Poop, stool, excrement, poo, deposits… call it what you will, as a dog parent, I’m sure this something you discuss fairly regularly. Just like when you have a human baby, when you welcome a dog into your life, talking about poop suddenly becomes non-taboo!
It might be that your puppy is struggling with Giardia, your adult dog has a food intolerance, or your newly raw fed dog is slightly constipated. There’s plenty of reasons we may talk about our dog’s stool passing. But have you considered that your dog’s poo is also an insight into their emotional wellbeing?
First off, let’s discuss what is a “good poo”!
Our friend and Holistic Vet, Dr Nick Thompson, has a simple stool score table that allows you to rank your dog’s deposits out of ten.
The Thompson Stool Score
Water (there’s no way you are picking this up!)
Thin, but will hold together on the ground. Dr. Nick likens this to uncooked thin cookie dough.
Blancmange – neither liquid or solid. Here you can pick it up – but you’re leaving a mess behind.
Formed but soft. Soft, sponge cake! Not easily pickup-able but cleanly scoop-able!
Perfect cigar or torpedo. You can pick this up easily in two (covered) fingers.
If you’d like to hear more from Dr. Nick please check out our webinar series!
What to do if you don’t have a ‘perfect ten’!
The first thing you would want to do is to speak to your vet. Your dog potentially could have some form of disease, such as Giardia, or an infestation. If there’s nothing obviously physically wrong – then it could be that your dog has a food intolerance. Working with a Holistic Vet or Canine Nutritionist will allow you to investigate this issue further.
Does stress play a part?
If you’ve ever felt butterflies in your tummy or had to head to the bathroom a few times before a big occasion like a job interview, you’ll understand how stress can impact our gut – after all our stomach is known as the ‘second brain’! Connected through the enteric nervous system (ENS), using the vagus nerve, our gut communicates both physically and chemically with our brain.
Exciting research has shown how important gut health – in particular the stomach’s microbiome – is for both physical and mental wellbeing. Our dog’s gut microbiota help in the function of that stomach-brain communication. And what’s really interesting is that so many factors can impact our dogs’ gut health – from how they were born, to early stressors, infections, nutrition and stressors – both emotionally and environmentally.
But, back to poop!
With that gut-brain connection – if your dog’s stomach is physically unwell, perhaps with diarrhoea or constipation, then they can feel emotionally unwell too. AND if your dog is emotionally taxed – feeling stressed and anxious – then this in turn can impact their stomach which will show through poor poop.
If you are regularly seeing that your dog’s stool is watery, hard to pick up, or perhaps gets looser the more exposure they have to the world – it’s worth thinking about whether stress is a factor.
Once you’ve had all the physical aspects of your dog’s health looked into, if stool issues still remain, it’s worth discussing your dog’s behaviour with a behaviourist to support their emotional wellbeing.