What does every type of dog poo mean?

The reality of being a dog owner is watching your dog and picking up poo for a living. He even stares at me like a psycho while he’s making me a present. I bet he’s thinking: “This is payback for not letting me sleep on the bed.”

But I love it. Because dog poo, while neither a glamorous nor an enjoyable part of my day, is important. It’s how I know if George has happy and healthy insides or not.

While it is a shit job (pun intended), it’s worth it just to make sure their gut health is in good shape and their diet is right for them. Before we wade into the wonderful world of poo, let’s first look at how a dog’s digestive system actually works. 

Got that gut feeling

Whatever your dog chows down on – be it kibble, grass, or whatever it is you’ve been trying to get out of his mouth for the past two minutes – is met with saliva. The saliva can contain mucus and its function is to help make the food easier for your pup to swallow. So far, so normal, right?

Then it goes through the esophagus and down to the stomach, where it breaks down into a form that’s easily absorbed by your pup’s body. The partially digested food is called ‘chyme’. It’s a thick, milky mixture that gets passed down to the small intestine. Sorry to anyone who’s eating while reading this.

In the small intestine, the main part for digestion is called the duodenum. This bit is super important for the chemical digestion of chyme.

Then the chyme reaches the large intestine. All the water is sucked out, the food is digested and absorbed, and the healthy gut bacteria get to work on breaking down the dietary fibre. If you want to know what to blame, this is the bit that produces those silent-but-deadly farts. After all those nutrients have been digested and absorbed, the rest comes out for you to awkwardly pick up from, somehow, throughout a bush. How do they always do it in the hardest to reach places?

Is something wrong?

In short, what you feed your dog will affect them at every stage of the digestive system.

For example, you could be feeding your dogs all the right nutrients, but if their body isn’t absorbing them correctly, they’re simply passing straight through. If that’s the case, then prebiotics would be a must in their food, as these help aid the absorption of minerals.

Another sign something’s not quite right is if your pooch rips farts so thick and gross you can’t see. Have you ever tasted a smell? It could be a range of problems. An ingredient in their food could be aggravating their little stomachs. Perhaps they need something that goes down a little smoother. Foods like salmon and potato are really easy for most pups to digest.

Even skin problems like itching and flaking can be traced back to nutrition. It might be a symptom of an allergy or intolerance, with common culprits being beef, pork, wheat, wheat gluten, dairy, soya, and artificial colours and flavours. So a hypoallergenic kibble would be the best bet to put a stop to all that itching and scratching.

Everything comes back to the food they eat and how well their bodies digest it. And one of the easiest ways to figure out if something isn’t right is to take a real good look at the poo.

A moist but firm, chocolate-brown poo is a sign of a happy, healthy pooch. But there are two key factors to low-key look at while you’re scooping up last night’s dinner in the park. The consistency and the colour.

Is it easy to pick up?

Chocolate nuggets are easy to pick up. If you have to scrape a curry off the grass, it could be an indication that they have an issue with their tummy, their food, or there’s a GI tract issue. That’s the tube that runs from their mouth to their bum. I’m not giving official veterinary advice here, but it’s useful to know that it doesn’t always mean you have to rush to the vet. If it’s a one-off, it’s worth looking at his food or if they’ve been stressed that day. If it continues, give them a call. 

Solid… Solid as a rock

Rock solid poos usually mean Lassie is dehydrated and constipated which, as we all know, can be extremely uncomfortable. Try encouraging them to drink more water and use natural constipation remedies. Again, keep an eye on them, but any consistent changes in your dog’s stool is always worth seeking medical advice over. Especially if they’re in significant pain or losing weight. 

Now we’ve covered consistency, it’s time to whip out the Dulux colour chart. Colour can mean a lot, but a little variation isn’t uncommon, especially if you’re trying to get them on a new food. But when poops start to look like luminous English mustard, you might have a problem. 

First, if you’re here panicking looking for an answer as to why their poop is some crazy colour, you can relax. Food dye can affect colour. So if recently your pooch stole a doughnut with blue icing and now their poo is the colour of Powerade, it’s probably just the colouring that’s affecting them. 

But there are some colours that are a cause for concern.

Black tar like dog poo

Poo usually turns black because blood has been digested. There can be a number of different reasons why this happens, like toxins in the gastrointestinal system, parasites, and bacterial pathogens. Vet’s usually do some blood work, take a stool sample, and do an ultrasound to figure out what’s causing it. 

Grey and greasy dog poo

A shiny, silver poop can be a sign of maldigestion. This happens when the pancreas isn’t doing its job properly. If your pooch has been begging for a bite of your dinner more than usual lately, this could be why – it makes them feel constantly starving. Maldigestion is a very treatable condition, but only with the help of the vet.

Green dog poo

This could just mean he’s been munching on too much grass – which is generally considered safe for dogs to eat, BTW. But it could also mean they have a parasite or another issue. As always, keep an eye on their poop to see if it was just a one-off or if it’s time to visit the vet. 

Yellow mucus dog poo

A runny, mucus-y, curry-like poop shouldn’t be ignored. It’s most likely the sign of food intolerance. Look out for this if you’re planning to start them on a new food

Orange, yellow, or pale dog poo

This could be a biliary (bile or bile duct) or liver issue. But it could also mean your dog’s poop moved too quickly through the GI tract to pick up the bile. The bile is what changes the colour to that healthy chocolate brown you hope to see. It could be nothing, but to be safe, have a vet take a look.

Red dog poo

Dog poo is usually red when there’s blood in it. They could just have a little cut on their butt, but have a look and if you can’t see anything, take him down to the vet.

Purple or pink dog poo

If your dog’s poop is pink or purple and resembles the colour and consistency of jam, call your vet ASAP. There’s a chance it could be hemorrhagic gastroenteritis (HGE). If it is HGE, they should be fine as long as they receive prompt treatment. 

Polka dot dog poo

If it looks like there are little pieces of rice sprinkled in there, it could be worms. The good news is worms are easily treatable. Pretty much every pet shop sells deworming tablets. The only real hurdle is finding the best food to hide the tablet in so the crafty buggers don’t spit it out.

And there you have it. Your complete guide to dog poo. 

Now the next time your dog leaves you something that looks a bit questionable, you’ll have a good idea of how you can help get them back on top form again.

Nutrition really is the key to your dog’s health. Swagwags’ hypoallergenic kibble is perfect for pups with any allergies, sensitivities, or intolerances. And our grain-free range is ideal for those with problems digesting grain. Our kibble is high quality and free of any nasties. So take a look at our range and see which of our delectable dishes will have your pooch salivating.

If you’re ever concerned about potential allergies, take one of our sensitivity tests. It’s non-invasive and takes 5 minutes to do – a small price for perfect pup health!