The Three Elements of Dog Faeces

by Dr Ada Siu. Published 6 August 2020

The Three Elements of Dog Faeces
First of all, we need to understand what ‘poo’, aka faeces, is.

Whilst we’re all familiar with our dog’s poo, keeping a closer eye on it can help us care better for our dogs. But to know what it’s telling us, first, we need to understand just what it is.

Dog poo, or faeces, is simply the waste matter from food after it’s been digested and had its nutrients absorbed by the body. It’s the final product of multiple complex internal processes where multiple body systems play key roles. Because of this, it is very difficult to absolutely tell what is wrong with your pet just from looking at their faeces.

Nevertheless, there are a few key factors you can look for when checking your dog’s poo to see if you should be concerned about the health and wellbeing of your four legged friend.

Nevertheless, there are several factors you can watch when checking your dog’s poo to see if you should be alarmed.

1. Colour

The Ideal
  • A normal healthy dog's poo should be light to dark brown in colour.

Watch Outs
  • Blood discolouration.

If you see bright red streaks of blood within the poo, this may indicate bleeding from the large bowels. If the poo is black, brownish-red or tarry coloured, his may indicate bleeding from the stomach or small bowels.

  • Worms and white spots

While not all worms are big enough to be visible to the naked eye, If you see white spots that resemble rice grains or sesame seeds, these might indicate presence of worms or worm segments.

  • Abnormal colours.

If your dog’s poo is in an abnormal colour, such as yellow, orange, grey, or green, these may indicate underlying illness such as pancreas, liver, gall bladder issues, or abnormality of other parts of the body.

  • Green could mean grass.

If your dog eats grass, this can also potentially turn their poo into a green colour. In some dogs, grass eating behaviour can have underlying behavioural (eg stress) or medical (eg gastrointestinal) causes.

2. Consistency

The Ideal
  • Normal healthy poo should be firm but not dry or hard and does not leave a mark or breaks apart when picked up from the ground.
  • An easy reference for poo consistency is ‘how easily can the poo be picked up’.
Watch Outs
  • Hard and dry

A pet that is dehydrated or constipated will produce hard and dry poo, which might be crumbly, round to pellet shaped, and leaves no residue on the ground when picked up. Persistent or recurring constipation may be caused by a wide range of illnesses, such as gastrointestinal issues, hormonal diseases, kidney issues, neurological disease, etc. Chronic, untreated constipation can damage the wall of the colon, resulting in over-stretching of the colon, or even toxicity from reabsorption of toxic intestinal products as they are not being excreted like normal.

  • Squishy or liquid

In contrast, an abnormal poo can also be too moist, ranging from a squishy consistence that loses form when it's picked up and leaves a mark where it was found, to an entirely liquid state, a ‘puddle’ with no solid form. All of these can indicate dietary issues (eg your dog has eaten something they shouldn't have, abrupt diet change, a low-quality or poorly digestible diet) or something more concerning (eg infections, parasites, or other underlying diseases).


3. Content

Watch Outs
  • Worms and their eggs

Some worms are visible to the naked eye and you may see them in a dog’s poo. However, most of the time when a dog has worms, they will not pass the adult worms but worm eggs instead. The worm eggs are tiny and can only be seen under a microscope. Therefore, you should be giving worming treatments regularly to your dog even if you don’t see worms.

  • Tapeworm segments

If you see little white ‘rice grains’ or ‘sesame seeds’ in the poo, these could be body segments of tapeworms. Some of the tapeworm species are transmitted by fleas so presence of worm segments may indicate that your pet has fleas too, especially if your dog is not already on any flea preventative treatments.

  • Too much fur

While it is normal for a dog to swallow some of their own fur when grooming themselves, it shouldn’t be noticeable in their poo. Large amounts of fur in your pet’s poo usually indicates that your pet has been grooming themselves excessively, which could be associated with behavioural issues (eg stress, anxiety disorders etc.) or underlying medical issues (eg skin diseases, allergies etc.).

  • Foreign materials

If you find any other foreign materials in your dog’s poo, such as rocks, gravels, bones, cloth, plastics, strings, rubber bands, etc., this means your dog has ingested unusual objects and you should check with your vet to see if the material you have found is a concern, as it could potentially be toxic or cause obstructions to the stomach or bowels.

While, we’ve covered a few of the possible reasons behind any abnormalities, there are countless other possible causes due to how many systems are involved in the digestion process.

So if you are already feeding your dog a premium high-quality diet, and they still have abnormal poo, you should consult your vet for advice and testing.

Think your dog has the perfect poo? Check this article here.

Tags: Puppy, Dog, Nutrition

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