HOW TO Read Your Dog’s Poop and Pee

chihuahua puppy in toilet

Your dog’s potty habits hold many clues to his health, and are often the first indication that something is wrong.

Sure, every dog will have the occasional bout of diarrhea, soft stool, hard stool and runny stool, but maybe sometimes there is more to that poop.

Let’s not forget about urine, which can also indicate something is wrong with your dog. How often he goes, whether he’s straining, the color of the urine, etc., are all things you should be aware of when your dog is doing his bathroom business.

Here’s how to read your dog’s waste so that you can have a better understanding of what’s going on with, or rather inside of, your dog.

What are the Signs that My Dog’s Poop and Pee are Normal?

Bess Pierce, DVM, associate professor of community practice at the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine in Blacksburg, Va., told, “A dog’s bowel and urinary habits are outward signs of his health status. It is important to monitor the amount, frequency, color and consistency of your dog’s feces and urine, giving particular attention to changes in normal pattern.”

The tricky part will be determining your dog’s particular potty habit, as each dog is different. However, most dogs do develop potty habits, or potty perks as I like to call them.

As for your dog’s waste, according to, his pee should be light-to-medium yellow in color, without a strong, offensive odor. Your dog’s feces should be moderately firm to firm, and a shade of brown.

What are Some Signs that My Dog is Having Potty Problems? lists the following symptoms to look out for:

  • Straining to urinate — A dog who tries but can’t produce much urine may have urinary stones, which can be fatal if left untreated.
  • Very dark urine — Extremely dark yellow or rust-colored urine may contain blood, which indicates the possibility of a urinary tract infection (UTI).
  • Housetraining lapses — A dog who suddenly starts urinating all over the house needs to see a veterinarian. The problem could be a UTI or, if he’s also drinking a lot of water, it could be a serious condition such as kidney disease, diabetes or Cushing’s disease.
  • Straining to defecate — If your dog’s been trying to defecate for a day or so, but can’t, he may have a bowel obstruction. Call your veterinarian. If he’s vomiting, call sooner.
  • Diarrhea – Runny, stinky stools may or may not be serious. Don’t feed your dog for a day or so, but make sure he has plenty of water. After a day, start him on a bland diet, such as a mixture of boiled rice and hamburger. If your dog still has the trots after two days, put in a call to your vet. If he’s vomiting, call sooner. And if he’s a young puppy who vomits more than once an hour over a half-day period, take him to the vet immediately.
  • Very dark feces – Stool that’s black or very dark brown may signal bleeding in the upper intestinal tract, which can result from many possible problems. A veterinarian’s attention is needed.
  • Gray feces – Cement-colored stool may mean that a dog is suffering from an obstruction of the bile duct. The obstruction could have one of several causes, but in any case, necessitates a visit to the vet.
  • Changes in stool shape – If your dog’s stool is shaped like thin strips, his large intestine or rectum may be narrowed for some reason. On the other hand, very large stools may indicate a problem in the small intestine. Either way, a visit to the vet is in order.

What to Do if You See Changes in Your Dog’s Waste

“Any unusual smell or coloration can indicate any number of conditions, such as tapeworm, urinary infection, the presence of parasites, gastrointestinal obstruction or even be indicative that dog has ingested poison,” according to “Frequent vomiting and diarrhea can also indicate gastrointestinal parasites as well as liver disease, cancers and less serious conditions such as gastroenteritis or allergies.”

Both and agree that the most important and proactive thing you can do if you see sudden changes in your dog’s waste is to take him to the vet.

“Whenever something new or different happens with your dog that causes you and it concern, the most sensible thing to do is seek medical advice as soon as you can,” says

To help prevent poop and pee issues, you can give your dog a multivitamin containing green tea and reishi.

PHOTO: ebrind

Find A Vet HOW TO articles are intended for informational purposes only. You should always consult with your veterinarian about any health issues affecting your dog.

Sonya Simpkins

Sonya Simpkins is a contributing writer for i Love Dogs, Inc. In her spare time, she loves to take her dogs for long hikes and treks to the beach, out to eat and on long road trips across the county. She then turns those adventures into useful advice for other dog parents who also love to take their dogs with them wherever they go.

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