhea, it may be a good idea to provide easily digestible food and a soft diet, and make sure the dog is adequately hydrated. Fluid intake is incredibly important, so you can mix some water into the food or ensure that there is always enough water available near the dog. If the dog, in addition to an upset stomach, is otherwise unaffected, you can treat it with a soft diet for a few days. A soft diet can help provide proteins that are good for the immune system. However, you should always seek veterinary advice if you notice that your dog becomes lethargic, has blood in the stool, has a fever, or has a lack of appetite. Most cases of diarrhea last between four and five days.
OTHER THINGS YOU SHOULD ALSO PAY ATTENTION TO
In addition to the four things mentioned above that you should be aware of regarding your dog's feces, you should also keep an eye out for things such as:
- If the feces change significantly.
- If the dog has an upset stomach and diarrhea.
- If more than 24 hours have passed since the last bowel movement.
- If the dog eats its own feces.
- If it suddenly starts defecating indoors.
In general, it is important to always monitor your dog's feces and behavior. Although it may not be the most pleasant topic, feces are a crucial indicator of your dog's health. By noticing unusual things and seeking veterinary attention early, you can prevent most illnesses in dogs. So, make it a habit to always check your dog's feces when you pick it up during walks.
If your dog has had diarrhea or if the feces have changed color for more than three days, it is a good idea to have it checked by a veterinarian for a more thorough examination. And if you are generally unsure if something is wrong with your dog, our advice is always to seek professional help from a veterinarian.