The Scoop on Poop


Though it’s the opposite end of nutrition, checking your pet’s stool can help you and your veterinarian decide if your animal companion has any health issues that need addressing. What may seem like an offensive pile of feces can actually shed light on your pet’s internal functions.

The first sign of health issues is the form of the stool. If it’s liquid or loose (overly soft), there’s something happening inside the pet. Other examinations and tests can assess exactly what may be wrong.

Another sign that the animal isn’t in optimal health is if there’s a covering over the stool that looks like plastic food wrap. This means that there is an irritation within the digestive tract. If it only occurs occasionally, then harsh snacks or plants are usually to blame. This condition may be more common in younger animals while they’re teething, which results in chewing on and ingesting extraneous material.

If the stool is darker than normal, it’s wise to bring it to your veterinarian for examination. The stool may contain blood at varying amounts. Before jumping to the conclusion that there’s something wrong with your pet if the stool is dark, make sure to take into consideration that some foods can cause darker stools.

For example, darker meat like lamb contains increased levels of myoglobin in the muscle, which causes dark stools in healthy animals.

On the lighter side of the spectrum, if your pet produces stool that is hard and white-colored, the pup’s diet contains too much calcium. Not as easily related to a simple food imbalance, hard and small pieces of feces warrant a visit to the veterinarian.

On the other hand, if the stool contains large, very soft pieces, then it can be the sign of a couple issues. It may mean that the animal is being fed too much. Otherwise, the pet may have an enzyme deficiency. If this is the case, your veterinarian can check the level of trypsin in the stool or blood sample; and the doctor may want to provide an enzyme supplement if needed.

If the poop problem is due to an absence or difficult passage, your pet likely needs more roughage in the diet. Dry food has more roughage than wet food, and more roughage will produce more stools that are not as hard. This is why it’s often recommended to feed wet food to animals while housetraining-them: it produces less stools.

Though it’s certainly easier to monitor what an animal eats than what it excretes, it’s wise to know the appearance of your pet’s normal stools. If that appearance ever changes, it gives you a head start to examine possible health issues developing!