Critter Culture
10 Simple Steps for Using a Fecal Scoring Chart

10 Simple Steps for Using a Fecal Scoring Chart

Critter Culture Staff



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 color

Dog pooping in the park Daniel Megias/ Getty Images

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:

  • Black - Normal stool laying out for a while can turn black, but if a fresh poop looks as dark as coal, it could mean internal bleeding in the stomach, which is worrisome.
  • Grey - A grey stool could mean a pancreatic or bile problem.
  • Green - Poop can be green because of grass or green foods, or it could point to an intestinal infection, parasites, or even gallbladder disease.
  • Orange - This color also indicates a possible biliary or liver issue, and urine may look oddly colored too.
  • Red - Dogs can eat beets in moderation, which can stain poop purple, but if you see red streaks, its blood and could mean anal cuts, polyps, or damage in the large intestine. A single small red streak could be because of straining to defecate.
  • White - Light poop often means your dog is constipated or is consuming too much calcium.


Dog poop content

Cute Jack Russell Terrier dog puppy doing his toilet, pooping Wavetop/ Getty Images

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.

  • Too much grass could suggest Fido is stressed.
  • A lot of hair could be linked to soothing a skin problem.
  • Consistently undigested food points to trouble in the GI tract, and you may notice weight loss or other symptoms.
  • If you see objects that don't belong in poop, there may be more in your dog's system, and they could cause blockages.
  • Those tiny white bits in just-dropped excrement? Those are likely worms, and there's more than one type.


Dog poop coating

Responsible woman cleaning the grass in the park after her dog, Petko Ninov/ Getty Images

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.


Dog poop consistency

Closeup of the hand of a man picking up some dog poop with a bag while his dog sniffs it Antonio_Diaz/ Getty Images

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.


Dog poo size and shape

Husky Puppy Defecating Kittichet Tungsubphokin / EyeEm/ Getty Images

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.


Dog poop frequency

10 Simple Steps for Using a Fecal Scoring Chart Erin Lester/ Getty Images

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.


Notorious S.T.I.N.K

Beautiful boy playing with his puppy. He is on the street on sunset with small Labrador puppy. SanyaSM/ Getty Images

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 poop scale

Vet And Bulldog, Patient Consultation LWA/ Getty Images

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.


Collect a stool sample

Owner Clearing Dog Mess With Pooper Scooper MachineHeadz/ Getty Images

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

woman using laptop next to her dog, sitting at dining table at home. Oscar Wong/ Getty Images

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.


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