Get to know doggy doo for better pet healthcare

10 March 2020

 

Pet poop is a smelly subject. It’s also a really important one.

Besides the weird things dogs may do with it like eat it or roll in it, it tells us a whole lot about their gut health. Cats, too, of course, but they aren’t admitting it. 😉

You may already have photographed every cute, funny aspect of your pet’s life but the smelly aspects. Yet you might want to start. Or simply get to know it better. Is this the end of decorum?

Nope, it’s the beginning of better health for hounds and mittens. Pet poop can tell a whole lot about an animal’s health.

“The gut microbiome contributes to host metabolism, protects against pathogens, educates the immune system,” a study by Rachel Pilla and Jan S. Suchodolski of the Gastrointestinal Laboratory, Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences, Texas A&M University reports. “Through these basic functions, affects directly or indirectly most physiologic functions of its host.”

The gut leaves traces of its truth in faeces, so it is an increasingly popular area of formal and informal study.

A few years back, noticing that there was very little data on pet ‘deposits’, an Oregon state, USA university ran a project collecting poop samples to gather information. A kitty Kickstarter campaign did the same with feline faecal matter. The information helped describe the multitude of microbes and microbial communities living in and on pets.

There may not be any citizen science projects in your area right now, but it’s always a good idea to keep an eye on your pets’ digestive deposits.

If you suspect an issue, you could take a fresh sample with you to the vet, photograph troubled turds or leave your pet at the clinic till the staff can harvest one. Understanding their poop can help a vet identify the digestive and other issues showing up in it. But remember: dog poop can carry bad bacteria (like parvo virus which can live on old faeces for a long time). For everyone’s safety, please wash your hands if you handle it manually, and seal it in an airtight container that you disinfect afterwards.

 

Good Housekeeping describes the different states you may find dog poop in, and what they might reveal about your dog’s health.

 

  • A firm, brown cylinder – that’s a healthy doggie. It shouldn’t smell TOO terrible, though.
  • Terribly smelly and lots – not properly digested. Don’t change your dog’s food suddenly. It needs to be a gradual process, ideally guided by a pet medical professional. #GetToYourVet
  • Loose, liquid-like, runny – Poopiedog could have eaten something odd, or have a parasitic infection, bacterial infestation or inflammatory bowel disease (IBS). #GetToYourVet
  • Hard and compacted – a sign of constipation, intestinal clog (say, from fur) or an obstruction in the gut. #GetToYourVet
  • Mucus – a little is normal, either coating the stool or in a clump at either end, but seeing regular mucus on the stool may indicate a food sensitivity or colitis. #GetToYourVet
  • Odd colour / green – possible gall bladder bile issue. #GetToYourVet
  • Odd colour / black – could be gastrointestinal bleeding. #GetToYourVet
  • Odd colour/ yellow to orange – might indicate liver disease. #GetToYourVet
  • Odd colour / grey – possible sign of pancreas probs. #GetToYourVet
  • Odd colour / turquoise to blue-green – may have eaten rat poison. #GetToYourVet

 

You might want to keep a doggie doo diary documenting your dog’s digestive deposits, or a folder on your phone with kitty poop pics for the same reason.

Pet faecal matter is an important aspect of great pet parenting and animal health and we encourage you to be part of the  – ahem – movement. 😉

 

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