As far as general markers of health go, our pet’s poop can be quite insightful. Stool can be an early indicator of what’s going on inside our dog’s bodies, what they’ve eaten, and how they’re feeling, so paying attention to it—and especially when it’s changed in color and/or consistency—can be very helpful when it comes to diagnosing any potential issues.
“Bowel movements, although not pleasant to look at, are an important way to determine how healthy they are,” says Dr. James D Carlson, a veterinarian based in Ohio. “Color, form, size, and smell are indicators of how well your dog is ingesting and absorbing food.”
Stool comes in many different forms, of course, and different dogs will have different forms of “normal” bowel movements. Even so, color is one of the first things that might change in your pup’s poop if something is off. Green dog poop, for example, can be green for several reasons, some of which may require veterinary attention. Here’s what you should know.
What Color Should Dog Poop Be?
For most dogs, normal stool will be brownish in color, although a dog with colored food in its diet may also exhibit a hint of that color in their poop. Paying attention to what’s normal for your dog with regard to their stool is important, though.
“Your dog’s bowel movement will give you a great picture of their overall health,” says Dr. Sara Ochoa, a veterinarian with Whitehouse Veterinary Hospital. For example, “if your dog is not drinking enough water, they will have hard, dry stool,” Dr. Ochoa explains. Or “if your dog has diarrhea, it could indicate that they have a GI infection or other illness.”
Why is My Dog’s Poop Green?
Some common reasons that your dog might have green poop include:
- They ate grass
- Parasites are present
- They have gastroenteritis
- They are not absorbing their food properly
- They ate something with green dye
- They’ve been exposed to a toxin (like rat poison)
Paying attention to your dog’s other potential symptoms is important when it comes to helping your veterinarian determine the underlying reason for a change in stool color.
“If you know your dog ate something toxic or they are showing other signs of illness, such as vomiting, lethargy and not eating, it would be best for your dog to see a veterinarian,” says Dr. Ochoa. On the other hand, “most dogs that eat grass will act totally normal, other than having this green stool.”
If you are ever worried about your dog’s change in stool, or if they’re exhibiting other symptoms mentioned above or you believe they could have been exposed to a toxin, call your veterinarian.
Green Dog Poop Characteristics
Depending on the reason for your dog’s change in stool color, they may exhibit other changes in their bowel movements, as well. Some additional characteristics to pay attention to that may be present with green poop include:
- Mucus and slime: These could be signs of gastroenteritis, which is an infection in the GI tract.
- Soft, runny, and watery: Soft dog poop that has the consistency of diarrhea is also a sign that something more is going on with your dog’s stool. If this is happening, it’s unlikely your dog just ate something green and you should take your dog to the vet.
- Crumbly: Stool that is too dry could mean your dog is constipated, says Dr. Carlson, or they may have eaten bones.
- Chalky: Many dogs with chalky stool can have a malabsorption disease, says Dr. Ochoa. “This occurs when their body is lacking certain enzymes needed to break down their food, leading to chalky stool. They also will be very skinny, despite eating very well.”
- Hard: Hard stool often means that a dog is dehydrated. “If they are not drinking enough water, there is not enough water to put into their stool to make it a normal consistency,” says Dr. Ochoa.
- Different colors of green (including dark, bright, and light green, as well as yellow-green): It’s not uncommon for a dog’s poop to change different shades of green depending on what they ate, particularly when new foods are introduced.
What to Do If Your Dog’s Poop Is Green
If your dog is otherwise acting normal (and you know they haven’t been exposed to something else potentially dangerous, like a toxin), Dr. Ochoa recommends simply monitoring your dog for a few days. “Eating grass or other green objects can cause green stool, and that will go away after a day,” she says.
However, if your dog is also sick (vomiting, lethargic, not eating) and has green stool, see your veterinarian right away. “Some of the causes of green poop can be life-threatening and will require quick and proper treatment for your dog to fully recover,” adds Dr. Ochoa.
If you do think a trip to the veterinarian is in your future because of a change in your dog’s stool, Dr. Ochoa recommends collecting a sample to bring with you. “This helps your veterinarian know what the stool looks like, and to have a good sample to check for any parasites.”
Although your veterinarian will offer more specific suggestions or treatments based on your dog’s needs, if your dog has green poop without other symptoms, probiotics can sometimes help. “Many times, this green stool is because your dog ate something that they shouldn’t have and their intestinal bacteria that normally live in their gut have been altered, causing the green stool,” says Dr. Ochoa. “Probiotics contain the good bacteria that your dog’s GI system needs to function properly.”
It’s also important to never give your dog any treats with food coloring, as it may irritate their bowels and lead to green stool. “Always talk with your veterinarian about what diet is best for your dog, and what treats are the safest to give your pet,” says Dr. Carlson.