Talking about dog poop is never fun. However, being a dog parent is not always fun either. Sometimes it is messy, stinky, and requires doing things you are not very proud of – like, for example, examining your dog’s poop every now and then. Therefore, chances are you are familiar with the normal dog poop appearance – color, size, texture, odor, and frequency.
So what does grainy dog poop mean? Usually, grainy dog poop is a red flag indicating something wrong is going on with your dog. The most common causes of grainy poop include mild dehydration, lack of dietary fiber and physical activity, intestinal parasites, inflammations of the gastrointestinal tract, and allotriophagia. Some of these causes are more serious than others, but they all require proper veterinary attention.
In this article, we will talk about grainy dog poop. We will review the different dog poop textures and then focus on grainy (cornmeal texture) poop – discuss the different causes and possible solutions.
Different Dog Poop Textures
Dog poop comes in many different types and textures, and each is indicative of different conditions and issues. Being familiar with those textures is helpful as poop health is often a good representative of the dog’s overall health.
Here is a complete list of different dog poop textures and their indications:
- Grainy dog poop (also known as cornmeal texture) – mild dehydration, low dietary fiber intake, lack of physical activity, worms (usually tapeworms), GI tract inflammation, and pica.
- Separate hard lumps (also known as grape-like poop) – severe dehydration, constipation, obstipation, intestinal obstruction, and impaction.
- Formed but greasy and slimy – excess fat intake (high-fat foods), pancreatic issues, inadequate fat metabolism, digestion, and absorption.
- Gelatinous or mucus-covered poop – irritated bowels, GI tract inflammations, intestinal parasites, stress, and anxiety.
- Soft, blob-like poop – sudden food changes and dietary indiscretions (eating table scraps and dumpster diving) followed by gastrointestinal upsets and inflammations.
- Watery poop (shapeless brown water) – excess stress (intense or long-term), viral infections (often cause changes in the frequency and color too), severe infestations with intestinal parasites (roundworms, tapeworms, hookworms, whipworms, and Giardia).
- Mushy blob (fluffy, air-filled, and with ragged edges) – environment and/or diet changes and intense emotional stress.
- Furry poop – excessive grooming (due to allergies, atopic dermatitis, external parasites, and stress) and eating animal hides (gophering, rabbiting, mousing).
- Firm and log-like poop – the shape is normal, but the overly firm consistency indicates a kibble-fed diet (more likely of lower quality and digestibility).
- Firm, long-like, with mushy end – the typical sign of overfeeding (large-sized meals or too many treats between the meals).
- Soft, thin, rope-like poop – the telltale sign of straining when pooping, which can be caused by infections, bowel obstructions, dietary changes, and enlarged prostate in males.
In addition to these poop types and textures, you should be on the lookout for other changes in the stool quality – for example, discolorations, increased or decreased poop volume, and pooping frequency.
Why Is My Dog’s Poop Grainy?
Various factors and conditions affect the poop texture. While some are transient and benign, others are more severe and indicative of underlying health issues. To make things easier to understand, let’s review the different reasons for grainy dog poop.
Reason 1: Mild dehydration
Water intake and hydration have a huge impact on poor quality. Dogs that do not drink enough water and are hydrated are at risk of becoming constipated. However, dogs that drink water but not as much as they should are more likely to produce grainy dog poop (an initial stage that could progress into constipation). This is because poop needs water to form properly. If there is not enough water, the poop will remain firm and grainy.
Reason 2: Low fiber intake
Dietary fiber or prebiotics are necessary for keeping the bowels active and moving. Dogs that do not take enough dietary fiber via the food can develop grainy poop. This is usually the case with dogs fed low-quality and nutritionally imbalanced or incomplete foods. Low fiber intake has an adverse effect on several body functions and processes, not just on poop quality.
Reason number 3: Lack of physical activity
If you have ever been constipated, chances are the doctor recommended physical activity. Well, dogs are quite similar. Namely, dogs with sedentary lifestyles have slowly moving intestines and often develop grainy or even completely dry poop. This is because the more time the poop spends in the intestines, the more water it loses (the water gets absorbed). The lack of physical activity impacts more than just poop health – it also increases the risk of weight gain and obesity-related ailments (heart disease, diabetes, and certain types of cancer).
Reason 4: Intestinal parasites
Certain intestinal parasites may result in grainy dog poop. Tapeworms, in particular, are the most common culprit causing grainy poop (roundworms can be responsible as well, while hookworms and whipworms are usually linked with bloody diarrhea). The most common tapeworm in dogs is Dipylidium caninum. Interestingly, we should mention that fleas transmit tapeworms. Therefore, even if your dog is up-to-date on dewormers, a flea infestation may result in tapeworm infection.
Reason number 5: GI tract inflammation
Inflammations of the gastrointestinal tract (gastroenteritis) and colon (colitis) in particular can also result in grainy dog poop. Both inflammations can be triggered by an array of issues – from dietary indiscretions to food sensitivities to pathogens. However, unless the GI inflammation is accompanied by other clinical signs and symptoms, the grainy poop is likely to be transient – resolves as soon as the inflammation settles.
Reason number 6: Digestion issues
Grainy dog poop can develop due to lightly digested or undigested food. Namely, dogs with underlying issues impairing proper food digestion can develop grainy poop. Food digestion abnormalities can result from many conditions, including inflammatory bowel disease, small intestinal bacterial overgrowths, food allergies and sensitivities, and inflammations. All of these are potentially concerning and require proper management or treatment. Also, in addition to the grainy poop, they all trigger other clinical signs and symptoms.
Reason number 7: Pica or allotriophagia
Some dogs have pica or allotriophagia. These fancy medical terms indicate the dog has a weird appetite or, in simple words, eats inedible items – sand, rocks, paper, wood, fabric, plastic, etc. Pica is a relatively mysterious condition as scientists cannot figure out exactly why it happens. There are different theories, but none is conclusive. The most prevalent theories are that pica results from nutritional deficiencies and infections with worms. Grainy dog poop can occur in dogs with pica prone to eating grainy items like gravel, drywall, pebbles, or sand.
Is It Bad if My Dog’s Poop Is Grainy?
Yes, in general, grainy dog poop is bad, especially if this altered texture is a persistent long-term occurrence. Namely, passing one grainy poop is not a disaster. We all get changes in the poop quality from time to time.
This is because a whole bunch of factors affect gut health and consequently poop type and quality. Such factors include food changes, dietary indiscretions, hormonal imbalances, growth spurts, stress, changes in the environment, teething, infections, etc.
However, if your dog starts passing grainy poop all of a sudden and the texture remains like that for a couple of days or repeats frequently, it is a red flag, and you need to seek veterinary attention.
When dealing with abnormal poop, the general rule of thumb is to wait for two days or 2 to 3 bowel movements. If the poop does not start coming out normal after that, it is time to call the vet.
As explained above, there are various reasons for passing grainy poop, and some of them are concerning. Plus, if left untreated, they can progress, causing more severe problems.
How Do I Keep My Dogs Poop from Being Grainy?
Not every grainy poop cause is predictable and preventable. However, there are various things you can do to decrease your dog’s risk of producing grainy dog poop. Here are simple yet efficient tips for ensuring healthy poop.
Tip number 1: Entice your dog’s water appetite
Stimulating your dog’s water intake is an excellent way of preventing dog poop. As mentioned, mild dehydration often results in grainy dog poop. To ensure your dog stays hydrated, you should put drinking bowls in various easily accessible locations around the house. If your dog is older or has arthritis, make sure the water bowls are elevated (a dog that finds the drinking position painful may refuse to drink at all). Finally, if your dog is not a keen water drinker, you should make the water more enticing. For example, you can put a few drops of broth (chicken or beef) or tuna juice into the drinking water.
Tip number 2: Ensure proper dietary fiber intake
Dietary fiber (prebiotics) supports gastrointestinal health and ensures high-quality poop. They have other health benefits, too (boosting cardiovascular function, keeping the blood sugar and cholesterol levels within normal ranges). To ensure proper dietary fiber intake in your dog, you have two options – feeding foods rich in fiber or using prebiotic supplements. Common and dog-friendly examples of fiber-rich foods include pumpkin, broccoli, beans, berries, whole grains, chicory root, etc. if including these foods in the diet is challenging, you should talk to your vet or canine nutritionist about prebiotic supplements.
Tip number 3: Add probiotics to the menu
Probiotics can do wonders for your dog’s gut health and poor quality. Probiotics are, in fact, live microorganisms (mostly bacteria and some yeasts) that live in the gut and support digestion. There are a number of different probiotic products for dogs – containing different strains of microorganisms and in different forms (powders, pills, liquids). The right probiotic should contain between 1 and 5 billion CFUs of good bacteria and yeasts of strains (Enterococcus faecium, Bifidobacterium animalis, Lactobacillus acidophilus, Bacillus coagulans, Saccharomyces boulardii). Also, there are certain foods rich in probiotics. Such foods include Greek yogurt and certain fermented foods. Finally, we should note that you need to stick to probiotic supplements formulated for dogs (human probiotics contain bacteria specific for humans and will not benefit dogs).
Tip number 4: Stick to the deworming schedule
It is imperative you keep your dog up-to-date on dewormers. Today, the modern pet market offers a variety of deworming products – from oral tablets to chewable treats to spot-on fluids. Some deworming products need to be applied monthly and others once every few months. You should talk to your veterinarian about the right deworming product for your dog and create a deworming schedule. After that, things are pretty simple. You just need to stick to the schedule. In case you accidentally skip a dose, give it as soon as you remember and consult with your vet in terms of fecal testing for parasites.
Tip number 5: Keep your dog moving
Physical activity is essential for keeping the dog’s bowels active and moving. Dogs with sedentary lifestyles (pretty much like people) have slowly moving intestines. To avoid this issue, make sure your dog is active. The activity level your dog needs depends on various factors, including age and breed. If you are not sure how much physical activity your dog needs, talk to your veterinarian. The general rule is that dogs should have at least two daily episodes of outdoor physical activity. However, once again, there can be variations based on breed requirements, age, and health issues.
Summing Up: Grainy Dog Poop
Grainy dog poop is not an uncommon issue in dogs. A variety of issues can result in poop with a cornmeal-like texture. Finding the exact culprit behind the grainy dog poop is not always easy and usually requires veterinary help.
Therefore, it is advisable to call the vet if your dog produces grainy poop for more than two days or 2 to 3 bowel movements. Once the vet determines the underlying issue and manages the situation, you should discuss possible prevention options.
Luckily, preventing grainy dog poop is relatively simple. You just need to focus on keeping your dog hydrated and active, offering high-quality and nutritionally balanced dog food, and ensuring your dog is free from intestinal parasites.