We all love our pups, but let’s face it; there are elements of having pets that aren’t quite as enjoyable. From applying the best flea treatment for dogs and walking them when it’s cold and rainy, to grooming them and picking up their poop, there are things that must be done, even if they aren’t too fun.
And when it comes to excrement, it’s not just picking it up and putting it in the bin that’s part and parcel of being a responsible dog owner, it’s important to check it too. While it’s a task that’s – quite frankly – gross, Elizabeth Foley, a trainer in dog psychology, who’s known as Your Favourite Dog Trainer on Instagram, has explained why it’s so vital.
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Your dog’s poop can tell you a lot about them – both concerning their physical and mental health. “If your dog has an abnormal BM [bowel movement],” explains Foley, “that is an indication something may be off. Perhaps they ate something out of the garbage, or are feeling anxious, or maybe they’ve developed an allergy, or are seriously ill.”
Foley explains that it’s important to look out for changes in consistency, color, and smell. And while changes in excrement can indicate a minor concern, picking up on something different could save your dog’s life.
She continues, “One of the main things I’m always looking out for is any sign of a parasite. Giardia is not too uncommon especially when packs are together (think dog parks and daycares). This is something I learned running my structured facility for many years”.
Giardia is a parasite that can be fatal, particularly in younger and older dogs, as it can lead to dehydration. “ It is highly contagious and spread through drinking contaminated water as well as sniffing or eating the poop of an infected animal,” says Foley.
So, if your dog has a watery, greenish, or foul-smelling stool (yes, even more so than usual), or it contains mucus or blood, it’s important to take a sample to your vet as soon as possible. Giardia in dogs can be serious, and it’s better to be safe than sorry.
However, Giardia is just one concern. If you’re worried about any changes in your dog’s poop, or you’re in any doubt, it’s best to consult your vet. It may not be a huge deal to worry about, but it could just save their life.
Diarrhea in dogs can also be common. Again, it might not be extremely serious, but getting it checked out with your vet is important if it persists for more than 48 hours.
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Adam is a freelance journalist covering lifestyle, health, culture, and pets, and he has five years' experience in journalism. He's also spent the last few years studying towards undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in journalism. While a cat person at heart, he's often visiting his parents' Golden Retriever, and when he's not writing about everything pets he's probably drinking coffee, visiting a cat cafe, or listening to live music.