Tag Archives: diarrhea

What Does Your Dog’s Poop Mean?


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It may be a gross topic, but let’s face it – if you’re a responsible dog owner, you’re picking up your dog’s poop multiple times a day. So, you might as well know what to look for to determine whether your dog’s poop is normal or problematic. We’ve broken down the do-do, so you don’t have to. Here’s the “scoop” so you can learn more about your dog’s health and well-being.

First, let’s define what normal dog poop looks like. Although varying from dog to dog and breed to breed, typical dog poop should be basically brown in color, neither too soft (diarrhea) nor too hard to pass (constipation). Use your dog’s healthy poop (color, frequency and consistency) as a baseline to compare when he is not feeling well so you’re aware when there’s an issue.

Diarrhea
Poop of a liquid consistency or that looks like “cow patty” or “soft serve” is typically not a cause for concern. If it improves within 24-48 hours, no action is needed. A wait and see approach is advised, and if the dog is acting normally (eating well, not vomiting and displaying a happy demeanor), there is usually no need to seek medical attention.

Black or Very Dark Poop
This may require an urgent trip to the vet as black or tarry consistency can indicate a gastrointestinal ulcer or bleeding high in the GI tract. A bleeding ulcer can oftentimes be caused by human medications with aspirin, steroids or NSAIDs, so be careful of ever giving to your dog without consulting your vet. Other generalized bleeding can be from rat poison, heat stroke or immune-mediated disease. Blood work and/or an ultrasound are typically recommended to get a full look at the intestinal tract.

Red Poop
The red color could indicate bleeding within the GI tract. Streaks of blood can indicate colitis (inflammation of the colon), rectal injury, anal gland infection or even a tumor. Less worrisome may be slight reddish color in an otherwise normal stool, which is typically indicative of inflammation in the large intestine. Regardless, you’ll want to monitor your dog closely for any further changes in stool and also behavior.

Pink or Purple Poop or Large Volume of Diarrhea
Hemorrhagic Gastroenteritis (HGE) can be a common cause of pink or purple poop (often described as looking like raspberry jam), or a cause of a large amount of watery or bloody poop, especially in smaller dogs. While most will recover with treatment, seek veterinary attention immediately as this condition can be fatal if left untreated.

Grey or Greasy Poop
Poop that appears fatty or glistens could indicate a condition called Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency (EPI), which occurs when the pancreas does not produce necessary enzymes to digest fat. Commonly referred to as maldigestion, EPI is treatable. German Shepherds and Rough-Coated Collies are often afflicted with EPI.

Green Poop
Check with your vet immediately, as green poop can indicate a variety of issues from as mild as eating a lot of grass to as serious as swallowing rat bait poison or ingesting a dangerous parasite. Exposure to rodenticides is certainly dangerous, so let your vet know if that may be the case.

Orange or Pasty, Light Poop
Often indicative of a liver issue or biliary disease, orange poop warrants a call to your vet. Hopefully from professional evaluation, it’s determined that the orange color is simply from the poop moving too quickly through the GI tract to pick up bile, which makes poop its normal brown color.

Yellow Poop
If you’ve recently changed your dog’s diet, yellow mucus in poop usually means a food intolerance or allergy, causing an upset stomach. Isolate the suspected ingredient(s) and remove from future diet.

White Flakes or Specks in Poop
Have you noticed grains of white rice in your dog’s poop, only to realize you haven’t fed him any rice? While not serious, this likely means your dog has worms. Roundworms (spaghetti-like shaped) are typically found in puppies. Small, flat worms (found on the outside of stool or around the rectum) may be found in your dog’s sleeping areas as well and typically indicate tapeworm, which take over when a dog has fleas. Worms require a visit to the vet, but don’t panic upon first sight, as they are treatable with parasite medication.

It is worth noting that slight variations in your dog’s poop or infrequent bouts of diarrhea or constipation are often no cause for concern and don’t constitute an emergency situation. For example, if your dog eats something questionable off the ground or out of the trash (commonly referred to as garbage gut), he’ll likely pay for it with an upset stomach and abnormal stool.

However, if your dog’s abnormal stool is accompanied with vomiting, refusal to eat or drink, or other concerning symptoms, a trip to the vet is necessary. Your vet may even ask you to bring a stool sample with specific storage instructions for laboratory testing. Other diagnostics such as blood work or radiographs may also be warranted depending on the symptoms.

Common Puppyhood Illnesses: Coccidia


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Just as non-furry children tend to get childhood illnesses like chicken pox, puppies can also be susceptible to similar puppyhood illnesses. One fairly common illness that you may encounter is coccidia, also known as coccidiosis. Coccidia are single-celled organisms that can infect a puppy or adult dog’s intestinal tract. It may sound scary, but it is generally mild and easily treatable. Like many puppy illnesses, the main symptom is diarrhea. It is important to bring your puppy in to the vet any time he displays signs of digestive distress to ensure prompt treatment of any illnesses. This will also help prevent the problem from spreading to other pets that your pup may come in contact with. We’ve spoken to our veterinary consultant, Dr. Brandon Sinn, to bring you everything you need to know about identifying and treating coccidia in your puppy.

Signs and Symptoms

The symptoms of coccidiosis are mild to severe diarrhea and loss of appetite, but may also include vomiting in severe cases. Diarrhea can be a sign of other infections such as Giardia as well, so your vet will need to perform a stool sample test to confirm the diagnosis. Symptoms generally appear approximately 13 days from initial infection. Most dogs and puppies will recover quickly from coccidiosis, but it is important to get prompt treatment to prevent dehydration and other complications.

How does Coccidia spread?
Like Giardia, coccidia infection is spread through feces. You may have noticed that your puppy is very interested in the droppings of dogs and other animals. While this is perfectly normal behavior, it is best to keep them away from animal droppings to prevent diseases like coccidia that spread through the ingestion of infected fecal material. Similarly, if your own puppy has been diagnosed with coccidia, it is important to clean up after him promptly to help protect other dogs who may come to investigate.

Puppies and adult dogs with compromised immune systems are particularly at risk for coccidiosis. A healthy adult dog with a strong immune system may show no signs of infection and suffer no ill effects themselves, but can still spread coccidia to other animals.

Treatment and Prevention
Drugs such as Albon (sulfadimethoxine), Tribrissen (trimethoprimsulfadiazine) and Marquis have been effective in treating dogs infected with coccidia. These drugs work by preventing the coccidia organisms from reproducing, which gives the puppy time to build up an immunity. While these drugs do not completely eradicate a coccidia infection, they do resolve the puppy’s symptoms. They can also be given to prevent future flare-ups in an adult dog with a history of coccidiosis.

There are many preventative measures you can take to keep your puppy healthy and free from coccidia and other puppyhood illnesses. Always pick up after your dog after he goes to the bathroom and be sure to provide him with clean drinking water. It is best to discourage him from hunting small animals, as they may carry coccidia and can transfer the infection to your dog if they are eaten. If your puppy shows any symptoms of coccidia or another illness, do not hesitate to contact your veterinarian!

With proper treatment and preventative measures, coccidia infection can pass quickly and uneventfully and will not impact your puppy’s quality of life.

Giardia-The Common Puppy Parasite


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Giardia is a common intestinal parasite that affects both humans and pets, including our canine friends. If you’re worried about your new puppy being infected by Giardia, have no fear. We’ve laid out all you need to know about Giardia, answering some common questions and debunking misconceptions about the ailment.

What is Giardia?
Giardia is not a virus, bacterium or worm, but instead is a single-cell parasite that frequently infects the intestines of puppies. Some dogs with the parasite do not show any symptoms unless they develop Giardiasis, the disease that can result in severe diarrhea. While Giardia is rarely serious,  it can cause uncomfortable symptoms in dogs such as diarrhea, vomiting, weight loss and overall poor condition. While these symptoms are concerning for any dog owner, PuppySpot Veterinary Consultant Dr. Brandon Sinn says “this is not a scary illness as dogs and cats can get this and recover relatively easily and lead normal lives.”

How do dogs get infected with Giardia?
Dogs become infected with Giardia by drinking water contaminated by the virus or by ingesting infected feces. According to Dr. Sinn, “Giardia is directly transferable, meaning dogs need only to come in contact with contaminated feces and ingest it to be infected themselves.” Additionally, “human infection of Giardia from a dog or cat has not been conclusively demonstrated in North America,” says Dr. Sinn. Therefore, an individual is not likely to contract Giardia from an infected pet, but you should be mindful of washing your hands after coming in contact with Giardia-contaminated feces or water.

How can I prevent Giardia?
You can prevent your dog from getting Giardia by being vigilant in places where dogs meet, like daycares or dog parks. Watch to make sure your dog does not drink water or eat soil where feces is nearby. For optimal safety, your dog should only drink clean water from a water bowl. If your dog is already infected, can prevent it from spreading to other dogs by immediately disposing of your dog’s feces using gloves or a scooper, washing hands, and avoiding contact of the feces to your skin.

What is the treatment for Giardia?
Dogs with Giardia will likely be prescribed an antibiotic such as Metronidazole in conjunction with baths to eliminate all Giardia cysts from skin and coat. According to the Companion Animal Parasite Counsel (CAPC), the combination of Metronidazole and another anti-parasitic drug, Fenbendazole, can be used for five days to effectively wipe out the parasite. Follow-up fecal exams may be required to confirm that the parasite has been eliminated. If your puppy is severely dehydrated, your veterinarian may recommend additional treatments.

While Giardia is an irritating parasite that can cause discomfort in your dog, the prognosis for dogs with the infection is very good with treatment. Regular maintenance of your dog’s hygiene can also help curb the spread of the parasite, and in general, every dog owner can benefit from giving their dogs regular pup-keep.