As THE Original Hipster Hound, Rex, I’ve written a lot about dogs and cats in this blog. From food to toys, I’ve practically barked about it all...except for POOP. It may be gross to you humans, but the topic of poop is actually really important for pet parents to care about when it comes to the health and well-being of their furry friends. So what exactly should humans know about their pup’s poop? Read below to learn the answers to many questions you may have about your dog and their poop.
The Four C’s: Healthy Poop
When it comes to healthy poop, there are the four C’s that all dog parents need to pay attention to: color, consistency, contents, and coating.
- Color: The color of dog’s poop should be a deep, chocolatey brown.
- Consistency: On a scale of 1-7, where 1 is rock solid and 7 is pure liquid, healthy. The ideal stool is a 2: a firm segmented piece, caterpillar shaped, and that feels like Play-Doh when pressed.
- Contents: There should be nothing in a dog’s poop if they are healthy. You may find small traces of fur or food, but only in minute amounts.
- Coating: Healthy dog poop should have no film or coating.
The Four C’s: Unhealthy Poop
With unhealthy poop, the four C’s apply here too, but it usually means it’s time to see the vet.
- Color: It’s time to call the vet if a dog’s poop is mostly green, red, yellow, black, or white.
- Consistency: Using that scale of 1-7 again, if a dog’s poop is on either extreme of the spectrum at a 1 or a 7, he or she would need to go to the vet.
- Contents: Excessive hair from anxiety or white rice-like worms are contents you never want to see in a dog’s poop.
- Coating: Sticky film or bubbly foam coatings are other indications of a possible illness.
Collecting Dog Poop Sample
If you do need to bring your dog to the vet because of his possibly unhealthy poop, you should always bring a sample of it. However, that can be a pretty gross and smelly task, so here are our tips for collecting a dog’s poop:
- Wear protective, disposable gloves.
- Take pictures on your cell phone of the poop as it is on the ground.
- Put the poop into a plastic bag meant to carry dog poop. (If the poop is watery, gather as much as possible)
- Tie the bag off.
- Put the bag into an airtight shallow container (Tupperware works).
- Refrigerate the poop container if not heading directly to the vet.
But Why Do Dogs EAT Poop!?
At The Hipster Hound doggy daycare, I noticed that many of my friends have been eating poop! It really grosses out all the yard attendants and my mom, Tonya, but dogs who eat poop are actually very common, especially in households with two or more dogs.
In most cases, dogs start to eat their own poop because of some kind of environmental stress or behavioral triggers, including the following:
- Isolation & restrictive confinement: Dogs who are kept alone in kennels or basements are more likely to eat poop than those dogs who live close to their people. Spending too much time alone and confined in a small space can cause poop eating to begin. It’s not unusual to see this problem occur in dogs rescued from crowded shelters. Even at daycare, the dogs will race the yard attendants to get to the poop before it can get picked up. They often have to stop the dogs from eating it right at the source!
- Anxiety from negative reinforcement training: According to this theory, dogs may eliminate and then eat their own poop to get rid of the evidence, but then they are punished more. It becomes a vicious cycle.
- Attention-seeking: Dogs eat their own poop to get a reaction from their humans, which they inevitably will. So if you see your dog doing this, don’t overreact.
- Inappropriate association with real food: Dogs who are fed in proximity to their feces may make a connection between the odors of food and those of poop and will be unable to tell the difference.
- Scenting it on their mothers: In some cases, puppies will get confused by sniffing fecal odors on their mother’s breath after she has cleaned them. Also, sometimes mothers may regurgitate food that is mixed with puppy fecal matter.
- Living with a sick or elderly dog: Sometimes a healthy dog will consume stools from a weaker canine member of the household, especially in cases of fecal incontinence. Scientists hypothesize that this may be related to the instinct to protect the pack from predators. If your adult dogs beings dining on poop, be sure to consult your vet to rule out underlying health problems such as parasites, diabetes, Cushing’s syndrome, thyroid disease, and other conditions that may cause an increase in appetite.
How to Stop Dogs From Eating Poop
The only way to stop a dog from eating poop is for the parent(s) to change their behavior, too. Humans should implement the following training and environmental management methods:
- Vitamin supplementation: Many veterinarians suggest that dogs eat their own or other animals’ feces because they are missing something in their diets, so a dog multivitamin could be helpful. Specifically, a vitamin-B deficiency has been the prime suspect in the reasons poop eating occurs, and science backs it up. Studies have shown fecal microbial activity synthesizes thiamine, a B-vitamin.
- Pick up that poop: Keep your dog’s living area clean and yard clear of his or her poop at all times. If you pick up the poop immediately, then the dog won’t have any poop to eat! The Hipster Hound carries all the Earth Rated poop bags you could ever need, so there is no excuse for you to not pick up that poop in your house, in the yard, or on a walk!
- Move any litter boxes: Cat owners should keep that litter box clean and out of the dog’s reach.
- Training: Work hard on the commands “leave it” and “come.” One simple exercise is to teach your dog to come to you for a food treat as soon as he has pooped. That way, the dog will develop a habit to run to you for a tasty tidbit, instead of reaching for his feces on the ground.
Well, that about sums up all things POOP. I know it’s gross to humans, but it’s just a part of our lives as dogs. Maybe in a future blog article, I’ll dive into everything about PEE! Until then, stay healthy, my friends!
Rex, The Original Hipster Hound