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A Healthy Stool

By Sue Armstrong MA VetMB VETMFHom CertlAVH MRCVS RSHom 2 years ago 8607 Views



Professional advice & tips from leading Veterinary Surgeon and Homeopath, Sue Armstrong MA VetMB VETMFHom CertlAVH MRCVS RSHom, from the Balanced Being Veterinary Centre.

I hope you are sitting comfortably and not about to eat your supper!  Your dogs stool is a really important indicator of health generally and gives you a very good idea particularly of the health of your dog’s digestive tract.  An important part of responsible dog ownership is cleaning up after your dog and this gives us the chance to look at our dog’s stool regularly.  So rather than it being a loathsome chore, we can use ‘picking up’ as a great opportunity for a daily health check.


Your dog should pass a stool twice a day on average (some healthy dogs  will pass up to 4 stools a day without urgency and usually at exercise).   Increased frequency of stool can be associated with inflammation of the  G.I. tract.


The stool should be passed without any undue straining.  Some dogs will  be very particular where they pass a stool and perform circling rituals or  try and be out of sight.  If your dog strains excessively or appears to have  difficulty passing the stool the most common reasons are:

o Pain e.g. from arthritis preventing your dog getting into the correct position
o Constipation e.g. from excessive bone content in the diet, low water intake

Always have your dog checked by your vet if there are obvious signs of difficulty or pain when passing a stool.


Healthy stool from your dog should not smell unduly offensive.  One of the  most common comments we get when people switch from high  carbohydrate kibble based diets for their dogs to low residue raw feeding  is that the stool no longer smells so bad!   The presence of excess fat,  infection, blood or undigested food leads to different odours, some of  which can be very noxious.

Size and Shape

A healthy stool should consist of several easy to pass lozenge shaped  pieces. Large bulky stools are common with poor diets that are full of  fillers or very high in fibre as the dog is unable to digest and absorb much  of the content.  Another cause for very bulky stools is exocrine pancreatic  insufficiency; in these cases the dog’s pancreas does not produce enough  enzymes to help break down the food correctly.   If the stool is flattened it  might indicate a mass in the rectum or pelvis and should have your dog checked by your vet.


A healthy stool should be mid chocolate brown due to the pigments that  are produced by the liver.  If the stool is white at the time of being passed  it can indicate an excess of bone.  Yellow stool usually indicates increased  intestinal mobility or liver, pancreas or gall bladder issues.  Dark black,  tarry stools indicate digested blood and can be associated with a bleeding  ulcer in the stomach or small intestine. With this or fresh blood in or on  the stool, you should always have your dog checked by your veterinary  surgeon.


In a good healthy stool you shouldn’t be able to identify anything obvious in it!  Anything you can identify has not been properly digested so either needs to be given in a different way e.g. visible lumps of carrot are simply not digested so perhaps light steam the vegetables or reduce the amount fed.  If there is grass in the stool it indicates that there is a degree of gut upset as with mucous on the stool.  A lot of hair may indicate a grooming problem or even that your dog has pain e.g. in the joints and is displacement licking and ingesting excessive hair.

The stool is also where you may see intestinal parasites e.g. roundworms and tapeworm segments, although the eggs and other parasites such as giardia and isospora are not visible to the naked eye. Faecal parasite tests are recommended as part of your dogs parasite control programme.
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