Let's talk about the awesomeness of poop!
This discussion might not be the most ‘fun’ one to have, but poop is an important indicator of your dog’s health, especially since dogs can’t tell us what’s happening in their bodies! Josh Rishman and Anish Sheth write, “Not unlike a snowflake, each bowel movement has a uniqueness that should be regarded with wondrous appreciation.” Just like humans, dogs’ digestive tracts play a leading role in their overall health and so while we often focus on what goes in, what comes out is equally as important.
Instead of switching to auto-pilot next time your dog is doing her business, try to take note of the four C’s: Consistency, Coating, Contents, and Color.
Dog Poop Consistency
Many vets use the Bristol Stool Scale of 1-7 to rank the consistency of stool. Anything easy to pick up without much residue or being rock hard is the ideal for for a generally healthy dog, even humans too!
Dog Poop Coating
Normal and healthy dog stool should be free of any coating. If a coating is present, such as blood or mucous, this can be a sign of intestinal distress or GI inflammation. Dark red blood typically originates in the small intestine (your dog’s major digestive organ), while bright red blood generally comes from the large intestine (where poop is formed and stored). Mucous is also large intestine originating in most instances, and can accompany more frequent or urgent stools. These are normal bodily responses, however, if the quantity is high or this is an ongoing issue, please check in with your vet!
Dog Poop Color
The short answer is that normal dog poop color can vary! "Normal" color varies from dog to dog and can even change from time to time, depending on key inputs like your dog's diet. The healthy and ideal poop color for most dogs should land in between a medium chocolate brown to a darker coffee brown. Interestingly, protein type can also impact color. High poultry diets are often more yellow or have a bi-color coating. Raw fed dogs can even have white colored stool, which is totally normal.
In many cases, light grey or ash color indicates too much calcium. Very dark or black color may be caused by too many offals (like kidney, liver, and heart). Green poop can be caused by large amounts of greens in your dog's diet, but it can also be a parasite. See you vet if the changes persist for 1-2 days to be safe.
Dog Poop Content
We don’t suggest digging through your dog’s poop on the regular, however, if there is unusual content that is obvious and visible to your naked eye, it could be a warning sign. When there are little flecks of rice presents, which tends to be tapeworms, you should consult your vet.
If you see undigested food, such as carrots, greens, or peas, your dog’s body may not be fully processing or digesting these foods in time(dogs have the shortest digestive tract of all mammals, typically 6-8 hours)! Try pureeing vegetables or legumes to help jumpstart breaking down the cellulose and aid the digestion process.
Lastly, not an official 4 C, but the less smelly your dog poop is, the better! Stinky #2’s can be a sign of poor digestion or absorption of key nutrients, and an extra gassy situation can be a signal of excess carbohydrates in your dog’s diet.
As you can tell, there is a lot to be learned from poo so this won’t be the last we’ll touch on the topic! To help improve your dog’s poop quality, and overall health and immunity, we recommend daily incorporation of prebiotics and probiotics, especially for dogs on a dry food diet. (Note: Even if your dog’s food claims to contain probiotics, we strongly recommend incorporating broad-spectrum probiotics, either from whole food sources like goats milk kefir or supplements, as studies show that probiotics almost never survive the harsh manufacturing, shipping, and storage process.)