Adrienne is a certified dog trainer, behavior consultant, former veterinarian assistant and author of Brain Training for Dogs.
Many dog owners aren't aware of what their dog's stools look like, let alone what these stools should look like or the usual signs of 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!
Not All Problems With Your Dog's Poop Can Be Detected by the Naked Eye
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, 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.)
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 Dog 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 Dog 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.
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 Dog Stool 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. Those 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 Dog Stool 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 insufficiency.
- 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.
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 Dog Stool Shape
Normal dog stools should be shaped like a log. That is, they should be cylindrical and easy to pick up, leaving no mess behind.
Abnormal Dog Stool 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.
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 Dog Stool 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 Dog Stool 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.
What's in your dog's stool? Normal stools should only be stool! But here are some things you may find.
Normal Dog Stool Content
- 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 that 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.
Pay Attention to Any Inconsistencies
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.
- Slippery Elm Bark for Dog Diarrhea and Upset Stomach
How can slippery elm bark help for your dog's upset stomach? This natural dog diarrhea remedy has been featured in a study and shown to be effective. Learn more about this natural remedy here.
- Using Probiotics for Dog Diarrhea
At times, the use of probiotics for dog diarrhea can be helpful in restoring healthy bacteria in the gut. Learn more about probiotics and how they can help for cases of canine colitis and much more.
- Why is My Dog so Picky About Where He Poops?
So you own a dog who is very picky about where he poops? Learn why your dog may be so picky about his toilet habits and what you can do about it.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.
Questions & Answers
Question: Why is my dog's stool in tiny pieces?
Answer: If your dog's poop is in small pieces, sort of like rabbit pellet poop, there is a chance that your dog may be constipated.
Question: What do you give a dog that is constipated?
Answer: Canned pumpkin (the plain type without spices added) is an option for alleviating dog constipation.
Question: Can my dog's stool become loose as a result of being in a new home?
Answer: Yes, many dogs get diarrhea from stress when boarding, moving, or going to new places. Of course, dogs can get diarrhea for many other reasons which are medically-induced or from sudden diet changes, but stress can be a factor.
Question: I have a small Jack Russel terrier who is 14 weeks old, his poop is dry is this normal?
Answer: Dry poop can sometimes be found in dogs who are not drinking enough water and sometimes can be seen as well in dogs who are fed a raw diet with bones. A large number of bones in the diet can set up like concrete in the colon sometimes causing constipation. If your pup has trouble defecating due to dry stools, it would be best to see the vet
Question: Why is my dog's poop fluorescent dark green?
Answer: There can be various causes of a neon green color of dog poop. Green things that your dog may have ingested that come to mind include greenies (those green-colored dog treats), plants/grass, a green-colored crayon, but one of the most concerning is rat bait. If you suspect your dog may have eaten rat bait, please see your vet as soon as possible. https://pethelpful.com/dogs/Dog-Health-Dog-Ate-Rat...
Mommywithnomoney on September 07, 2020:
Thank you so much for your quick reply! Yep, sausage is a good word for what it looks like haha I’ll look more into colitis and talk to my vet. Thanks again for your help :D
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on September 06, 2020:
It could be your dog is suffering from a touch of colitis, which means inflammation with the production of mucus. Of course, just an idea, only your vet can really know what may be going on. Sometimes, the stools may appear encased in mucus like a weird looking sausage. I have seen some odd looking stools when mucus is produced. Perhaps the antibiotics and other meds are inflaming a bit her intestinal tract or something else may be going on. Hopefully it's just mucus with no blood and diarrhea. Keep in touch with your vet and keep him/her updated. I hope she feels better soon!
Mommywithnomoney on September 06, 2020:
Hi Adrienne! First of all, I love that you have this blog, we have invested thousands of dollars in vet bills with our puppy so it’s nice to see if there’s something on here first before rushing to the vet. I’m hoping you could help me with a poop related issue? We have a black lab cross and I think she may have been the runt in the litter because she’s very small. She was diagnosed with mild pancreatitis and we have her on a low fat food. Sometimes her poops have what almost look like thick, white intestines wrapped around it. It’s probably mucus but it’s so thick it almost looks “alien like”. We’ve given her two rounds of dewormer from the vet, and two rounds of antibiotics that was for something else, but if it was worms, the medication should have killed it. We showed our vet the picture of the poop briefly (since it’s a pandemic and they don’t let you inside) and they didn’t seem too concerned ... do you think that it could be related to pancreatitis or maybe something else?
Allison k on August 28, 2020:
I brought home a puppy that was eating adult food at 6 weeks I switch him over to puppy food and now his poop is mucus like and yellow but he’s still eating and drinking and very active no temperature or vomiting
Marilyn on June 25, 2020:
My puppy was dewormed and poop looked normal for a few days now bream to be a pinkish brown runny so you can’t pick it up
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on June 11, 2020:
Hi Alan, small dogs can be prone to pancreatitis if they eat something different, but stress can also play a number on dogs when owners are away so stress-colitis can too play a role. Not to mention, stress can also lower the immune system and trigger other conditions to raise their ugly head. Many possibilities. I hope she is feeling better. Please don't hesitate to see the vet if not.
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on June 11, 2020:
Hi Vince, dark red can be concerning as it can digested blood. This can come from ingesting rat poison, internal bleeding, autoimmune conditions. Please see your vet.
Alan on June 11, 2020:
I have a female shit tzu and we recently went away for the weekend and left her with a family member of ours and when we picked her up sunday she look fine then monday morning she threw up yellowish and has had diarihea. Wednesday morning she threw up again but she seems fine still wants to go outside and walk around. I think I see her a bit bloated and she pooped yellowish. Still seems fine not hurting if i touch her stomach or anything but a bit gassy. What could it be? We changed her diet teusday from blue buffalo to chicken and rice to see if that helps her stomach calm down.
vince on June 10, 2020:
hi my dog vomiting and poop watery texture and the color of the poop is dark red. what do you think the causes of it and that is very dangerous to my dog? thanks
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on May 12, 2020:
Hi Tilly, the appearance of raspberry jam looking poop is often due to bloody mucus coming from from an inflamed/irritated colon since the dog's color is populated by many mucus-producing glands. This can be a sign of HGE so it's important to see the vet sooner than later.
T illy on April 30, 2020:
Boo is shitzu. I'm scared. Dark w hair kinda like dark raspberry. ..please help us
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on July 28, 2019:
Your vet should have checked the stool sample by now and then given you a call about the results. If your pup has diarrhea again, you may want to call the vet to give an update and elucidations on what to do.
Ee on July 25, 2019:
My 4 months old puppy had milk the other day and the next 2 days he had diarrhea. After 2 days of diarrhea, his stool was back to normal.
But yesterday it happened again, his diarrhea is back and today i notice some mucus in the watery stool.
Took a sample of his stool and brought him to the vet this morning. Vet checked his heartbeat, felt his tummy checked his gum and his temperature. Vet did everything very fast But didnt bother looking at his stool sample. According to the vet he is fine probably just had something he shouldnt have. Then we paid for the ‘consultation’ and off we go....
Should i be worried??
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on June 02, 2019:
Dee, your dog's poop resembles the poop of a dog suffering from colitis. See your vet for proper diagnosis and treatment to find the underlying cause. There can be many causes for poop in dogs of this consistency.
dee on May 13, 2019:
does anyone know about a STB poop pattern? i have 7 month old and it seems to have solid poop to start then it turns to loose as it progresses. this is happening every day now, we have only owned him for 2 weeks now, but the pattern has not changed. before we got him he ate purina dog chow, we swithched him to blue diamond dog food hoping this would help, it did not. its always solid, then transitions to soft poop every day. he eats 6 cups a day, is it that he cant process food as fast as he eats it? any advice here would be great, thank you and take care.
Nessa on March 21, 2019:
I jus got a new puppy. She’s 9 weeks old. Her poop is so soft and stink. We mixing her new food with the one she was eating before she came to us . Could that be why her poop is so stink and runny? Or can I be stress of a new home. She is going to have her second set of shots soon too... first puppy I ever had.
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on October 16, 2018:
The fact he is acting normal is a good sign, but you are right, it's not good to always have soft stools so you want this checked by the vet. Yes, sometimes high loads of parasites or protozoans can cause cases of chronic soft stools.
Jenn on October 09, 2018:
My pitbull ive had back now from my sister for about 3wks.His stools are always so wet.Hasnt pooped turds but 1 time.I don't see any worms but ikno some u cant see.I try looking at his stools constantly to see what I mite find.Once had the look of sum worm,clear n just a tad of blood.Like it was a blood vein or something but just a couple of very small like dabs of the blood.I kno a constant wet stool is unhealthy.I can not afford a vet bill rite now specially for something serious.Today looked as if some mucus in stool.Im worried but hes acting normal.Could it be just some kind of worm?
Ellie on July 19, 2018:
My puppers stool is normal but then she walks around and her stool then becomes thin like pencil should I be concerned
Birdie on July 03, 2018:
My pit bull puppies stool is like a light grey and if feels like sand. I'm scared and don't know what to do.
Debra Martin on May 14, 2018:
What makes a Yorkie's stool dark red and rubbery
ellen mitchell on February 09, 2018:
My dig us doing small brown stools at different places,can it mean he's constipated
hannah delic on January 29, 2018:
my 5 month English staffy puppies poop normaly looks normal but tonight when she pooped she began to run around crying with what looked like grass hanging out of her anus. she alsways is licking her parts and im not su if they are worms or not?! what should I do?
Elizabeth Castello on December 08, 2017:
My 7 month old chawawa mix I think ate chocolate, she hasn't ate in 5 days, was throwing up, has had 2 bowl movements, this last one looks blackish hard and runny. Eyes were dilated and looked off at a distance. I been giving her Pedialyte and yogurt, she's looking better. Now what.
Dario Morla on November 26, 2017:
My chihuahua use to have healthy stools now she has small thin ones Why?
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on November 10, 2017:
See your vet. Crying and biting near rear end can be seen in dogs with anal gland issues or some other problem such as masses or parasites.
Bonnie Dugan on November 09, 2017:
Help! My 10 year mini poodle cries & bites near his rear end. Stool is normal but seems like a lot for a small dog. He eats well; walk him 5 mi. daily; has a thin leg due to a puppy disease, but moves/runs well. Any comments? I am concerned.
Nancy on August 18, 2017:
My dog has been having poop that looks like pancakes very loose
He has been fixed. He still eats I feed him duck and potato dry food with a teaspoon of duck and potato can food
Shanny on June 07, 2017:
someone gave me a chihuahua pup it's starting too have a normal stool not sure how old she is but she hardly ever eats
PHYLLIS KINELL on April 27, 2017:
all of a sudden when my dog pooped it was very long and looked like it was braided. has anyone ever heard of this and what is the cause???
Fiona on February 18, 2017:
My seven month old border collie keeps suffering intermittently from diahrroea or very soft mustard coloured poohs which really stink! He has had special food and probiotic from the vet which helped for a while. Then we changed food very gradually to a lamb based one which helped briefly. Now we are at a loss what to do! His coat is beautiful and he is a very lively dog who seems in the best of health apart from this.
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on December 03, 2016:
Usually small poop suggests constipation and the fact that you notice penis crowning it could be perhaps he's straining just a bit, but it can be also normal considering that it can be observed even without straining. Is he drinking enough all day?
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on December 03, 2016:
Hi deneace. is your dog neutered or intact? Some times senior intact dogs develop prostate problems and may lead to problems like you are seeing. I would get him checked out by the vet.
Jenny on December 02, 2016:
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?
Deneace on December 01, 2016:
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.
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on October 31, 2016:
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!
Jopanda on October 31, 2016:
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!!
Z-bird on October 16, 2016:
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
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on September 28, 2016:
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.
Nanny on September 11, 2016:
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.
maria on September 02, 2016:
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.
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on April 12, 2016:
LOL, that's a good one!
Soli.C on April 11, 2016:
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
Tricia on March 12, 2016:
My dog poppies soft and sometime there are drops of blood
Brenda Dakine on September 28, 2015:
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
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on September 27, 2015:
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.
sharon lewis on September 21, 2015:
my dogs poop is normal in size and colour but is very crumbly is this normal . can anyone help.
Whiskeymum on May 28, 2015:
Thanks! This helped!
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on May 10, 2014:
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.
Tess on May 09, 2014:
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!
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on February 02, 2014:
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!
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on February 02, 2014:
Thanks Edward, dog stools can tell a lot, kind regards!
Writer Fox from the wadi near the little river on February 02, 2014:
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!
Ed Palumbo from Tualatin, OR on February 01, 2014:
I have two dogs and I appreciate the information! Very interesting and informative.
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on February 01, 2014:
. Yes, I have seen that, either they're disgusted or trying not to breath I guess...Thanks for the votes up! Kind regards!
Bob Bamberg on February 01, 2014:
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.