What You Should Know About Green Dog Poop
Everything comes down to poo! Though you might not want to get up close and personal with your dog’s poop, it is an excellent measure of your dog’s overall health. So when your dog does the deed and it comes out green, what does that mean?
Today we’re going to debunk green dog poo. We’ll cover potential causes and whether you should worry.
Let’s dive in.
Why Is Your Dog's Poop Green
Here’s the crux of it. Your dog’s poop can have a green tinge for a variety of reasons:
Your dog ate something green
Some dried dog food has green pieces in them. If this is your dog’s primary diet, your dog’s poo may look green, this could also happen if you feed your dog a homemade diet. If you include veggies like broccoli and spinach. These deep leafy greens can add colour to your dog’s poo and are nothing to be concerned about.
Your dog ate grass
Like cats, sometimes dogs eat grass! Grass is a good source of fibre that helps the digestive system. Dogs will naturally munch on some grass to give them that extra roughage. It is an ancient practice.
“Examining stool samples shows that 11-47% of wolves eat grass. Modern dogs do not have to hunt for their food, but that does not mean that they have lost the natural instinct to scavenge. Some dogs, even those that love their commercial dog food, will eat grass as a reflection of their ancestry and the need to be scavengers.” - VCA Hospitals (1)
Sometimes you’ll find full strands of green grass in your dog’s poop. Other times, the chlorophyll will just colour your dog’s poop following their latest grass binge.
Your dog has gastroenteritis
Now let’s get into the scary stuff. Gastroenteritis is common in dogs and can cause many issues – including green dog poop.
The simple definition of gastroenteritis is inflammation of the small intestine. It’s the human equivalent of a stomach bug, but it can be extremely frightening.
Many dogs get gastroenteritis from eating something they shouldn’t or having too much fatty food that the intestines can’t digest properly.
If your dog has gastroenteritis, you’ll see:
If you suspect your dog has gastroenteritis, contact your vet immediately for help and ensure your dog is drinking water.
Your vet will likely put your dog on an aggressive course of anti-vomiting, anti-inflammatory, and an IV drip to rehydrate your pooch. (2) You’ll then be given medication to continue at home.
Your dog has parasites
Another scary reason why your dog’s poo might be green is a parasitic infestation. Parasites – nasty suckers – feed off of your dog’s intestine and multiply quickly.
Giardia is the main parasite to watch out for if your dog’s poo is green. Unfortunately, it’s one of the most common parasites out there.
“It can live in the intestines of dogs (and other animals, including cats and humans) and cause severe gastrointestinal disease. Giardia in dogs is spread by fecal-contaminated water, food, or soil.” - PetMD (3)
One of the telltale signs of Giardia is a green tint to dog poop.
The other signs of Giardia to watch out for are:
If you suspect your dog has Giardia, contact your vet for an urgent course of treatment. Some antibiotic medication and rehydration treatment should clear up the issue. However, it’s easy to get reinfected.
Ensure your home is extra clean and that you disinfect areas where your dog eats or poops daily to lower the chance of reinfection.
Your dog is not absorbing food properly
Intestinal malabsorption is the fancy term for a faulty intestine. The small intestine absorb nutrients from food as it travels through the digestive tract.
If something goes wrong during this vital process, it can cause odd-coloured poo, like green!
Here are some symptoms to look out for:
Though intestinal malabsorption is a serious problem that has damaging effects over a long periods, it can go undetected because the symptoms are less “dramatic” than Giardia or gastroenteritis. (4)
This is because intestinal issues cause vitamin deficiencies. Vitamin deficiencies cause poor-quality coats, increased hunger and weight loss, the issue isn’t instant but gradually creeps up over time.
If you suspect your dog isn’t absorbing the correct nutrients from food and their poo is green, contact your vet for a complete blood test. They can identify which vitamins are deficient and solve the intestinal issues at the source.
Your dog has been exposed to rat poison (or other toxins)
If consumed, rat poison commonly causes bright green or blue dog poo over the next few days, this is because the poison contains dyes.
If your dog has consumed any amount of rat poison, contact your vet immediately, as it can be extremely dangerous if not treated early. (5)
Other signs your pup has come into contact with poison or toxins are:
Rat poison or any other toxin can be fatal to your dog. So if you see bright green poo or any of these other symptoms, get them to a vet pronto. Do not delay!
Is Green Dog Poop Bad?
It genuinely depends on the reason behind it. As you can see, there are harmless reasons your dog’s poop may be green. There are also terrifying health conditions that could be to blame.
So yes, green dog poo can be bad, but you should only panic if it happens along with other warning signs.
Let’s talk about those warning signs now.
Related: Why Does Your Dog Eat Their Poop?
What Does Green Poop Mean? How To Tell The Cause
So we talked about why your dog’s poo is green. The multiple potential reasons can be difficult to decipher without any extra symptoms. The extra symptoms I listed are important to look for, but there are clues about what might be going on in the look and smell of the poo.
Here are some things to look out for:
What Colour Should Your Dog’s Poo Be?
You’re probably expecting your dog’s poo to be brown typically. That’s why a green tint or bright green transformation can be so scary.
Related: The Best Dog Poop Bag Holders Australia.
But what’s the science behind that? What type of brown should your dog’s poo be?
“The colour of dog poo is determined by two main factors: the diet and the dog’s health. Your dog’s poop will be individual to them, so you’ll come to know what is normal in colour, consistency, shape and frequency.” - Vets4Pets (6)
Depending on the individual, most dogs' poo will range from mid-brown to deep chocolatey brown.
You’ll notice that puppies tend to have a much lighter poo, especially when weaning, this is because of the milk content in their droppings.
Related: The Best Biodegradable Poo Bags Australia.
Speaking of puppies, let’s talk about how things may differ for younger dogs.
Green Poop In Puppies - Should You Worry?
If your puppy’s poo is green, it’s likely your dog is eating grass or has a medical issue.
Medical issues such as ingesting rat poison, gastroenteritis or even mild intestinal malabsorption can be fatal to your puppy. They can be fatal to any dog, but young dogs are still growing and developing their immune systems. So severe illness is far more worrying at their age.
Related: Can You Compost Dog Poo?
Another factor that could contribute to puppies having green poo more often is that puppies like to eat everything. It’s common for puppies to consume large amounts of grass as they are playing outside simply because it’s fun.
Related: The Best Dog Poo Composting Systems Australia.
If your puppy has green poo, and it’s not likely to be grass, contact your vet to investigate. It’s paramount that your puppy is checked out as soon as possible for any underlying health issues that could severely impact their health and development.
What Should You Do If Your Dog Is Pooping Green?
If your dog’s poo is green, this is the process I recommend:
- Take a photo
I know, I know. Having stool samples on your phone is gross, but it'll help you figure out what might be happening. It’ll also be helpful for your vet to see if and when you consult with them.
- Take a whiff
You will notice immediately if your dog's poo sounds more foul than usual. That's a glaring sign that there's a health condition that needs solving. But this one should be pretty easy.
- Identify the consistency of the poo
Is it watery? Oily? Is there any mucus or film? Is it loose like diarrhoea? Or does it look normal except for the colour? All important information to identify what’s happening.
- Think about your dog’s behaviour in the last couple of days
Do they seem more tired and weak than often? Have they been eating normally? Are they scavenging for food or lack interest in food Have they vomited? Is there blood in the vomit or is the vomit green too?
- Check for consistency of colour
Is the poo primarily brown with green streaks? Are the streaks bright green or dull green? If dull green, it’s likely just grass or dye from dog food. Don’t panic too much. Bright green is more alarming, so definitely contact your vet.
- Contact your vet
Use the emergency line to contact your vet if you have identified that the green poo is due to an underlying health issue. It’s better to be safe than sorry, so book your dog in for investigation with immediate effect.
- Keep your dog hydrated
While you travel to the vet and during any waiting period, ensure your dog has plenty to drink. Fresh water is paramount during this time, as dehydration can be fatal to dogs. Your vet will rehydrate your pup with electrolyte solution and IV drips if needed.
My Final Thoughts
To wrap up, green dog poo can be alarming but don’t freak out. Assess the other factors of look, smell and your dog’s behaviour to see if it’s something to worry about. If you’re in doubt, consult your vet for an initial analysis.
Stay tuned for more on our dog poo series. We’ll talk about:
- Buzhardt, L. Weir, M. “Why Dogs Eat Grass”. VCA Hospitals. Retrieved February 23, 2023. https://vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/why-do-dogs-eat-grass
- Bales, L. October 21, 2021. “Gastroenteritis in Dogs”. PetMD. Retrieved February 23, 2023. https://www.petmd.com/dog/conditions/digestive/c_dg_gastroenteritis
- Schiable, L. October 20, 2021. “Giardia in Dogs”. PetMD. Retrieved February 23, 2023. https://www.petmd.com/dog/conditions/infectious-parasitic/c_multi_giardiasis
- Hollinger, H. October 6, 2017. “Intestinal Malabsorption in Dogs”. WagWalking. Retrieved February 23, 2023. https://wagwalking.com/condition/intestinal-malabsorption
- Higgs, V. September 12, 2022. “Rat Poisoning in Dogs”. PetMD. Retrieved February 23, 2023. https://www.petmd.com/dog/poisoning/rat-poisoning-dogs
- “How to tell if your dog's poo is healthy”. Vets4Pets. Retrieved February 23, 2023. https://www.vets4pets.com/pet-health-advice/dog-advice/how-to-tell-if-your-dogs-poo-is-healthy/