You’re here because you’ve noticed little white specks in your dog’s poop and you’re wondering whether you should start panicking. Take a breath, we’ll tell you what’s going on with that poop, what it means, and what to do.
These white specks have four possible sources: food, medication, chew toy/object, or parasites. All four are either not a cause for worry or can easily be treated.
Let’s look at how to identify the source of the white specks, how to treat them, and how to prevent them from returning.
Take a Closer (and Longer) Look At Your Dog’s Poop!
Before we can identify what’s going on, it’s important to know how to properly look at your dog’s poop. Here are some of our best practices:
When examining these white specks, the main thing you’ll be looking for is movement, and that might be a bit more complicated than you think.
You’ll need to observe the stool sample for at least several seconds – the movement you’re looking for is usually very small! If you don’t spend enough time looking at the sample, you might miss the odd sudden twitch and with it a very important clue into the health of your dog’s gastrointestinal tract.
You might also consider getting in there with a disposable tool and pushing things around to get a thorough look. It’s very important when doing this to make sure your hands stay clean. Poking around your dog’s poop may seem a little gross, but it will help you spot a health condition early on.
Finally, consider collecting a sample to bring to your vet if you decide those white specks seem to be something more serious. They will need to analyze a stool sample in more detail to inform their diagnosis.
So You’ve Looked Longer and the White Specks in Your Dog’s Poop Aren’t Moving
Good news! Those specks weren’t wiggling around so you can probably rule out any worms or parasites. It’s most likely that these white specks could be left over from something your dog has eaten or chewed on. Let’s look at some possibilities:
Traces of Bone From Dog Food
Even high quality dog food is bound to have traces of bone in it.
These traces of bone should not be a cause to worry about your dog’s health. They’re not harmful to your dog at all, but if you’d rather not see it you could always consider switching to vegan dog foods which are becoming more common.
There is a bit of a debate however amongst dog lovers about whether a plant-based diet is a viable option for our naturally omnivorous canine companions.
Undigested Food – Rice and Grains
Rice and grains will often show up as irregular white flecks in your dog’s poop because they generally have trouble fully digesting these foods. Undigested foods in your dog’s poop do not pose any health risks.
Undigested Food – Seeds and Nuts
Seeds and nuts similarly are not easily digested by dogs and can show up as white specks in their poop.
Some common nuts and seeds that might show up are corn, sesame seeds or almonds. These are not commonly found in dog food, but might a sign that your pup has been scrounging around eating human food, trash or something else they might have picked up out on a walk or in the garden.
Again, these white specks are no cause for concern, although it is a good idea to always keep an eye on your pet while they’re outside to make sure they’re not eating things they shouldn’t be.
If your dog is on medication which is administered by capsule, it’s likely that the specks that look like little bits of rice could be the remanence of undigested pill casing, sometimes called ghost pills. Again, these are no cause for concern.
Chew Toys or Something Plastic That the Dog Has Chewed On
Some dog chew toys such as the very popular Nylabone (a synthetic toy bone) will produce small plastic shavings as the result of chewing. If your dog swallows this plastic debris, they will appear as white specks in your dog’s poop.
Your dog may also find other plastic objects to chew on (whether intended for them or not) which can produce the same result in their poop. We know of an instance where the white specks in the dog’s poop turned out to be from the handle of a white hairbrush that the dog found and chewed (hey — it looked and tasted just like a Nylabone!).
What If The White Specks in the Dog Poop Are Moving?
If your investigation of that stool sample turns up wiggly white specks, here are a few of the possible things they could be:
If you’re not looking at a fresh sample and that poop has been out in the yard for a while, it’s possible those white specks could be fly larvae which hasn’t come from your dog but was laid in your dog’s poop after it was passed.
This is good in a way because it means there’s nothing wrong with your dog, but the presence of fly eggs and larvae in and around your house runs the risk of creating a contaminated environment which can affect humans, dogs, other wild animals and the general environment of your garden or neighborhood.
Doesn’t sound good? The best way to combat this is to make sure to pick up your dog’s poop as soon as you can.
Roundworms are intestinal parasites that attach themselves to the lining of your dogs intestinal tract and over a period of time pull nutrients from the partially digested food your dog has consumed.
Symptoms of Roundworm
If your dog has roundworm, those bits in their poo are stringy, spaghetti-like worms and will be white or light brown in color.
These worms will also be accompanied by other symptoms like vomiting, abdominal pain and irregular bowel movements and your pup might begin appearing weak or malnourished.
Contraction and Transmission of Roundworm
Roundworms are most common and most threatening in puppies because their parasitic presence in the digestive tract can rob them of the nutrients they need and stunt their growth.
Puppies can contract roundworm from their mothers. If the mother has had roundworm in the past, the larvae can remain in her body in a dormant state, or encysted, and be passed down in pregnancy. A puppy can also contract roundworm through mother’s milk.
While roundworms are most common in puppies, any dog can pick up these worms by sniffing, licking or eating the poop of another animal which has been infected. They can also get it by eating small wild animals which have been infected like mice, earthworms, cockroaches and birds.
The roundworms do not mature into adults inside the bodies of these smaller animals, they merely act as an intermediary host for the worm’s eggs, also called paratenic hosts. They then move onto larger host, like your dog, to continue their life cycle.
Once contracted, roundworm larvae make their way into a dog’s intestine to feed on partially digested food, grow into adult worms and lay eggs.
Treatment for roundworm requires an immediate trip to the vet. When you go try to bring a stool sample, because they’ll want to have a look at it under a microscope to see if there are any roundworms or tiny eggs present.
The treatments for roundworms in dogs are simple and effective and there are several made available to you when you consult your vet. One option is a monthly heartworm prevention medicine which also take care of intestinal roundworms and offer preventative protection against future infections.
Another important preventative measure to lower your dog’s risk of roundworms is to make sure pregnant dogs are dewormed in the late stages of pregnancy to keep newborn puppies from also contracting roundworms. Frequent deworming treatments for puppies are essential for making sure they stay healthy.
Also known as “Ancylostoma caninum” or “Ancylostoma braziliense,”
Symptoms of Hookworm
Though it’s possible to see very thin, small worms in your dog’s stool, it’s most common that what will turn up are microscopic eggs which will need a vet examination to identify. So while white specks in stool might indicate a hookworm infestation, look for some of these other symptoms as a signs of an infection.
The main signs and symptoms of hookworm in dogs are weight loss, abdominal pain, bloody diarrhea, dull and dry coat, stunted growth and, in severe cases, coughing.
Blood loss is a worrying symptom of hookworm. These nasty worms attach themselves to the lining of your dog’s intestine and inject anti-coagulating substances into the tissue to feed more easily on their blood. because the blood is no longer clotting as it should, it’s likely that this could lead to blood loss and in extreme cases anemia in your dog. Common signs of anemia are weakness and pale gums.
Contraction and Transmission of Hookworm
Hookworms are similar to roundworms in their transmission, but differ in that they feed on a dog’s blood rather than partially digested food in the intestine.
Hookworms are generally transmitted orally, through skin, from mother to puppy before birth and through mother’s milk.
Hundreds of microscopic eggs can be present in the feces of infected dogs and can contaminate the environment, infecting soil for weeks, even months. Dogs can contract hookworms in contaminated environments through sniffing infected soil or feces or through self-grooming after walking in a contaminated area.
Larvae can also enter a dog by burrowing through their skin if the dog walks or lays on contaminated ground.
Hookworms can be transmitted between humans and dogs, but it is uncommon that the larvae mature into adult hookworms inside humans and cause anything more than itchiness on the skin that was exposed to the hookworm larvae.
Preventative measures against hookworm infection including keeping your dog’s surroundings clean and keeping them from being in contaminated areas.
Puppies should frequently be treated with deworming medication as well as their nursing mothers.
Most heartworm medications also provide preventative protection from hookworms, but it is important to consult a vet to see what the best course of treatment is for your dog.
Anthemintics are drugs that your vet can prescribe your pup which are very effective at killing adult hookworms. They are administered orally and have no substantial side effects. It is necessary to repeat treatment 2-4 weeks later to make sure all worms which were only at the larval stage during the first treatment are taken care of.
In dogs who develop an extreme case of anemia, a blood transfusion may be necessary.
The type of tapeworm most commonly contracted by dogs and cats is the Dipylidium caninum.
Tapeworms can be 4-28 inches in length and are made up of smaller segment.
Symptoms of Tapeworm
Tapeworms are sneaky because, unlike the kinds of worms we’ve discussed above, your dog can be infected but appear largely asymptomatic. You can only really tell if your dog has a tapeworm by spotting tapeworm segments, also called proglottids, in your dog’s poop. These appear in the poop because they are shed by the tapeworm as it grows and develops in the intestine.
Proglottids are about the size of a grain of rice and contain tapeworm eggs which are released into the surrounding environment when they are passed through poop. They’re only about 2mm long and have a white or yellowish in color.
In extreme cases your dog might experience weight loss due to a heavy tapeworm infestation.
If your dog is scooting their butt along the ground or carpet to relieve an itch, that also could be a clue that they have a tapeworm. Passing tapeworm segments in stool can irritate the anus and cause discomfort.
Contraction and Transmission of Tapeworm
Dog’s can develop a tapeworm infestation by swallowing an infected flea. Fleas are easily ingested by dogs when they’re self-grooming. Once ingested, tapeworms move to the intestine where they extract nutrients from your dog’s partially digested food and mature into adult worms.
It’s also possible for your dog to contract a tapeworm from contact with the feces of another animal who has been infected with tapeworms.
If your dog has a tapeworm infestation, it’s important you take a visit to the vet ASAP and bring along a stool sample. Your vet will prescribe your dog a tapeworm medication called praziquantel which is administered orally or by injection and causes the tapeworm to dissolve in the intestine with no significant side effects.
Preventative measures include cleaning up your dog’s poop and making sure your dog is flea free.
There’s a lot that can be learned about your dog’s health from a closer look at their stool. White specks in dog poop can be serious because they may indicate a parasite infestation. But if identified and addressed early, they are easily treated and usually no cause for extensive worry.