You clean up your dog’s poop every day. The likelihood is that you try to think about that poop as little as possible. However, poop can actually give you a unique insight into your dog’s health. Regularly taking the time to assess what you see may give you early warning signs about illness and can show you when to adapt your dog’s diet.
Healthy poop will range from dog to dog, but it tends to share many of the same characteristics.
First, you have color. A healthy color is anything from light brown to dark brown. It is healthier still if the poop turns a much lighter shade within 24 hours and starts to crumble.
Next, consider texture. The stool should be malleable, but not too soft, and slightly moist. This means that your dog’s digestive tract is functioning well.
Finally, there’s the smell. The poop should have a mild odor. An overwhelming stench that makes you uncomfortable retrieving the poop is a bad sign.
Greasy poop that is either gray or green suggests that your dog is consuming too much fat. You need to adapt her diet to prevent inflammation and pancreatitis — conditions that can range from mild to fatal.
Blood in poop can appear in two ways. One is streaks of bright red. This is fresh blood, little of which (if any) has been digested. The other sign of blood is when the entire stool is black like tar. In this case, your dog may have digested the blood.
Both circumstances require a visit your vet. It is best to bring along a sample of poop for your vet to use for diagnosis.
Poop that is white and crumbles easily suggests that your dog is receiving too much calcium, perhaps from bone. You need to change your dog’s diet to stop her suffering from obstipation — a form of chronic constipation. This is an extremely uncomfortable condition where your dog is unable to pass fecal matter without help. Left untreated, it causes loss of appetite, vomiting, and lethargy.
A few more colors are also cause for concern:
It is common for dogs to be exposed to bad bacteria occasionally. For instance, your dog may decide to grab an illicit snack when out for a walk. This can lead to mild diarrhea or loose stools. If the problem clears up after a day, you have nothing to worry about.
However, if the diarrhea persists, you should book an appointment with your vet. Diarrhea can also be a warning sign that your dog has an infection, inflammatory bowel disease, an injury, parasites, or a food allergy.
If it seems like your dog is pooping an unreasonably large amount, you are probably providing her with too much indigestible food. This could also mean she is deficient in some essential nutrients.
Small, hard stools indicate that your dog is constipated. The cause is often too much insoluble fiber or dehydration. Both are common consequences of kibble.
If the odor of your dog’s poop makes you want to gag, this is a sign that your dog is unable to process all the nutrients in her food.
The occasional coating of slime on your dog’s stool is normal. It can mean that your dog’s body is healing from a condition on her own. However, if mucus frequently occurs, your dog may be intolerant to a certain food in her diet or she may have colitis. In these cases, slime is due to inflammation of the intestine.
Sometimes, mucus is an indication of parasites. This is especially likely if the poop is also soft or watery. You may also see worms or eggs in the stool.
Another sign of parasite infestation (such as tapeworm or roundworm) is poop with white or tan specks. Your dog will need a checkup and, most likely, deworming treatment.
No poop can be a sign of constipation, but there are other causes, too. For instance, if your dog has long hair and grooms herself often, she may be ingesting her fur and clogging up her digestion. If she is licking herself due to irritated skin, an effective solution for both the itchiness and constipation is often improved diet.
Other issues that can cause persistent constipation are osteoarthritis, pain in the hips or back legs, and intestinal obstructions. Again, you’ll need to contact your vet for diagnosis.
Once you’ve received a checkup from your vet and ruled out serious health conditions, it’s time to shift your focus to what your dog is eating. Poop is directly linked to diet. It’s logical, then, that healthier poop often comes with a better diet.
Most dogs are consuming too many carbohydrates. Their bodies didn’t adapt to consume large amounts of carbs, but kibble is often made mostly from grains. What your dog actually needs is a balance of meat, vegetables, fruits, and other food sources.
Furthermore, your dog didn’t evolve to eat cooked foods. For this reason, a diet of biologically-appropriate raw foods is always best.
Once you switch your dog to a raw diet, you’ll notice that her poop changes immediately. At first, your dog will be getting used to the change. After just a short time, you’ll see that her poop is firmer than before, is less in quantity, and has a milder odor. All these signs mean that she is digested her food rather and is not simply excreting everything she eats. If you needed any more convincing that a raw diet is the way to go, your dog’s poop will give you just that.