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Black Dog Poop: What It Means For Your Pet

Key Takeaways

  • Black dog poop, much like black stools from any other living thing, can be anything from a pressing cause for concern or just a byproduct of something your dog has recently ingested.
  • Pet owners who are able to spot this potential health issue as it’s just starting to develop are advised to notify their veterinarian immediately in order to nip the problem in the bud, if there is one.
  • A normal dog poop is usually color brown and fairly firm.

Black dog poop often means one of two things: the first being that they’ve eaten something dark or red in color, and the second being that they may be experiencing bleeding somewhere in their upper digestive tract. The reason it’s probably from the upper tract is because the dog poop is already black, meaning that the blood has been digested and has had enough time to clot.

In my life I’ve had more than a few scares before realizing that I’d fed my dog beets or blackberries earlier that day. But if your dog hasn’t eaten anything out of the ordinary lately, you may be looking at a serious health problem. The main thing that definitively tells you that black dog poop is a sign of something bad is the foul smell that accompanies it. Tarry, sticky texture serves to reinforce that even further.

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Apart from food pigmentation, the causes of black dog poop can be fairly benign or a passing issue, but as pet parents, we tend to take fewer chances with our dog’s health and well-being. The blood can simply come from a mouth or esophagus inflammation and swallowed as your dog eats, or it could be indicative of things as serious as viral infections, kidney failure, and pancreatitis. So if your dog’s poop is black, don’t hesitate to bring it to your veterinarian’s attention immediately.

What Should Regular Dog Poop Look Like?

As unpleasant as it might be, you really do need to familiarize yourself with what healthy 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 has a big impact on what your dog’s stool will look like, of course. This is especially true with puppies, as their bodies are still in their formative period. Hence you should pay closer attention to how you feed your puppy, especially if they’re a breed with more intensive needs like Labrador Retrievers. You should probably expect to see at least some small variations any time your dog eats something unusual—as with the common occurrence of a puppy eating grass or rabbit poop. If you want the full story, I highly suggest downloading my in-depth eBook on the subject:

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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 of dog stool 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. You should be able to scoop the poop off the ground without leaving any liquid behind. However, the poop should not be very hard, like rabbit droppings.

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 it’s black, green, red, or yellow dog poop. From my own experience, it can be very scary if a dog’s poop suddenly turns a dark black, especially if the consistency moves away from its usual solid-state. Once you’ve ruled out the food that your dog eats, the only logical reasons for your dog’s poop to turn out black is if they’ve ingested a sizable amount of blood from an external source, or from within their own bodies—the latter is more likely. The good news is that black poop could be a very timely warning to get your dog veterinary help.  

When your dog’s poop is both black and foul-smelling, it’s a sign that your dog is definitely dealing with some kind of digestive problem. The black coloration in this case is caused by digested blood that’s made its way into the dog’s stool called Melena. Melena itself is a strong sign that your dog has another medical problem stemming from, causing, or accompanying a digestive condition, such as a clotting disorder, endocrine disorder (such as Addison’s disease), constipation, hookworm infestation or recent toxicity.

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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 his poop—in this case, black poop is generally a sign that your dog is bleeding somewhere in the upper GI tract. Tarry, black dog poop possesses this coloration and texture because it’s gone through the GI system and been digested, and has been given enough time to clot as well. 

However, black dog poop is not always caused by a GI issue entirely. Your dog might’ve simply ingested blood from their food or somewhere else in the body and it’s taken some time to get through the rest of his system. It’s also quite common for black dog poop to appear because the dog has gotten blood from his 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. Wherever the blood might come from, however, it’s best to be safe and have your dog checked especially if this sort of thing persists.

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What to Do When Your Dog’s Poop is Black

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. I often also look for other issues like a refusal to eat or drink in order to better inform the vet as to the status of my pet.

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Try to recall if your dog has been acting strange in any way. If your dog has been making strange sounds, lying around when he is usually active, or even getting aggressive—take note of it 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. 

If your dog’s poop is black and you’ve noticed that they’ve been experiencing a bout of vomiting or 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. In this case, going through a standard vet only to be passed to an emergency one is just going to take time that your pet may not have.

How the Vet Deals with Black Dog Poop

Once the black dog poop has been brought to the vet’s attention, you’ll mostly have to sit tight and wait for them to find out what’s going on with your dog. 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 of a diagnosis. That’s why it’s incredibly helpful for vets if pet owners note any changes they can observe in their dog’s behavior and mannerisms.

One of the most important things that your vet will do is look at your dog’s stool directly. The vet will probably ask for a stool sample and then run several tests to determine exactly what’s going on.

In addition to checking the dog’s stool, your vet will probably also check your dog’s blood and even run an abdominal scan. 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.

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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 try a better dog food or give him some kind of over-the-counter drug to settle your dog’s upset stomach. In other cases, you might be looking at an anti-bacterial or anti-parasitic medicine such as dog dewormer 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 poop. 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 basically two possible reasons why your dog’s poop is 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. Some common culprits include black crayons, charcoal and dark soil.

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 poop 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 black poop. 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 this case, you may want to try a dog food delivery service.

In more serious cases, you might be looking at several different kinds of medication or even at surgery, for example, if there is a tumor or ulcer. Everything depends on the cause of the issue and the overall health of your dog. It’s ultimately up to your vet what treatment your dog 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 not going to see black stool alone; 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, this is probably the cause. As such, it’s a good idea to monitor your dog to see if anything else might be wrong with him. 

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 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 has a sudden change in his stool consistency and color that you can’t directly link to what he has been eating. 

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3 thoughts on “Black Dog Poop: What It Means For Your Pet”

  1. I’ve never had a black dog, but I’ve noticed that my own dog’s poop has been getting darker lately. I’m a little concerned because I don’t know what it could mean. Is it something I should be worried about? Thanks for writing this post and giving me some insight!

    • This isn’t about the color of the dogs hair/fur as in a black dog, it’s about the color of the dogs poop being black. My dogs poop is black & tarry, yet I’ve had 2 different veterinarians, at 2 separate clinics tell me nothing is wrong. The cost at each clinic was $200+
      I asked the second vet if she should have her blood tested, and he said no since she would have to be sedated because she might bite him. Nia is a 2 year old I rescued a year ago. Her DNA shows that she is Chihuahua, Yorkie & Silky & weighs 14#. I also can really use some advice if anyone reading this can help me get her from ‘hand-standing while pooping. I am 83 & it’s difficult to continue scraping off the stucco, gate, etc. Thanks for any assistance.

  2. I found this post super helpful, I’ve had my fair share of dealing with my Black lab’s poop issues and it’s reassuring to know that it’s a common issue. Thanks for breaking it down and providing some insight on what might cause it, I’ll definitely keep an eye on my pup’s eating habits now!


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