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Dog Tip: The Scoop on Poop

By Robin Tierney

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Today's tip is based an article submitted by eagle-eye PAW adopter/volunteer Chris Lemke entitled, "Poop Detective: Discover a World of Information About Your Pet's Health" by Trissauna Larson (www.petsmart.com/articles/article_7804.shtml).

Scoop 'n Sleuth

Here's another reason to clean up after your pet -- a look at the "output" can give you major clues about your pet's health.

Try to notice the characteristics of your furkid's poo, such ascolor, consistency, frequency, and any additions like blood, mucus, or non-food materials.

Color:
* Bright red kibble may result in red poop due to food dyes.

* Green bowel movements may be due to infections.

* Gray can indicate digestion problems.

Content:
* Stools containing fresh, red blood occur with bleeding in the colon or rectum, while those that are dark and tar-like suggest bleeding in the stomach or upper intestinal tract.

* Certain material like plants, hair, bones, or plastic may come out in the stool virtually unchanged. These may be signs that you need to monitor your pet's eating habits.

* Loose stool, or an increase in volume or frequency signals diarrhea, which can be caused by parasites, viruses, raiding the garbage can, or systemic illness. Occasional diarrhea is not unusual, but if it doesn't clear up within a couple days, keeps recurring, or if your pet acts sick, get veterinary help.

* Worms: Tapeworms look like white rice or, if dried out, like sesame seeds. Roundworms may look like spaghetti.

* Giardia, coccidia and other parasites may cause loose, shmushy stools containing mucus or blood. Parasites can be transmitted to people so use proper hygiene when cleaning up.

* If parasites are indicated, take a stool sample to your veterinarian.

Frequency:
* Decreased bowel movements might signal constipation due to dehydration, illness, obstruction, or from eating things like bones and rocks, which form large, hard stools that won't pass.

Location:
* If you have a cat who's pooping outside the litter box, it could be a signal that you need to clean the box more often, or use or return to another brand of litter.

* Pooping in inappropriate places can also signal that some change in the household is stressing the animal.

If you see changes in your pet's stool or habits, talk with your veterinarian, especially if the change is accompanied by pain, weight loss or other signs of sickness.