The eyes may be the window to the soul, but seasoned experts like our team at Evendale-Blue Ash Pet Hospital know that there is lots of valuable information to be gleaned from elsewhere.
Often overlooked, feces are a perfect example of an underrated source of knowledge. So, now that you are in the know, what is your dog poop telling you?
What We Look for in Dog Poop
While it isn’t the most pleasant part of pet ownership, a good, healthy poop is often a reliable indicator of a good, healthy pup. Some daily and dietary changes are normal and expected, but in general your pet’s bowel movements should be pretty predictable.
When looking at feces, pay attention to the:
- Color (can range from light to dark brown depending on diet)
- Content (normally even consistency with no discrete particles or objects)
- Consistency (should be formed but not too hard, similar to Play-doh)
- Coating (should not be present in a normal bowel movement)
While probably not on the top of your list of to-dos, paying attention to your pet’s poop can help you to notice changes more quickly and may prompt you to give us a call if you have concerns.
Finding the Meaning in Dog Poop
You may be curious now about what changes in your pet’s poop can mean. While we don’t expect you as a pet owner to be able to decipher every little change, there are definitely some characteristics that you will be able to recognize.
Changes in color – If your pet’s stools are varying from some shade of brown, you might want to be on alert. A greenish stool may indicate grass ingestion due to an upset stomach. Black or dark red could point to bleeding in the gastrointestinal tract. Yellow stools can occur if the liver or bile system is experiencing problems. Streaks of red occur if there is bleeding close to the end of the intestinal tract.
Consistency variations – Very firm, hard stools can signify dehydration and constipation, while stools erring on the softer side of the spectrum can result from conditions speeding up transit through the gastrointestinal tract. A single “off’ bowel movement is probably not cause for alarm, but if the trend continues, an examination is often warranted.
Content clues – Obviously foreign material like plastic or wood should not be in a normal bowel movement and could indicate that the pet is ingesting things they shouldn’t. Sometimes things are less obvious, though. For instance, hair in the stool may tip you off to a change in grooming. Often intestinal parasites are invisible to the naked eye and can only be seen microscopically, making it important for pet owners to bring a fresh sample to each examination, including routine wellness exams.
Coatings explained – While a normal stool typically doesn’t appear to have any coating, you may seem some slimy mucous if there is inflammation in your pet’s gastrointestinal tract. Likewise, a bloody coating can occur with irritation.
While we don’t expect you to be outright sleuths when it comes to pet poop, a keen eye can be super helpful. Knowing your pet’s normal helps you to note and alert us to changes sooner, giving us a leg up when it comes to keeping our patients healthy. Dog poop may get a bad rap, but it is a good source of information that pet owners shouldn’t dismiss.