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Sunday, September 13, 2009

The Scoop on Poop

Let’s face it; even in today’s society many people don’t take notice of the excrement that their dog leaves behind, in fact some people act as if they have never seen their dog’s feces before! Basically it belongs outside where humans don’t have to come in contact with it until it is the DDD day (dreaded doggy doody) and even then the poop may be too dehydrated from heat or it may be frozen from the cold weather so that any changes are not noticeable by the owner. Of course then you have those owners who own acres of property on wooded lots so they don’t ever pick it up, or those that hire a company to pick it up for them.

I’m sure it’s not a topic fit for a sit down family dinner, but never the less it is important and who else but me would bring it up.

Having as many dogs as I do I have to keep the yard clean because given the size of the piles left from just one of my dogs if not picked up, would leave no room for walking in the yard! I liken a Newfoundland’s poop to cow’s poop, pretty big, just not as flat!

Whenever I get a new dog or puppy, during their potty training I become very familiar with what their poop looks like. In fact I can take you in my yard today and tell you which pile of poop belongs to which dog, something to be proud of I know! And to my son who just spent a weekend here, your dog is a tad bit constipated!

Many people don’t realize that there is a problem until they notice worms wiggling around or if they see small rice grain looking things hanging from the dog’s fur or in the stool, but there is a lot more information in that lump of feces then you can imagine. In fact, some dogs do have worms and the owner is unaware because some of those little buggers don’t shed very often in the stool but stay inside and invade the intestines, so in some cases several stool samples may be needed before worms are caught. And just so you know, the over the counter worming medicine does not work on all worms even though some may claim to, so before you waste your money giving over the counter worming meds, be sure you have identified the worms you are treating and make sure the treatment works or you could end up with a sick pup.

Your dog’s stool should be moderately firm to firm and should be brown in color, and that can mean different shades of brown depending on what you feed the dog.

Stools that are loose can indicate bacterial infection, inflammatory bowl disease, obstruction of the intestines, drugs or toxins, parasites, protazoa (such as giardia or coccidia),and malabsorbtion or maldigestion issues.

Black tarry stools, known as Melena, usually mean that blood is being digested higher up in the body (stomach or upper intestines) before it makes its way through the system and this would require immediate help. No offense, but don’t take a chance and try to wait it out like some of my customers do.

Bright red blood, Hematochezia, is more likely coming from the lower intestines which can be from a minor problem or a more serious one. In older pets it may be a sign of cancer, and in younger pets it may be a sign of parasites or the Parvo virus. Again, don’t delay having the dog seen if it is persistent.

Grey or white stool can mean that there is an obstruction in the bile duct, and stool that is soft and has a really bad odor can mean a bacterial infection, or in dogs/pups that are not up to date on shots runny bloody stool with a very foul odor can mean the Parvo virus.

I always check the stool for foreign objects as well. Little pieces of plastic can tell you that the dog has eaten one of his toys or as in my Niece's case, a few cell phones! That would lead you to watch for an obstruction of the bowel.

Like most dogs, your dog can get a bout of diarrhea now and then which can just as easily be a self limited virus that will resolve on its own,. But if it is a constant issue then it is time to see your Vet. Also, some dog breeds are more prone to intestinal issues than others.  Boxers for instance can struggle with colitis or irritable bowl syndrome and Yorkies and Poodles are prone to explosive diarrhea from a condition know as hemorrhagic gastroenteritis. So it is also very important to know what health disorders are prone to the breed of dog you have.

“Where do I find this very useful information?” You ask.

Well I am glad you asked, because at the bottom of this post I am going to put up a website where you can look up your breed and once you get through the breeds personality, size, coat ,blah, blah, blah, you’ll see the list prone illnesses. Some breeds have two pages of listed prone illnesses. And while your there after you look up your breed, don't forget to check out my article on State animal Response teams! (Just type SART in their search box at the top of the page.) 

Now, if you have a breed mix or one of the new ‘designer’ dogs (which are basically a mixed breed that costs way too much money), such as a Shihpoo for example, then you would want to look up both the Shih Tzu and Poodle because your dog is then prone to the illnesses of both breeds.

In most cases when a dog first has a runny stool, fasting the dog from food for a day is usually suggested, but do make sure to give plenty of water as diarrhea can dehydrate a dog and a young pup very quickly. The next day start a bland diet of boiled chicken and cooked white rice. The fasting gives the intestines the time they need to settle a bit and bland diet will help the intestines become less inflamed. If the dog is losing a lot of fluid from diarrhea then you may want to add some children’s pedialyte in with the water, about a 50/50 mixture to keep up the electrolytes. If it is a small dog that you are fasting, then it would be a good idea to take some pancake syrup and rub it along the gums  to keep the blood sugar up as you don’t want hypoglycemia to become a problem.

With poop that is normal in every aspect but it not located together in one pile could suggest a hip problem such as hip dysplasia, or it could be due to arthritis. You will notice that a young healthy dog will stay in one place to poop, but a dog with a hip problem or arthritis has a harder time squatting and staying in one position for too long, so they walk a bit as they poop thus leaving little turds in a line. A dog that is straining to defecate and has hard round turds is a sign of constipation, just as it is in humans!

For short bursts of diarrhea or constipation you can give the dog a little canned pumpkin. Make sure it is 100% pure pumpkin and not the ready made pie filling as the pie filling has spices in it that your dog does not need.
“Hey, I may know nothing about making a pumpkin pie, but I do know about dog poop!”

So get your shovels out and happy scooping :)

Breed information site. Type your breed into the search box and don’t forget, a mixed breed may require you to look up both breeds.

Site on worms and treatments click here 

Available Pooper scooper business listings, any state click here.

Next week: Maybe some afternoon Tea with pee?  

Until next time, Happy Scooping!

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