Have you ever wondered what should my pet’s poop look like? Okay, it’s not a particularly pleasant task, but monitoring the quality of your dog or cat’s poop is a good way to get a window on your pet’s health.
Volumes and volumes have been written about pet poop. Veterinarians spend so much time analyzing, asking questions about and talking about poop, you might think they are a little obsessed. Your pet’s stool can help answer many health-related questions, as well as raise the red flag on potential problems. So, if your dog or cat seems under the weather and a vet visit is in order, it is always a good idea to take along to take along a reasonably fresh stool sample since likely as not, your vet will want one anyhow.
There is a standard relating to stool which is called the four C’s.
Your pet’s stool should be medium brown in colour. Some colour variation is normal and in other cases not so much. For instance, if you see blood or bloody streaks in your pet’s poop, it might indicate bleeding in the lower intestinal tract. Black stool may indicate bleeding in the stomach. Pale coloured or yellowish stool can indicate problems in the liver, gall bladder or pancreas. Don’t panic if you see one instance of colour change, but if the change continues for more than one or two more movements, it is a good idea to take a sample and have your vet check out your pet. This all applies to pet food which doesn’t have any artificial colouring, but if you are feeding a food which includes any type of dyes or colourings, this may also affect the colour of the stool.
I knew an old timer in the pet food industry who used to call the ideal consistency for dog poop ‘tootsie rolls’, and this isn’t far from the truth. Stools should be firm and formed into log-like shapes and be neither too dry and hard, nor too wet. You should be able to pick up a well-formed stool cleanly from whatever surface it is on without leaving any residue behind, and it should have a soft clay-like consistency.
Poops that are too dry will indicate a lack of hydration and you will often see your pet straining for lengthy periods of time which can have its own effects.
While some pets naturally produce a wetter stool, it should always have a form. Dogs under stress will sometimes develop a sudden case of diarrhea, as will dogs who have been overfed. If diarrhea lasts for more than a few bowel movements, it’s probably time to head to the vet.
You should be able to pick up a well-formed stool cleanly from whatever surface it is on without leaving any residue behind. If there is a coating of mucous on the stool or a bright red coating of blood, there may be an issue with your pet’s colon. One streak of blood is not a concern, however if there is blood with each bowel movement, this is where the proverbial red flag comes in and you should schedule an appointment with your vet.
I know, it’s disgusting. But investigating the contents of your pet’s poop can tell a story that you may need to know. Digging around a little can reveal if your dog has been chewing up your favourite socks or other illegal contraband. The presence of a bunch of hair might tell you kitty is overgrooming or under stress. Small rice-like bits or yukky long wriggly wormy critters will indicate worms, and excess grass may indicate tummy upset. If dissecting your pet’s poop is just too much for you to handle, just take a sample to your vet and let the professionals do it for you.
When to see a vet
One of the main reasons people take their pets to the vet is because of diarrhea. While one instance of the runs isn’t necessarily cause for alarm, if it goes on for several bowel movements or more than 24 hours, it is time to act. The same thing goes for stool with a little blood in it or a mucous covering. But if the condition persists or there is a large amount of blood in the stool a call to your vet is in order.
Paying attention to your pet’s poop is important. As distasteful as it may seem, doing the ‘poop patrol’ and keeping an eye on your pet’s stool quality will be worth it ‘in the end’.
“I was talking to the people at the local dog store and they suggested that I try NOW FRESH™ Grain Free and gave me a sample bag. His appetite is up, his coat looks amazing and he has even more energy at day care. We are so impressed with the food, thank you!”
- Carrie and Cliff