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Become a Poop Inspector-monitoring your dog's health by examining his poop!

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Become a Poop Inspector-monitoring your dog's health by examining his poop!

Why is it so uncomfortable to talk about poop? We all poop, and so do our dogs! So let's take the shame and awkwardness out of the equation and see what we can learn about your dog from his poop.

There are five components of poop to examine, color, shape, consistency, quantity, and content. Let's examine what each element can tell about your dog's health. 

The Poop Rainbow

Normal dog poop is rich and dark brown, except when you add raw natural foods to his bowl. Medical disorders can also cause poop to change colors. 

  • Red stools

If feeding raw- Reddish-colored poops are seen when you feed your dog raw beef and beets.

Medical concerns- Bright red streaks in the stool may be from a rectal injury, inflammation of the colon, or an anal gland infection. This is normal when occasional. You should consult your veterinarian if the stool continues to contain blood regularly or in large amounts.

  • Orange and yellow stools

If feeding raw- The consumption of orange and yellow vegetables can create orange and yellow stools. Feeding raw chicken to your dog will also cause the poops to be a lighter brown or even yellowish color. 

Medical concerns- Orange, yellow, or very pale stools can indicate liver disease.

  • Green stools

If feeding raw- Feeding lightly steamed leafy greens and occasional grass consumption can cause the poop to be green.

Medical concerns- Green stools can be a sign of gallbladder or liver disease, a parasite infection, or ingestion of rat poison. If it continues, a visit to the vet may be necessary.

  • Dark blue to black stools

If feeding raw-When giving blueberries to your dog, his poop can have a dark blue, black, or purple hue. Organ meat can also cause the stool to be a dark color.

Medical concerns- Black stools can be a clinical sign of gastrointestinal tract bleeding. 

  • Light beige to white stools

If feeding raw- Providing too many bones can lead to chalky white poop.

Medical concerns- White streaks or small white particles on the poop could be intestinal parasites, such as roundworms or tapeworms. 

  • Brown stools

If feeding raw- Normal stools range from light to dark brown. When dogs consume a lot of red meat, the stools can be very dark brown.

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Shape and Consistency

Because the consistency of poop directly affects the shape, we will discuss them together. Average dog poop is compact, moist, and easy to clean up without falling apart. Other poop consistencies are watery diarrhea, soft shapeless stools, and hard pellets.

Diarrhea or watery stools can indicate a disease process within the GI tract. However, some diarrhea is common if you are transitioning your dog to a raw diet. If diarrhea persists, especially with vomiting, for more than three days, you should take your dog to your veterinarian. Administration of fluids may be necessary to prevent your dog from becoming dehydrated.

Soft poops break apart when you clean up after your dog, but not watery or fluid-like diarrhea. Transitioning to a new food too quickly can result in soft stools.  

Very hard, pebble-like stools indicate your dog is dehydrated or has constipation. Insufficient water consumption or eating only dry kibble can cause constipation. 

How Much Poop Is Normal?

Dogs fed kibble frequently defecate large and very stinky poops. Large-sized poops indicate that your dog did not digest much of the food. Studies have determined that dogs digest only 60 to 80% of kibble, depending on the food's ingredients and percentage of fillers. That means 20 to 40% of the kibble is excreted in poop! 

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Dogs that eat raw food have much smaller and less stinky poops because the body can fully process the food. The body can utilize most of the food with less excreting waste.

What is On and In the Poop?

Doing a visual examination of your dog's poop may not be enough. You should grab a glove or a plastic bag and feel the poop! You will be able to detect the texture of the poop. Objects too small to see, like bits of bone or pieces of toys that were inadvertently ingested, can be felt.

What is on the outer layer of the poop is also essential. A mucous coating is often seen when dogs are transitioning to raw because the intestinal tract undergoes detoxification, including shedding part of its mucous layer.

A greasy stool and a grayish color can be a sign of pancreatitis. If more than one poop is greasy, consult your veterinarian.

Digestibility Impacts Stool Quality and Quantity

What emerges from your dog tells a lot about what's happening inside. Everything plays a role, from the kind of food your dog eats to how well their body can use it. The type of food—whether it's muscle meat, raw meaty bones, organs, or grains—matters a lot because their digestibility varies.

The poop of kibble-fed dogs is different from a fresh-fed dog's. Kibble-fed dogs have large and odorous stools, mainly because kibble is much less digestible than fresh, raw foods. Kibble is packed with carbohydrates and fillers, which aren't as easy for dogs to break down and use, creating much more waste.

Digestibility is the percentage of food your dog can convert into energy and nutrients. Kibble varies significantly in quality, but typically, it's loaded with less digestible ingredients than a diet of fresh, raw foods. The lack of digestibility leads to more waste material passing through the gastrointestinal tract.

How kibble is made can negatively impact nutrients' power, thanks to heavy processing and added preservatives and fillers. Fresh food diets, however, contain high-quality proteins and natural nutrients that are easier for dogs to absorb and benefit from, create less waste, and smaller poops that are less odorous.

Better digestibility ensures that dogs absorb more essential nutrients such as proteins, fats, and vitamins, improving health outcomes like a robust immune system and better quality of life, especially in aged dogs. Higher bioavailability affects the gastrointestinal microbiome, which is crucial for overall health. A well-balanced gut microbiota aids digestion and prevents diseases by enhancing the gut barrier and modulating the immune system.

Don't Panic When You Notice Changes

As the intestinal tract undergoes detoxification and the gut microbiome adjusts to the new raw diet, it is expected to see a mucous coating on your dog's stool. The intestinal tract is shedding part of its mucosa layer in response to the shift in the microbiota. 

Other changes that will occur include

  • Smaller quantities of poop as the dog's body utilizes most of the food components.
  • The stools will also have less odor.
  • The stools will be easier to scoop or disintegrate quickly if not discarded.

If your dog is experiencing diarrhea but no changes in behavior or appetite, providing smaller meals more frequently may help. You can also add probiotics, slippery elm, marshmallow root, or bone broth to their diet to ease digestive issues.

Raw food also tends to be more filling than kibble, meaning most dogs eat less but still feel full. Although you may witness several changes when you first transition your dog to a raw diet, your pup will adjust quickly, especially if you adapt his diet based on his poop when necessary.

Poop Observations as a Preliminary Diagnostic Tool

Making daily poop observations is the primary tool to assess a dog's overall health. Dog parents who are attentive to their dog's stools have a better chance of catching changes in their dogs' health earlier than those who do not note defecation habits. Changes in stools provide information on needed dietary alterations. The changes in the stool can also be indicative of disease processes. 

Adjusting Your Dog's Diet Based on Its Poop

While your dog is transitioning to raw, you may need to adjust its diet based on what its poop looks like. The changes may look like the following:

  • If your dog has chalky, dry, white stools, you can temporarily cut the bone content in the diet by 2-3% until their poop becomes normal. Once their poop returns to normal, slowly add the bone content to the diet while monitoring their stool.
  • If your dog experiences constipation, cutting back on bone content is often recommended in this case. 
  • Soft or loose stools can indicate too little bone in the diet. Slightly increase the bone percentage by 1-3%.
  • If your dog has watery stools or diarrhea that are dark in color, this could be a sign of too much organ meat in the diet. While 5% liver and 5% other secreting organs are recommended, you can cut this in half during the transition while the body becomes accustomed to eating raw. 
  • Slime on your dog's poop is very common, but a lot of it regularly could be a sign of food allergies or inflammation of the lower intestines. If you notice mucus regularly, contact your veterinarian or contact a Real Dog Box Nutritionist for recommendations.

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The Quest for the Perfect Poop!

The perfect dog poop is compact, moist, and easy to clean up without falling apart. The color will reflect what your dog recently ate. 

As you become an expert on poop, you will be excited to see the perfect poops because you know that means you are providing the optimal food for your furry friend!

Takeaway Bites

  • The components of poop, color, shape, consistency, quantity, and contents reflect your dog's health.
  • The food consumed by your dog directly correlates with the color of his poop.
  • Dogs fed kibble have larger and stinker poops because so much food remains undigested.

References