Is Orange Stools in Dogs a Reason to Worry + Vet Tips to Help

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This article was updated on July 22nd, 2023

It is not unusual for dogs to come into my clinic with diarrhea and their loose stool will often be yellow or even orange. Some owners are alarmed when they see their dog’s stool is no longer a chestnut brown, and will understandably want their vet’s opinion.

Thankfully, most of the time, orange poop is nothing to worry about. However, there are also situations when orange stool is the sign of something more significant. This is especially true when the dog has accompanying signs such as lethargy, jaundice or abdominal pain, or when they have had orange stool for more than a few days. Let’s take a closer look!

Are Orange Stools an Issue in Dogs?

When you should not (yet) be concerned

Orange stool is a relatively common occurrence among our pets and is often not a concern. We usually do not need to worry about it when:

  • It happens as a one off
  • The stool is a normal consistency
  • The dog is otherwise well and acts normally
  • The diet was recently changed and contains e.g. pumpkin, sweet potato or carrot
Orange dog poop with normal consistency
Orange dog poop with normal consistency

When you should be concerned

There are times when we would want to pay more attention to a dog with orange stools and to book a vet appointment for them. This would include:

  • Ongoing episodes
  • Orange diarrhea or loose stool that may contain fresh red blood or mucus (slime)
  • The presence of other symptoms such as yellow mucous membranes, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting or food refusal
Orange diarrhea or loose stool
Orange poop with soft (like melted ice cream) appearance

When your dog has a watery stool, the condition can quickly become life-threatening due to fluid loss. Contact your veterinarian immediately.

orange diarrhea of a dog on a stone floor
Orange dog diarrhea

If your dog’s orange poop looks runny, read our veterinarian article about Orange Diarrhea.

Steps to take at home to help your dog

If your dog is otherwise well and has just passed one or two orange stools, I would not be overly concerned right away.

1. Assess their diet. Consider if a new treat or food is the culprit. Check your dog all over to ensure they seem well, and have no new signs such as yellow eyes, yellow gums or a bloated abdomen. It is also a good idea to look around the home for evidence of any ‘foul play’, such as a knocked over box of crayons!

2. Offer a bland diet. You can offer a bland diet of e.g. boiled chicken and rice, alongside some probiotics. This can help to settle the gut and to restore the balance of good bacteria. View our suggestions for proven bland diets for dogs.

It is also a good idea to double check your dog is up to date with a broad acting wormer such as one containing Fenbendazole.

However, if your dog is unwell or their stool is loose or bloody, a vet check should be scheduled promptly.

Most likely causes

1. Gastrointestinal upset

Dogs can experience a stomach upset and diarrhea commonly, and for most, symptoms resolve shortly with minimal intervention. As the stool moves quickly through the gut, there is not enough time for the bile to be reabsorbed, and the stool takes on an orange hue. Other signs you might notice can include vomiting, mild lethargy and flatulence (smelly farts).

We can usually manage a stomach upset from home by offering a bland diet, keeping our pet well hydrated and providing some probiotics. The prognosis is excellent, with most dogs back to normal within a few short days.

brown mixed breed dog looking sick on the couch

2. Eating orange foods/items

It is not surprising that if a dog chows down on a large amount of something like carrot or pumpkin, their stool may appear more orange than usual. I’ve also seen orange stool in a young Lab puppy who has eaten an orange crayon, and in a Pug who has managed to eat some children’s DIY slime!

Once the dog stops eating the offending food or item, their stool will quickly return to normal.

dog eating carrot

3. Liver or gall bladder disorders

When there is excess bile in the poop, it appears yellow or orange. This can occur when your dog has a liver or gall bladder issue. Other signs we might see would include a yellow tinge to the white of the eyes, yellow gums, abdominal pain, vomiting and lethargy.

With additional symptoms like this, an urgent vet visit is required. The vet will look into what could be going on, which may include a blood test and abdominal scan.

As these disorders can make a dog very poorly and can potentially be life threatening, we do want to ensure the dog is seen promptly.

Treatment will depend on the specific issue and will normally include a liver supportive diet and liver supplements as well as IV fluid therapy and pain relief.

Vet performing an ultrasound scan on a brown dog's belly

4. Pancreatitis

Pancreatitis is an inflammation of the pancreas, which causes severe abdominal pain. Other signs can include vomiting, food refusal and lethargy. As nutrients are not being absorbed as they should, the stool can look orange and greasy.

Your vet can check for pancreatitis with a specific blood test and an abdominal scan. Treatment usually consists of hospitalisation, Intravenous fluids, strong pain relief and supportive care.

Certain breeds are more prone to this condition, including Poodles and Schnauzers. As fatty foods can trigger pancreatitis, they should be avoided in dogs who have had pancreatitis in the past.

senior dog given fluids at a vet clinic

Dog poop color chart: from orange to red and yellow

You can find below a dog poop color chart with veterinarian explanation for each color. To view a complete chart, view our article: Dog Poop Color Chart: Our Vet Explains the Meaning of Colors.

dog poop color chart for orange, red, yellow and green

FAQ

What should I feed my dog?

The best diet option will depend on the cause of the orange stool. For most dogs, it is a good idea to offer foods that are bland and easily digestible. This can be a veterinary sensitivity diet, or something like chicken and rice. Adding probiotic supplements to the diet is a great idea.

However, in cases of hepatic disease, a liver supportive diet may be prescribed by their vet.

For those with pancreatitis, they will need a low fat diet.

Does orange stool contain blood?

The orange in the stool will be due to an increase in the bile content, rather than blood. Blood in the stool will usually be pink, red or black. Blood can become black if it has been digested, which occurs when the blood originates at the start of the digestive tract (such as a bleeding stomach ulcer).

Can orange poop be a sign that my dog is very sick?

For the vast majority of dogs who have a bout of orange poop, they are soon back to normal with little to no intervention. Orange poop is not a big red flag, but it is something worth taking note of. When we see orange poop, we should be on the lookout for any other symptoms.

Less commonly, orange poop is the sign of a more serious issue, such as liver disease or pancreatitis. Having your dog seen quickly and getting treatment started promptly, improve their prognosis.

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Author

  • Dr. Linda Simon, Veterinarian

    Dr Linda Simon (MVB MRCVS) has 10 years of experience as a veterinarian. She is a veterinary surgeon with a special interest in geriatric patient care, dermatology and endocrinology. She is a member of the British Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons. She graduated top of her class from UCD School of Veterinary Medicine in Dublin in 2013. Linda has also worked as a locum vet in a range of clinics, including 24 hour emergency clinics and busy charity clinics.

Disclaimer: This website's content is not a substitute for veterinary care. Always consult with your veterinarian for healthcare decisions. Read More.

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