Tag Archives: dog poo

Your dog’s poo

They say that the eyes are the window to the soul; in many ways your dog’s poo is a window on their health.

(I never thought I’d see the day when I wrote about poop – but there’s a first time for everything.)

Have you noticed that the color of your dog’s poo changes with what they are fed?  For example, if you are feeding raw venison, chances are the poo is quite dark.

If, however, the stool has a noticeably black color such as in this photo, this can indicate digested blood and you should be off the vet for a check (don’t be shy, take a sample with you!).

A yellow or slightly green tone indicates a rapid transit time in the bowel, typical if your dog has had diarrhea, as in below.  But consistently soft stools can also be an indicator of bowel disease such as IBD.

Diarrhea or loose stool

A white or chalky color to the stool indicates a very high content of calcium, often found in dogs that are being fed raw with a high bone content.  If your dog is passing stools of this color, they are at risk of constipation from the bone material they are ingesting because of the dryness and risk of impaction.  In my practice, I am seeing  instances of poor mixing of raw foods and it usually from the same supplier – which is why I recommend only certain sources of food to my customers.

White chalky stools, an indicator of high bone content

If you see bright red blood in the stool, it’s also time to talk to your vet and of course, if you see visible worms than a vet visit is also recommended.

And finally, if your dog passes poos that are a neon green in color, they’ve been exposed to rat or mice poison and urgent attention is needed.

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, The Balanced Dog, Christchurch, New Zealand



Dog Poop Microbiome Predicts Canine Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Our gut microbiomes — the varieties of microbes living in our digestive tracts — may play a role in inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Since dogs can also suffer from IBD, researchers at University of California San Diego School of Medicine analyzed fecal samples from dogs with and without the disease. They discovered a pattern of microbes indicative of IBD in dogs. With more than 90 percent accuracy, the team was able to use that information to predict which dogs had IBD and which did not. However, they also determined that the gut microbiomes of dogs and humans are not similar enough to use dogs as animal models for humans with this disease.

The study is published October 3, 2016 in Nature Microbiology.

This French Bulldog, named Jorgie, has recently been diagnosed with IBD. A test based on this research would likely be more cost effective for diagnosis and lead to earlier detection. Photo: K Crisley, The Balanced Dog

“One of the really frustrating things about IBD in humans is that it’s hard to diagnose — it usually requires intestinal biopsies, which are not only imperfect, but invasive and expensive to collect,” said senior author Rob Knight, PhD, professor in the Departments of Pediatrics at UC San Diego School of Medicine and Computer Science and Engineering and director of the Center for Microbiome Innovation at UC San Diego.

According to Knight, most people with IBD have similar changes in the types of microbes living in their intestinal tracts, relative to healthy people. Yet it’s still difficult to discern healthy people from those with IBD just by looking at the microbes in their fecal samples. In addition, Knight said it’s not yet clear whether the microbial patterns associated with IBD contribute to the disease’s cause or are a result of the disease.

In a separate line of study, pets appear to be a conduit for microbe sharing in a house. Knight and collaborators previously found that microbial communities on adult skin are on average more similar to those of their own dogs than to other dogs. With a fair amount of precision, they can pick your dog out of a crowd based solely on overlap in your microbiomes.

In this latest study, Knight and team collected fecal samples from 85 healthy dogs and 65 dogs with chronic signs of gastrointestinal disease and inflammatory changes confirmed by pathology. To determine which microbial species were living in each sample, they used a technique Knight and collaborators popularized, called 16S rRNA sequencing, to quickly identify millions of bacterial species living in a mixed sample, based on the unique genes they harbor.

With this information, the researchers were able to look for similarities and differences in the microbial species found in IBD and non-IBD dogs. The differences were significant enough that they could distinguish IBD dog feces from non-IBD with more than 90 percent accuracy.

The researchers also compared the dog data to 2014 parallel findings in humans. The team found some similarities in the microbial interactions of IBD samples between dogs and humans, however the overlap was only partial. For example, Fusobacterium bacteria are associated with diseases in humans, but in dogs was associated with the non-IBD samples.

The study’s first author, Yoshiki Vázquez-Baeza, a graduate student in UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering’s Department of Computer Science and Engineering and a member of Knight’s lab, noted a potential limitation of the study — there were fewer healthy human samples than IBD samples in the 2014 human data set. But to best of their knowledge, he said, their statistical methods should not be affected by that.

“One of the really nice things about this study is that all of the statistical software packages we used to analyze data are available online, and anyone can see our exact calculations,” said Vázquez-Baeza. “Too often we read about a study with interesting conclusions, but it’s not completely clear how the authors got there. This approach is more open and transparent.”

This approach to diagnosing IBD in dogs is not yet available to veterinarians or dog owners, Vázquez-Baeza said. Moving forward, the researchers would like to study the overlap in IBD and non-IBD gut microbiomes among a series of animals. Zoo animals, for example, experience IBD more often than their wild counterparts, and studying them might help Knight, Vázquez-Baeza and team find key microbial players in IBD across species.

IBD is a family of diseases that includes ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. IBD is characterized by chronic inflammation in the digestive tract, which can cause pain, severe diarrhea and weight loss. IBD can be debilitating and sometimes leads to life-threatening complications. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate that more than 1 million Americans are living with IBD.

Source:  University of California San Diego media release

An interesting comparison

The Waipa District Council in New Zealand has created an interesting infographic for its citizens about the cost of having to clean up dumped rubbish.Waipa

Notice that they could have spent this money, amongst other things, on 150 dog poo bins at local parks.

What’s significant here is the use of the comparison.  Picking up dog poo matters to most people.  Be a responsible dog owner and clean up after your dog.

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, The Balanced Dog, Christchurch, New Zealand



I’ve been to the supermarket today and, although I don’t have human babies, I purchased something from the baby aisle:

Nappy bags

I consider this purchase a badge of honour.  Nappy bags (diaper bags for those of you who live in the USA/Canada) are an excellent tool for picking up dog poo.  I just got 100 bags for only $2.15 (a much better price than purchasing special doggy doo bags from the pet store).

Sadly, I think I am in the minority when it comes to dog owners.  Or, at least that’s the way I feel.  Today, I took Izzy for a walk in a local park after going to the supermarket and I counted 4 piles of poo that owners had not picked up.

One of them was in a field used for cricket on the weekends.

It’s a sign that we have too many irresponsible dog owners in Christchurch.  And in today’s paper – Mike Yardley – a local commentator, agrees.  He laments the pitiful rate of enforcement by our Council and calls upon members of the public to name and shame.

If you see a dog owner blithely pretend their animal hasn’t just crapped all over the footpath – have a crack at them. Shame them into behaviour change, because the council probably won’t police it.

That’s fine – to a point.  When you feel safe to do so.  But we also need greater enforcement so people take dog-owning responsibilities seriously.  And we shouldn’t let the Council, which uses our taxes (rates and dog registration fees) to fund its activities, off the hook when it comes to its responsibility.

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, The Balanced Dog, Christchurch, New Zealand

Canine companions and the lure of inattentively pooping in public

The title of this post is unashamedly taken from an article in the journal Environmental Sociology.

Dog poop flagged for research

Photo by Matthias Gross

This article is a study, primarily focused on European nations, and the patterns of owners who do/do not clean up after their dog poops.

The author observed that people are more likely to clean up after their dog when there are people around to watch.

I’ll let you read it for yourself…

The study’s (published) conclusion is:

This exploratory study thus suggests that observing activities and strategies of defecating may provide new insight into human–animal relationships by exploring the role of droppings. An important prerequisite for successfully displaying poop and for diverting attention away from the fact that dog poop is increasingly to be seen in public is that the actors involved are skillful enough to attest to nonknowledge about the production of excrements by their best friends.

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, Canine Catering Ltd, Christchurch, New Zealand

Other blog posts about dog poop include:

A different way to encourage owners to scoop

Let’s make the world less crap…

That’s the opening line of a current Kickstarter campaign to obtain funding for Poopins, a biodegradable marker for piles of dog poo that haven’t been removed by unthinking dog walkers.

Scoop Ya Poop

Motivated by walks on Sumner Beach here in Christchurch, where numerous piles of dog poo have been observed, local man Stephen McCarthy came up with the idea of Poopins  (think ‘poo’ and ‘pins’ combined).

I’m not sure if this product will ultimately get funded.  But, the fact that someone is thinking of this type of open reminder to dog owners, points to the fact that we have too many irresponsible dog owners in this city.

Picking up your dog’s feces should be non-negotiable.  Today, as part of my weekly shopping, I bought a package of nappy bags (diaper bags for Northern Hemisphere readers) for picking up poop.  Bags are probably the easiest thing to get hold of; I re-use bags when I have them available, and then the nappy bags the rest of the time.

Some of the options that could be available if Poopins are able to launch onto the market

Some of the options that could be available if Poopins are able to launch onto the market

I personally would like to see the City of Christchurch become more dog-friendly with urban design that makes responsible dog ownership the norm – and apply peer pressure to those dog owners who are not responsible.  When dog owners don’t clean up, they make it harder for the rest of us to enjoy our dogs openly and with a variety of locations to choose from.

My other posts on this subject include:

Please – no matter where you live in this world – clean up after your dog.  It’s the responsible thing to do!

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, Canine Catering Ltd, Christchurch, New Zealand

Picking up is important

It’s National Scoop the Poop week in the USA.


In 1991, the EPA declared dog poo a non-point source pollutant.  Other non-point sources include herbicides, oil and chemicals (including those used for production agriculture, or in your own back yard).

(Is it any wonder why people are so concerned in New Zealand about cow urine and dung’s impacts on the environment?  A single cow excretes lots more waste than a single dog!)

To get into the spirit of things, the DoodyFree Water Project is giving away 250,000 pet waste bags to dog parks and other green spaces.  You can apply through their website by explaining how a bag donation will impact on your community.  You can also read about DoodyFree projects in your state.

The DoodyFree Water Project is sponsored by waste management company DoodyCalls.

Read my other posts about responsible dog ownership and scooping the poop:

The scoop on poop

The public relations nightmare of unscooped poop

The 5 types of dog walker

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, Canine Catering Ltd, Christchurch, New Zealand