Decoding Dog Doo:

Unravelling the Language of colours, Consistency, and Pet Health

Welcome to the illuminating world of dog poops – an unexpected adventure filled with valuable insights about your furry friend’s happiness! Poop is a subject that may not be the most glamorous but is undeniably essential for every pet parent and veterinarian.


Dog poop is a matter that’s often overlooked, but can reveal vital insights into your furry friend’s health and well-being. As devoted pet parents, understanding your dog’s poop can be both fascinating and informative.

Embark on a journey to explore the diverse colours, delve into the intriguing consistency, volume, and smell, and uncover the hidden messages within dog poop. By gaining this knowledge, pet parents and veterinarians can work together to provide the best care and ensure optimal health for their beloved pet companions.

The vibrant colour palette

Dr Devojit Das
Dr Devojit Das

Dog poop presents a vibrant palette of colors, each speaking volumes about your pet’s gastrointestinal health. From the familiar brown to surprising shades like green, yellow, black, and even orange, every color conveys essential information about your pet’s well-being.

• Brown: The most common colour, brown poop, indicates a healthy digestive process, thanks to the presence of bile pigments aiding in fat digestion. However, if the poop has little white specks in it, then it may be an indication of endoparasite and require veterinary attention.

• Green: A touch of green might be linked to grass grazing, but persistent green poop could suggest dietary imbalances or underlying gastrointestinal issues that need your immediate attention.

• Yellow: Yellow feces suggest rapid transit through the intestines, possibly due to dietary indiscretions or minor infections.

• Very pale or Gray: This colour indicates too much fat or calcium in the diet, disease of the pancreas, or a problem with the biliary system (liver, gallbladder, and bile ducts).

• Black: Tarry, black feces (melena) should raise concern, as it could indicate the presence of blood from the upper digestive tract, requiring immediate veterinary attention.

• Red: Red feces are another sign of bleeding, this is probably in the lower gastrointestinal tract or colon. Do check the pet’s anus for cuts and consult the veterinarian for further support.

• Orange: An orange hue might result from excess bile or a diet rich in beta-carotene foods, such as carrots — usually harmless, but worth monitoring.

Fascinating Consistency Scale

Beyond colour, the consistency of dog poop plays a pivotal role in evaluating your pet’s gastrointestinal health. Consistency is generally evaluated through visual observation and scoring from one to five, one — being firm and cylindrical in shape, and five — being very runny or liquid. Understanding the intricacies of this scale can provide invaluable insights into your pet’s well-being.

• Score 1 – Separate hard lumps/lumpy sausage

This type suggests constipation, with small, hard, and lumpy poops indicating discomfort during elimination. Occasional instances might not be alarming, but persistent constipation calls for attention. Lumpy sausage-like, another sign of constipation, where poop is lumpy but generally more cohesive.It might indicate mild digestive issues that could be improved with dietary adjustments or enhanced hydration.

• Score2– Sausage-like with cracks and smooth, snake-like poop

Poop in this form is a positive sign, reflecting a healthy digestive system with optimal water content and smooth passage. This is the ideal poop consistency! Smooth, snake-like showcases well-formed, smooth, and elongated stools — a testament to a balanced diet and a contented gut.

• Score3 – Soft blobs

This type of poop is moist that starts to lose shape with cracks or no cracks at all. This type hovers on the borderline between normal and diarrhea. While occasional soft stools might not be a cause for alarm; persistent occurrences require attention.

• Score 4 – Mushy

Moist poops with little consistency and no real shape often accompany diarrhea, suggesting digestive upset or potential food intolerances that require veterinary evaluation.

• Score 5 – Liquid

The final type, entirely liquid poop spells out severe diarrhea, necessitating immediate veterinary intervention to prevent dehydration and nutrient loss.

Deciphering poop’s volume and smell for your furry friend’s health

Understanding the volume and smell of poop also empowers pet parents to provide valuable insight into their pet’s overall health effectively. Poop volume generally matches food intake. Fiber-rich diet means more poop. Changes in volume could signal digestive issues, impacting nutrient absorption. Veterinarians link poop volume to gastrointestinal (GI) distress – large, loose stools relate to small intestine issues, while multiple small loose stools point to large intestine problems. Excessive mucus in poop may signal infection or parasites. Greasy sheen in poop indicates fat digestion or bile problems. While a little smell is normal, an overpowering smell could signal health issues. Digestive problems or infections like giardiasis (an endoparasite infection) may be led to extra stinky poop. Dietary changes, food sensitivities, or blood in the stool can also contribute to bad-smelling poop.

Thus, poop is indicative of a balanced diet and contented gut, while deviations from this norm require attention and proactive management. Regular monitoring of poop’s color, consistency, volume, and smell can help detect potential issues early on, leading to timely interventions and preventing more severe complications.

Be a responsible pet parent and dispose it off well

Aside from being informative for pet parents, dog poop holds immense public health significance. Contaminated faeces can harbour harmful bacteria and parasites, posing a risk to both human and animal populations. Responsible waste disposal, such as bagging and binning dog waste during walks, helps curb the spread of infections and maintains a cleaner environment for all, to protect our communities.

As caring pet parents, we share the responsibility of nurturing our canine companions’ well-being. Adopting proactive measures, such as regular health check-ups, ample hydration, and prompt veterinary attention to any persistent changes in different aspects of poopswill safeguard the health of our pets. Providing a well-balanced, high-quality diet suited to your dog’s breed, age, and health condition can contribute to healthy digestion and well-formed stools.

Embrace the art of decoding dog poop, a powerful tool that offers valuable insights into your pet’s health and happiness. Armed with scientific knowledge and compassionate care, you can hold the key to deciphering the hidden messages within your dog’s poop. By decoding these messages, you can take proactive measures to ensure your beloved companion’s optimal health, and let the bond between you and your pet flourish as you embark on this journey of care and well-being together.

(Dr Devojit Das – Group Product Manager – Animal Health Division, Himalaya Wellness Company Makali, Bengaluru)