Dog poop: it may not be the most pleasant topic, but healthy dog poop is often an indication of a healthy pup. Keeping an eye on the characteristics of your dog's poop can be a good way to track any health problems they might be experiencing. Let's take a look at what what differences exist between healthy and abnormal dog poop that could be a sign of underlying health problems.

What Does the Perfect Poop Look Like?

Dog poop has four main "C" characteristics: color, content, consistency, and coating. Color is related to what your pet eats; ranging in shades from golden brown to darker mahogany, depending on the ingredients in your pet’s food. For the content part of the poop, you may want to let your veterinarian do the "dirty" work. Most people won't see much of anything inside the poop without a microscope. Healthy dog poop should also be a little firm in consistency, like play dough. Ideally, it should be in log shapes with little cleaves in it that if you were to roll it, it would break into smaller pieces. Finally, healthy poop does not have a coating on it at all. So, if your pooch has a chocolate-brown, somewhat firm, coating-free poop with nothing noticeably sticking out of it, you are all clear. However, read on for signs that could indicate a health issue.

When to be Alarmed by Your Pet's Poop

Again, the four Cs of pet poop can help you determine when your dog may be sick. Although it may not be pleasant, observing your dog's stool while it is fresh is the easiest time to catch irregularities.

Content Concerns

  • Worms: These could be long and skinny or look like little pieces of rice. Again, you should only be concerned if these appear in the fresh sample. If stool sits outside for a while, worms may find their way to it.
  • Fur: Big clumps of fur in the stool could be a sign of over grooming, allergies, or skin disease. Keep an eye on how often you are seeing fur in the stool and discuss it with your veterinarian.
  • Foreign materials: Grass, plastic, rocks, cloth and foreign objects can sometimes be found in your dog's stool, after all dogs can sometimes ingest some odd things. Although what goes in often comes out, if you notice strange items in your dog's stool, you may want to call your veterinarian to confirm whether they want to do a thorough check or X-ray. In some cases, dogs have gotten foreign objects stuck in their digestive tract and they need to have them surgically removed. This is why it is best to call your veterinarian immediately if you notice bits of cloth or plastic in your dog's poop.

Collecting the Stool Sample

It's very likely that you have found many different ways to clean up poop around your yard or while out for a walk. From pooper scoopers to special biodegradable bags, when it comes to cleaning up dog feces, there is no shortage of equipment. So, when you're collecting a healthy dog poop or even an unhealthy stool sample to take to the veterinarian, be sure to use a clean bag, pick the sample up gently, and place it into a clean, shallow plastic container with a lid. Refrigerate the sample until you are able to get it to the veterinarian. If the poop is too watery to pick up, be sure to take a few clear photos with your smartphone to show the consistency. You can also try to get some of the wet poop into a container using a clean craft stick or plastic spoon. Never take a stool sample that has been sitting in the heat or in the grass for long periods of time. These samples could have dirt or parasites that were not part of the stool. One last thing to note: cleaning up dog poop quickly is also beneficial to your dog. Too much feces lying around in the backyard could lead your dog to start eating their own poop. There are also issues with public health where dog feces can seep into the water table and contaminate water sources. It should also be mentioned that you should wash your hands after picking up any poop, even if you wear gloves or use the bag over your hand, just to be safe.

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Made for dogs, led by science

We believe that science is the best path to giving your pet the best care possible. 

Made for dogs, led by science

We believe that science is the best path to giving your pet the best care possible. 

Final Poop Pointers

Remember, your dog's stool tells you a lot about their health. Follow these tips to better understand your dog and their health:

  • When your dog poops, look for the four Cs: color, content, consistency, and coating.
  • Always take fresh stool samples to every veterinarian appointment.
  • Clean up dog poop immediately whether on walks or in the backyard.
  • Notify your veterinarian immediately if your dog's stools change drastically or if your dog starts eating their own poop, having frequent accidents in the house, or they've gone more than 24 hours without pooping.

Dog poop isn't a subject matter that we all enjoy talking about, but it can be a good indicator of your dog's overall health. Catching signs early can help you keep them healthy.

Chrissie Klinger Chrissie Klinger

Chrissie Klinger is an educator, writer and mother of two children, three dogs and three cats. Her dog Jake loves sitting on her lap every chance he gets! She enjoys living an active and eco-friendly lifestyle in rural Pennsylvania.