Wellness

What Does Dog Poop Color Mean?

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Last Updated: March 21, 2024 | 6 min read | 140 Comments

This content was reviewed by veterinarian Dr. JoAnna Pendergrass, DVM.

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Gray Pit Bull dog poops on the carpet rug in living room looking guilty up at camera.
Image credit: Uryupina Nadezhda, Shutterstock

Here at Canine Journal, we feel it’s our, ahem, duty to keep you in the know about what’s coming out of your pup. So, here’s the low-down on dog poop of every color.

Most mild changes in dog stool color are related to dietary changes and aren’t cause for alarm. But poop color and consistency can be an indicator of serious health problems, which is why you need to make your dog’s business your business.

What Does Dog Poop Color Mean?

Does your dog’s poo look funky? It might just be a clue to something else going on. While it may not be a favorite chore, monitoring your dog’s stool is beneficial in monitoring their health. Here’s the scoop on doggie-doo of every color and how to tell normal dog poop from problem poop.

Normal Dog Poop

“Normal” colored dog poop varies from dog to dog, breed to breed, and can change depending on the type of dog food they’ve eaten.

What Color Is Healthy Dog Poop?

In general, the color should be medium brown and neither too soft and liquidy (diarrhea) nor too hard to pass comfortably (constipation).

Pay attention to your dog’s “healthy” poops (color, consistency, and frequency), so you can recognize when there’s a problem.

Black Dog Poop Or Very Dark Dog Poop

Black stools in dogs may have a “tarry” or “sticky” consistency. The black color comes from partially digested blood. Black stool may be a sign of an ulcer in the upper gastrointestinal tract, such as a stomach ulcer. Black poop is not healthy dog poop.

Many human medications, especially aspirin, can cause stomach ulcers in dogs. There are also medications specifically for dogs that increase the risk of stomach ulcers if taken for a long time.

Never give human meds to your dog without consulting your vet.

Bright Red Dog Poop Or Streaks Of Blood In Stool

The bright red color comes from undigested blood in the GI tract, specifically the lower GI tract. Streaks of blood in your dog’s poop may be a sign of colitis (inflammation of the colon), a rectal injury, an anal gland infection, or possibly a tumor.

Our Personal Experience With Blood In A Dog’s Stool

My Chihuahua, Cookie, was prone to constipation. She was also a very picky eater and a huge food thief. She experienced blood in her stool on a few occasions. She would sometimes have a loose movement or diarrhea with bits of bright red blood mixed in. It had a powerful odor as well.

The vet examined her regularly, and I took a stool sample for testing. The sample helped determine if there was any underlying medical issue. Her veterinarian believed the blood in her stool was due to digestive upset, picky eating habits, or possible food allergies. To solve the problem I worked with her vet to keep her on a diet formulated for her sensitive stomach.

I stopped giving her human foods as treats, sticking only to dog foods and treats for sensitive tummies. She liked boiled chicken, so I would mix bits of that with plain, cooked white rice and some pumpkin puree. This helped regulate her stool and keep her belly full without upset.

Danielle DeGroot, Chihuahua owner and Canine Journal Researcher and Writer

Pink Or Purple Dog Poop

Anything that resembles raspberry jam (sorry to ruin your toast) could indicate hemorrhagic gastroenteritis (HGE), a potentially fatal disease that causes a sudden onset of vomiting and diarrhea. Most dogs with HGE will recover with prompt treatment. Seek emergency medical attention.

Grey Or Greasy-Looking Poop

Doggy-doo that appears fatty, glistens, or comes out in large, soft amounts could indicate Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency (EPI). Commonly referred to as maldigestion, EPI is a disease in which the pancreas doesn’t produce the necessary enzymes to digest fat. EPI is treatable, so see your vet. A fatty diet may also be the cause of grey, greasy poop in dogs.

Green Dog Poop

Green poop can be common if your dog eats too much grass. However, it can also be a sign of intestinal parasites or rat bait poisoning. If your dog has green poop, see your vet to be safe.

Watch out for these symptoms of poisoning in your dog before it’s too late.

Orange Dog Poop

Orange dog poo could indicate a liver issue or biliary disease, or it could just mean that your dog’s food moved too quickly through the digestive tract to pick up the bile. Bile is made in the liver and is what changes poop to the normal brown color we expect. If your dog has orange diarrhea, contact your vet.

Yellow Dog Poop

Yellow mucus usually indicates a food intolerance, especially if you’ve recently changed your dog’s diet.

Take a look at what your pet’s been eating and try to rule out any new ingredients that could be causing an upset stomach and mustard-yellow dog poop. You can also administer an at-home allergy test to determine dietary or environmental allergies.

Even with an at-home allergy test, you should take your dog to the vet so that you can determine which ingredient is causing your dog’s tummy problems.

White Specks In Poop

Worms, particularly tapeworms, often look like white grains of rice in your pup’s stool. This is treatable, so see your vet.

Dog Poop Color Chart Infographic

Check out our visual guide to dog poop colors.

Dog Poop Color Chart Infographic.

What Your Dog Eats Matters

As veterinarian Dr. Carrie Jelovich reminds us, “What goes in must come out.” The best way to prevent digestive tract problems is to know exactly what your dog is eating. Here’s how to help promote healthy dog poop:

  1. Feed a consistent diet of the highest quality dog food you can.
  2. Limit human food. Even pet-safe people food can cause problems in dogs with allergies, sensitive tummies, or if they simply have too much of a yummy treat. Make sure kids and other family members know what not to feed your dog.
  3. Prevent your pup from rummaging in trash and compost piles.
  4. Know what’s growing in your yard. Mushrooms and many types of plants (including some berries) can make your dog super sick.
  5. Keep medicines, household trash, cleaning products, lawn and garden products, car care, and pest-control chemicals out of reach because they all pose serious threats to your dog’s health if ingested. The bottom line: if you wouldn’t want a child to eat it, you don’t want your dog to eat it.

When In Doubt, Contact Your Vet

If you have any concerns about your dog’s poop or notice the poop is runny, black, very hard, bloody, or full of mucus, you need to call the vet. Don’t give your dog human medicines – even over-the-counter formulas – without instructions from your vet.

Be ready to supply your dog’s stool sample and let your vet know if you observe any other symptoms, such as changes in urgency, frequency, vomiting, lethargy, difficulty breathing, or behavioral changes. Your vet can do the necessary testing to properly diagnose and treat your dog.

How To Save Money At The Vet

Unexpected vet bills can be a crappy situation. Fortunately, there’s a way for you to save money on those unplanned bills.

Pet Insurance Can Help

Should your pup become sick or injured, pet insurance can help cover the cost of eligible conditions. If you’re thinking about buying pet insurance, you can read up on the companies we rank in our pet insurance reviews. We share our top recommendations for the best pet insurance companies and go over their key features, including plan and cost options, coverage, and exclusions. You can also get a quote for your pup in our pet insurance form below.

And if this is an entirely new topic for you, it’s a great idea to learn all about how pet insurance works. The video below helps explain how dog insurance works and how it can save you money.

Other Poop Problems?

Have a hard time cleaning up after your pup? Check out these pooper scoopers, which help get the job done without hunching over. And if your dog eats poop, don’t worry. We’ve got you covered, too (not literally). Find out why dogs eat poop and how to get them to stop.

If you have a question about dog poop color or a unique experience to share, let us know in the comments.

Healthy Food Means Healthier Poop

Monitoring your dog’s doody is one part of the process, but it all starts with what your dog eats. The higher the quality of food in their bowl, the healthier your dog’s poop and overall health will be. Consider your pup’s breed, size, age, and specific medical concerns when selecting food. Many dogs appreciate the flavors of fresh and human-grade dog food. Not only will these provide top-notch nutrition, they will help make your dog’s poo less stinky, which is always a welcome benefit.

Why Trust Canine Journal

Danielle has shared a special bond with dogs since she was a young child. She has over 30 years of pet care experience. Danielle has worked as a professional researcher for many years and spends countless hours researching the latest science and data-backed research on pet care, health, nutrition, and training developments. Danielle has tested and researched over 100 dog food brands and counting with the enthusiastic help of her two dogs, Daisy and Falkor. She works with a professional and experienced team to bring our readers the best, most accurate, and up-to-date information.

The information provided through this website should not be used to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease; it is not intended to offer any legal opinion or advice or a substitute for professional safety advice or professional care. Please consult your health care provider, attorney, or product manual for professional advice. Products and services reviewed are provided by third parties; we are not responsible in any way for them, nor do we guarantee their functionality, utility, safety, or reliability. Our content is for educational purposes only.

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