Whether you are a cat or dog owner, knowing what is considered normal or healthy stool for your pet is important. Abnormalities of your pet’s stool could be a sign of something more serious.
Dr. Jonathan Lidbury, assistant professor at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, said regularly looking at your pet’s stool can help protect their health. Additionally, he described what kind of stool is considered healthy for your pet.
“Normal stool is formed and maintains its shape once it has been passed,” Lidbury said. “It is usually light to dark brown in color. Small variations in the color and texture can occur from day to day. However, owners should contact a veterinarian if their pet’s stool has fresh red blood in it, as this could be a sign of inflammation of the colon.”
Lidbury also noted that other signs of a problem could include a dark or black and tarry appearance to the stool, as this is consistent with digested blood and bleeding from the stomach or small intestine; persistently yellow or gray and greasy stool, as this can indicate digestive problems such as exocrine pancreatic insufficiency; or a persistently off white stool, which can indicate blockage of the bile duct.
In addition to these irregularities, there are other abnormal qualities in your pet’s stool that could be a sign of a health problem, such as evidence of round worms or tapeworms.
“Diarrhea can be due to a wide variety of gastrointestinal and other problems, while mucous in the stool or multiple pieces of narrow stool, can indicate inflammation of the colon.”
Lidbury encourages pet owners whose pet is producing irregular stool to visit a veterinarian. Your veterinarian has the tools to diagnose the cause of the abnormal stool, as well as help treat your pet’s health issue.
“Your vet will first collect a thorough history and perform a complete physical examination to help better define your pet’s problem. They may also examine a stool sample under a microscope to look for parasites,” Lidbury said. “If no parasites are found and your pet is otherwise healthy, a veterinarian may prescribe a treatment aimed to help control your pet’s symptoms.”
Though some pet owners may avoid looking too closely at their pet’s feces, keeping an eye on your pet’s stools can actually help keep your pet healthy. Knowing what is considered healthy and normal stool is important for all pet owners.
Pet Talk is a service of the College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, Texas A&M University. Stories can be viewed on the web at vetmed.tamu.edu/pet-talk. Suggestions for future topics may be directed to email@example.com .