Black Dog Poop: Here's The Scoop

Amanda Sarvas

Keeping an eye on your dog’s stool is a great way to track his health and digestive wellbeing. It can be an early warning sign that something is off when your dog’s stool changes or you notice black dog poop.

There are four C’s to consider when assessing dog poop. 

  • Color: The color of a normal dog poop can range from light to medium brown. 
  • Consistency: The consistency will vary based on what you feed, but it should be medium firmness with some visible segments (like a caterpillar). 
  • Contents: There shouldn't be anything unusual inside of your dog's stool. Check for things like worms or foreign objects. 
  • Coating: A small amount of mucus on occasion is not a concern, but large amounts of mucus can indicate large bowel inflammation, among other things. 

This is a helpful guideline to remind you what to look for each time your dog poops. 

Is Black Dog Poop Normal? 

Your dog’s poop can turn black for a number of reasons. These stools often have a sticky or tarry consistency to them. You may see your dog produce large amounts of black stool over a short period of time, or he may have small amounts of black stool intermittently over a long period of time. 

While black dog poop isn’t necessarily “normal,” it may or may not be a sign of a more serious underlying condition. 

Black Stool Can Be A Sign Of Bleeding 

Very dark or black stool can be a sign that there is bleeding in your dog’s upper gastrointestinal (GI) tract. The medical term for these black stools is melena. The bleeding typically occurs in the upper GI tract, like the esophagus, stomach or upper small intestine. The blood is digested as it moves through the digestive tract and will change color from bright red to very dark or black. 

Many things can cause blood in the stool, including: 

  • Internal bleeding - this can be life-threatening. Seek immediate veterinary attention if you suspect this is the cause of your dog’s stool change. 
  • Stomach ulcers (often caused by prescription medications). 
  • Prescription medications like NSAIDs and steroids or human medications like Pepto Bismol and aspirin. Instead of these over-the-counter medications, you may want to consider natural alternatives… 
  • Toxin ingestion. 
  • Parasites. 
  • Tumors. 
  • A foreign body (something that’s causing a blockage or partial blockage, like a sock). 

Bleeding in the upper GI tract can be a serious issue. Take special notice if your dog is lethargic or acting strange. Remember, it's always best to chat with your holistic veterinarian if you have concerns.

If your dog shows any of the following symptoms, seek veterinary attention immediately: 

  • Staggering or collapse.
  • Lethargy. 
  • Vomiting. 
  • White or pale gums (this can indicate anemia caused by a significant loss of blood, possibly from internal bleeding). 

Your Dog's Food Can Cause Black Stool

Another less scary cause of black stool can be increased organ content in your dog’s food. If you make your own food, perhaps you fed more organs in this bowl, or if you buy pre-made raw food, it may be that the brand is higher in organ meat. 

Salmon or other oily fish in your dog’s food can also cause dark or black stools. 

If your dog’s poop is consistently black or tarry after feeding certain foods, you may need to consider changing foods or giving feeding less organ meat or fish. 

Certain supplements, especially those high in iron, can also cause your dog’s poop to be darker. 

RELATED: How to transition your dog's food ...

The Sun Can Turn Your Dog’s Poop Black 

Another little-known cause of black stool? The sun! If your dog’s poop sits out in the sun, it can actually change color to black. This is normal and nothing to worry about. To get an accurate stool color assessment you’ll want to assess the color immediately after he’s pooped. 

Can Antibiotics Turn Your Dog’s Poop Black? 

Generally, antibiotics are not known to cause poop to turn black. However, antibiotics can cause digestive upset, which can lead to bleeding in the GI tract, and the digested blood can make your dog’s stool darker. 

Treatment For Black Stool 

The cause of your dog’s black stool will determine the treatment. If you suspect something you're feeding your dog is changing his stool color, consider eliminating that food or supplement to see if the stool color returns to normal. If you suspect your dog could have something more serious going on, you’ll want to chat with your vet. 

Take A Sample To Your Vet

The best way to figure out what is going on internally with your dog is to have a fecal analysis done. Collect a fresh sample of stool in a small plastic container and bring it to your vet. If you can’t get it there within a few hours, you can store the sample in your fridge, or outside in cooler weather. 

So What Does Black Dog Poop Mean?

To summarize, here are some possible reasons for black dog poop ...

  • Internal bleeding.
  • Raw food with a high organ content. 
  • Salmon or other oily fish. 
  • Taking an iron supplement or certain medications.  
  • The sun changed the color of the stool.  

As you can see, some of these reasons are more serious than others. Overall, if your dog is acting normal and seems healthy, a little detective work might be in order. If you think something more serious is going on, take your dog to your vet along with a fresh stool sample.

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© 2024, Four Leaf Rover - The content on this website is not meant to replace veterinary advice. Please support the hard working holistic vets who make this information possible. To find a holistic or homeopathic vet near you or to find one who will do phone consultations, visit The Academy Of Veterinary Homeopathy.