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Is your dog’s poop healthy? Scoop the poop and find out

picking up dog poopDog poop. It’s not a nice subject, and picking it up isn’t pleasant. Standing in it is worse, and cleaning it off your shoes is wretched.

Most dog lovers take poop scooping responsibilities seriously, and some progressive councils are installing bins and poop bag dispensers at popular walking spots to facilitate this. Yet sadly we still see deposits, unclaimed on pathways. So we’ve been doing a bit of research and teamed up with Rotorua-based vet Stacey Tremain from the hit TV show "Vet Tales" to share why picking up your dog’s poo is good for you and your dog. Yes, you heard right. It’s good for you!

Stacey tremain

So what should you be looking out for when performing scooping duties? We share three things to observe when cleaning up after your dog:

  1. Colour: On the whole, your dog should be producing a chocolate brown poop. Some variation in colour can be due to changing diet or hydration levels, but significant or continuously changed colour warrants a conversation with your vet. Colours to watch out for include black, red, grey or yellow.
  2. Consistency: Poop should be well formed and soft to touch (through the poop bag of course). Too firm can mean your dog is not drinking enough, and too soft can mean that your dog isn’t absorbing liquids well. A handy guide is the Bristol Stool Chart (shown below). Alternatively here's a simple test - "if you can't pick it up in one piece between thumb and forefinger then it's too soft" Stacey explained. Just like us, they have the odd day where a poop is harder or softer and that’s completely normal, but if this is a recurring issue speak to your vet.
  3. Content: Don’t worry, we aren’t going to suggest you get dissect a poop - even the most ardent dog lover would find this challenging! But you can often see what is in there so you know what's going on inside your pet:
  • Worms: If you keep your dog worming up to date, this shouldn’t be an issue, but a case of worms is best treated with a worming product that kills all worm species. "The combination flea and worm treatments generally will not kill tapeworm with the exception of Broadline for cats", Stacey noted.
  • Fur: large amounts may indicate your dog is self-grooming excessively which is often symptomatic of stress, allergies, or skin problems. Your vet will be able to investigate.
  • Mucous: This is usually an indicator of colitis (inflammation of the large bowel). If this doesn’t resolve itself within three to five days it would be worth visiting your vet.
  • Foreign objects: it's insightful to understand what your dog is getting up to when you’re not looking! This can be a good way to proactively manage behaviours like eating rubbish, lego, grass, stones, etc. "You wouldn’t believe what some dogs eat – I’ve retrieved the backstrap of a bra and the end of a mop from dogs' poop in the past" Stacey says. "If you’re worried that your dog may be eating something dangerous when you’re away at work the use of Baskerville muzzle that allows drinking and panting but prevents eating could be just what you need."

BristolStoolChartVariations in poop are not unusual so it makes sense to get familiar with your dog’s routine - what time, how much, colour, consistency and content. That way you get to understand their normal baseline. Stacey suggests a pragmatic approach - “All dogs have the odd day or two where their poop changes, and that’s normal. However, if your dog has had a change in bowel movements for longer than three days, they’re not eating and drinking normally, or you see mucous or blood in their faeces it’s a good idea to call your vet and get it checked out.” Sounds like perfect advice to us.

So get poop scooping dog owners. Not only will you help keep the environment clean and tidy, but you’ll have a better understanding of your dog’s digestive health!

* Note: A huge thanks to Stacey Tremain for his valuable contribution and input. Notwithstanding, this article should only be considered a guide so whenever in doubt consider veterinary advice. *

Image credits: 1.Andrew Branch 2.Stacey Tremain 3.Wikipedia

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