The Scoop on Poop

Sighthound owners are obsessed with poop. It's a fact of life and we've grown to accept it. Since poop is one of the best indicators of health, our hyper vigilance comes in handy at times. The truth is all of our Sighthounds will have poop problems sooner or later. It helps to know what the poop is trying to tell you and how to deal with it effectively.

While the popular food metaphors are disgustingly amusing--who doesn't like to talk about pudding poo in front of non-dog owners?--this lovely chart offers an alternative. Number 3 is ideal, but 2 and 4 are fine, too. What we see a lot of is number 5.

 

First, it’s perfectly normal for your new Sighthound -- permanent pack member or foster pup -- to have mushy poop for the first couple of days. Normal mushy can just be part of the adjustment period. To help get things on the right track, here are a few of our tried and true methods:

 

• a spoonful of canned pumpkin with each meal. (You can substitute butternut squash, but don't use pumpkin pie filling!)

 

• a bit of bland rice or well cooked pasta added to each meal of kibble.

 

• a probiotic, such as Fortiflora.

 

If number 5 turns into 6 or 7 or lasts for more than three days, contact your vet. Your vet may recommend withholding food for a day and then using over-the-counter Imodium to firm things up. For the average Greyhound, one capsule twice a day is useful.

 

If things still don’t get firm after all the above, it’s time for to bring in a sample to your vet. It’s quite common for hookworm, among other parasites, to linger in a dog’s intestines even after one or even more treatments. Panacur is a safe, inexpensive de-wormer . . . but you may have to add it to you dog's food for up to seven days depending on the parasite and then still need to repeat the process in two weeks. It's an inconvenience, but important for the long term health of your dog.

 

If the fecal is negative, it's time to consider a food change. While the traditional accepted method is to gradually mix in the new food as an increasing portion of your dog's kibble over the course of a week, the purpose of that strategy is to prevent loose stools. If that ship has already sailed, you can make a faster change. We've found skipping one meal and then offering a half-size portion of the new food at the next meal time works pretty well. If there are no ill effects from the reduced portion, they can go back up to their normal amount of the new food at the following meal.

 

Many of our volunteers endorse switching to a grain-free and/or minimal ingredient food. One of our volunteers battled liquid poo for months in her ex-racer – which cleared up in one day after switching to a different kibble with a different protein source. When switching, eliminate all treats and food extras like yogurt or salmon oil just to make sure you can isolate what is causing the problem. You can add treats back after your pup is stabilized on a food that agrees with him.

 

Finally, the last thing you ever want to see in poop is a spot of red and we understand the panic it causes. But here's something to put your mind at ease: A spot or couple of drops of bright red blood, especially after a bout of diarrhea, is almost always nothing to worry about. It's the brown blood and the metallic, coppery smell in stool that necessitates a trip to the vet.

 

We hope this information helps and we wish nice firm poop for you and yours! And extra thick and strong poop bags for everyone!

43 Responses

  1. Jane

    I wanted to pass along a little hint. Paper plates. If your dog has poop that is too soft to pick up easily, slide a paper plate in to collect the poop. It will keep the neighbors on your dog walking route very happy. Also, if the dog has certain parasites, it will keep them from contaminating the soil.

  2. Tilly's Mom

    We at SHUG love reading poop – better than reading palms – because it tells us so much about our dogs’ health.

  3. Kris Hopper

    Very informative and I like the Visual Aids. I have observed several of the examples. Currently all is well. I am going to try and save this article for future reference. Thanks! Very helpful. Sasha has her first vet appointment today. She is oh so pretty, and the sweetest girl. She has such a great personality and likesto be petted. I

  4. Gerry

    I don’t have a site hound, but I do have a beagle with pica! I’M ALWAYS SQUISHING HIS POOP!!!! The neighborhood kids get soooo grossed out!!! LOL!!!! Plus, b/c I feed him carrots in his meals, I know which poop is mine vs. others who don’t pick theirs up! Works great when I have to go and prove that the piles in front of my apt aren’t mine! lol! GREAT IDEA ON THE PAPER PLATES!!!! Will have to share with my vet friends! (I’m a retired LVT)

  5. Rowan De Bonaire

    What about 1? Two of our Lurcher crosses do nuggets like this, but our Greys are all fine on the same diet.

  6. Moderator

    Obviously, check with your vet. But we’d recommend making sure they’re getting enough water (perhaps wet their food?) and maybe adding salmon oil to their food as well.

    Good luck!

  7. Rosemary Mitchell

    Paper plates are also great for scooping up vomit, loose or not. We also found limited ingredient food to solve several issues with dogs and cats. And as stated earlier, check the protein source, even in the same brand of food.

  8. Roger

    We always try to catch our dog’s poop, in the poo bag, before it hits the ground. That way there’s no residue even if the poo is of custard consistency. Would like to emphasise the need for using a bag that doesn’t have any holes in it and is big enough to comfortably cover your hand!!
    With practice and anticipating your dog’s no. 2 productions we manage this successfully at least 90% of the time. As a bonus, in winter you get a hand warmer at no extra cost.

  9. Very, very informative. I always check my dogs feces to make sure he’s doing alright. If he’s not a 3 or 4 I know somethings up.

  10. Helga

    I think this is silly, every on know what and how you can pick up, since this was comming from a dog food brand, I thought you were saying wether the dog is dehydrated, or ill or well!!!

  11. Denise Toepel

    Oh Rodger, I can see myself convincing my son that it would be a great hand warmer! Funny!

  12. jose

    feed your carnivore MEAT. Poo will be excellent, dog wil be excellent. Full stop

  13. Dog people can have whole conversations about poop.

  14. Bulldog mom

    My 2 bullies poo like horse. Glad to say they are both # 3. Home cooking helps too!

  15. BETH

    I PUT PLASTIC BAG INSIDE POOPER SCOOPER TRAY AND TIE IT OFF TO HANDLE LIGHTLY. WHEN DOG IS READY TO GO HOLD IT UNDERNEATH AND POOP NEVER TOUCHES THE GROUND, YOU DON’T HAVE TO BEND DOWN AND KILL YOUR BACK AND WHEN YOU UNLOAD IT JUST UNTIE AT HANDLE AND TIE IN KNOT BEFORE ULLING IT OFF POOPER SCOOPER TRAY. (SUPERMARKET PLASTIC BAGS FIT NICELY.. MY OLD BULLDOG USED TO WALK AND POOP SO IT WAS MUCH EASIER.

  16. Sue

    Good information, except for the giving Immodium part. Dogs that are MDR1 n/m or m/m should never be given Immodium. There are alternates that are much safer.

  17. Allison

    Hey Jose, Dogs are NOT carnivores. They are omnivores and need the nutrition from vegetables etc. Pure meat diet will leave them lacking in vitamins and minerals.

  18. Debbie

    Feeding the dogs 1 to 2 Tablespoons of plain or vanilla yogurt daily also helps keep the digestive tract moving as it helps keep the good bacteria growing in the intestines. Make sure that it does not contain any artificial sweeteners as this can be deadly to dogs. Our Pyr mix has had this since 4 months of age after a digestive issue and is now a happy 7 1/2 years old.

  19. Pat Ware

    tried everything and her poop is still as hard as can be

  20. Moderator

    Pat — if your dog appears in discomfort when pooping or you have concerns, definitely talk to your vet, especially if salmon oil, sufficient water, probiotics and other home remedies aren’t helping.

  21. Char

    Our VET says if your dog is straining you need to add fiber to their diet 🙂

  22. Kevalyn

    My puppy was a #1 this morning. Will definitely make sure he gets enough water and some squash or pumpkin. Is flax seed oil ok to use in food?

  23. Moderator

    Kevalyn: We use salmon oil and virgin coconut oil with our Sighthounds. Anyone want to chime in about the use of flax seed oil for pups?

  24. What can a dog eat to keep his anal glands from impacting, or is there a cure? Every other day, I have to squeeze his anal glands to unclog them.

  25. Carol Ann

    My vet recommends safflower oil in the dog’s food.

  26. Kathy

    I have used UDOS oil for my 3 Shiba Inus. Great product.

  27. Jessica Cooper

    I have been using organic cold-milled flax seeds (powder) in my dogs’ food for over 2 years. It is an excellent source of Omega 3’s and 6’s (when the powdered form is used for sure, it has a lot more than salmon oil), and it works great and is very safe. I’m sure the flax oil would be just as effective, and would definitely be just as safe. I started adding Omega sources because of a skin irritation and dull coat, but since then found it to be a great source of fiber and helps keep optimal score 3 poo! I do sometimes switch back and forth between salmon oil and flax seed, but mostly I add a little of both just to make sure my babies are getting the full spectrum of Omegas– flax seed has ALA Omega 3’s, while Salmon oil has EPA and DHA Omega 3’s. You wouldn’t believe the difference it makes in their coat, even if your dog doesn’t have skin ailments and you think they already have a pretty good looking coat! They just look so shiny, silky, and healthy… But more important than that, they FEEL healthy and have so much vitality! I have always been obsessed with my dogs’ stool (my husband always laughs at me when he sees me bending down pushing a stick around in the field or on the edge of the woods), so I was so happy to find this article!! Very informative! And if you think it’s just silliness, you’re DOGGONE wrong! (:D) If you keep a close eye on the poo situation with your dogs, many times you’ll be able to see the start of a problem before it even manifests itself. Thank you for this! It has already been bookmarked!

  28. Nancy Cooney

    i’m dealing with sensitive stomach issues, what about mucus in poop?

  29. Moderator

    Nancy — No pun intended, but it usually passes. If it seems excessive and/or also includes some blood, you should check with your vet.

  30. Debbie

    Try diatomaceous earth and you or your dogs will not have parasites. I’ve been using it for about a year and it works wonders.You can read about it at Earthworks.com.It takes 1month to rid dog of all parasites and 3 for humans.Just remember to always get food grade D.E. Thx for info!

  31. Kelly Ingersoll

    Evening Primrose Oil in each meal helps with skin and stool.

  32. Jacque

    I have a beagle/pitt rescue mix. She gets seasonal allergies so bad. The Vet put her on Termadol-P (steroid) It works and is the only thing I have found that works. I am more Holistic for myself & dogs. We all take our fish oil at night when I make their food plus I put a tbs. of reg no flavor Yogurt in their bowl with no grain dog food I found a product called Yucca Intensive. It is suppose to be compairable to steroids for dogs, & horses. I just started them on it this week. It also is helpful for their joints so I give it to my 12 yr. old Mal. Has anyone used this product? It is suppose to help the itching and keep them from biting their feet off.

  33. Sue

    I have 3 Biewers (German Yorkies) and feed a good kibble, freeze-dried raw, veggie/fruit/yogurt smoothies (1 TBSP.), and alternate days with organic virgin coconut oil and sardines. Only low sodium, packed in water sardines…they absolutely love them. They are a good source of Omega 3, calcium, and protein. http://www.dogster.com/lifestyle/sardines-for-dogs. Their stools are always 2 or 3.

  34. Emily

    Very much agree about checking and being diligent for parasites. My greyhound was given a dose of dewormer as part of her adoption fee, but unfortunately she had a nasty hookworm infection (probably from the track she came from). It took me almost 6 months and a change of vet to figure it out, and then 9 rounds of de wormer, alternating between panacur and ivermectin (heartguard plus) to get her healthy and screening clean again. I’ve never been so excited to see “healthy poop” in my life!

  35. Kristen Hopper

    How do you know when the Anal Glands are impacted?

    Thank you,

    Kris

    • Moderator

      Mostly by “scooting” behavior i.e. dragging their little butt along the ground or, better yet, your just washed carpet.

  36. Us two greyhounds get flax seed oil on our twice-daily meals. It’s great for the poop, and also keeps our coats lovely and shiny 🙂

  37. Alison

    Our greyhound usually does 3 poops on his walk, his first is a number 3, his 2nd is a number 4 and his 3rd is a number 5. Isn’t this because the 3rd poop has not been in his digestive tract as long as his first and is therefore looser in consistency?

  38. Moderator

    Exactly, Alison.

  39. Alison, my greyhound is exactly the same but more often a 4-6! Adopted him in January 2014. I just made a vet appointment as his vaccinations are “due” although I am not a fan of over vaccinating so I will have to do some research and discuss his poop again with vet. I am doing the canned pumpkin or baked squash thing and tried baked sweet potato also. Minor improvements. Fortiflora. No improvement. I’m thinking protein change for his grain free kibble diet is next?

  40. Moderator

    Sandra — Yes, many of us battling pudding poop have found a change of protein and a switch to grain-free helped significantly. Some of us have had good luck with a limited ingredient food with a novel protein, like deer.

  41. My German Shep. is 6 – lots of blood work shows nothing wrong. Fecal is negative. Dogs seems fine and holding weight well . However his bowel movements have recently changed from perfect to a bit shiny, formed, but very soft. Vet wants to do an endoscope but if the problem is in his colon the vet will find nothing. I can live with the problem but I would like to know if there is something that I can try – an easy fix. In the past I have tried Tylan – and prescription pancreatic enzymes – but still his bowel movements changed for the worse. Since his bloodwork for EPI was negative we cut out the enzymes without a change. If you have any ideas I’d love to hear them. Thanks for reading.

    Richard

  42. I fed my last greyhound V-Dog (vegan brand dog kibble) for the 5 years he was with us. Plus he was always getting carrots, cucumbers, kale, chard… when he’d hear my wife at the cutting board. His poo was a #3, 99% of the time 😉

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