We know it can be an icky subject to talk about- but there is a lot about your pet’s stool that can be an indicator of their health. Not only is it important to monitor what goes into their body, but it is also necessary to keep an eye on what’s coming out.
Most owners know what their pet’s normal stool looks like but are a little unsure when to call the vet for advice on abnormal poop. In general, your dog’s stools should be tubular, dark brown, fairly firm and easy to pick up. Cat’s bowel movements are typically “Tootsie Roll” shaped and colored; and should be easy to scoop up from the litter box.
If the stool is soft, mushy, and hard to pick up, this is considered diarrhea. The colon is the organ that absorbs the water from the intestine, so if the stool is abnormally loose, the colon is not functioning properly. Some dogs want to “mark” with their excrement. It is not normal for a well-trained dog to have accidents in the house.
Some dogs will have a normal bowel movement at the beginning of a walk, and then proceed to have one or more BM where the stool is soft. This is simply because the fecal contents have been sitting in the colon long enough for the water to be absorbed. As long as the dog is happy, eating, and not having any accidents, this can be normal behavior.
When cats get diarrhea and they are using a litter box, it will often be covered in litter and look more like a ball or urine rather than poop. Small animals can become dehydrated easily due to diarrhea, especially if they are also vomiting and/or not eating.
***Poop color can also be representative of the diet (i.e a dog who eats a lot of pumpkin or carrots may have orange colored stools that are “normal”. The consistency of the BM should be evaluated to determine if it’s “normal” or “abnormal”.
WHEN TO CALL THE VET
If your pet’s stool is suddenly:
Or you find:
-Sesame seed looking material
It is time to alert your vet! Many intestinal parasite only shed microscopic eggs into the droppings; therefore, you may not see any evidence of parasites. Even animals with normal stools can carry intestinal parasites. We recommend annual fecal examinations for all pets.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) classifies dog waste as an environmental pollutant- placing it in the same category as toxic chemicals!
Dog feces are not a fertilizer, and are actually toxic to lawns. In addition, they also are one of the most common carriers of disease. Furthermore, the EPA explains that the decay of pet droppings causes oxygen levels in water to decrease- causing the fish and seafood we eat to become asphyxiated.
So don’t forget to keep those poop bags handy!