While at times it may feel like “50 shades of brown”, dog poop color can be extremely insightful and a window into dietary or other nutritional factors, including protein types, fresh produce, and even speed of digestion! Most changes in dog poop color are not immediate cause for concern - what is ‘normal’ varies by dog and even by day. By having a baseline of what ‘normal’ looks like for your dog, we can identify when close monitoring is a practical path forward or when a trip to the emergency vet is most prudent.

Through our research at DIG Labs, we’re learning more and more how dog stool offers a window into dog health. The most common colors and frequent reasons are:

Brown dog poop – Healthy dog poop ranges in shades of brown due to the bile produced by the liver.[1] Bile is generally yellow or greenish in color and is produced to help digest fats. As bile travels through the digestive system, it turns brown in color by the time it is expelled. Brown dog poop indicates working digestive tracts, even if the consistency is less than ideal!

Yellow dog poop – Yellow dog poop is a frequent indication that food has taken a faster journey through the digestive tract than normal. This may also be accompanied by softer consistency or even a bit of mucus. Causes for an accelerated trip through the GI tract include the introduction of new foods, ingredient intolerance or sensitivity, or even just a bit more stress the usual. Yellow dog poop is also observed by diets containing poultry or high corn content. In addition to all-over yellow dog poop, bimodal dog poop coloring (brown on the outside and yellow on the inside) is a normal result of poultry diets.

Black dog poop or Dark – Some dogs naturally have very dark brown stool. However, any dog stool (or vomit) that is black, tarry, or has a coffee-ground appearance can be an indication of bleeding in the stomach or small intestine and warrants a veterinary visit as soon as possible. Dogs that are given anti-inflammatory medications, like NSAIDS, are at higher risk for ulceration or bleeding in the bowel.[2]

Red dog poop or Blood – As a caregiver, anything remotely reddish can send off alarm bells even if only for a second. Before panicking, check the color of blood in dog stool for more insight into what’s going on. Notice bright red blood in your dog’s poop? This isn’t always necessarily a cause for concern and should be evaluated alongside other attributes like consistency and coating. During the digestive process one of the last steps is processing through the large intestine, which is where bright red blood (called hematochezia) originates. In contrast, dark red blood, referred to as melena, warrants further evaluation, since a darker red originates in the small intestine and indicates digested blood.

Green dog poop – Green dog poop or a green hue is often caused by fresh fruits and veggies in your dog’s diet or from eating grass[3] Other causes for green poop could range from artificial coloring pigments in treats to ingesting non-toxic crayons. Though not common, bright green poop can be an indication that a dog ingested rodent bait or poison and other symptoms should be noted such as lethargy, weakness, or presence of blood. If this is a possibility emergency veterinary care is the best next step.

White dog poop – White dog poop is most commonly observed in raw fed dogs or when higher than usual bone or calcium has been consumed. White dog poop may also be hard and crumbly in consistency.

  • White worms in dog poop: If you notice white worms, including white dots or white specs that resemble rice, this is a sign your dog has contracted intestinal worms. Collect and bring this stool to your veterinarian, ideally within 12 hours, for a fecal test to be performed and begin administering dewormer.

As with all things related to your dog, it’s important to note that you should monitor your dog for frequency and severity of any concerning episodes or symptoms.

 

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[1] Watson, Brenda. Natural Pet Care for Dogs. 2018.

[2] Morgan, Judy. From Needles to Natural. 2014

[3] Watson, Brenda. Natural Pet Care for Dogs. 2018.