Odour, coating and contents: Exactly what your pet's poo is trying to tell you about their health.



Pets bring so much joy into our lives, but most pet owners wouldn’t describe their pet’s faeces as particular joyous.

Because no matter how ridiculously cute/fluffy/sassy/bad arse your beloved dog or cat is, the fact remains that they need to poo multiple times a day and you have to clean up after them.

For cat owners, that looks like chucking the kitty litter out as quickly as you can so it doesn’t stink out your home.

For dog owners, that looks like picking the crap off the ground as quickly and inconspicuously as possible before strangers have the chance to judge you.

But have you ever stopped to look at your pet’s poo? Like, really examine it for all its intricacies?

Check out these celebrities with their cuddly pets who they may or may not personally pick up after in the video below. Post continues after video.

Video by MMC

According to Dr Veronica Monaghan, Chief Veterinary Officer at Greencross Vets, pet owners should take the time to check their pet’s poo before chucking it out as it could be an indicator of a health problem.


“Your pet’s poo is a great indicator of their current wellbeing and whether they’re being fed the right food or something more sinister is going on,” she told Mamamia.

“A direct result of feeding your pet the food that is best for them is that they’ll produce healthy poos that are comfortable for your pet to pass and easy for you to clean up, encouraging a healthy digestive system, good skin and a shiny coat, and overall a pet who has more energy and a higher quality of life.”

It’s kind of the same with humans, no? You can always tell if something is up with your diet or gut when things get a bit weird in the toilet bowl. (A conversation for another day…)

Back to pet poo – there are seven factors to look out for in a healthy/not-so-healthy dog or cat turd.

We’ll go through them below, but before we get into the nitty gritty of what to look out for in your precious pet’s steaming poop, here’s a breakdown of what the pawfect pet poo should look, feel and smell (ugh) like.

The perfect dog poo.

A handy guide to the holy grail of dog poos. Image: Supplied.

According to Dr Monaghan, the perfect dog poo:

  1. Has a mild, non-offensive odour.
  2. Contains nothing out of the ordinary in the contents.
  3. Soft in texture, but shouldn't leave any residue behind when you pick it up.
  4. Is a light to dark brown colour.
  5. Should be a size proportionate to your dog (a big crap from a tiny doggo is worrying).
  6. Is shiny, but not coated in anything.
  7. Happens one to three times a day.

The perfect cat poo.


As for the perfect cat poo, Dr Monaghan said it:

  1. Has a mild, non-offensive odour.
  2. Contains nothing out of the ordinary in the contents (a bit of fur is fine).
  3. Has a texture like play dough - firm, but you could mould it if you really wanted to.
  4. Is a light to dark brown colour.
  5. Should be a size proportionate to your cat.
  6. Is shiny, but not coated in anything.
  7. Happens one to three times a day.

What to look out for in your pet's poo.

Here are Dr Monaghan's seven pillars of pet poo: texture, colour, contents, coating, size, frequency and odour.

1. Texture

dog poo texture
When your dog's poo texture is off, you know. Image: Supplied.
cat poo texture
Cat poo texture can be a little tricker, so give it a good look. Image: Supplied.

"When you clean up after your dog, you’ll notice that these poos are like play dough, firm but still mouldable, and won’t leave any residue on the ground. Your dog should not struggle to produce these poos and they’ll pass comfortably through your pet."

"Similarly, cat poos should be a log and nugget shape, and easy to scoop out of cat litter."

2. Colour

"It’s no surprise that a healthy pet poo is brown, but there isn’t one shade that’s the best across every dog and cat. Factors like the food they’re eating can affect the colour of their poo but in general, any shade from light to dark brown is considered healthy as long as the colour remains the same day to day."

Chalky dog poo = not normal. Image: Supplied.
Same goes for yellow cat poo. Poor cat. Image: Supplied.

3. Contents

"For dogs, it’s easy to notice when they are being fed a poor diet as you can see this in the contents of their poo. If you see pieces of undigested food in your dog’s poo, then this is a sign to re-think what you’ve been feeding them. If you notice things such as an excess of grass and fur, rocks, fruit seeds, sticks and small toys, please see your local vet to provide the best advice on what to do."

"Cat’s poo may contain small amounts of fur but shouldn’t have any additional contents. If you notice your cat swallowing too much fur, or foreign materials like dental floss, hair elastics and string, this can result in serious damage in their digestive tract. Make sure your cat receives the care they deserve by feeding them food that promotes hairball control and digestive health and keeping dangerous items out of their reach."

4. Coating

"Healthy pets will produce poos that do not have any distinct coating. These poos will have a slight sheen due to the moisture within the poo. On the other hand, if you notice jelly-like mucus covering your pet’s poo a check-up at your local vet is necessary to diagnose the cause, as this isn’t normal."

dog poo contents
Grass and fur = normal. Whole bones = GO TO THE VET. Image: Supplied.
cat poo contents
Check your cat's poo for irregularities, would you? Image: Supplied.

7. Size

"The amount of indigestible food in your pet’s diet will affect the size of their faeces, so if you’re feeding your pet a regular diet, you can expect them to produce the same amount of waste each day. If there’s a sudden change in the size of your pet’s poo, then it’s best to consult your vet to find out why this has happened."

6. Frequency

"A healthy pet will poo around one to three times a day depending on factors such as what they’re being fed. Foods high in fibre pass through your animal’s system more easily and result in more frequent deposits. All pets should poo at least once per day so if your pet has not pooped in 24 hours, contact your vet as they may be dehydrated and experiencing constipation. Similarly, if they are going more than three times a day, this is also abnormal behaviour that should be checked by your vet."


7. Odour

"Unfortunately, even the perfect pet poo will have a mild odour, although it will not be offensively smelly. If you notice droppings to be more foul-smelling, this can indicate your pet is experiencing health issues or eating poorly and you should consult your local vet who can diagnose the cause."

In short: listen to (and look at) your pet's poo before scraping it off the pavement.

It knows.

Do you have any other brilliant pet poo tips? Tell us in the comments!

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