What You Can Learn from Your Dog’s Stool

Normal dog stool should be firm, moist and brown.

Most people prefer not to look at, or even think about, dog poop.  If you can just hold your nose for a moment and take the time to examine your pet’s stool, there is a lot you can learn about your dog’s health. Normal dog stool should be firm, moist, and brown. Any changes from the norm might be a sign of trouble.

Intestinal Parasites: Some intestinal parasites, such as roundworm or tapeworm, are visible to the naked eye. Roundworms resemble cooked spaghetti, and are easiest to spot.  You may also see small segments of tapeworm which look like grains of rice, or even the entire tapeworm which is long and flat.  While other intestinal parasites are not visible to the naked eye, they may cause diarrhea, blood or mucus in the stool. If you suspect your dog has intestinal parasites, bring a stool sample to your vet for testing.

Consistency: An occasional bout of diarrhea is not a cause for concern, especially after a dietary change. However, you should talk to your vet if your dog has chronic diarrhea, for acute diarrhea lasting longer than 24 hours, or if your dog seems ill.  Hard, dry stools indicate constipation, while oily or greasy stools indicate malabsorption.

Color: Normal stool should be brown. Tarry, black stool or signs of blood indicate bleeding in the gastrointestinal tract. Abnormally light-colored stool can indicate a problem with the liver.  Remember that dyes used in pet foods can affect the color of your dog’s feces.

Smell: While healthy dog stool does not smell pleasant, it should not have an overwhelmingly bad odor.

Since you are picking up your dog’s stool anyway, make it a practice to be aware of your dog’s normal stool consistency so you can detect any changes that could indicate a problem.

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