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Puppy Poop Color Chart: Our Vet Explains Colors and Consistency

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puppy pooping at the park

This article was updated on May 21st, 2023

As a vet, I have seen all kinds of puppy poop. So, when new puppy parents called to ask about changes in their puppy’s feces, I knew how to evaluate the color and consistency variations to help determine the underlying cause. While there can be normal variations in feces shading from pup to pup, you can watch four key characteristics in your puppy’s poop to help you monitor his gut.

  • Color – normal poop is a shade of brown, but other colors may indicate issues.
  • Consistency – healthy puppies tend to have firm feces. When the poop is soft or hard and dry, it’s abnormal.
  • Content – your veterinarian may check the stool for any partially digested materials or signs of intestinal parasites.
  • Coating or mucus – check our companion article on mucus color in dog poop.

For the purposes of this article, we will focus on changes in the color and consistency of your puppy’s stools.

What causes changes in puppy poop color and consistency?

The major causes of change in poop color and consistency are listed in the chart below:

Nature of the ChangeLikely Causes
Color: White spots(may look like rice grains or spaghetti noodles)Intestinal parasites
Color: GreenGrass eating 
Gall bladder problems
Color: Gray and greasy-lookingPancreas issues
Color: Orange or yellowLiver issue
Color: Red or red streaksBleeding from the anus or rectum
Eating food with red dyes
Bleeding in intestines – colitis or hemorrhagic gastroenteritis
Color: White and chalkyToo much calcium in the diet
Color: Black or dark red/purpleGastric ulcers/bleeding
Surgery complications
Intestinal parasites
Gastroenteritis 
Consistency: Hard pelletsConstipation 
Consistency: Soft log or pileGastrointestinal upset
Large intestine not absorbing enough water
Consistency: Watery diarrheaGastrointestinal upset
Bacterial or virtual infection
Drinking stagnant water
Stress or change in routine
Sudden change in food
puppy poop color chart showing 9 different colors and likely causes for each

Why should I monitor the color and consistency of my puppy’s poop?

Because puppies are small and more vulnerable to disease and infection, it’s important for you to keep an eye on your newest family member. Monitoring your puppy’s poop can help you assess his health status. 

We’ll go into more detail below, but any time your puppy has red bloody poop, black poop, or diarrhea, you need to contact your veterinarian. Internal bleeding and fluid loss can quickly cause life-threatening conditions in your furbaby.

How do you identify healthy puppy poop?

normal dog poop

Healthy, normal poop can vary somewhat between puppies. However, your puppy’s stool should appear a shade of chocolate brown. The consistency should be firm and feel like Play-Doh. It will also maintain its form and shape when you collect it.


WATCH: 3 Important Tips To Care For an Old Dog [VET VIDEO]


What do different puppy poop colors mean, and what should I do about it?

Your puppy’s poop color can tell you a lot about his digestive health and what he’s eating. 

1. Brown with white specks

If your puppy’s poop has white specks or streaks in it, it’s likely that your pooch has intestinal parasites. If the stool has flecks that look like grains of rice, he’s probably dealing with tapeworms. 

Flea Tapeworm proglottid on dog stools

However, streaks that look like spaghetti may mean roundworms (see pictures of roundworms in dog poop). When puppies have intestinal parasites, they may have the following signs:

  • Soft or loose stool that may have blood
  • Presence of worms or tapeworm segments in the poop or coming from the anus
  • Scratching or rubbing the rear end
  • Swollen abdomen
  • Weight loss
  • Loss of appetite
  • Lethargy or depression

Intestinal parasites are generally easy to eliminate with the appropriate anthelmintic treatment. However, if your puppy goes untreated, a severe infestation can be debilitating or life-threatening. If you see parasites in your puppy’s poop or suspect he has intestinal parasites, bring a stool sample to your veterinarian for analysis.

2. Green 

Green poop in dogs can simply mean your puppy ate grass or another substance that’s green. However, in some cases, the poop color points to gallbladder disease. 

Pile of fresh dog poop on green grass in neighborhood yard

Gallbladder disease occurs infrequently in puppies, but it can be caused by inflammation or obstruction of the bile duct. High-fat diets, infections, and pancreatitis are often contributing factors. When puppies develop gallbladder issues, symptoms may include:

  • Green colored poop
  • Jaundice
  • Abdominal pain
  • Vomiting and diarrhea
  • Bloated abdomen
  • Loss of appetite

There are different types of gallbladder issues, but the most likely in young puppies are bile duct obstruction or cholecystitis(gallbladder inflammation). In both cases, biliary fluid can accumulate and cause a pressure buildup. Without treatment, the gallbladder or bile duct may rupture, which can result in severe, life-threatening peritonitis.

If you suspect your puppy has gallbladder disease, take him to the veterinarian. To diagnose the condition, the doctor will run blood tests to check for liver enzymes, and take an ultrasound or x-ray to look for signs of inflammation or blockage. 

Treatment varies depending on the type of gallbladder disease and its underlying cause. When medical therapy is the approach, your veterinarian may use:

  • Pain medications
  • Anti-inflammatory drugs
  • Anti-nausea medication
  • Antibiotics
  • Appetite stimulants
  • Gallbladder support supplements

Surgical removal of the gallbladder is also a treatment option.

Disclaimer: This content is not a substitute for veterinary care. Always consult with your vet for health decisions. Learn more.

3. Gray

Puppies with gray poop that may also be greasy most likely have pancreatitis which may be triggered by fatty foods or diabetes. This condition is potentially life-threatening and requires immediate veterinary attention. Signs of pancreatitis may include

  • Greasy stool
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Fever 
  • Lethargy
  • Abdominal pain with “praying position”
  • Weakness or lethargy
  • Dehydration

When puppies experience acute pancreatitis, the condition is potentially fatal. Puppies particularly need immediate veterinary attention to help prevent severe dehydration and potential death. 

Your veterinarian will use a combination of a physical exam, history, and diagnostic tests to diagnose pancreatitis. Tests may include blood screening for pancreatic enzymes and ultrasound. Treatment is mainly supportive and may include:

  • IV fluids
  • Pain medications
  • Anti-nausea medications
  • Antibiotics
  • Stomach-protecting medications such as sucralfate

Puppies with mild to moderate pancreatitis generally have a favorable prognosis if they receive early and aggressive treatment.

4. Orange/yellow

orange poop of a dog on the ground

Orange or yellow-colored feces in puppies usually points to liver problems. The most common cause of liver disease in very young canines is a congenital portosystemic shunt, but infections can also cause issues. Common symptoms when puppies have liver issues include:

  • Jaundice
  • Yellow or orange stools
  • Disorientation
  • Seizures
  • Head pressing
  • Vomiting and diarrhea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Increased thirst and urination
  • Fluid retention in the abdomen
  • Lethargy
  • Stunted growth(portosystemic shunt)

Puppies with yellow stools that persist or other signs noted above should be seen by a veterinarian. The doctor will examine your pooch and run diagnostic tests to diagnose the underlying cause. Tests may include blood tests, ultrasounds or x-rays, and urinalysis. 

Treatment varies depending on the underlying cause of the liver disease. If your puppy has a portosystemic shunt that’s limited to a major vessel outside of the liver, surgical repair is usually effective. When the shunt is inside the liver or consists of several vessels, dietary and medical management is the treatment of choice. The prognosis depends on the cause of the liver disease. Early diagnosis and treatment usually improve the outcome.

5. Red/Red Streaks

bloody diarrhea

When your puppy’s stool is red or contains red streaks, it means there’s bleeding in the lower gastrointestinal tract. It may be caused by something as simple as an anal or rectal injury. Other likely causes include:

  • Dietary indiscretion/food intolerance
  • Intestinal parasites
  • Infections
  • Hemorrhagic gastroenteritis

Other symptoms that may occur with red poop include

  • Vomiting and diarrhea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Lethargy 
  • Fever 
  • Dehydration

Blood in the stool can indicate a serious condition. Anytime your puppy’s poop is bloody for more than one or two bowel movements, or if you notice other symptoms,  you should schedule an examination with your veterinarian. The doctor will examine your pooch and take blood and stool samples. Other diagnostic tests may include an ultrasound or x-ray.

Depending on the findings, your vet will recommend treatments which may include:

  • IV fluids to correct dehydration and electrolyte imbalances
  • Antibiotics for bacterial infections
  • Anti-emetics
  • Stomach-protecting medications like sucralfate
  • 24-hour fast followed by a bland diet of boiled chicken and rice
  • Probiotics
  • Pain medications

For more details about signs, diagnosis, and treatment of these conditions, see our companion article about blood in puppy poop.

6. Black or dark red/purple

black dog poop on floor

Black or dark red stool (melena) indicates the presence of digested blood (see picture from Veterinary Practice News). Bleeding in the upper digestive tract in puppies can be caused by stomach ulcers, post-surgical complications, hemorrhagic gastroenteritis, or intestinal parasites(see above for details about symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment).

When puppies have melena, other telltale signs may include:

  • Dark, tarry poop
  • Vomiting with blood
  • Abdominal pain
  • Loss of appetite
  • Lethargy

Puppies with evidence of internal bleeding should be seen by a veterinarian to identify and treat the underlying cause. Untreated melena and the conditions that create this sign can lead to anemia or other life-threatening situations. Fortunately, early diagnosis and appropriate treatment of the underlying condition usually yield a favorable prognosis. For more information, see our article about blood in puppy poop.

What do different puppy poop consistencies mean, and what should I do about it?

puppy poop consistency chart

1. Hard/dry stool

Puppies with hard, dry poop that feel like rocks usually suffer from constipation. Signs that accompany constipation include:

  • Hard pebble-like poop
  • Not defecating for a few days
  • Straining to poop, possibly with crying/whining
  • Difficult or painful defecation
  • Tense, painful abdomen
  • Mucus in the stool

Constipation is painful and uncomfortable for puppies (view our home remedies for constipated dogs), and if it persists, it can cause a serious condition known as obstipation. When puppies are obstipated, the fecal material is so hard and impacted that it can’t move. In this case, the colon stretches and becomes enlarged. 

Fortunately, there are things you can do at home to help your puppy if you suspect he’s constipated.

  • Increase his water intake – provide your pooch with free choice water and consider feeding him wet food to boost his liquid intake
  • Add fiber to his diet – consult with your vet about appropriate fruits and vegetables or fiber supplements
  • Exercise your puppy – take Fido for extra walks  to stimulate bowel movements
  • Give your puppy probiotics to support gut health (always consult with your vet before giving your dog supplements)

If your puppy’s constipation doesn’t resolve in a day or two, contact your veterinarian. He can confirm the diagnosis with a physical exam and x-rays. Treatment will likely involve an enema and dietary modifications to prevent recurrence. If the impaction is severe, surgery may be necessary. Your puppy’s prognosis depends on the cause of his constipation.

2. Soft stool

puppy next to soft stools on grass

Stools that resemble soft-serve ice cream in consistency often indicate your puppy has gastroenteritis. Signs of this type o digestive upset include:

  • Frequent, soft stools
  • Intermittent vomiting
  • Abdominal tenderness/pain
  • Low-grade fever
  • Lethargy

Depending on the cause of the upset, the symptoms may clear up on their own in a day or so. If it persists, you should visit your veterinarian. The doctor will perform a physical exam, run blood tests and a urinalysis, and take X-rays. Treatment for gastroenteritis may include:

  • Antibiotics
  • Antiemetics
  • Antidiarrheal drugs
  • Medications used to protect the stomach from ulcers
  • IV fluids to combat dehydration

The prognosis for puppies with gastroenteritis is generally good.

3. Watery stool

liquid soft stools

The major causes of puppies having watery diarrhea are gastroenteritis(discussed above) and a bacterial/viral infection. Symptoms of bacterial or viral infection in puppies can include:

  • Vomiting
  • Watery diarrhea which may be severe
  • Dehydration
  • Abdominal pain
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fever
  • Lethargy and weakness

Dogs with infections need to see a veterinarian and get treatment. Your dog’s doctor will examine your pooch, run bloodwork, and may take fecal swabs to identify the infectious agent. Treatment may include: 

  • Antibiotics
  • Antiemetic medicationns
  • Antidiarrheal medications
  • IV fluids with electrolytes

The prognosis will depend on the type and severity of the infection, but early and aggressive treatment can improve the outcomes.

How long can I monitor my dog’s abnormal poop before I take him to the vet?

If your dog has poop with an abnormal color or consistency without vomiting or other concerning symptoms, you should be able to monitor him at home for 1-2 days. In the case of watery diarrhea or poop with blood in it, air on the side of caution. Bring your pup to the clinic if he doesn’t improve after a day of observation.

When should I seek veterinary care for my dog?

You should immediately contact your veterinarian if your dog’s poop is 

  • Bright red/bloody
  • Dark red or black and tarry
  • Yellow or orange
  • Purple

Other times to seek veterinary care as soon as possible include:

  • Repeated vomiting
  • Diarrhea lasting 2 days or more
  • Anorexia
  • Listlessness or weakness
  • Copious amounts of blood 
  • Repeated bloody stools 
  • Abdominal tenderness or pain

Frequently asked questions

What are the early signs of parvo poop?

The most common early signs or parvo include foul smelling, watery diarrhea that may include blood, vomiting, loss of appetite, and lethargy or weakness.

Should my puppy poop be solid or soft?

Your puppy’s poop should be firm and solid. When you pick it up with plastic gloves or a bag, it should have the consistency of Play-Doh.

Can overfeeding my dog lead to a change in normal dog poop?

Overfeeding your dog can cause irritation in the gastrointestinal tract that may lead to short-term diarrhea or soft stool.

Author

  • Dr. Liz Guise, Veterinarian

    Dr. Liz (Elizabeth) Guise graduated from the University of Minnesota with a doctorate in Veterinary Medicine (DVM). She worked as a veterinarian for two years before working for the US Department of Agriculture for 13 years.

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