Did you realize that much of what dogs eat can be visible when it comes out the other end as poop? Philadelphia resident Jill Ivey found out the difficult way; when she fell asleep on her couch in July, she didn’t realize that her boyfriend’s messenger bag was open nearby and her adopted ‘Heinz 57’ dog Gracie was investigating its contents – until it was too late.
“Gracie found a blue gel pen and a black gel pen and was chewing on them on our very expensive Oriental rug. She must have ingested quite a bit of ink because for the next three days her poop was bright blue. “
What Ivey found out about the color of poop is supported by professionals. According to Certified Clinical Nutritionist Susan Blake Davis, pet nutritionist at Ask Ariel, much of what dogs eat can be visible when it comes out the other end.
“Peas can come out whole and green and carrots come out orange," says Davis. "The more blended the foods are, the less you’re going to see the color.”
Foods like butternut squash and pumpkin can turn dogs’ poop orange and cranberries and beets, which in small amounts can be beneficial for liver function, turn poop and urine red, which can be frightening for pet owners.
“It’s a good idea to have your dog get an annual fecal exam,” says Davis, just to make sure there are no underlying health problems. And if unusual color is accompanied by lethargy or other symptoms, a call to the vet is in order.
Don't Worry: You're Not Alone in Worrying About Your Dog's Poop
Dr. Duffy Jones, DVM of Peachtree Hills Animal Hospital in Atlanta, Georgia is on the receiving end of calls from pet owners worried about the color of their dogs’ poop all the time.
Green Poop? Be More Concerned with Consistency, Not Color
When it comes to your dog's poop, consistency seems to matter more than the actual color.
“I typically will tell the owners that the color does not matter as much as the consistency," says Jones. "If the stools are normal and they are a crazy color, I tell them to watch for diarrhea and if the stools get loose, then bring them in. If the color is abnormal it usually has to do with something they ate, but just watch the stools for diarrhea.”
Jones also says to consider the overall attitude of the animal.
“If the pet is running around acting normal and the stool is orange and firm, then I just watch, but if the pet is listless and the stools are orange and loose, we want to see them.”
The Scoop on Poop: Do Specific Breeds Have Their Own "Brand" of Poop?
Sonja Tengdin, “Grand PooPaw” of ScoopyPoo, a dog doo pick-up service in the Minneapolis/St Paul area, says that dogs of the same breed tend to have the same type of poop.
"We have found that different breeds consistently have the same type of poop," she says. "German Shepherds have softer and messier poop. Dogs that eat premium and high protein dog food can [have softer poop] too, not always that easy to pick up and by most standards pretty gross.”
The Scoop on Poop: Just Keep Tabs on Your Dog
Sometimes color changes can make you panic, but you have to remember what you fed your dog. According to Tengdin, typically one or two icky poops do not warrant a $100+ vet visit. But changes do merit watching.
“While we are not vets, blood streaked poop and diarrhea over [the course of a few] weeks together with a dog losing weight does gets our attention."
Are you an owner that worries at times about issues related to your dog's poop? Let us know in a comment!