Vets use the fecal scoring chart to classify dog feces, and you can also use it to monitor your fur baby's health. If you notice a change in your dog's poop, seeing where it falls on the seven-item scale can hint at what's wrong and allows you to give your vet specific, helpful information for a diagnosis and treatment. Below, we explore the four C's to examine in dog doo-doo, so you can pinch your nose, get an eyeful, and take appropriate steps.
Dog poop should be the color of chocolate, but as with humans, stool color changes depending on what's a dog's recently eaten. Colors that could indicate an issue include:
Okay, Sherlock. It's time to put your investigative hat on. A superficial glance won't do—you need to get a good look at what's in the poop.
When you pick up your dog's poop, a little residue is fine, but an excess could suggest an unhealthy gut. When dogs pass diarrhea and stools full of mucus, it often points to an inflamed colon. A condition called colitis could cause a combo of slimy poop and blood. It's serious and requires a follow-up with a health professional.
How easily can you pick up lil' buddy's number 2s? If it's too soft or a puddle, it could be due to food poisoning, dietary adjustments, viruses, parasites, or cancer. On the flip side, dry, hard stool is a sign of constipation, dehydration, and kidney or digestive issues. Constipation often arises when a diet contains too little fiber, making passing stools uncomfortable or painful.
Now that we've wrapped up the four C's let's consider the other poop-related factors that provide clues to your dog's health. Dog stools should look like logs—round droppings imply dehydration. As for size, this will depend on the breed, how high your pooch's food intake is, and fiber consumption. If the stool strikes you as too large, the body may not have adequately digested and absorbed a meal. Keep an eye out for other symptoms.
Puppies are a handful. Not only are they boisterous, but they poo a whopping five to six times a day, and house training is still a work in progress. Grown-up dogs generally poo twice daily, although dietary differences and activity levels can lead to slight variations. It's worth following up on cases where adult dogs poop as often as when they were babies.
We empathize if you leave for work every day and your parting words to your dog are, "smell you later!" Dog poop's reputation precedes it—it's literally bad-ass. But a sick dog's poop, believe it or not, can reach gag-worthy levels of stinkiness. It's unpleasant, we know, but your dog may be suffering just as much as your nose is. If you're lucky, switching to a more digestible diet is a simple fix.
The fecal scoring chart revolves around poop consistency and ranges from solid to liquid. A score of 1 refers to dry, hard, pellet-like stool; a score of 7 is a watery, formless mess. Normal poop scores a 2 or a 3. It's firm but not hard, has a slightly moist surface, retains its form when you pick it up and leaves little to no residue. A score of 5 upwards is a prompt to book a consult with your vet.
Your vet may want you to collect a stool sample to clarify the situation. Getting fecal tests done once every six months is a good idea to nip problems in the butt; sorry, bud. A stool sample can assist the vet to figure out which specific worm is in your dog's poop, for example. Collect fresh feces in a small poop bag and seal it immediately. The sample will last about eight hours at room temperature and thrice as long in the refrigerator, but you'll have to be scrupulous with safe storage and disinfectant, or diseases can spread.
The bottom line (there's a pun in there somewhere) is that you know your dog best. If you feel like something is off with your dog's health, monitor its poop, or lack thereof over two or more days. If the problem persists, book an appointment with your vet. The solution may be as simple as a probiotic.
Get your paws on the latest animal news and information