As a veterinarian, I’m never surprised by the color of a dog’s poop. Even when it comes in shades as bright as the sun. Orange or yellow poop is often an indication of a serious issue that is going on with your dog and should not be overlooked. Let’s find out some possible causes for orange dog poop and what you should do about it.
2 Tips from the Vet To Understand If Your Dog’s Orange Poop is a Cause for Concern
Here are two things that you should pay attention to:
- Besides the alarming orange color, when trying to figure out what is causing your dog’s orange poop, also look at the consistency and frequency that your dog is pooping. An orange poop of normal consistency will mean something very different from a soft or runny orange poop.
- You’ll also want to look at any other signs your dog may be showing. Are they eating normally? Do they have a fever, abdominal pain, or are they vomiting? Recognizing any of these other signs will also help you know what to do.
Let’s look now at the reasons that could have caused your dog’s poop to turn orange.
What Causes Orange Dog Poop?
Some possible causes of orange dog poop are:
- Orange pigments in something they ate (carrots, pumpkin, orange Crayola, etc.)
- Intestinal inflammation, mainly the colon
- Gallbladder disease
- Liver diseases
- Red blood cell destruction
When is Orange Dog Poop Not a Concern?
If your dog’s orange poop is of normal consistency, doesn’t have an overly foul odor, and has a uniform coloring, it’s more than likely not a cause for concern. This is further backed up if the orange dog poop happens infrequently and your dog isn’t showing any other signs of being sick.
There’s only one harmless cause of orange dog poop: orange food! More specifically, orange pigments in food. Food containing a lot of carotenoids can lead to orange poop. Carotenoids are commonly found in orange or yellow foods including carrots, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, and some squash. Eating enough of these foods can turn a dog’s poop orange.
Other artificial pigments in your dog’s food can turn their poop orange as well. Think back to a color wheel and remember that red and yellow make orange, so if your dog’s food contains red or yellow pigment, orange poop may result.
Other orange items that dogs may eat can also color their poop. If you have an indiscriminate eater, orange-colored objects like crayons may also be behind their orange poop.
Just take note of what your dog is eating when the orange poop occurred and make sure to take note of any other signs. If the orange poop is of normal consistency and your dog is otherwise fine, it’s most likely an issue with pigment. If the orange dog poop bothers you, gradually switch your dog to a food that doesn’t contain artificial pigment and lay off of the carotenoid-containing treats.
When is Orange Dog Poop a Concern?
When your dog’s orange poop doesn’t have a normal consistency, it’s time to take a look into it. This is especially true if they pass more than one slimy, soft, or runny orange poop. See the example image below. If this is the case for your dog, you might always want to read our article on orange dog diarrhea.
If your dog is also showing any signs of vomiting, stomach pain, not eating, a fever, yellowing of the skin or eyes, known as jaundice, or weight loss, it’s time to contact your vet.
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Top Reasons Causing Orange Dog Poop
Some of the possible causes of this type of orange dog poop are:
1. Intestinal inflammation: Many things can cause inflammation of the intestine, including stress, parasites, viral or bacterial infections, and food intolerances. The orange color is due to improper bile staining. In normal circumstances, bile is added to the small intestine. As the soon-to-be feces moves through to the colon, or large intestine, the bile is resorbed, staining the feces that normal brown.
In dogs with intestinal inflammation, especially in the colon, the feces moves through the colon so quickly that the bile isn’t resorbed properly, leaving its orange-yellow mark on the poop. Along with orange dog poop, you may also see feces with a softer or pudding-like consistency, lots of mucous, a bit of blood, straining to defecate, vomiting, weight loss, stomach pain and gas, and a decrease in appetite.
Diagnosing the reason for the inflammation in the intestines will help to pinpoint a treatment. Try to manage your dog’s stress, change their food and treat any infections.
2. Gallbladder disease: The gallbladder is the storage site for bile. It normally contracts and releases bile into the small intestine where it travels with feces to further digest food products to the colon where it is absorbed, leaving that normal brown color to the bowel movement. Any blockage of the gall bladder may lead to orange poop due to a lack of bile. Blockages of the gall bladder can be due to stones, inflammation, tumors, or pancreatitis.
Dogs with gallbladder issues will often also show up with abdominal pain, weight loss, jaundice, diarrhea, increased thirst, and sometimes a fever.
3. Liver disease: Still going with the bile theme, the liver is the producer of bile. Anything that affects liver function can cause orange dog poop due to a decrease in bile production. This in turn will prevent the feces from turning brown in the colon and instead it may remain orange. Liver issues that may cause orange dog poop include abscesses, tumors, infections, toxins, or liver shunts.
Liver disease may also cause vomiting, diarrhea, jaundice, abdominal pain, weight loss, decreased appetite, increased thirst, and swelling of the abdomen.
4. Red blood cell destruction: Red blood cells contain hemoglobin which helps to carry oxygen. When red blood cells are broken down, they release that hemoglobin, which is a yellowish color. When a lot of red blood cells are destroyed, it can lead to an increase in hemoglobin being removed from the body, possibly turning a dog’s poop orange.
Increased destruction of red blood cells is most commonly an autoimmune issue where the dog’s body attacks and kills excessive numbers of them. It can also happen due to toxins or parasites. Dogs will have anemia and may be weak or lethargic and have pale gums.
Important: Keep in mind that pictures only don’t equal a diagnosis. Consult your veterinarian any time there is any changes in your dog’s poop, or behavior, or if you’re at all concerned.
What Should You Do If Your Dog’s Poop is Orange?
Once you get over the shock of seeing your dog’s orange poop, it’s time to start thinking about what to do.
- If you know that your dog ate a lot of carrots, pumpkin, or other orange food in the last couple of days, chances are this is the last orange dog poop that you’ll see. If you recently changed to colored dog food, then orange dog poop may be the norm from now on unless you change his food. As long as his poop has a normal consistency and he isn’t showing any other signs, you should have nothing to worry about.
On the other hand, if orange dog poop pops up out of nowhere, and it’s runny, slimy, or smelly or your dog isn’t acting like themselves, it’s time to look more in-depth.
- If this is the first time you have seen orange poop, you may choose to monitor your dog for a day or two as long as he isn’t showing any severe signs. If he has had an episode or two of vomiting, you may want to withhold food for four to six hours and then start him on a bland diet of boiled chicken and rice. Read our post: 11 Proven Bland Diets for Dogs with an Upset Stomach.
- If this doesn’t help change the consistency of the orange dog poop or treat other signs, it’s time to see the vet. If your dog is showing any severe signs, such as stomach pain, fever, or can’t stop vomiting, see your vet immediately.
Your veterinarian will do some bloodwork, possibly imaging, fecal tests, and other diagnostics to determine the cause of your dog’s orange poop. Treatment will then be based on the cause and may include fluids, antibiotics, anti-inflammatories, supplements, or even surgery to remove gallstones. Expect to pay anywhere from $300 for an infection to more than $2,500 for surgery.
When to See a Vet for Orange Dog Poop
The occasional orange dog poop with normal consistency is usually no big deal, especially if you know that your dog was indulging in orange foods. If that orange poop isn’t a normal consistency, or your dog is showing any other signs, a veterinary visit should be in order.
You may try some at-home treatments, such as a bland diet or withholding food if your dog is showing mild signs, such as occasional vomiting or a bit of lethargy. If they have additional signs of weight loss, abdominal pain, or jaundice, don’t hesitate to contact your vet.
Most causes of abnormal orange dog poop aren’t treatable with at-home remedies alone, so some professional help is encouraged to ensure the best outcome. Issues, such as intestinal inflammation, gallbladder or liver disease, won’t get better without treatment and can become very serious very quickly without proper care.
What Does Normal Dog Poop Look Like?
We are glad you asked 🙂
Just as a refresher, in case you were wondering, normal dog poop should be light to dark brown. It should have a Tootsie Roll form and be able to stand up on its own. A dog should have no trouble passing it. The color may vary depending on their diet, and the amount and frequency may vary depending on how often you feed them.
- Your vet may ask for an annual fecal sample to screen for internal parasites and other issues. Monitoring your dog’s poop every day is one of the best ways to catch any abnormalities early on.
- One abnormal bowel movement without any other signs is usually nothing to worry about. However, repeat abnormalities or other signs warrant looking into.
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