I can only imagine how it must have looked. There I was, hovering intently, my full concentration directed at the steaming pile of excrement that was so strategically placed in a specific location for reasons that only he was aware of.
I know it was strategic because it took him nearly twenty minutes of obsessive searching and sniffing to determine the appropriate place where he would begin his ritualistic pattern reminiscent of an OCD Jack Nicolson in “As Good As It Gets”. Of course it was an overly compassionate car full of teenagers speeding home from a long strenuous day of our high standards educational system, who slowed down long enough to beep the horn and jeer at my current engagement.
I was focused on a much more important task, examining my dogs poop.
We often teach children using clever songs and limericks as makes it easier to remember a concept. I don’t think I will ever forget when Columbus journeyed to the new world thanks to “In 1492 Columbus sailed the ocean blue”. Well, allow me to stress the importance of examining your dogs daily droppings when you go about your walks by presenting my own ridiculously lame limerick, “Pick with a stick, through poop as you scoop”. Yes, you did just read that correctly, I did it, I made a limerick about dog poop and what you should be doing with it.
While I do strive to help people understand enough about dog communication to improve their day to day relationships, I have yet to be able to get a dog to explain the pain in its stomach, or exactly why it is dragging its anus across the newly installed white Berber carpeting. I’m working on that and will be sure to let you know when I have a breakthrough.
Until then, we have to figure out other ways to see inside our dog and remain constantly aware to the best of our abilities the overall condition of our dog’s health. One very easy and effective way to do so is become an obsessive examiner of excrement. You must become, a poop picker.
Grab a stick and come along for some basics in excrement education. First off, stick selection is important. If it is too big and cumbersome you will not have the necessary dexterity to effectively pick through the poop itself. Secondly, if your dog happens to make his deposit early in the walk, are you going to walk around carrying a large poop covered stick until you can find an appropriate place to discard it? For your information, it would be considered rude to just leave a large stick dipped in dog feces on the sidewalk, not a good move for the betterment of public opinion toward dog owners. So with that being said, too big of a stick, too much hassle. Grabbing a stick that is too small presents obvious problems as the last thing you want is for a stick to snap in the middle of your examination, and in some cases send your hand or fingers hurling into the direction of…….you get the idea.
With proper tools in hand, you must know what to look for. I will provide a very brief and general overview for the purpose here is simply to bring awareness, Google around if you need further specifics . Poop should be of a firm consistency and medium brown in color. When a client asks me about their dog’s diarrhea the first thing i ask in return is if it’s water or mud. Yes, it makes a difference. Mud happens from time to time. Not a big deal by itself. Water has me a little more concerned and more careful attention must be paid. Also if it’s water I immediately am concerned with potential dehydration.
Your dog should not look like its eyes are going to pop out from pushing hard either. If the poop is too dry, which can often times happen on unbalanced raw diets, or too loose, you will need to start working through some troubleshooting to determine the cause.
Smell is an indicator of health as well. Yes, all dog poop is going to smell ,but truthfully, it shouldn’t make you vomit instantaneously. Overwhelming odor can mean one of two things, either the food is not being digested properly, which often times means you should select a different brand or type of food, or it can mean your dog has a gastrointestinal issue that could be from parasites or a virus.
Obviously, if the poop is moving away on its own, you have some parasite concerns. Hook and round worms are very visible to the naked eye and your vet will put it under a microscope to identify the eggs themselves. Tapeworms are fun as well, they look like little pieces of rice that writhe and wiggle so adorably as they signal their presence.
If the poop is moving, and you know what type of worm it is, the internet has TONS of places to get the medicine you need drastically cheaper than the vets office. If you are the least bit unsure of the identity of your dog’s new friends living it its colon, then a trip to the vet for proper identification and treatment is in order.
Lastly on the list for beginning poop pickers is the somewhat obvious. Many mysteries of disappearing articles of clothing have been solved or miscellaneous items that the junk fairy stole from my house have been found in, you guessed it, the poop. I had a Presa Canario once who made it his job to see exactly what he could pass through his digestive system.
One day while observing him from the kitchen window I noticed that he had grown a second tail. Of course, it was a hand towel that by the graces of Harry Potter’s magic wand itself, he was able to pass through his colon without issue. I did have to yank it out though, and that my friends is an entirely different story.