A Healthy Stool
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.
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.