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Do the Doo

Why you should keep an eye on your dog’s dung

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Hardly a day goes by without me sniffing, scratching and spinning to pick a place to poo. This daily hunt for an elusive bullseye to drop a deuce can be exhausting.

Part of being a dog means pooping on the regular, and part of having a dog means scooping the poop on the regular. But have you taken a good close look at your dog’s doodie recently? Probably not—after all, it’s poop, right? Gross. But your pet’s stool offers clues about his health, so you might want to keep an eye on it. More specifically, you should look for the four C’s of pet poop: color, consistency, coating and contents.

Poop is like the digestive system’s mood ring. The more you analyze the poop, the savvier you’ll be when determining the causes of color changes. If your pet is happy and healthy, his poop should be brown in color. If you see bright red streaks or tarry black stool, that could indicate bleeding. Talk to your vet as soon as possible. Green can mean that your dog has eaten too much grass or has a gallbladder issue.

The next time you bend down to scoop your dog’s poop, be observant and take note. Dog poop should be compact, moist and easy to pick up—with a bit of a Play-Doh feel when squished. Diarrhea or watery feces can be an indicator of tummy upset. And if your dog’s poop is hard or dry, it may be a sign of constipation. If you notice that the consistency of your dog’s poop seems ‘off’, be sure to discuss this with your vet.

Weird but true: Dogs’ lower intestinal glands produce a clear slime
to let stool pass more easily. Sometimes, the slime coats your dog’s poop. An occasional coating is normal, but your pet’s poop should not have a coating of any kind surrounding it. Mucus in poop could indicate an inflamed colon, whereas the presence of a lot of grass could mean they’ve been grazing on too much grass or have a gallbladder issue.

No one is expected to poke around in their dog’s business, but if you happen to see something out of the ordinary, it can be worth examining. Small white bits? Your dog may have worms. Clumps of fur in the stool could be a sign of over-grooming or allergies. Grass, plastic, rocks, cloth and even money can sometimes be found in your dog’s stool—after all, dogs sometimes ingest odd things.

Regarding bowel movement frequency—most dogs tend to pop a squat once to twice a day. Less than once a day could mean your pup is constipated, and needs to drink more water or hasn’t been eating enough. However, if your pooch normally goes three-plus times daily, it’s just a sign he’s got healthy digestion.

After years spent inspecting—and sampling—dog doo, it’s become clear to me just how much a dog’s daily poo can tell you. While the occasional poop problem may not be cause for concern, knowing what’s normal for your dog makes it easy to tell when something’s wrong. Catching signs early can help your pet remain healthy—and ensure that everything keeps running smoothly.

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