One of the most common things talked about in a veterinary clinic is poop (feces, stool). Between checking a dog’s stool annually for intestinal worms, discussing ways to prevent dogs from eating poop, evaluating a pet for constipation or diarrhea, and figuring out potty training, a dog’s “number 2” is a number 1 topic among vets, staff, and pet owners. So we’re here to talk about common poop problems and what can be done about them.
How Many Times a Day Should a Dog or Puppy Poop?
Adult dogs typically poop 1-2 times a day. That varies quite a bit from dog to dog- some “go” every other day, others defecate 3-4 times a day. It also depends on how much a dog is eating, if he is playing heavily, or if he is in a new environment.
Puppies tend to poop frequently (up to 5 times a day), usually 20-30 minutes after eating a meal. This can make potty-training difficult, but luckily, their bowel movements will gradually lessen as they get older.
Pooping Too Often
If a dog eats more than usual, he may have to poop more often than usual. Exercise may stimulate bowel movements because of the changes in blood flow and the intestines being jostled around. New environments may encourage marking behaviors, resulting in a dog wanting to leave his scent around to communicate with new local animals/pets.
A common medical cause of pooping too often is diarrhea (loose stool). This can be caused by stress, new food, table scraps, or eating/drinking other things inappropriate for dogs (e.g. trash). Sometimes medical issues, such as pancreatitis, gastroenteritis, or intestinal parasites (worms) are the culprit. In addition to stool being softer or more liquid-y than normal, the urge to use the bathroom increases, resulting in numerous trips outside to go potty.
Not Pooping Enough
Not pooping enough may be the result of constipation, or stool being too dry to easily pass. The pet may stand as if he is going to the bathroom, but nothing comes out. On the flip side, a pet may do this if he has diarrhea, because the urge to go is there, even without any poop present.
Another cause of not pooping enough is not eating enough. If a pet is sick, he may eat less, which results in pooping less. Diet itself is also a cause of decreased number of stools per day- some diets are lower in fiber than others. These types of diets are often called low-residue diets, and they lead to less stool production.
Should Poop Look Like That?
Poop can be a variety of colors and shapes and still be normal. Yellow, orange, and green poop is likely normal as long as it is a solid consistency and the pet is eating, drinking, and otherwise acting fine. Red or black poop is a bit more concerning because it may indicate that blood is in the stool. This should lead to a call to the veterinarian for a check-up as soon as possible to prevent the pet form getting sicker without treatment. Mucus in dog poop is sometimes normal, especially if the consistency and pet seem to be normal.
What to Do about a Dog Poop Dilemma
Obtain a stool sample to show the veterinarian. This is especially important if you think there might be worms in the poop. If the pet had diarrhea once but has improved and is acting okay, it may be alright to keep an eye on him. Canine probiotics or a gastrointestinal diet may be good options to help improve the stool if you can’t get into the veterinarian right away.
If constipation is a concern, increase the dog’s fluid intake by offering more water or adding a healthy canned food option to the diet. If constipation continues beyond a day, follow up with the veterinarian. Regardless of what the poop problem is, it never hurts to call a vet for advice, even if the pet’s symptoms are mild or he is already improving. Some poop issues can worsen quickly, so the sooner treatment is started, the more quickly the pet will improve.