What You Should Know About Dog Poop

Man with dog cleaning up dog stool from sidewalk.

You pick it up and toss it out every day, but how much do you really know about your dog’s poop? 

At Berkeley Veterinary Center, we typically ask that you bring a stool sample with you when your pet has a wellness visit, and that’s because your dog’s poop can give us the inside scoop on your pet’s health! 

What Should My Dog’s Poop Look Like? 

You don’t need a microscope or other fancy tools to perform an occasional inspection of your pet’s poop. Just take a quick peek and take note of the four Cs—color, consistency, content, and coating—when your pup takes a potty break. 

The Four Cs Explained

Color: Not to ruin your next candy bar, but healthy dog poop is chocolate brown. Black stool or red streaks indicate the presence of blood somewhere in the dog’s digestive tract. Pale gray or yellowish poop could point to liver, gallbladder, or pancreas problems.

Consistency: Veterinarians typically use a scale of 1 to 7 to gauge the consistency of a dog’s stool sample, with 1 being a rock-hard marble and 7 being soup. Healthy dog poop should feel similar to children’s Play-Doh and hold its form when squeezed. 

Content: Sometimes worms are visible in a dog’s stool, but we also use diagnostic tests to check for the presence of microscopic parasite eggs. Foreign matter like grass and small bits of cloth aren’t uncommon, since dogs do a lot of exploring with their mouths, but if your dog is dining on too many nonfood items, it’s important to contact us. Your pet’s penchant for nonedible objects could be triggered by stress, a poor diet, or even boredom. Similarly, large clumps of fur in his stool could stem from overgrooming due to loneliness, anxiety, or allergies.

Coating: Healthy dog poop shouldn’t have a coating. If you spy a coating of mucus, it could indicate that your dog has some inflammation in the bowel. 

The Deets on Dog Poop Diagnostics

We recommend annual dog stool tests in conjunction with your pet’s wellness appointment to check for the presence of intestinal parasites like roundworms and hookworms, as well as microscopic parasites like giardia or coccidia. 

Fresh, same-day samples are best and will generate the most accurate diagnostic results. Poo that’s been left in the yard for too long can attract bugs that weren’t there to begin with, and when a stool sample dries out, the presence of parasites can be masked. 

When to Contact the Veterinarian

If one of the four Cs seems off kilter, contact us right away to see if an appointment and dog stool test are warranted. Some issues—particularly changes in color or consistency—can be attributed to your dog eating something new or unusual and will likely resolve themselves in a day or so. 

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