Your dog’s poo can tell you a lot
We scoop it and bag it daily. We pick it up for them, because they’re the boss. And while it's not the most appealing thing to look at, your dog’s poo is full of great information. By taking a closer look, you can discover more about your dog’s gut health, how their digestive system is working, and when they might need your help.
Here’s what to look for the next time you reach down to the grass (or mid-footpath), so you can help your dog live their healthiest life.
The Five C’s: Changes, Consistency, Contents, Colour and Coating
Your dog’s poo is a great way to connect with their innermost story. By keeping an eye on consistency, contents, colour and coating, as well as any changes, you can learn a lot.
Every dog’s gut is different, so it’s important to gauge what a normal, ‘healthy’ poo looks like for your pup. Changes from this are what you’re looking for.
Mind you, slight changes in your dog’s poo aren’t always a bad thing. If your dog’s transitioning to new food, drinking different amounts, or starting new meds, what goes in can affect what comes out. Things like age and anxiety can contribute. Plus, just like humans, changes in your dog’s activity levels can affect their digestion. Luckily, we’ve got science on our side when it comes to digestion and the key things to look out for.
When you sign up to ilume, our nutrition experts help you keep an eye on your dog’s poo while you’re introducing our food.
Like the Bristol stool chart used for humans, dogs have their very own. This scale shows 7 types of poo, ranging in consistency from 1 (very dry and hard) to 7 (runny liquid poo).
Poos between 2-3 are ideal, as they indicate a good level of hydration and are easy to pass. A score of 2 represents firm, segmented, squishable poop that leaves little to no residue when picked up (similar to play-doh consistency). This is a great poo.
At the top of the scale, a score of 1 indicates constipation or dehydration. The stool will likely be crumbly, hard and uncomfortable to pass - or cause your dog to poo less.
4 & 5 are usually no problem, but 5 onwards indicates diarrhoea. With a score of 4-5, you’ll see moist, soggy lumps or piles that leave residue when picked up. With a score of 6-7, it will be very mushy - even watery.
Scores between 4-7 may indicate a gastrointestinal upset, depending on what’s normal for your dog. When you see watery poos, it usually indicates an upset tummy - that the gut’s not able to properly digest their food.
If your dog’s runny poos or diarrhoea continues for more than a few days, it’s always best to run it past your vet.
ContentsIn an ideal world, a healthy poo wouldn’t contain anything other than food waste. But we know that our dogs will eat anything, from socks to stones. Sometimes their bodies have to pass things that no body should!In these cases, you might discover some random things in your dog’s poo. Common things you might see are:
- Mucus: A small amount can be normal. But too much indicates inflammation, so keep an eye on how it progresses.
- Blood: Blood can be present in the poo for a variety of reasons. If it’s bright red, this means it’s fresh, and probably from a cut or inflamed site nearer the bottom of the digestive tract. If it’s deep red or black, this can indicate internal bleeding higher up the digestive tract. Best to call your vet.
- White spots: One word: worms. And not the juicy kind. Time to treat your dog.
- Foreign objects: Eek! Sometimes dog’s eat foreign objects like toys, shoes, socks etc. Small objects may pass out the other end with no bother, but oftentimes sharp, hard or large objects can cause damage to and penetrate the gut as they travel through. Keep any potential hazards away from your dog as far as possible.
- Grass: Dogs sometimes eat grass, and it’s normal. But if their poo is green, that’s too much. Try to limit their grazing habits for next time.
When your dog’s transitioning to a new food, it’s also common to see undigested food contents (e.g. full pieces of carrot) - so don’t be alarmed.
Often, your dog’s poo will change colour because of something they ate: bright-coloured vegetables (like carrot or beetroot), certain supplements, foods with dye, grass, that other dog’s poo that caught their eye! These should only last 1-2 poos, then go away.
While it’s usually something your dog ate, it’s good to know what the different colours mean, as it may nod to other health issues. Here are some of the colours you might see:
- Chocolate brown: Light to dark brown means it’s a healthy, happy poo.
- Yellow or orange: If you’ve just started feeding your dog our rainbow slaw with carrot, this can turn poos orange! Sometimes, it also suggests a food intolerance, or in more serious cases, problems with your dog’s liver, gallbladder or pancreas.
- White spots: This could mean your dog has intestinal worms.
- Chalky white: This could suggest a diet too high in calcium, or bile issues.
- Grey or greasy: This indicates a difficulty in breaking down fats - but only if it’s a fresh poo. Old poo naturally goes grey when it dries up.
- Pink or purple: If your dog’s not a beetroot eater, this colour should prompt a vet visit ASAP, as it can indicate HGE (Hemorrhagic gastroenteritis).
- Green: This could be your pup grazing on too much grass. It can also suggest other gastrointestinal issues.
- Red: As mentioned above, red poo can indicate bleeding in the lower digestive tract. Best to call your vet, just to be safe.
- Black: As mentioned above, black poos can indicate internal bleeding. Call your vet if there’s been no food change and your dog’s in pain.
If you’ve noticed a colour change for more than 2-3 poops and you haven’t changed anything in your dog’s diet, best to run it by your vet.
A normal, healthy poo shouldn’t come with any additional coating. But sometimes you might notice mucus or blood in your dog’s poo.
Often this isn’t caused by anything too alarming and can be monitored for 1-2 poos. If it continues, you might want to check in with your vet to see what’s going on.
Generally with mucus, a small amount is okay, but excessive amounts can indicate inflammation. Similarly with blood, an occasional small amount may be caused by minor things like straining. If it continues, it’s best to get it checked out.
Other dog poo-related questions
- Why is there a change in how often my dog ‘goes’?
A sudden change in the frequency of your dog’s poos may indicate constipation or diarrhoea. A sudden change in volume is usually due to diet change (rarely underlying health issues). If your dog’s straining and in pain when they poo, they might be constipated. Keep an eye on it, and speak to your vet if it continues past a few days.
- What can the vet do if my dog’s having poo problems?
Veterinarians will look at your dog's medical history and conduct a detailed stool sample evaluation by examining it under a microscope. If required, they’ll also run other diagnostic tests. This allows them to detect what’s causing any changes and find out whether there are any health issues you need to be aware of.
The scoop on ilume
With ilume, you get a full science team helping you out. We make sure your dog is loving ilume and their bowels are too. Like we said, we can learn a lot from your dog’s poo and we help you keep track. We take their gut health very seriously.
Please be mindful: This guide cannot replace vet advice. If your dog’s poo seems different, or strange, or worrying, go with your gut. Speak to your vet.