Is Your Dog’s Poop Healthy?

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Is your dog's poop healthy cover

 

Is Your Dog’s Poop Healthy?

Let’s talk about your dog’s poop. Yep, you read correctly…dog poop. As a small animal veterinarian, assessing, evaluating, and treating pets based upon their poop is a big part of the job. Poop is a very important factor in assessing if your pup is healthy overall. Closely monitoring the characteristics of your dog’s poop can be a good way to track and discover health problems and diseases. So today I am going to discuss what to look for in healthy poop (including a helpful Healthy Dog Poop Chart on appearance), when you should be concerned, and when you should have your pet evaluated by your veterinarian.

And there’s something simple you can do NOW to help improve your pet’s poop. In my experience, when my pet parents switch their pup’s diet to high-quality foods, I see tremendous positive changes in their pet’s poop which ultimately translates to improved overall health, wellness, energy. {More on the switch and benefits in a minute…}

So let’s get started!

 

Healthy Dog Poop Chart – What Does Healthy Poop Look Like?

Let’s start with a healthy dog poop chart of the four Cs of dog poop:

Is your dog's poop healthy-1When your vet assesses your pet’s poop, they evaluate four general qualities:

1. Color

The color of your pet’s poop is related to what they eat and ranges from golden brown to darker mahogany. Poop color is directly related to the ingredients in your pet’s diet.

2. Content

A fecal analysis done by your vet is the best way to evaluate content. At my animal hospital, I recommend a fecal analysis twice per year. A pathologist assesses your pet’s fecal under a microscope for parasites, blood, and food mites. Based on the results of the fecal examination, your veterinarian will decide if treatment is necessary.

3. Consistency

Healthy dog poop should be solid but have a softer consistency, kind of like Play-Doh. Ideally, it should be in a log shape and remain thick out on the ends.

Changes in consistency to your pet’s poop can result from stress, a diet change, parasites, or disease. Always speak with your veterinarian if your pet’s poop consistency has changed.

4. Coating

The coating of poop is just as it sounds. There should not be a coating (oily, greasy, or bloody) surrounding your pet’s poop. An ideal, healthy poop is chocolate-brown, somewhat firm, and coating-free with nothing noticeably sticking out of it. If you notice any coating on your dog’s poop, contact your vet’s office to determine if a fecal analysis is warranted.


When Should I Be Concerned About My Pet’s Poop?

Your pet’s poop can be a big indicator of changes in their overall health. Referring back to our healthy dog poop chart, assessing the color, content, consistency, and coating is integral to properly diagnosing your pet’s health.

1. Color Concerns

Is your dog's poop healthy-3Here’s what the color of your pup’s poop could mean for overall health and when you might want to seek professional help in diagnosing an underlying issue and getting your dog on the path to better health:

  • Brown: A healthy pup’s bowel movements should be chocolate brown in color.
  • Green: Green stool could indicate that your dog is eating grass, perhaps to soothe an upset stomach.
  • Black or maroon: This could be a sign of bleeding in the stomach or the small intestines.
  • Red streaks: This is another sign of bleeding, probably in the lower gastrointestinal tract or colon.
  • Yellow: Yellow stool could mean problems with the liver, pancreas, or gallbladder.
  • White spots: Your pup might have worms if you notice small white spots in their stool.

If you have any concerns or if you witness any color poop other than a normal brown color, you should follow up with your vet to make sure your pup has no complications.

 

2. Content Concerns

Is your dog's poop healthy-4Worms

If you note any type of worms or parasites in your pet’s poop, have the poop assessed by your veterinarian.

Fur

Small amounts of fur in the stool is not abnormal. However, if you are finding big clumps of fur routinely in your pet’s stool, this may be a sign of disease. Large amounts of fur routinely in your pet’s stool can be a sign of over grooming, allergies, or skin disease. If you note an excessive amount of fur in your pet’s poop, make sure to keep track and let your veterinarian know.

Foreign Materials

I have seen dogs eat just about anything. And what goes in eventually comes out. If you notice foreign material in your pet’s stool, like grass, plastic, rocks, cloth, or anything that isn’t food, it is important to contact your veterinarian.

Many times, if the foreign body is small, they can pass through the intestinal tract and into the stool. However, many things that dogs are not supposed to eat do not pass through, become obstructed in the intestines, and require surgery to remove.

Speak with your veterinarian if your pet has swallowed anything foreign, if they are vomiting, or if they are not eating.

 

3. Consistency Concerns

Is your dog's poop healthy-5A healthy, normal consistency for your pet’s poop should be a formed log, somewhat firm consistency that can be picked up without leaving a trail. If your pet’s stool consistency is loose, runny, liquid, or bloody, have them evaluated by your veterinarian.

 

4. Coating Concerns

Is your dog's poop healthy-6Your pet’s poop should NOT have a coating, such as oil or mucus. If you pick up your pet’s stool off the grass, it should NOT leave a trail. A coating, such as mucus, may indicate a disease process.


How Do I Take a Poop Sample to My Vet?

Although the veterinary staff may be able to obtain a fecal sample for analysis at the animal hospital, it is always more comfortable for the pets and easier for everyone when pet parents bring in a sample with them to the veterinary hospital.

  • Obtain a fresh sample (the fresher the better) and place in a clean bag.
  • If the stool is runny, try and use a clean stick or spoon to pick it up and place in a clean bag.
  • It is best to bring the sample in immediately to your veterinarian.
  • If you cannot bring the sample in immediately, it can be refrigerated for no more than 2 days.

What Helps My Dog Have Healthy Poop?

The most important factors in ensuring your pet has normal bowel movements is a healthy and optimal digestive tract.

Your pets digestive system includes all of the organs that are involved in taking in and processing food. Digestion begins with the mouth and includes the esophagus, stomach, liver, pancreas, intestines, rectum, and anus.

Digestion begins when your pets start chewing food. Enzymes found in saliva begin breaking down the food chemically. The process continues with swallowing, additional breakdown of food in the stomach, absorption of nutrients in the intestines, and elimination of waste. Digestion is critical not only for providing nutrients but also for maintaining the proper balance of fluid and electrolytes in the body.

All areas of your pet’s digestive system must be healthy and working optimally to ensure proper digestion of nutrients, the proper balance of fluids and electrolytes, and end with healthy excretion of waste via your pet’s bowel movements. This is why your pet’s poop is a direct reflection of the overall health and wellness of their digestive tract. So, how can I ensure my pets gastrointestinal tract is in optimal health?

 

1. Make Sure Your Pet is Free of Disease

If your pet shows any signs indicating their digestive tract is compromised, such as vomiting, loss of appetite, runny stools, or diarrhea, make sure to schedule an appointment with your veterinarian ASAP.

When my patients show any of the above-mentioned signs, I always perform additional tests, such as bloodwork, radiographs, and possible ultrasounds to test for more serious diseases.

These clinical signs can be associated with more serious conditions such as gastrointestinal parasites, foreign bodies, pancreatitis, inflammatory bowel disease, or even cancer.

So if you have any concerns whatsoever, please have your pet evaluated by your veterinarian.

Is your dog's poop healthy-7

2. Healthy, High-Quality Diet

Your pet’s digestive health starts with a healthy diet free of artificial additives, preservatives, and chemicals. Choosing the food you feed your pet is one of the most important decisions you will make for their overall health and wellbeing. What we feed our pets is a direct reflection of their energy level and overall health, just like with ourselves.

Choosing the food you feed your pet is one of the most important decisions you will make for their overall health and wellbeing.

I recommend pet owners transition to a high quality and highly digestible, whole food-based diet rather than kibble-based diets. Whole food nutrition based diets have higher, more optimal digestibility. Digestibility refers to the amount of nutrients absorbed into the body via the digestion process. With processed kibble-based diets, a large percentage of the nutrients are not able to be absorbed and utilized for energy.  In contrast, whole food ingredients provide much higher optimal digestibility, so your pet utilizes more nutrients for higher energy and better overall health.

In my practice, I have seen amazing results and transformations with my patients’ stool consistency when switching to a whole food nutrition diet. I have also seen a decrease in poor appetites and chronic vomiting, as well as an increase in energy and overall health.

It just makes sense!

Food is the basis of the energy our pets need to live. When we feed our pets highly processed and indigestible foods, we are NOT nourishing them with energy and the health they need.

For over a year now, I have carried Side By Side pet food and treats in my hospital to transition many of my pet patients to a whole food nutrition-based diet. I have seen outstanding results, including weight loss, more energy, decreased vomiting and diarrhea, and healthier stools. I find whole food nutrition is highly digestible and a much healthier way to nourish our pets.


Final Thoughts on Healthy Dog Poop

Is your dog's poop healthy-2Your pet’s poop is the end result of a very intricate, detailed, and very sophisticated digestion process. Therefore, it is imperative to be observant and catch changes to your pet’s poop early to ensure your pet is the healthiest and happiest they can be.

I cannot stress enough that nourishing your pet’s digestion tract with foods that are healthy and clean is imperative to giving your pet a healthy life.

In short, when I have pet parents switch from highly processed, kibble-based diets to high quality, whole food nutrition diets, I see tremendous positive changes in their pet’s poop and ultimately in their pet’s overall health, wellness, energy. Proper nutrition using high quality ingredients is the key to healthier dog poop.

 

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