Should You Be Worried About Yellow Dog Poop?
When your dog poops, you could have a whole manner of surprises. From foreign objects to unusual shapes and smells, it is helpful to keep an eye on your dog’s poo so that you know the state of their diet and health. But what if your dog poops and it’s bright yellow?
Today, we’re going to talk about yellow dog poo - what it means, what to do, and when to worry. Let’s dive in!
What Colour Is Healthy Dog Poo?
So you’re probably tempted to skip ahead to what might be wrong with your loveable pooch.
But hold your horses. Let’s first go through what colour your dog’s poop should be.
Understanding the lifecycle of poo will help you see why yellow dog poop is the least concerning out of all the unusual colours.
When food is digested, it travels from the stomach to the small intestine and then to the large intestine. The small intestine has bile secretions from the pancreas that help break down the food into nutrients the body can absorb.
The body absorbs those nutrients and leaves the remainder to form into poop along the intestinal tract.
During this process, the colour of the poop will be yellow when undigested until eventually becoming brown when ready to…*clears throat*…” release”.
So healthy dog poo is typically mid to chocolate brown. The colour will vary depending on your dog’s diet and individual differences.
As you raise your pup, you’ll get to know what colour is normal for your dog so you can tell colour differences more clearly.
Now, let’s discuss why your dog’s poop might be yellow.
Why Is My Dog’s Poo Yellow?
Yellow dog poop can be a sign of many things, but thankfully, not all are that dangerous. Let’s start with the most obvious one.
Your dog has eaten something yellow
From coloured dog treats to sweetcorn, dogs can consume things that turn their poo more yellow than normal.
If you suspect your dog has eaten something yellow, then it’s completely normal for it to show up in their poo.
Try not to worry too much if you see this.
Your dog has an upset stomach
If your dog can’t keep their food down, either by vomiting or diarrhoea, the food will come out undigested. As we discussed, undigested food is coated in bile, which is yellow in colour. So if your dog has an upset stomach, yellow diarrhoea is extremely common.
There are many reasons why your pooch might have an upset stomach, from the mundane to the frightening. (1)
As you can see, not all of these are worth involving the vet.
Luckily, if your dog just has an upset stomach due to motion sickness or something they ate, you can often treat it at home.
I’m not suggesting that you always treat your dog at home – use your best judgement – but settling their stomach enough to keep well is easy to do.
Canned pumpkin is a common home remedy many dog owners use to settle their dogs' stomachs in times of crisis. You must only use 100% canned pumpkin with no added sugars, spices or sweeteners. Some sweeteners are toxic to dogs and can aggravate the problem.
Another common at-home remedy for an upset stomach is fasting. Not feeding your dog for 12 hours will help their stomach recover from any bugs or imbalances.
However, this comes with its own cautions.
“Fasting may seem simple enough, but it’s important to speak with your veterinarian first because some dogs (particularly small breeds or those with prior health conditions) cannot tolerate fasting as well as others.” - Katherine Smith DVM, PetMD (2)
So how do you know when an upset stomach is a sign of a greater illness?
Look out for these symptoms:
If any of these symptoms arise alongside the yellow poop, contact your vet immediately for further investigation.
Your dog has an intestinal blockage
Intestinal blockages and intestinal inflammation can hamper your dog’s ability to digest food efficiently. As we’ve learnt, that can change the colour of your dog’s poop.
These are some of the most common causes of sudden death in dogs if not caught early. It can take just 3-7 days for your dog to die from a blockage.
So how do you know this is the cause? Look out for these symptoms:
I know these symptoms look incredibly similar to many other ailments your dog could suffer from. So here is a hack.
Usually, intestinal and bowel blockages are caused by foreign objects. So if you suspect your dog has swallowed something they shouldn’t have, contact your vet immediately.
“Early diagnosis and treatment of intestinal blockage is important for a good outcome and to prevent complications (such as damage to the intestines, intestine rupture, leakage, splitting, or peritonitis). If surgery is needed, it must be performed as soon as possible.” - Veronica Higgs DVM, PetMD (3)
Even swallowing the most seemingly harmless things can cause extremely dangerous situations for your pup, so don’t delay.
Your dog has a parasite problem
Let’s talk about parasites. If your dog’s poo has yellow dots or specks, it could be parasite eggs. Sometimes you’ll see full parasites such as roundworms or tapeworms in your dog’s poo, which are also yellow in colour. Tapeworm eggs look like grains of rice. (4)
If your pup has tapeworm, you might see these symptoms as well as the yellow flecks in their poo:
If your dog has a parasite problem, contact your vet for a full course of treatment. Parasites can be difficult to eliminate, but a course of over-the-counter or prescribed medication normally works.
Make sure you clean up your dog’s poop regularly to prevent reinfection.
Your dog has liver failure
Similar to orange poop, liver failure can cause the yellowing of poop. How? Let’s walk through it. The liver’s main function is to remove toxins and unnecessary compounds from your dog’s bloodstream.
If those compounds build up in your dog’s system, it colours their poo yellow or orange. (5)
Jaundice is one of the first major symptoms of liver failure in dogs, which can translate to your dog’s poop too.
Other symptoms of liver failure in dogs include:
Liver failure is one of a dog's most dangerous ailments and must be caught early to ensure a full recovery. Though liver disease is not always fatal, it can be a pervasive issue if not properly managed.
Related: Can You Compost Dog Poo?
Luckily, not all liver failure equals liver disease. Sometimes the liver fails because of another ailment, and a full recovery is possible.
In short, contact your vet to learn what’s possible for your pooch.
What Does Yellow Dog Poo Mean? How To Tell The Cause
If you want a shorthand, here is a quick summary of the leading causes of yellow dog poop.
Yellow Dog Poo In Puppies - When To Worry
If your puppy’s poo is yellow, it’s most likely to be an upset stomach. An upset stomach in puppies can be alarming because they are so young. Diarrhoea and dehydration pose a threat to any dog of any age, but especially puppies.
You must be more vigilant if your puppy suffers from diarrhoea for over two days. I would personally raise alarm bells if their condition doesn't improve.
Another common reason a puppy’s poo might be yellow when they are very young is that they are weaning. Puppies still drinking their mother's milk will have lighter-coloured poo than adult dogs eating adult dog food.
Related: Why Does Your Dog Eat Their Poop?
What Should You Do If Your Dog’s Poo Is Yellow?
If your dog’s poo is yellow, don’t panic! Here is a step-by-step process on what to do to ensure that your vet has all the information they need.
- Take a photo of the poo
Though we rarely make a habit of taking stool samples from our dogs and generally don’t love the sight of excrement, taking a photo is really helpful. It will allow you to do the next steps more easily and help your vet better review your dog's condition (if you need them).
Related: The Best Dog Poop Bag Holders Australia.
- Smell the poo
You'll be glad to know this is the easiest of all steps. Why? Because you'll instantly know if your dog's poo is unusual if it smells especially foul. You won't need to get up close and personal to identify the stench. Note what you smell so you can tell your vet later.
Related: The Best Biodegradable Poo Bags Australia.
If the poop doesn't smell too different from your dog's regular poo, it's likely an upset stomach or something they ate.
- See if the colour is uniformly yellow
If your dog's poo is primarily brown with yellow bits, it's likely something they ate or a parasite. You'll be able to identify the difference relatively easily. If it is uniformly yellow, you need to look closer. What type of yellow is it? Mustard yellow? Bright yellow? Yellow-brown? Make a note.
- Identify any strange textural changes
Have a good look at your dog’s yellow poo. Let’s be honest, you probably can’t take your eye off of it if your dog’s poop is the hue of the sun. But seriously, you need to see if there are any consistency or textural changes to the poo that will help you identify the cause.
Does it have a layer of mucus? This is likely bile.
Is the poop loose like diarrhoea or still retaining its normal shape?
Make a note of any unusual features other than the colour. This is all helpful for your vet to know.
- Recall your dog’s behaviour in the last week
Think about the last week with your dog. Did they seem more fatigued? Did their appetite decrease? Are they less playful and more restless than usual? Do they seem despondent and sad? Do they seem to be in pain around the belly region?
These can all point to a serious underlying issue.
Alternatively, if your pup has been their normal jolly self, you might not need to worry. The poo colour might be due to diet or a slightly upset stomach that will resolve with rest and care at home.
- Call your vet
Finally, it’s time to involve your vet. If you have ruled out all of the relatively harmless reasons why your dog’s poop might be yellow, you’ll need to take your dog to the vet for a thorough analysis. Sometimes your vet will discover that the cause is harmless too. But it’s better to be safe than sorry.
My Final Thoughts
In a nutshell, if your dog’s poo is yellow, it’s less worrying than the other colours it could be. Use a process of elimination (pun intended) to discover what the cause might be. You may or may not need to take your dog to the vet depending on the cause. But if in doubt, take your dog for a medical examination just to be safe!
Stay tuned for more on our dog poo series. We’ll talk about:
- Farmer, V. February 22, 2021. “What to Do if Your Dog Has an Upset Stomach”. WebMD. Retrieved March 8, 2023. https://pets.webmd.com/dogs/what-to-do-if-your-dog-has-an-upset-stomach
- Smith, K. August 3, 2020. “3 Remedies for Upset Stomach in Dogs”. PetMD. Retrieved March 8, 2023. https://www.petmd.com/dog/wellness/evr_dg_remedies-for-upset-stomach-in-dogs
- Higgs, V. January 21, 2022. “Dog Intestinal Blockage”. PetMD. Retrieved March 8, 2023. https://www.petmd.com/dog/conditions/digestive/c_multi_gastrointestinal_obstruction
- Ward, E. Penning, A. “Tapeworm Infection in Dogs”. VCA Hospitals. Retrieved March 8, 2023. https://vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/tapeworm-infection-in-dogs
- Kvamme, J. July 27, 2016. “Liver Disease in Dogs”. PetMD. Retrieved March 8, 2023. https://www.petmd.com/dog/conditions/digestive/liver-disease-dogs