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Dog Stool Information: What Do Normal Dog Stools Look Like?

No pooping dog sign.
No pooping dog sign. | Source

Many dog owners aren't aware of what their dog's stools look like, and aren't aware of what they should look like or the usual problems. They may get a wake-up call only later, when their dog is really sick. Chances are, if you send your dog in and out of the house to poop on his own or have installed a doggy door, you may be missing out on some important information. Truth is, dog poop can provide a wealth of information about your dog's digestion, absorption of nutrients and even his emotional well-being!

Still, the stool's appearance is only the tip of the iceberg. There are many things our naked eyes cannot see. When I worked for a veterinarian, I used to hear dog owners say: "Oh, my dog can't have worms; we haven't seen any in his poop." It was my job then to emphasize the importance of running yearly fecal tests. Dogs can have parasites that can't be seen by the naked eye yet because they are at a stage where you can't detect their presence yet. There's a good reason why veterinarians rely on microscopes to identify them! The owners were often surprised when the vet actually found their dog's feces to be positive for parasites, and some couldn't believe their eyes when they saw what their dog pooped out after being de-wormed! Worms aren't the only pesky parasites to be found in dog poop; microscopic protozoans such as coccidia and giardia may feast there as well.

Inspecting dog poop may not be the most pleasant of tasks, but I highly recommend making it a habit. Veterinarian Donna Solomon claims "Just like diamonds that are evaluated by the four Cs—color, clarity, carat weight and cut grade—stool samples are evaluated by the following: color, shape, consistency, size, and content." In the next paragraphs, we will be looking at the differences between normal and abnormal stools in dogs. Note: there will be some graphic pictures of poop, so be prepared.

Size

Knowing the average size of your dog's stool is important. Generally, diets that are poor and full of fillers lead to bulky stools because the dog doesn't absorb many nutrients; however, this isn't always the case.

Normal Stool Size

The volume of stool can often indicate how well your dog is absorbing food and how much he eats. The volume of stool produced varies by the size of the dog, too. Obviously, a chihuahua's stool will be much smaller than that of a Saint Bernard! Observe your dog's stool so you can get acquainted with the average size and so you can recognize the first signs of trouble.

Abnormal Stool Size

If your dog isn't eating much but the output volume seems high, it could be that he is not absorbing and digesting as he should. Dogs with exocrine pancreatic insufficiency are known for producing voluminous stools, having a dull coat and losing weight. Also, dogs fed a lot of fiber may also develop voluminous stools.

Yellowish stool enveloped with mucous and coated with a few drops of blood.
Yellowish stool enveloped with mucous and coated with a few drops of blood. | Source

Color

Normal stool color comes from the presence of bilirubin, a chemical produced by the liver and then further degraded into urobilinogen and then stercobilin, which is the brown pigment responsible for giving stools their typical color.

Normal Color

The color of a dog's stool varies from one dog to another. For the most part, it depends on what the dog eats. Dogs who eat raw-meat diets with bones will often have stools that turn white after 24 hours and then crumble. Generally speaking, though, the normal color is a chocolate brown.

Abnormal Color

  • Dark black, tarry stools are a concern as they can signify the presence of digested blood. This is known as melena and is often seen in dogs with gastro-intestinal bleeding from ulcers.
  • Yellow stools can also be indicative of increased intestinal motility with the stools moving so quickly through the intestinal tract that stercobilin doesn't make it on time to add its distinct pigment. This can be seen in digestive disorders such as inflammatory bowel disease and exocrine pancreatic insuffiency.
  • Bright yellow stools can be indicative of problems with the liver, pancreas or gall bladder.
  • Bright orange stools may also be suggestive of liver or gall bladder issues.
  • Grey stools are often indicative of a liver problem or malabsorption.
  • Raspberry-jam looking stools happen when severe inflammation causes sloughing of the intestine's lining with chunks of tissue found within the watery diarrhea. It is often a symptom of hemorrhagic gastroenteritis.

Shape

You'll like see different shapes of stool throughout your dog's life, but most of the time, the universal shape remains the same.

Normal Shape

Normal dog stools should be shaped like a log, that is, cylindrical and should be easy to pick up, leaving no mess behind.

Abnormal Shape

  • Small round stools may be indicative of constipation. It's important to check that these dogs are drinking enough and not dehydrated. Old dogs who don't drink enough and are inactive because of arthritis may have this type of stool. This can be also seen in dogs with kidney disease.
  • Stools that appear very thin like strips may indicate a narrowing of the intestine or rectum.
  • Intact male dogs with an enlarged prostate may also develop pencil-thin stools because the enlarged prostate pushes against the bowel.

A messy poop that leaves traces on grass. Notice also the presence of mucous.
A messy poop that leaves traces on grass. Notice also the presence of mucous. | Source

Consistency

The consistency of the dog's stool is important. It can tell you if your dog is constipated or has diarrhea. Sometimes the stool is somewhere in between diarrhea and constipation.

Normal Consistency

Stools should be easy to pick up and they shouldn't break apart easily. Ideally, if you are picking up stool from the grass, it shouldn't stick to the grass.

Abnormal Consistency

  • Constipated dogs produce small, dry and very hard stools that are painful to pass.
  • Generally, large volumes of watery diarrhea may suggest issues with the small intestine.
  • Small, strained volumes produced on a frequent basis suggest issues with the colon, explains veterinarian Patty Khuly on Vet Street.
  • Stools that start out a bit on the soft side and then become gelatinous, shiny and mucoid may be indicative of colitis, explains veterinarian Dr. Fiona. This makes the inflamed colon produce a lot of mucus and erosions that lead to bleeding. Colitis can be sometimes triggered by stress.

Stool with roundworms.
Stool with roundworms. | Source
Stool with rice-like tapeworm segments
Stool with rice-like tapeworm segments | Source

Content

Normal Stool Content

What's in your dog's stool? Normal stools should only be stool! But here are some things you may find:

  • You shouldn't be able to see anything in it unless your dog ate something that he couldn't digest. It's quite common to see pieces of carrots, for example, as a dog's digestive system may not be able to break them down, especially when the carrots aren't shredded.
  • You may be shocked to find items that went missing! Dogs who chew toys may have particles of toys in them.
  • A lot of hair may indicate that your dog is shedding heavily and that he may need to be brushed more so less hair is ingested.
  • The presence of grass may indicate grass consumption which is often seen in dogs who just like to eat grass or who are suffering from digestive upset.
  • The presence of mucus in dog stool means the dog's colon is likely irritated.
  • As mentioned, blood in the dog's stool may be indicative of many conditions, and is sometimes seen in diarrhea due to dietary changes and stress.
  • Do you see rice-like particles, but you haven't fed your dog rice? Most likely they are tapeworm segments.
  • Long spaghetti-like strands may be roundworms.

As seen, a dog's stools may say a lot about your dog's health! It's important to recognize, though, that dogs won't always have perfect stools. Your dog may have months of nice-looking stools and then one day his stools may look different. If that's the case, it's important to pay attention to the issue. Has the dog eaten something different? Might he be stressed? Has he recently been dewormed? If it seems not to be an isolated event and the dog develops other symptoms, it's good practice to consult with the vet and also bring a stool sample to him or her. See your vet if your dog's poop has an odd smell, size, consistency and content. It may turn out to be nothing, but at times it may require testing and treatment.

Disclaimer: this article is not to be used as a substitute for professional veterinary advice. If your dog's stool seems odd, consult with your vet for proper diagnosis and treatment.

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Comments 24 comments

Bob Bamberg profile image

Bob Bamberg 2 years ago from Southeastern Massachusetts

Excellent hub, Adrienne, on a topic that needs to be brought to the attention of dog owners. Only a small percentage of owners pay any attention at all to stools beyond whether or not they're easy to pick up.

And speaking of picking up...have you ever noticed how most dog owners tend to look away as they're picking up? I notice people all the time doing that...and that is the perfect time for them to take note of the characteristics you point out. Voted up, useful and interesting.


alexadry profile image

alexadry 2 years ago from USA Author

. Yes, I have seen that, either they're disgusted or trying not to breath I guess...Thanks for the votes up! Kind regards!


Edward J. Palumbo profile image

Edward J. Palumbo 2 years ago from Tualatin, OR

I have two dogs and I appreciate the information! Very interesting and informative.


Writer Fox profile image

Writer Fox 2 years ago from the wadi near the little river

This is a highly informative article and your photos add so much! I think this will be helpful to many people in caring for their dog's health. Enjoyed and voted up!


alexadry profile image

alexadry 2 years ago from USA Author

Thanks Edward, dog stools can tell a lot, kind regards!


alexadry profile image

alexadry 2 years ago from USA Author

Thank you Writer Fox, I was afraid some people may be disgusted, but it's worth the disgust if it can help people out! thanks for the votes up!


Tess 2 years ago

Very happy to find this information! Have a GSD Service Dog who almost died when he ate a bellyful of rocks last year and lost all but 3cm of his ilium, so I was very distressed today to see lots of fresh red blood in his stool today...away from home no less! Hoping it was the two rapid changes in diet (one at home just adding a cup of raw food to his diet) then had to travel and couldn't bring it - his food spilled out so we borrowed from the friend I'm staying with. Still going to the emergency clinic in the morning tho, NOT taking chances! Thanks for the thorough information!


alexadry profile image

alexadry 2 years ago from USA Author

I hope it turns out being nothing major and it's just due to the recent dietary changes and/ or the added stress of travel. Keep us posted. Kind regards.


Whiskeymum 18 months ago

Thanks! This helped!


sharon lewis 14 months ago

my dogs poop is normal in size and colour but is very crumbly is this normal . can anyone help.


alexadry profile image

alexadry 14 months ago from USA Author

Do you feed your dog bones? These can cause crumbly poop, but dry, crumbly poop can also be caused by dehydration so a vet visit may be necessary to see if there's an underlying cause.


Brenda Dakine 14 months ago

My lil 2 yr wiener dog wont eat nothing but good n fun kabob treats or sometimes chicken on a stick treats by good n fun is this harming him his stools are blackish most of the time please help me keep him healthy as i want to have & love him for a very long time. Please help

Distressed dog lover thank u


Tricia 8 months ago

My dog poppies soft and sometime there are drops of blood


Soli.C 7 months ago

My dog's stool is all normal except for the color...it's a little to light. But thrn again, my dog is an Albino


alexadry profile image

alexadry 7 months ago from USA Author

LOL, that's a good one!


maria 3 months ago

my dog seems to have a sensitive stomach all the time and has had recent bout of diarrhoea which improved but we gave one of those meat filled type bone style treat and poop in pink pale not like blood but rynny again, Could it be bone as she is OK in self, she is a 15 month shu tzu but seems to eat evrerything even toys, last time we had diarrhoea had blood tests and stool tests and found nothing, she loves eating horse manure.


Nanny 2 months ago

My dog was recently ill and put on meds for gastric ulcers. He cries in pain and has started doing that again. This morning I smelled something like he had gone in the house. When I turned around there was this blob on the kitchen floor right behind me. I know he didn't throw it up because I would have heard it. I picked it up and it actually looked like a raw piece of meat but smelled like a wicked poo. Then he kept licking his rectum. I took the flashlight and looked there just saw a little redness but nothing horrible. I put some vasaline on his behind and he has seemed to calm down. Now what in the world can cause this.? I just spent $300 at the vet and at this time have no money to take him back. Please help with some info.


alexadry profile image

alexadry 2 months ago from USA Author

Nanny it could be it was regurgitated as regurgitation doesn't make any noise in many cases, or it could be something your dog ate that wasn't digested. Think about the things your dog could have gotten into.


Z-bird 6 weeks ago

I watch my dog poop like a hawk!! She doesn't poop in a nice neat pile, so if I don't watch her, I won't know where the poop is to pick it up! This is especially bad in the fall when I can't tell the poop from some leaves


Jopanda 4 weeks ago

My 10 lb. Small breed dog is a yeastY dog 13yrs. Old ONLYgets home made food , I put turmeric, original, and small amount of apple spice vinigar , omega 3 , my concern along with my previous comments. His stools are once a day sometimes skips a day eats one cup a day spread out 3 times in a day! His stools are thin like a pencil, color dark formed but soft! Should I be worried? Checked no parasites! Any advice?? Thank you for your time!!


alexadry profile image

alexadry 4 weeks ago from USA Author

Jopanda, is he neutered? If yes, a rectal mass or enlarged anal glands can be a culprit for pencil-thin stools, if intact it cold be an enlarged prostate. Would definitely check with the vet , best wishes!


Deneace 28 hours ago

My 9 year old shepherd is pooping very flat and small amounts at a time...kinda like he is constipated. He is trying to go frequently but always the same thing.


headsupfortails profile image

headsupfortails 10 hours ago from New Delhi

My dog poppies soft and sometime there are drops of blood


Jenny 5 hours ago

Hi, my 3 yr old intact (Addisonian) Tibetan Mastiff has always had a finicky tummy even prior to his AD. My concern is he has since puppy hood had very small poop we are talking tiny compared to his size.. no problems or struggle going just super small and his peepee pushes out of his sheath every poop or if he sits squared up. I've had him checked by the vet but I'm afraid they missed something. Could this be prostrate? Or is this common?

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    alexadry profile image

    Adrienne Janet Farricelli (alexadry)1,688 Followers
    1,252 Articles

    Adrienne Farricelli is a former veterinary hospital assistant and now a certified dog trainer, behavior consultant and author of dog books.



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