Most of the time when dog owners accompany their pooches on a trip outside for a canine bathroom break, the owner wants to give some privacy to the dog, letting them do their business and then hurrying back inside as soon as it’s done.
If you have your own backyard, you may not pick up the poop immediately each time your dog goes. As tedious as it may be, though, it is a good idea to visually check your dog’s poop regularly to ensure that they are healthy; it is important to know what healthy dog poop looks like in order to know what isn’t normal. If the excrement is a strange color or has an odd texture, though, you will probably know pretty quickly that something’s up.
If your dog has been experiencing unexplained white poops, you may be wondering, “Why is my dog’s poop white? Do I need to take them to the vet?”
There are a number of reasons why your dog’s poop may be white, many of which require veterinary intervention. However, knowing the type of white poop your dog is producing can help point you to possible reasons why the anomaly is occurring and how serious the matter may be.
Types of White Dog Poop
To determine the severity of the situation, you should first assess how white the dog’s poop is. Different colorations will point to different causes, and while all fecal discolorations can be alarming, having an idea about the origin of the white poop will help you describe it to your veterinarian if your dog ends up needing care.
Solid White Dog Poop
Though pieces of solid white poop are rarer to stumble across on a walk than they were before (more on this a little later), it is still possible for your dog to have a bowel movement that is entirely white or becomes white after being left out for some time. This may be related to high calcium content in their diet, perhaps due to ingesting bone.
Another reason why a dog’s feces may turn totally white is due to medications, such as liquid barium (typically used to assist in imaging). Although it is likely that you would have been informed ahead of time about this side effect, your vet should be able to tell you whether or not the change is normal if you are unsure.
White Specks or Mucus in Dog Poop
In some situations, a dog’s feces may appear to be speckled with white spots. Because this may be indicative of worms or other parasites, it is important to first note whether or not the specks are moving. If they are not moving, it is possible that they may be attributed to improperly digested foods such as rice, grains, or nuts. It is also possible they could be tiny fragments of residue from chew toys such as Nylabones or a piece of white plastic.
Streaky white or yellow mucus may also be present in or surrounding dog poop, giving it a streaky white or light appearance. Generally, mucus in a dog’s excrement is related to inflammation or irritation in the bowels.
In some cases, this may be related to a single meal that irritated your dog’s insides. However, if the dog’s bowel movements regularly contain or are covered in mucus, a vet trip would be a good idea.
White Object in Dog Poop
Similar to white specks in dog poop, white objects in dog poop may show up as smaller pieces poking out of it.
If you notice a white object in a piece of your dog’s poop, you may want to don some gloves to investigate further. However, if you’re squeamish, it is totally appropriate to take the feces in question to the vet.
In some cases, your dog may have accidentally eaten something inedible and passed it without a problem. However, it is also possible for dogs to eat things that can become dangerous for their gastrointestinal tract, such as dryer sheets.
Reasons Why a Dog’s Poop Might Turn White
Medication Side Effects
As mentioned, certain medications can cause a white coloring of the stool. If medication is the cause of the change, though, the color of the feces should return to normal fairly quickly once the medication is stopped.
If your dog is on a new medication and is having white stools but is not experiencing other side effects, the cause may be the medication—if you are unsure, talk to your vet: they will be able to tell you whether or not the discoloration is normal and attributable to the meds.
Dietary Imbalance or High Calcium
If your dog is not taking any medications that could turn their poop white, it is possible that the culprit behind the white poop is a diet too high in calcium.
These increases in calcium may be caused by a homemade raw food diet, generally because it is more difficult to exactly measure the nutritional components of these meals. If your dog is on a raw diet and is experiencing hard, white stools, you might want to switch them to a manufactured dog food or a different raw diet. If the appearance of the stool does not improve, a vet visit would be a good idea.
Accidental Ingestion of a White Object
Segments of a dog’s stool may appear white due to ingestion of something white and indigestible, such as plastic. If your dog has white or light-colored chew toys, you might want to make sure those are all intact. Because some dogs like to chew on things that aren’t toys when they are bored, it may also be a good idea to check other plastic objects for bite marks or missing pieces.
If your dog is very destructive with their chews and toys, you might want to consider switching to a more heavy-duty toy in order to protect their insides. Plastic, fabrics, and paper (including toilet paper and paper towel) are all hazardous to dogs, and those pups who like to chew or play with objects that aren’t toys may need some addition training or redirection.
Parasites in Dog Poop
White specks in a dog’s poop may be a sign of a parasite infestation, though they may also be a sign that the poop was left outside too long.
Flies are attracted to dog feces and will lay their eggs in it when it is left out; for that reason, it is important to dispose of poop as soon as you can. You will need to check a “fresh” piece of poop in order to tell whether those white specks indicate parasites such as hookworms or a tapeworm rather than flies.
If your dog has worms, you should get a stool sample and take both the sample and your pooch to the vet for a checkup and treatment.
Fully white poop may also be a sign that your dog is dealing with some very serious problems with their digestive system. Problems with the liver, pancreas, intestines, or gallbladder can each cause a dog’s stool to appear gray or white.
This is one of the reasons why it is so important to get help from a vet quickly if your dog is experiencing strangely colored stool. If the change is due to organ failure or another internal illness, addressing it sooner will likely lead to better outcomes.
What to Do if Your Dog’s Poop Is White
Though white dog poop is usually a cause for concern and may be indicative of underlying health problems, it is generally okay to wait for your dog to defecate once more before seeking out veterinary help. Waiting for another bowel movement gives you the opportunity to see if the phenomenon is repeated—if so, it is definitely time to get in touch with the vet.
If your dog is experiencing signs of discomfort or symptoms of poisoning such as vomiting, seizures, fever, or extreme lethargy, then get to your vet or an emergency animal hospital more expediently. When these symptoms appear in tandem with discolored dog poop, it is more likely that your dog is experiencing a major problem that needs to be addressed as soon as possible.
Why Less Dog Poop Is White Nowadays (Compared to the ’80s)
Interestingly enough, white dog poop used to be a fairly common sight until the early ’90s. This was due to a difference in the nutrients in manufactured dog food: while dog foods and treats these days largely contain lots of fiber, foods then contained cooked bone—known as bone meal. Bone meal is very high in calcium
Because cooked bones are not actually digestible (and can also be a choking risk and should not be fed to dogs as treats), when dog poop was left outside and would dry in the sun, the calcium content of the bone would stand out and make the poop appear bright white.
While seeing white dog poop during that time would not have always been a cause for alarm, the current content of manufactured foods and treats should not result in white poop. Thus, if your dog’s poop is consistently white, make sure they get veterinary help.