Dog Poop: A Complete Guide To Your Dog’s Stools


Dogs tend to poop quite a bit – as a pet owner, this can be frustrating, but picking up their stools is one of the few downsides of owning a dog. That is unless you’ve hired a local pet waste removal service. That aside, keeping our furry friends safe by checking out their poo once in awhile is the least we can do, and may save you a bit of money in preventative healthcare for your dog.

In this guide, we’ll be going over all the different kinds of dog poop you may stumble upon, but hopefully won’t step in.

What does healthy dog poop look like?

If you’re a dog owner, you’ve most likely seen a wide variety of different kinds of poop. And while the topic of dog poop – even for dog owners – can be a bit gross, it’s important to know how healthy or effective your dog’s diet and lifestyle is. As stinky as stool can be, it can tell you a lot about your dog’s overall health.

Here’s the rundown on what makes a healthy dog poop:

  • Dark or light brown colored

  • Log-shaped, firm, and moist

  • No visible discoloration or blood

  • Regular poops that follow a rough schedule

What does unhealthy dog poop look like?

Once you’ve started paying attention to your dog’s daily poops, you’ll quickly notice if they start having issues passing healthy stools. Studying your dog’s poop isn’t a very fun activity, but sometimes it has to be done in order to keep our canine family members healthy.

An unhealthy dog poop will look a bit different:

  • Colors other than dark or light chocolate brown

  • Hard poops or runny diarrhea

  • Undigested food, blood, or visible parasites

  • Irregular poops, with a changing schedule

Types of dog poop: a visual guide

In order to figure out if your pup is passing healthy poos, we’ll be going over a few different categories. When combined, all of these small poo attributes come together, giving you a snapshot into the digestive health of your furry friend.

Before we do that, check out this visual guide below which should be enough to get a grasp on the basics if you’re in a rush:

A chart showing the many different kinds of dog poop you may come across.

What color should dog poop be?

One of the easiest ways to identify if your dog is passing healthy poop is by checking the color. Just like ours, dog poop can vary in terms of color. The good news is, it’s pretty obvious if your dog is passing unhealthy colored stool.

A dog that’s healthy will pass poop that’s dark or light brown. It should look similar to dark or milk chocolate (yeah, kinda gross) – this is the optimal color and a good sign.

One thing to keep in mind is that even if your pup is pooping strange colors, there’s a possibility it just ate something weird. For example, a strangely colored chunk or two in its poop could simply mean they swallowed part of their favorite toy, or maybe a crayon. Now, let’s go over some of the more concerning dog poop colors:

Green poop

Green dog poop can mean a few different things. First, your dog may have simply eaten too much grass – if you’ve been a dog owner for a while, you may have caught your dog awkwardly stuffing their face with a bit of foliage every now and then. Eating grass in large amounts can turn your dog’s poop green, but there are other reasons as well.

The more concerning reason your dog’s stool may be green is that certain poisons – particularly rodenticides – sometimes contain green pigments, which pass through your dog’s stomach undigested and can seriously harm them if not treated. If you manage to get a sample of any green poop, your vet should be able to test whether or not it contains any toxins.

Yellow and orange poop

A yellowish or orange tint to your dog’s poop isn’t always cause for concern, as many food brands add ingredients that may add a bit of color to stool. Or maybe you tend to give your dog lots of carrots and sweet potatoes as a treat.

Sometimes, these colors could be a more serious health issue – many of which are similar to red or black poop down below. If your dog constantly passes orange poop, you should schedule a vet appointment to rule out issues with your dog’s health like liver, pancreas, or gallbladder diseases.

Red poop

If you see red streaks of blood in your dog’s poop, it’s generally a sign of some sort of damage near or before it’s anus within their digestive tract. This could be any number of issues, many of which aren’t serious and could resolve themselves quickly. If it’s bright red blood, it falls under the category of hematochezia.

However, sometimes bright red streaks of blood in dog poop could be a more serious health issue, so it’s always a good idea to call your veterinarian if it’s happening to your dog. Here are some possibilities:

  • Your dog ate something it couldn’t digest

  • Hemorrhagic gastroenteritis

  • Viral or bacterial infections

  • Inflammatory bowel disease (IBS)

  • Colitis

  • Various other diseases

Black poop

Like red dog stool, black dog poop often means there’s blood in your dog’s stool. The difference is, when blood comes from the upper digestive tract, it’s called melena. Oftentimes these poops will appear thick, tarry, and black – usually more solid compared to poop with fresh blood in it. This color poop could mean your pup is suffering from conditions such as:

  • Ulcers or internal bleeding

  • Inflammation of the upper digestive tract

  • Cancer, in rare cases

Grey poop

Similar to orange or yellow poops, grey dog poop can be a sign that your dog is having a hard time digesting its food properly. Grey stools in particular could mean your dog is struggling to digest fat in its diet; one cause could be that you’re simply feeding your pup too much fat overall, but it may also be a sign of a buildup of bile.

If your dog is passing bile in its stool, there’s a good chance that it’s bile duct is blocked. A blocked bile duct is usually due to issues with your dog’s pancreas, a small organ responsible in part for producing digestive enzymes that break down dog food.

White poop

White dog poop, on the other hand, most likely means something else. If the poop is entirely white, it’s most likely caused by excess calcium – possibly due to the brand of kibble you feed it. A common sight just a few decades ago, most brands have shifted away from adding too much calcium to dog kibble in recent years.

Lastly, if your dog’s poop has small white spots or flecks present, one possible explanation could be tapeworms. While disgusting, tapeworms usually aren’t a serious issue and simply require a visit to your vet to treat.

Dog poop consistency, size, and shape

The texture or consistency of your dog’s stool is just as important as its color. Similar to most animals, including humans, a healthy dog poop will be firm, moist, and log-shaped. This means solid, snake-like fecal matter – poops that you can scoop up easily without a mess.

Obviously, not every poop is going to be the crème da le crème of potty breaks, but if your dog regularly passes stools that fall under that description, you’re probably good to go!

If your dog has different poop consistencies or strange shapes, that may be cause for concern. There are a few different forms of poo you may come across, ranging from runny or watery diarrhea to harder, small balls without much moisture content. Let’s go over some of them:

Hard poops

Hard dog poop consistency could mean a few different things. The first, and most obvious cause, is dehydration. If your dog isn’t drinking enough water, it may start passing hard pieces of poo that might even be dry enough to fall apart when you scoop them up.

The other big reason for dry or hard dog poop is a lack of fiber in its diet – as dog’s fed a fiber-rich diet tend to have wetter poops. In rare cases, a more serious health condition could be developing and it’s never a bad idea to speak with your vet if this starts to happen.

Runny or watery poops

On the other end of the poop-texture spectrum, we have runny dog poop. Compared to hard dog poop, watery poop and loose stools are super difficult to scoop up – and a clear sign that something in your dog’s diet is wrong if they don’t have a stomach bug.

Diarrhea – loose, watery bowel movements, can be a symptom of a variety of doggy health conditions; these kinds of bowel movements are generally harder to pin down in terms of direct causes. Your dog could simply have a stomach bug, it could be eating too much people food, or it could be a sign of something worse. The main thing you should watch out for is if the runny poop sticks around for multiple days, worsens over time, or contains blood!

How big is your dog’s poop?

Your dog’s stool size should correspond to how much you feed them, and of course, how large the dog is itself. A Burmese Mountain Dog is going to have larger sized poos than a Chihuahua, for example.

Over time, you’ll have a good idea of what size poops are healthy for your dog. This is the key information you need – any big changes in size from the usual is what you need to be on the lookout for.

What shape is your dog’s poop?

Aside from consistency and size, you’ll also want to pay attention to the shape of your dog’s stools. A log-shaped or tubular poop – one that isn’t noticeably thin or compacted into smaller pieces – is a healthy poop. If your dog is passing particularly thin or round poops, it might indicate a worsening digestive condition.

Other dog poop contents

Small amounts of dog hair or undigested food is normal, especially when it comes to small chunks of carrots or other fiber-rich vegetables that don’t digest fully on occasion. That being said, if you start to see large amounts of undigested morsels, huge piles of hair, parasites like worms, or anything else strange you may want to consult your vet’s office.

If your dog eats anything they can get their hands on, it’s easy for them to swallow bits of plastic packaging, fabric, and other indigestible things – these materials can even prevent your dog from passing poo entirely.

What should your dog’s poop smell like?

Smelling dog poop involves getting a bit too close for comfort for many of us, but it may be necessary if they’re passing some unusual stools. We’ve all experienced some incredibly foul smelling poos, and these are usually due to your dog getting into the trash or eating too many treats.

Healthy dog poop will have a mild scent – that familiar dog poop smell we all know and (hopefully) aren’t huge fans of. If your dog has unusually stinky poop or passes rancid smelling stool, there’s a good chance you’ll soon be trying to scoop up doggy diarrhea.

The main reason this happens is a lack of digestible ingredients within your dog’s food, similar to our own diets. Just like humans, dogs need a well-balanced diet with a proper nutrient balance in order to pass healthy stools. If your dog’s poops consistently smell awful, it may have an unknown allergy or nutrient deficiency your vet could help you solve.

How often is your dog pooping?

The frequency in which your dog needs to be let out to poop is another way to stay aware of any developing health issues – just keep in mind, it’s normal for some dogs to poop more often than others. A healthy dog will poop around one to three times per day, although puppies may poop up to five or more times per day; however, puppy poop should still look and smell healthy!

Just like the size of your dog’s stools, their pooping schedule shouldn’t change very often. If your dog suddenly starts pooping way less or more frequently, that’s a good indication there’s something going on behind the scenes. Just like their owners, dogs also tend to poop around the same time everyday – your dog might even prefer to go in the same spot on your daily walks.

Why and how should you pick up your dog's poop?

Why do we even pick up our dog’s poop? On your most stressful days, you’ve probably asked yourself this question, or even skipped picking it up entirely. And while these things happen to us all, leaving your dog’s poop on the ground has wide-reaching consequences, many of which may be new concepts for you.

An estimated 65 million households in the United States alone own dogs – if your average dog poops just twice per day, that’s over 100 million poops everyday. That’s a lot of poop, and unlike human waste – much of which passed through water treatment facilities – most of this poop is either left on the ground, or ends up in the trash.

Dog poop contains a variety of microorganisms that have the potential to harm humans or other animals, and in recent years, evidence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria in dog feces is starting to pile up. This is a problem that deserves a thorough discussion – but the main idea is that when dog poop is left on the ground, over time, harmful parasites and bacteria are washed into municipal water supplies and wild ecosystems.

Pet Domestic can deal with your pet's mess

This is where our team at Pet Domestic comes in. Serving the entire DC area, we offer year-round poop-scooping services, no matter how poor the weather is or how big of a mess your furry friends leave behind. Let your dogs do their business outside and avoid indoor marking and soiling by scheduling a consultation today.

Here’s how it works:

  • Sign Up and choose your service schedule by answering a few questions

  • A Pet Domestic employee will remove all pet waste from your property

  • Your gates will be re-locked, your pets kept safe, and you can return to a clean home

We also specialize in commercial dog waste services for larger communities, including HOAs. If your local park’s plant life is starting to turn yellow from dog pee, you may need professional pet waste services. Here’s what we can offer your local community:

  • Installation of dog waste stations

  • Common area scooping

  • Haul away trash services

If your home or community is starting to smell – don’t hesitate to reach out and get a free quote!

Can you compost dog poop?

Composting dog poop is possible – but not recommended. Not only does it smell terrible as it decomposes, dog poop takes awhile to break down fully and contains microorganisms you don’t want to introduce into your food supply.

Leaving a bit of dog poop in your green bin is okay on occasion, but if you use your compost in a backyard garden, you should avoid composting any dog stools just like you would avoid adding your own to your bin or pile.

Why do dogs eat poop, and is it okay?

Catching your dog eating poop, maybe its own or perhaps another strange animal, is never a pleasant sight. A disgusting concept for us humans, eating the poop of other animals is actually a pretty common behavior in the animal world.

When it comes to dogs, there are a few main reasons they might eat poop, most of which are relatively normal. In fact, one study found that over 15% of dogs engage in “frequent conspecific coprophagy” – in other words, they eat poop pretty often. Some of the actual reasons they eat poop are as follows:

  • They simply like eating it (dogs are weirdos)

  • Hunger or nutritional deficiencies

  • It’s learned behavior from other dogs or their mom

  • Boredom, stress, or other health issues

Most of the time, eating poop isn’t that big of a deal. However, parasites are commonly found in feces, and if you see your pup eating poop you should stop them as soon as possible. While it’s unlikely your dog will become ill from eating its own poop, the bigger risk lies with wild animal poop – avoid that entirely if you can.

How do you take a stool sample?

If your otherwise healthy pup is having poop problems, taking a fecal sample may be necessary. Your veterinarian can analyze these samples, and may ask you to bring one in for testing. Here’s how to do it:

  • Start with a dog poop bag or container provided by your vet

  • Using a scooper or covering your hand with a doggy bag, collect a sizable amount of poop

  • Inspect the poop, making sure to remove as much gravel, dirt, and grass as you can

  • Close the lid or seal the dog poop bag shut

  • Using a sharpie or pen, label the container with the date, time, and your dog’s name

  • Bring the sample to your vet the same day if possible

Final thoughts

Our dogs aren’t able to always let us know when they’re feeling sick or need medical attention, so monitoring the quality of your dog’s stools is one of the easiest ways to stay on top of any issues. As gross as it is, the numerous qualities of doggy doo-doo you may see could be a key factor when it comes to saving money on vet bills and sparing your pup from as much pain or illness as possible.