As dog owners and animal lovers, we all want the best for our dogs to feel confident that they are as happy and healthy as can be.
If the eyes are the window to the soul, then the stool is the window to gastrointestinal health. Because our dogs can’t communicate with us through words, their stools can give us important information about their health.
There are 3 key parameters to consider when you’re picking up after your dog and assessing their stool in the process:
Our dogs’ stools should be a chocolate brown colour, milk chocolate to be precise. Slightly darker is OK too, but if you are noticing stools that are getting towards a black, tar-like colour, then consult with your vet. Your vet may request a photo or a stool sample for analysis so feel free to phone them and ask what they would like you to do before you bring your dog in.
Dog poo often turns white and dries out naturally after a few days left outside so when analysing your dogs’ stools, make sure you’re looking at a fresh sample before getting concerned. If you do notice your dogs’ stool is chalky or white when fresh, this is a sign of a dietary nutritional imbalance and you should speak to your trusted health professional about a complete and balanced diet that meets your dog’s needs.
Throughout their lives and stages of growth, our pets have different and specific nutritional needs, so it’s best to consult with a professional to determine what your dog needs, taking into account their age, breed, and health status; as well as feeding a nutritionally complete and balanced diet commercially manufactured by experts in pet nutrition. For more information on the nutritional needs of our dog’s through their different life stages, visit this article https://pfiaa.com.au/life-stage-nutrition-dog/
Any colour other than brown warrants veterinary assessment and this includes green, orange, grey or red.
The consistency of your dogs’ stool should be firm, but soft and easy to pick up. Anything too loose indicates intestinal upset and anything too firm may be a sign of constipation, especially if you notice your dog is straining when they defecate or taking a long time to relieve themselves. Constipation may be due to something as simple as not drinking enough water but may also be a sign of a medical issue, so when in doubt, always consult your vet.
Diarrhoea also warrants veterinary investigation especially if the stool is particularly watery, your dog is in pain, and/or if the diarrhoea is persistent. If your dog has an upset stomach and you’re unsure of what to do, here is a guide you can use https://pfiaa.com.au/what-to-feed-a-dog-with-an-upset-stomach/
Sometimes our dog’s snack on things other than their food so it’s good to be conscious of the contents of your dogs’ stool to see if they are consuming things that can cause intestinal damage or blockage like rocks, large stick pieces and other foreign material.
Things you may see in your dogs’ stool that warrant a trip to the vet include blood, mucus, fat, or worms.
The Role Diet Plays
It’s important to feed a nutritionally complete and balanced diet with the macro and micronutrients our dog’s need to suit their life stage and any other nutritional needs they may have. A nutritionally balanced and digestible diet leads to healthy dogs with healthy gastrointestinal function and healthy stools.
Ultimately there isn’t a one-size-fits-all diet to suit our pets. They are individuals just like us, and one diet may be perfect for one dog, but unsuitable for another. Keeping a watchful eye over your dogs’ stools when choosing a diet that best suits their needs will help you determine what is working and what is not.