✔️Article written by a veterinarian & reviewed by our director Dr. Whittenburg, on Dec 15th 2022. View our Editorial Process.
As veterinarians, we see dogs with diarrhea every week. The color of your dog’s diarrhea is one of the first questions that we ask to help understand what is going on. Orange stool can indicate that your dog 1) has eaten something orange or 2) has liver or gall bladder issues. If your dog has orange diarrhea (in particular if it lasts more than 2 or 3 days), figuring out the cause will help your dog return to their normal healthy, and happy life.
What Do We Mean Exactly by “Orange Diarrhea”?
Orange diarrhea can range from a brownish orange to a very bright orange color. Many times, dogs with orange diarrhea will have a stool that is runny, mucousy, and has no shape or form.
Sometimes your dog’s poop may look perfectly normal, but will just be orange in color. This is usually nothing to worry about (see our article on orange dog poop).
How is Orange Diarrhea Different from Regular Diarrhea?
Regular diarrhea will usually be green or brown. If your dog is having orange diarrhea, this usually means that there is something going on with their liver or gall bladder. Your dog is excreting bile in their stool causing the orange color.
What Causes Orange Diarrhea?
1. Liver or Gall Bladder Issues.
The main cause of your dog having orange diarrhea is an issue with their liver or gall bladder.
When all is normal in a dog’s digestive tract, bile is released into the small intestine while the food exits the stomach. Bile is produced by the liver, stored in the gall bladder, and helps to further break down and digest food products. As the food products move through the intestines, that bile is resorbed, leaving its trademark brown color staining the feces. If bile isn’t released normally in the small intestine or if it isn’t resorbed properly, orange diarrhea can result.
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Reasons that bile isn’t added to the food products are:
- Gall bladder inflammation or blockage
- Liver disease
Reasons bile isn’t absorbed include::
- Intestinal infection that affects absorption
- Inflammation of the intestine
If your dog has liver or gallbladder issues, you may also notice that your dog’s skin and the white part of the eye are a yellow color. Other issues you will see with dogs with liver and gallbladder disease are:
- Not eating
- Enlarged abdomen
Liver and gall bladder diseases can be life-threatening, and if you think that your dog may have issues with these organs, you should take your dog to your vet right away. They can run bloodwork to see what is causing your dog to be so sick and start them on medications to help.
2. Eating Orange Food
The other reason that your dog could possibly have orange diarrhea is that they ate something that is orange. Common foods that dogs will eat that are orange are:
- Sweet potatoes and
All of these foods can cause your dog to have orange poop and, in high amounts, often cause orange diarrhea.
Dogs who ate orange foods will not show any other signs of illness, and this will easily clear up on its own.
3. Other Reasons
Some less common reasons for orange diarrhea in dogs is increased red blood cell destruction from an autoimmune or infectious disease. Hemoglobin, a component of red blood cells, is reddish-orange in color and can stain a dog’s poop orange if in high levels in the waste product.
Is Orange Dog Diarrhea a Concern?
Orange color to your dog’s poop isn’t necessarily an issue, especially if your dog likes to snack on carrots or other carotenoid-rich foods. They may even relish the occasional crayon or marker treat, which can turn their poops any color that you can imagine.
However, if you combine the orange color with the abnormal consistency of diarrhea, it’s time to do some digging. Diarrhea is usually a result of excess fluid in the colon as a result of improper absorption or moving too quickly through the digestive system.
Disclaimer: This content is not a substitute for veterinary care. Always consult with your vet for health decisions. Learn more.
You’ll want to add a little extra concern as well if you’re noticing any other signs, such as vomiting, a fever, yellowing of the skin or eyes, not eating, or abdominal pain. These can all indicate that something more serious is going on with his digestive system, liver, or gallbladder.
What Should You Do If Your Dog Has Orange Diarrhea?
If this is your dog’s first orange poop and he’s otherwise acting normal, feel free to wait until you witness another abnormal bowel movement before you take action. This is especially true in dogs that prefer to “taste” their world and aren’t afraid to put anything into their mouths or stomach.
If your dog has a second bout of orange diarrhea, consult your veterinarian. If all is still fine in other areas of their appetite and behavior, your vet may advise you to wait.
Now, if your dog is showing any other signs of illness, such as vomiting, lethargy, not eating, or abdominal pain, see your veterinarian. Be prepared to give a thorough history of when this started, and what other signs they are showing, and provide a sample, if possible, of the orange dog diarrhea.
After this, your vet will perform an exam and other diagnostics of blood work, imaging, and fecal tests to pinpoint the exact cause of orange diarrhea. In some cases, this may require return visits to the vet to recheck medications and continue with more diagnostics. Some causes of orange dog diarrhea may require a hospital stay or surgery.
FAQ with Dr. Chyrle Bonk
What if my dog has had orange diarrhea for more than 2-3 days? What does this mean?
If a dog’s diarrhea lasts more than 48 hours, no matter the color, it’s typically cause for concern. Mild causes of diarrhea, such as eating something they shouldn’t have, usually clear up within that 48 hours, so by that three day mark, you’re probably looking at something a little more serious. This is even more true if your dog has other signs, such as vomiting, lethargy, a fever, or abdominal pain. If orange diarrhea lasts for more than two days, is getting worse, or is accompanied by other signs, see your veterinarian as soon as possible for a complete workup.
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