This article originally appeared on Ollie, a dog food startup providing your pup a tailored meal with human-grade ingredients.
Full disclosure: this article is full of crap. But this is crap worth giving a you-know-what about because it’s regarding your dog. More specifically, your dog’s poop. Paying attention to your pup’s #2 can give you a picture of his overall health, alerting you to potential issues, important dietary needs, and maybe even solving the Mystery of the Missing Loofah. So the next time you’re reaching down with that plastic bag, take a little lookie-loo. The poop you’re picking up is trying to tell you something. We’re here to translate the exhaustive list of dump types with a little help from Dr. Bryan Gelman, DVM:
How it looks: Traditionally brown, not too hard or soft, with a mild odor and consistent structure
What it means: This is the gold standard of poop, enjoying an uneventful journey through your dog’s bowels. I’m best because I’m boring.
How it looks: Very dark and sticky in consistency, almost like, well, tar
What it means: Ugh, it’s a bit rough in there. Generally speaking, it’s the result of a gastrointestinal ulcer or some human medication like aspirin that took a trip down the digestive tract of the wrong species. You might want to make sure the medicine cabinet is locked. I can also can be an indication of underlying disease, so if I keep showing up, contact your vet.
How it looks: Raspberry jam from the squeeze bottle
What it means: Time to call the vet—this could be serious. It’s usually a sign of HGE or hemorrhagic gastroenteritis, which is treatable if caught early, but can be serious if ignored.
How it looks: Streaks of bright or dark red
What it means: Something ain’t right. The poop has picked up blood along the distal gastrointestinal tract, which indicates possibilities like colitis, rectal injury, anal gland infection, or even a tumor. Give the vet a call and keep an eye out for more.
How it looks: Little white specks that look like grains of rice
What it means: Ruh-roh, we’ve got company. I’ve picked up some worms on my way out of town. A simple prescription from the vet will get things back to normal.
How it looks: Gray, greasy, fatty soft masses
What it means: Your dog has gotta do something about this excess fat! It seems that the pancreas isn’t producing the right enzymes to help break down fat, indicating a condition such as EPI (Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency) or maldigestion. It’s treatable, so give the vet a call.
How it looks: White, chalky, charcoal-like briquettes
What it means: Let’s dial down the calcium, pal. It’s probably the result of a raw diet that’s heavy on bone or calcium, causing a condition called obstipation. (Bone alone in the poop is not necessarily obstipation.) Rethink the raw food ingredients and consult your vet if you’re still stumped.
How it looks: Frequent and watery in consistency
What it means: Whoa, things are moving fast! It’s typically a sign of anxiety or stress, but sometimes indicate a virus or parasite. It can lead to dehydration pretty quickly, so keep a close eye, especially with puppies.
Rock Solid Poop
How it looks: Large, dense logs that are especially stinky
What it means: Let me guess, you got a good deal on a 90-pound bag of dog food at the warehouse store? This is the result of a steady diet of dry kibble loaded with fillers. It’s not dangerous, unless left on a sidewalk near unsuspecting pedestrians.
How it looks: Carrot-colored with soft or runny consistency
What it means: It could be the result of a too-quick trip through the digestive system (aka diarrhea), unable to pick up enough bile to turn brown. Or, it might be indicating trouble in the liver or bile production. Keep an eye on it and call the vet if I stick around.
How it looks: Soft poop covered in booger-like mucous
What it means: It may look like something out of a sci-fi flick, but it’s a textbook example of parasites or parvovirus. Call the vet instead of an alien bounty hunter.
How it looks: Bright green, soft consistency
What it means: Come in for a close up. If it don’t resemble blades of grass, I could indicate a run-in with a household poison like rat bait. If you’re lawn-less, contact the vet.
How it looks: Slimy yellow streaks with regular or soft consistency
What it means: Are you sure about this new dog food? This poop is waving the yellow flag of “Tough Transition” and calling for a temporary truce while you slow things down and try to identify if your dog is allergic to a certain ingredient or if he needs more time to adjust.
This post should not be taken as professional advice. Please consult a veterinarian or other professional before making any dietary changes.