50 Shades of Poo
It may not be the most glamourous thing to talk about, but you can tell a lot about your pet's health based on their poo. For new and experienced owners alike, being able to spot early signs of ill health keeps your pet's welfare a priority and you a responsible pet parent. This is just a rough guide and any concerns should be promptly discussed with a veterinarian.
We all know that poop should be brown. But what are the other colors trying to tell us? Keep in mind that dyes in foods or treats can appear in your pet's stool. These artificial dyes should be avoided where possible. But if you give your dog a blue pupcake for example, you may see a little blue poop and it's no need to be alarmed!
Bright red is a sign of fresh blood, usually from the end of the digestive tract. If you are seeing some red in their stool, check the bum area for cuts. If no cuts can be seen, this may indicate an internal issue. It can sometimes be a lack of fibre or constipation, but it's always worth checking if there is something more serious happening. If it happens more than once, see a vet for advice.
Dark red or black poo means this is old blood. This means that the issue lies further up the digestive system like in the stomach or small intestines. Dark red is a bit more serious and could indicate an ulcer.
White spots or lines may be a sign of internal parasites or worms. This left untreated can be harmful, but is a quick fix with a round of dewormer from your local veterinarian.
If the poo is green, there are a few things to consider. Has your dog been in the garden nibbling on plants or the grass? If they have, this is a sign that they have an upset tummy and are trying to alleviate the discomfort. If you know they have not been eating plants or grass, this might be a gallbladder, parasite, or other internal issue.
Orange or yellow poop could be a gallbladder or liver issue. If you are seeing a yellow mucus however, this is less serious. Yellow mucus is a sign of a food intolerance. Sometimes the stool will also be a bit loose. You may see this if you have changed foods recently and will want to watch this to ensure your dog settles with their new diet. If it persists, you may want to talk to your vet or a qualified nutritionist.
Grey stool coupled with a greasy appearance is usually an indication of a pancreas issue called Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency. EPI does not allow your dog to digest and absorb nutrients causing starvation in extreme cases. This is more commonly seen in breeds such as German shepherds and collies. While this can be relatively easy to be treated by a vet, you should take them in right away to avoid any further complications.
Again, not fun, but very important to know what a healthy poo should feel like. You pick it up everyday anyway, so you might as well check in on your pet's health! Stool charts are a great way to see what your dog is experiencing. Anything that is dry, or crumbly is a sign of possible dehydration which has led to some constipation. If you are seeing loose stool or diarrhea, it can be a wide range of issues such from an upset tummy to infections. Dogs can experience strange poops from time to time (like us!) but it's important to report these to a vet if they are more than just a one off.
I wouldn't recommend making a science project out of this, but what is in your pet's poo can give you clues to any other issues happening with your pet's health. Only a veterinarian will have the equipment and qualifications to spot the microscopic contents of your dog's stool.
Strange objects such as pieces of plastic, cloth or food wrappers are a sign that your dog may be snooping around while you are away. Make sure bins are inaccessible for them to go through. Check all toys are safe and still able to be used. Fur in poop may mean they are overgrooming and ingesting the hair as they are licking themselves. Overgrooming can be caused by allergies, skin irritations, or even anxiety. If you are seeing white specks or lines in their stool, this is a sign of worms. Worms can look a little different depending on the type, but they will still appear white. This is very treatable through a round of simple dewormers from your veterinarian.
Keeping it all healthy
A healthy digestive system is really important to avoid unexpected vet visits and an upset pet. Here are 4 things you can be doing right now to keep your pet's tummy happy and healthy.
Your dog's diet should be the best you can afford with top quality ingredients and balanced to their specific needs. Your dog's age, life stage, and health status will determine their nutritional requirements. Be very weary of raw diets unless you are experienced in creating a fully balanced diet. Vegan diets should be completely avoided as dogs are carnivores and must have a meat based diet. A vet can help you explore options, but a degree qualified nutritionist is the best in terms of specialised knowledge of what suits your dog's needs.
Avoid over indulging your pet with treats and table food. While those puppy eyes may be hard to resist, they'll thank you for not giving them a gastrointestinal nightmare. Treats will usually tell you to feed small amounts on their packaging. Table or 'human' food not only can upset your pet's tummy, but also encourage bad behaviours such as begging or counter surfing.
3. Ensure your bins are all pet-proofed and inaccessible. Not only is the food potentially dangerous, but also the wrappers that the food comes in. Plastic with cheese or other delicious food on it is too tempting and will be consumed without a second thought.
4. You will also want to pet proof inside as well as your garden. Areas to focus on inside include properly storing cleaning chemicals, medicines, and not leaving a dog alone in a room with food on a low table (such as a coffee table). Baby gates are a great tool to keep pets in a certain area while easily being able to see what they are doing. In outside areas, have a look in your garden for poisonous plants and flowers. Begonias, tulips, foxglove, and yew plant are just a few of the poisonous plants you may have in your garden. Keep all fertilizers and pesticides out of reach. These are toxic even in small amounts.
We hope you have found this helpful and informative. This is a guide and all inquires about your dog's health should be consulted by a veterinarian first.
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