For most puppy owners, poop is the last thing that they want to deal with or take a closer look at. It’s messy, it’s smelly, and it’s just downright yucky. But the truth is, we can learn a lot from our dog’s poop, especially for puppies who are at that tender age of development.
Just by taking a quick look at puppy poop, we can find out a lot about our dog’s health, whether they’re getting enough nutrition, and whether they’re A-okay or might need medical attention.
Here’s a look at how to know if your puppy’s poop is normal – and when it’s not.
What does normal puppy poop look like and smell like?
Before anything else, let’s take a look at how a puppy’s poop should look and smell like if your puppy is in good heath. And yes, this does require getting a little more close and personal with puppy poop than usual, but once you know what to look for, all that it will really take is a quick glance to check.
The perfect dog poop will have a color of light brown to medium brown. They will appear log-like but won’t leave residue on the ground when you pick it up. They will have a distinct smell but shouldn’t smell like something you would describe as foul or rancid.
The same rules apply for a puppy, except that soft poop can also be normal due to their diet, especially if they are breastfeeding. However, if your puppy has been consistently pooping firm poop and suddenly starts pooping soft poop or watery poop, observe more closely to see how it develops.
Also, you have to keep an eye on how often your puppy poops. A healthy dog will usually have an established routine and will poop at particular times of the day. It’s okay for your puppy to poop once or even up to three times – as long as its consistent. If there are any sudden changes, observe more closely, it may be a sign that there’s something wrong.
Why is most puppy poop soft?
The consistency of puppy poop depends almost entirely on their diet. If a puppy is breastfeeding, it’s normal for them to have softer poop than usual and isn’t a cause for alarm. But if your puppy’s poop goes from a soft consistency to completely watery, or if it goes from firm to suddenly soft, then this definitely calls for closer observation.
For puppies, consistency is key.
At what age does it start to get firmer?
Your puppy will begin to experience firmer dog poop when they are weaned from their mother. Part of weaning your puppy will be slowly introducing other forms of food into their diet like kibble. As your puppy’s digestive system adjusts to a solid diet, you might notice that they will experience some diarrhea at first. Continue observing just to make sure that the bout of diarrhea goes away after a day or two.
After the switch to solid food, puppies should have the normal and healthy dog poop as described above – firm, light brown to medium brown, with no signs of parasites or excessive mucous. If you noticed that instead of getting firmer, your puppy’s poop is getting softer and softer, continue to monitor your puppy’s condition and consider bagging some of the poop and refrigerating them in case you need samples for the vet.
What is the difference between soft puppy poop and diarrhea?
Soft puppy poop will still retain its shape – usually log like or small balls – but will be softer in consistency and will leave residue on the ground when you pick it up. Even with soft poop, your puppy will most likely still maintain the same number of times for pooping each day.
With puppy diarrhea, your puppy’s stool will be very watery and will not retain its shape. It will come out almost completely liquid with a brownish color and maybe a few solids here or there. You will not even be able to pick it up from the ground, let alone bag it. There is also a firmer kind of diarrhea where the poop comes out as soggy logs but will lose its shape when you try to pick it up.
Puppy diarrhea will also occur plenty of times during the day, from three times to even five or six times, causing dehydration. If your puppy is having more than five times of bowel movement during the day, it’s best to consult your veterinarian directly.
Why does puppy poop get softer throughout the day?
Have you ever noticed that your puppy may poop firmer stool in the morning but when they poop later in the afternoon or at night, the poop becomes softer?
Right off the bat, I can tell you that there’s nothing wrong with your puppy. A dog’s digestive system continuously removes moisture from the poop as it stays inside. Having the poop in their gastrointestinal tract overnight is more likely to produce firmer poop with less water content. But if your puppy only has the time between breakfast and lunch, for example, to keep their poop in their GI tract, it will definitely come out softer but they’ll still grab the chance to drop a poop when you walk them.
It bears repeating that consistency is key when observing puppy poop, and we don’t just mean the consistency of the actual poop. If your puppy’s poop gets softer throughout the day everyday, it shouldn’t be a cause for alarm. However, if one day your puppy’s poop very suddenly becomes soft and wet in the afternoon, something that doesn’t usually happen, then your puppy might need closer attention.
What can make the poop softer?
There are a variety of reasons why your puppy can suddenly have soft poop. First, we have to understand that while humans start to digest our food with enzymes present in our saliva in our mouths, dogs’ mouths are really just meant for chewing and tearing. All the work happens in their GI tract.
That’s why one of the most common reasons for soft puppy poop is a sudden switch in diet – it takes time for their GI tract to adjust. The best way to switch a puppy to a new diet is gradually, in increments, mixing the old dog food with the new one, putting more of the new kibble over time.
Another cause for puppies having soft poop is overfeeding. Feeding your puppy too much food can give their digestive system more work than it can handle. That can lead to under-digested food, leaving it softer and less ‘processed’. Reducing the digestive system’s efficiency not only leads to softer poop, it can also reduce the nutrients the puppy can absorb.
There are other more serious reasons for soft puppy poop – parasites, worms, viruses, to name a few – but the occasional soft puppy poop is nothing to worry about. That is, unless it regresses to diarrhea or if you see that your puppy is less active and responsive than usual.
What can I do to make puppy poop firmer?
Bar any serious health issues, following a healthy structure and routine for feeding should result in firmer puppy poop. Here are some quick tips to keep your puppy healthy, leading to the much sought after perfectly normal puppy poop.
- Make sure your puppy is well hydrated. Puppies should have clear urine, not overly yellow.
- Make sure not to overfeed your puppy. Too much food will give the gastrointestinal tract too much work, reducing its efficiency, leading to less nutritional absorption and soggy poop.
- Change your puppy’s food gradually. A sudden change in diet can stress out your puppy’s digestive system. Gradually add 25% of the new dog food, allow the puppy to adjust, and add another 25% until you’ve completely switched to the new diet.
- Make sure that your puppy is eating high quality dog food. Dog food with too much dog food fillers that only serve up empty calories. A puppy on a good, healthy diet will produce firmer, healthier poop.
At the end of the day, the answer to how long does puppy poop stay soft is – it depends. It depends on when they will be weaned from breastfeeding, from how they are introduced to a new diet, what kind of diet they will have after weaning and so on. As always, the key to having a strong healthy puppy is observation – and yes, that includes their poop – and a good diet that’s ideal for the puppy’s digestive system and nutritional needs.
From one fur parent to another, good luck and have fun!