Soft Dog Poop: Causes and How to Help
by Cheryl Lock iReviewed by Catherine Barnette, DVM on 01/28/2022. Published on 01/28/2022 FacebookTwitterEmailPrint
Poop and your pet—it can be a real head-scratcher. As a pet parent, you already know that your dog’s stool can tell you a lot about their overall health. So when things seem off (maybe your dog’s poop is yellow or has mucus in it), it can be worrisome. And pet parents often worry about soft dog poop. Whether your dog’s poop starts solid then turns soft, gets softer as the day goes on, or is exhibiting some other odd characteristic, it’s helpful to understand a bit more about what’s going on and when soft dog poop is a cause for concern. Soft Dog Poop: An Overview Soft stool in general is defined as feces that are not fully formed, or that is soft in consistency and cannot be easily picked up. Soft stool—which sometimes looks like soft-serve ice cream in consistency—can progress to diarrhea, which can be serious, says Dr. Ashley Rossman of Glen Oak Dog and Cat Hospital in Glenview, Illinois. Types of Soft Poop in Dogs Dog stool can be characterized by several factors, says Dr. Jerry Klein, AKC’s Chief Veterinary Officer. These include:
Color (including dark brown, light brown, yellow, green, red)
Texture (including formed, very hard, soft, pudding-like, diarrhea, watery)
Whether or not mucus is present
Whether or not blood is present and, if so, whether it’s streaks of blood or completely bloody
Blood color and consistency (including bright blood, dark blood, purple, black, and tar-like)
If your dog is having issues with soft stool, it can further be categorized as: Soft-Serve Dog Poop Watery, formless feces that comes out resembling soft-serve ice cream is often referred to as “soft-serve” dog poop. This type of stool can be a sign that the pet’s microbiome is not balanced. “This can occur if the dog gets into garbage, is eating things in the yard, or is eating other things that are not typical to his or diet,” says Dr. Rossman. “Changing a dog’s diet too quickly can also cause this, as can stress.” In other cases, a parasite may cause soft stool to appear before it evolves into diarrhea, she added. Soft Dog Poop with Mucus Dog poop that presents with mucus can occur for the same reasons as soft-serve dog poop including a microbiome imbalance, eating inappropriate things, a dietary change that happens too quickly, or a parasitic infection. Orange or Yellow Soft Dog Poop Feces that is yellow or orange can sometimes be tinged that color if the dog ate something yellow or orange, says Dr. Rossman. Other times, “this can occur from a disease, like exocrine pancreatic insufficiency,” she added. “This is a disease that can be confirmed through a diagnostic test done by your veterinarian.” Dog Poop Consistency Changes Sometimes, pet parents notice that their dog’s poop consistency changes throughout the day or even during the course of a bowel movement. And these changes are worth noting and sharing with your veterinarian. When Your Dog’s Poop Starts Solid Then Gets Soft Poop that changes in consistency during a bowel movement is usually a sign of an unbalanced microbiome. “The first treatment step is to add in a good probiotic,” says Dr. Rossman. “Every veterinarian has an opinion on what probiotics they prefer, and they are not created equally. Be sure to ask your veterinarian for assistance in choosing a brand.” When Your Dog’s Poop Gets Softer as the Day Goes On Just like humans, dogs tend to defecate after they’ve eaten. While movement and time of day should not have an impact on your dog’s stool throughout the day in general, “if a patient’s stomach is already upset, then movement can cause increased gastrointestinal motility, and thus soft stool or diarrhea,” says Dr. Rossman. Dr. Klein adds that it’s not uncommon for some dogs to have a normal bowel movement at the beginning of a walk, and then proceed to have one or more bowel movements where the stool is soft. “This is usually because the fecal contents have not been sitting in the colon long enough for the water to be absorbed,” he says. “If the dog is happy, eating, and not having any accidents, this can be normal behavior.” Soft Dog Poop Treatment Helping firm things up is possible, depending on what is causing your dog’s soft poop in the first place. Possible treatments for a dog with soft poop include: At-Home Options If your dog is not in distress and there is no blood present in your dog’s poop, trying a few things at home under the guidance of your veterinarian may help to firm up your dog’s stool. These options include:
Adding a good daily probiotic.
Adding organic canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling, says Dr. Klein, as this may contain xylitol, which is toxic for dogs) or other forms of fiber.
Changing your dog’s food to a bland diet can help, says Dr. Rossman. “Home-cooked bland diets are also acceptable,” she added. “An example would be old-fashioned white rice—not instant—and boneless, skinless cooked chicken breast, or lean cooked hamburger meat.”
Veterinarian Options If at-home options haven’t helped, your veterinarian can run some diagnostic tests to determine if an underlying cause other than stress or diet—like a health issue—is causing the problem. “An example of one of the many tests is a PCR test that tests for different bacterial, parasitic, and viral pathogens,” says Dr. Rossman. Recommended treatment options may vary depending on test results. Your veterinarian may prescribe a medication, probiotic, or prescription diet to help firm up your dog’s poop. Any stool that is abnormal for your dog that persists longer than 48 hours should be reported to your veterinarian, says Dr. Klein. Any dog that has blood in the stool, or a dog that has diarrhea combined with vomiting, poor appetite, or lethargy should be examined by a veterinarian immediately. The cost of the treatment prescribed will vary depending on the cause and severity of the symptoms, but a typical dog fecal test can range from $25 to $45, while more specialized testing (if indicated) may cost several hundred dollars. Medication prices vary depending on the medication prescribed and the length of time it is needed. Supplements to Help Soft Dog Poop All featured products are chosen at the discretion of the author. However, Great Pet Care may make a small affiliate commission if you click through and make a purchase. The market is full of probiotic and supplement options that might help prevent soft stool and/or diarrhea in your dog. Here are a few to consider. Great Pet Great Poop Digestive Support Supplement Buy at Great Pet Shop Buy at Amazon If you’re looking for a daily probiotic to help firm up your dog’s poop and keep it consistent, this is a great option. This high-fiber supplement is packed with 2 billion colony forming units (CFUs) and the prebiotic inulin to help feed good gut bacteria and build a healthy microbiome. Other important ingredients include bromelain and flax seed to support healthy and consistent digestion. Plus, these tasty chicken-flavored chews are made in the USA and don’t contain any corn, soy, or artificial preservatives. Rx Vitamins Rx Clay Buy at Amazon Buy at Walmart This clay-based powder dog probiotic is a favorite of Dr. Rossman. The material helps to soak up excess liquid in the intestinal tract to help relieve diarrhea, gas, and bloating. This is a supplement that is safe to use regularly and can help pets maintain a healthy digestive tract. Plus, it’s safe for dogs as young as 12 weeks old. The easy-to-use powder can be sprinkled on your dog’s food and is easy to use. Herbsmith Organic Slippery Elm for Dogs Buy at Amazon Buy at Walmart “Things like slippery elm can be helpful,” says Dr. Rossman. “If an owner wants a more holistic approach, they should consult a holistic or integrative practitioner.” This all-natural formula is made from just one herb and can help to alleviate gas and diarrhea in dogs. Slippery elm works as a lubricant to your pet’s digestive tract and can help cut down on irritation and inflammation. We like this option from Herbsmith because it is made in Wisconsin and formulated by a holistic veterinarian. The Bottom Line on Soft Dog Poop Any time your dog has a bowel movement that’s abnormal, it’s worth paying attention to. Noting the consistency and timing of the event can help if you do need to consult with a veterinarian down the road. “Every dog is an individual,” says Dr. Klein. “Work with your veterinarian to find the proper, balanced, age-appropriate diet that works for your dog.” Once you find a diet that works, Dr. Klein suggests sticking with it for the long haul. “Don’t make frequent changes, as most dogs don’t do well with changes in diet,” he says. “Dogs don’t need different or changes in food. They thrive on the proper food for their particular medical and physical needs.”
Authored by Cheryl Lock Cheryl Lock is a writer and animal lover who minored in biology back in college. These days she uses her writing to cover pet health and general pet care topics. Although Cheryl really loves her Norwegian Forest Cat, Penny, rabbits are her first love. Cheryl got her first rabbit when she was in college — which she affectionately named Fiver, after the hero from Watership Down — and her second bunny, Nugget, traveled with her from apartment to apartment, and even across the country. These days, as a homeowner in Colorado, Cheryl counts every single bunny in her backyard as her own. See more Reviewed by Catherine Barnette, DVM Dr. Cathy Barnette is a small animal veterinarian with 13 years of clinical experience. She currently splits her time between part-time clinical practice and freelance writing, as well as serving on her county Board of Health. Her primary medical interests are preventive medicine and client education. She lives with her husband, daughter, three cats, one dog, and a pet dove. When she's not working or caring for animals, she can be found enjoying the outdoors or reading a good book. See more