Understanding Your Pet’s Stool

What goes in must come out, and since your pet can’t necessarily tell you when he is feeling poorly, monitoring his stools is a great way to stay aware of your animal’s health. Although it may not be the most pleasant experience, your pet’s poop can actually tell you a great deal about what is going on inside his body, which is why many veterinarians request a stool sample when you take your animal friend for an appointment.

What is classed as a ‘normal’ stool?

‘Normal’ can have some variations, and most pet owners will know what their pet’s usual stool will look like. However, as a general rule, a canine or feline stool should be tubular, brown in color, fairly firm and easy to pick up and dispose of.

How often should my pet be pooping?

Each animal has a unique digestive system and so the frequency with which they poop can vary widely. While some animals may ‘go’ several times a day, others may only have a bowel movement once or twice a week. It is important to understand what is most common for your pet so that you can identify if they are suddenly defecating much less or much more often than usual. Any drastic changes in your pet’s bowel movement frequency could indicate an underlying health problem.

What do different variations in poop mean for my pet?

If your pet’s poop doesn’t fit into the ‘normal’ parameters, then there is likely to be an underlying health condition or temporary problem at play.

Here are some of the most common changes in an animal’s stool and what they could mean for your pet.

Blood or mucus in your pet’s stool

There are many reasons why blood or mucus may be present in your pet’s poop. It could indicate that there is bleeding in the colon, or that your animal has an internal parasite infestation, such as hookworms or roundworms. Other common reasons for blood or mucus in an animal’s feces include a viral infection, such as parvovirus, a bacterial infection, inflammatory bowel disease or cancer.

While the odd spot of blood in your pet’s poop is normal, if he is having frequent occurrences of blood, or there is a large amount of blood being passed, you should seek veterinary advice immediately.

Loose, runny stools

Diarrhea is a very common pet problem, and it not always something to be alarmed about. In many cases, loose, runny stools are caused by eating something that simply hasn’t agreed with your pet’s digestive system and has instead passed through far too quickly. Other causes of diarrhea in pets can include food allergies, stress, irritable bowel syndrome and some types of internal parasite.

Although individual episodes of loose stools are normally no cause for concern, if your pet has persistent diarrhea, they are at risk of becoming dehydrated very quickly. Ensure that your animal is drinking enough water and arrange to see our veterinarians as soon as possible.

Hard, dark stools that your pet must strain to pass

If your pet is suddenly having bowel movements much less often or is straining to pass his stools, then he is almost certainly constipated. If/when he does manage to defecate, the stools will probably be very hard, small and stone-like. There may also be a small streak of blood present, which can occur as a result of a small tear in the large colon or anus caused by straining to pass the stool.

You can help your pet to poop more easily by increasing the fiber in his diet, ensuring he drinks plenty of fresh water and gets regular exercise. In severe cases, where your pet is showing symptoms such as severe stomach pain, vomiting, weakness or bloating, it is possible that his bowel has become blocked. If this happens it is classed as a medical emergency and you should get your pet to a vet immediately.

White specs in your pet’s poop

If you notice white specs in your pet’s stool, he probably has some form of an internal parasitic worm. There are a variety of different worms that can affect domestic animals, and you will need the support of our veterinarians to discover which one your pet is infested with. They can then suggest the most effective treatment and what preventative measures can be taken.

If you are concerned about your pet’s stools, our veterinarians should be your first port of call. He/she will be able to perform a thorough stool analysis and will use this, alongside your pet’s medical history and any other symptoms that he may be showing, to make an accurate diagnosis of the cause of your animal’s poop problems. Once identified, contact us and our vets will be delighted to recommend the best course of treatment to get your pet feeling comfortable and happy once again.