The Scoop on Dog Poop

Monday, October 24th, 2011

People send me a lot of emails about their dog’s stool. Sometimes, they send pictures of it. No, I’m not kidding. They want to know if the poop looks to be the right color, texture, etc. They’re worred (I get it) and even more so if they’ve read something on the internet about what the perfect stool looks like and Fido produces anything different from that.

The latest cause for their concern comes from a site that states healthy stool must be hard/firm and brown, but it must turn white within a day and disintegrate within two days. Anything other than that is considered to be bad. So, now we have not only a description, but a timetable to follow! Seriously?


Normally, stool is brown due to a series of reactions in the body, and to bacteria present. It depends on what the dog ate, though. For example, zinc oxide helps the stool to look brown and this form of zinc happens to be in many commercial diets. Dogs that eat a lot of orange vegetables can produce stool that has an orange hue.  Excess calcium can be excreted in stool (via urine, too) which is why stool turns white after it’s been sitting outside for a while. It might or might not disintegrate, but so what? That tells you nothing about the health status of the dog. I wish people were as concerned about feeding a balanced diet as they are with poop turning white.


The things that should draw our attention: mucus in stool (sign of parasites and/or GI tract inflammation), black stool (indicates bleeding), fresh blood in stool, and yellow stool (can indicate a liver problem). Dogs straining to defecate are having some difficulty, so if straining continues for longer periods of time than usual, it could be time to see your vet.


Want to get the GI tract to stay healthy? Feed a balanced diet and supplement with acidophilus a couple of times each week. It’s much simpler and healthier than waiting around for two days to see if the stool will disintegrate.