A dog’s poop can tell you a lot about what’s going on inside his body by both its consistency and its color. For instance, red or black poop can indicate that your dog is bleeding from somewhere in his gastrointestinal tract. But what does yellow dog poop mean?
Yellow dog poop — is it serious?
Seeing yellow dog poop can be a little surprising. Sometimes, it happens because of something your dog ate, like yellow Crayons or chalk that’s just passing through. A clue that your dog might have eaten something containing yellow dye is if the yellow color in the poop appears in blotches or only in parts of the poop.
If the dog poop is uniformly yellow in color, however, the reason might be more concerning. “That is bile pigment that has not been reabsorbed and is passing through the feces and turning it yellow,” says Tracey Jensen, DVM, Dipl. ABVP, medical director at Wellington Veterinary Hospital in Wellington, Colorado. “It’s not normal. Basically, it means that the transit time in the GI tract is increased.”
What does ‘GI transit time’ have to do with dog poop color?
“GI transit time” refers to the amount of time it takes for food to travel through the entire gastrointestinal tract as it’s digested and finally eliminated from the body as waste. “The intestinal tract is in a constant state of digesting and reabsorbing things for reuse, everything from fluid to bile pigment,” Dr. Jensen explains. “When that transit time is too quick, then you get liquid feces and you will see those yellow bile pigments. If the transit time is prolonged and the patient is dehydrated, that’s when we see constipation.”
The GI transit time can increase for a variety of reasons, including parasites, cancer, inflammatory bowel disease, issues with the liver, gallbladder or pancreas. For this reason, it’s best to schedule an appointment with your veterinarian if you notice some dog poop that is yellow.
Is yellow dog poop a medical emergency?
“It’s not an emergency necessarily, as long as the pet is still feeling all right and there are no other symptoms, but it’s urgent enough that you do need to seek veterinary assessment,” Dr. Jensen advises. “If [your dog is] not feeling well, or if there are other gastrointestinal signs, such as vomiting or any other color changes to the feces, it would warrant a call to the emergency room.”
When you go to the vet, bring a stool sample with you so the veterinarian can look at it under a microscope to check for any evidence of parasites. If the fecal test reveals no parasites, your vet will likely want to check your dog’s bloodwork and possibly perform some imaging tests like x-rays or ultrasounds to look for abnormalities in the gastrointestinal tract.
The bottom line
Unless you think your dog just chewed up some yellow crayons, yellow dog poop is not something to ignore. If you see this color in your dog’s poop, get him checked out just to be sure nothing serious is going on.
Thumbnail: Photography ©MachineHeadz | iStock / Getty Images Plus.
This piece was originally published in 2018.