It’s amazing how important poop can be for your dog’s health. While you might not want to clean it up even with the help of a pooper scooper, it’s something that can tell you a lot about what’s going on with your dog. If something unusual is happening with your dog internally, then, you’ll probably end up seeing it in your dog’s stool.
If you see that your dog’s stool is consistently turning an unusual color, you’ll definitely want to schedule a visit to the vet. If you’re not quite at that point yet, though, you might want to learn a bit more about why your dog’s stool might be turning an unusual color. Even more importantly, though, you might want to figure out if your dog’s poop turning black is something about which you need to be worried.
What Should Regular Dog Poop Look Like?
As unpleasant as it might be, you really do need to familiarize yourself with what dog poop is actually supposed to look like. This not only gives you a great chance to figure out if your dog is healthy, but it will also help you to learn if you really need to be concerned about what’s coming out of your dog.
In most cases, your dog’s poop is going to be brown. It might be a lighter or darker color, but it’s probably going to be fairly regular. Your dog’s diet is going to have a big impact on what your dog’s stool will look like, of course, and you should probably expect to see at least some small variations any time your dog eats something unusual.
Consistency is important, too. Your dog’s stool will almost always be fairly firm. Again, it’s going to vary based on what your dog is eating. If your dog’s stool isn’t runny or squishy, you can be fairly sure that his or her poop is the right consistency. Consistency is usually a bit easier to judge than color for most dog owners, with the general caveat that you’ll know that there’s a consistency problem as soon as you see it.
The Causes of Black Dog Poop
As you might imagine, you probably need to pay attention if your dog’s stool suddenly starts to change color, whether yellow, black, or otherwise. It can be very scary if your dog’s poop suddenly turns a dark black, especially if the consistency moves away from its usual solid-state. The good news is that you’re seeing something that could give you the warning you need to get your dog veterinary help.
When your dog’s poop turns black, it’s a sign that your dog is definitely dealing with some kind of digestive problem. The black coloration might actually be different from what you think – it’s a condition called melena, and it is caused by digested blood that’s made its way into the dog’s stool. Melena itself is a good sign that your dog is suffering from a digestive condition.
Blood, as you might imagine, really shouldn’t be in your dog’s stool. When you spot blood, it’s an immediate sign to get your dog to the vet. Your vet can tell a lot about your dog’s health based on the color of the blood in this case, with black blood generally being a sign that your dog is actually bleeding somewhere in the upper GI tract. The blood is black because it’s gone through the GI system, and it is tarry because it’s been going through it for some time.
As a note, black stool might not just occur because of a GI issue. In fact, your dog might’ve digested that blood from somewhere else in the body and it’s taken some time to get through the rest of his or her system. It’s very common for black stools to occur because the dog has gotten blood from his or her respiratory tract, which has in turn been coughed up, swallowed, and digested. This blood can be from something serious – like blood in your dog’s lungs – or from something as mild as a nosebleed.
Why Does the Poop Turn Black?
While it’s nice to know that your dog’s poop color is due to blood, you might also be a little confused. After all, a dog’s blood isn’t generally black. It would make much more sense to see red stool, right? In truth, though, the color of the stool has more to do with the GI system than anything else.
The fact that the blood in your dog’s stool is black doesn’t have anything to do with the state of your dog’s blood, but rather where it has been. Your dog’s blood turns black in his or her stool because it has already been digested. Digestion is as much a chemical process as it is physical, so you’re going to see some changes to what the blood looks like after it’s gone through the stomach and intestines.
In fact, calling the blood black actually understates the range of colors that it can turn during digestion. Issues that range from what your dog has eaten to any toxins that might be in his or her GI tract can end up playing a role in what your dog’s stool looks like. In fact, a whole host of problems can be indicated by the fact that your dog’s blood has changed color in this way, ranging from things as simple as having a virus to as serious as certain types of cancer.
How to Deal with Black Dog Poop
Once you’ve noticed the difference in your dog’s stool, you’ll need to figure out what action to take next. It’s generally recommended that you go ahead and get in touch with your dog’s vet as soon as you can, though the stool changing color alone really isn’t something that is an emergency. Instead, you need to look for related issues like a refusal to eat or drink in order to determine whether or not this situation requires getting to the vet immediately.
If your dog has been throwing up or if the black stool is also accompanied by diarrhea, you may need to think about seeing an emergency vet right away. One unfortunate truth about the way that dogs’ bodies work is that they can get dehydrated far faster than you might think, an issue that can exacerbate other health problems and make it hard for you to wait for a standard vet.
Another good reason to get into the vet early has more to do with your pet’s behavior than the color of his or her stool. If your dog is starting to act strange in any way, you need to be concerned. If your dog is making strange sounds, lying around when he or she is usually active, or even getting aggressive, you should note this behavior and let your vet know. Since dogs can’t tell us exactly what’s hurting them, we generally have to look at their behaviors for clues. If you notice a change, things might be more serious than you’d like.
How the Vet Deals with Black Dog Poop
Now that you’ve decided on what to do with your dog, you’ll have to rely on the vet to help your dog get better. The great news is that this kind of symptom is very common. The bad news, though, is that the common nature of the symptom means that the vet might have to explore several avenues before he or she can be sure about what’s going on with your dog.
One of the most important things that your vet will do is look at your dog’s stool directly. he or she will probably ask for a stool sample and then run several tests to determine exactly what’s going on. He or she might find parasites there, for example, or find signs that something specific is going wrong in your dog’s body.
In addition to checking the dog’s stool, your vet will probably also check your dog’s blood and even run some X-rays. These tests will all work together to not only rule out some of the more common reasons why your dog’s poop might change color but also to determine if there’s a serious problem that needs to be addressed by the vet immediately.
There are several potential courses of treatment that might occur depending on what your vet finds out. In a best-case scenario, your vet might want you to change your dog’s diet or give him some kind of over-the-counter drug to settle his or her stomach. In other cases, you might be looking at some kind of anti-bacterial or anti-parasitic medicine to deal with either an infection or an infestation. In more serious cases, your vet might even want to talk to your about surgery to deal with the issues that cause blood to show up in your dog’s stool. What’s important, though, is that you and your vet work together to find the solution that makes the most sense for your dog.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Why is my dog’s poop black?
There are two basic reasons why your dog’s poop might be black. The first, and perhaps least important, is that your dog has eaten something that has impacted the color of his or her stool. You’ll probably be able to identify this with relative ease, especially if your dog generally eats the same foods regularly and has had something new recently.
The other more likely option is that your dog has blood in his or her stool. Digested blood turns black, and you can see it both in the color and in the consistency of your dog’s stool. If you are noticing a tarry, black stool instead of a solid, brown stool, there’s a good chance that your dog has digested blood at some point.
2. How do you treat black stool in dogs?
There are many different ways to treat black stool in dogs, all of which depend on why your dog has a black stool. If the stool was due to an infection, for example, your vet will probably prescribe an antibiotic. If it’s due to some kind of internal parasite, though, he or she might have to prescribe an anti-parasitic. In some cases, the vet will determine that your dog’s stool issues are a result of his or her diet, which means that you’ll need to switch dog foods.
In more serious cases, you might be looking at several different kinds of medication or even at the surgery. Everything depends on the cause of the issue and the overall health of your dog. It’s ultimately up to your vet to ensure that your dog gets the treatment that he or she needs.
3. Can dog food cause black stool?
It’s really hard to say whether or not dog food can turn your dog’s poop black. Generally speaking, black poop is a result of digested blood in your dog’s stool. With that said, you’re generally not going to see black stool alone in this case – you’ll also notice a fairly major change in the way that your dog’s stool looks. If your dog’s stool gets darker right after trying new food, though, the color change might be due to the new food instead of anything more serious. As such, it’s a good idea to monitor your dog to see if anything else might be wrong with him or her.
4. Is black poop bad?
Black poop probably isn’t a good thing. Your dog’s poop should be solid and brown, not black and tarry. If it’s the latter color and consistency, there’s a very good chance that he or she has digested blood. The digested blood can come from something as simple as a nosebleed or as dangerous as cancer, so it’s always a good idea to have your vet check out your dog if he or she has a sudden change in his or her stool consistency and color that you can’t directly link to what he or she has been eating.