Quite often, I am called upon by worried owners to examine their dog’s poop. It’s not the most glamorous of jobs, but someones got to do it.
They may bring along a sample in a plastic baggy or show me a photo on their phone; checking your dog’s poop is a great habit to get into and vets are always happy to take a look at anything unusual for you.
Most of the time, a few white specks in dog poop are nothing to be concerned about. However, they can be indicative of a more serious medical issue, so is something worth paying attention to.
What causes white specks in dog poop?
Finding white specks in your dog’s poop can be a worrying time for any owner – you’ll want to know exactly what they are and what can be done.
The causes of white specks in dog poop can vary and some are more concerning than others. Let’s take a look at some of the more common causes:
During normal digestion, after their food has been broken down and the nutrients are absorbed, dogs should pass a solid stool that is brown in colour.
If you notice undigested food particles in your dog’s poop, this is a red flag. We may see foods like seeds and grains of rice, which appear like tiny white specks.
As a one off, we don’t need to worry too much. It may be that your dog has a mild stomach upset or was under some stress, so the food moved too quickly through their digestive tract. However, repeatedly finding white specks of undigested food in your dog’s stool is abnormal. This can often be accompanied by other signs such as diarrhoea, vomiting, poor weight gain and a dull coat.
It is important if your dog has any of the above signs that they are seen for a check-up. Your vet may run some tests such as an intestinal blood profile and abdominal imaging, to check for underlying conditions such as IBD (inflammatory bowel disease) or EPI (exocrine pancreatic insufficiency).
Food malabsorption can also result in green poop or yellow poop depending on the underlying issue. Treatment will depend on what is going on and may include a prescription diet and medication such as corticosteroids.
Though many of the owners I deal with choose to feed their pets bones, it is not something I would recommend. Some dogs can struggle to break down the bones, especially if they are a small breed or they eat a large portion.
We sometimes see fragments or chips of undigested bone in a dog’s stool – these can appear as white specks that feel both hard and sharp. While these fragments have been passed and pose no danger to the dog, they are a sign that your dog may not be coping well with eating the bones.
Given the potential risks of tooth fractures, choking, gut obstruction, constipation and gut perforations, it may be worth re-thinking bone feeding.
Worms are parasites which can live inside your dog’s digestive tract. While some parasites are microscopic, others like Tapeworm and Roundworm can be visible in dog poop, often as moving white specks.
Roundworms are long, thick and look like pale spaghetti. These intestinal parasites live in your dog’s digestive tract, laying eggs and damaging your dog’s intestinal wall.
Tapeworms have segmented bodies; these segments can sometimes be seen on the fur around our dog’s anus, or sometimes in their stool. A tapeworm infection can be present without necessarily causing any other symptoms other than white specks in dog poop.
Worms occur frequently in mammals and if not treated, the adult worms lay eggs in your dog’s intestines. The good news is that they are usually easily treated. This will mean giving a de-wormer, which can be issued by your vet. In general, we advise keeping dogs regularly de-wormed, to avoid them getting parasites at all.
It’s also important to note that the amount of white specks in dog poop can increase shortly after giving worming treatment as the dead worms are passed out into your dog’s feces.
Top Tip: If your dog has Tapeworm, the culprit is usually fleas, as the dog ingests the worm egg when they eat an infected flea. Pets with tapeworm should always be treated for fleas too.
Though uncommon, there are certain medications which can affect the stool and cause it to change colour. A good example of this is barium. Barium is a contrast agent which is used by vets when we take images of a pet’s gastrointestinal system.
After a dog eats this dye, the owner can expect to see white splotches and specks in the dog’s stool for the few days. This is of no concern and no treatment is needed.
Sometimes, dogs eat things they shouldn’t. This is especially common in younger pups and in more food-driven breeds such as Labradors and Beagles. These objects can cause blockages, though they may also be vomited up or passed in stool.
If your cheeky pooch has managed to eat something like paper or white plastic, you may find some white specks in their stool. If your dog is otherwise well and you feel they have passed everything they ate, chalk this one up as a lesson learned.
However, if your dog is unwell and has other signs such as vomiting, bloating, food refusal, lethargy or weight loss, this is a red flag. We’d worry that the foreign object has not been fully passed and there is a gut obstruction. Contact your vet right away, in case your dog may need a surgery to remove the offending blockage.
If a poop has been left sitting out, especially when the weather is warm, flies can come along and lay eggs in your dog’s stool. These eggs can soon hatch and we will then see maggots (larvae). These are small, white ‘grubs’ with segmented bodies.
Thankfully, we know that these maggots did not come from inside your dog and are not a sign of them being poorly. To prevent this from happening in future, always clean up your dog’s poop promptly.
Moving or Non-Moving White Specks In Dog Poop
One way to try and identify what’s causing white specks in your dog’s poop is to see if they are moving or not.
There could be a few possible explanations for non-moving white particles in your dog’s poop, including undigested food remnants, such as rice or bone fragments or the presence of undigested pills or medication.
If the white specks are moving however, this is more likely to indicate a parasitic infection or the presence of fly larvae in your dog’s poop.
When should I worry about white specks in my dog’s poop?
If you’ve found some white specks, think back on what your dog has recently eaten and if there is a risk that they may have chowed down on something they should not have. It’s also a good idea to double check your dog is up to date with a broad acting wormer.
There are certain signs that may occur alongside finding these white specks, that should have an owner on alert. If your dog is displaying symptoms of a GI upset (like vomiting, diarrhoea, bloating, bloody stool or food refusal), this tells us there is an issue with how they are digesting food and we’d want to have them checked over by their vet.
What If There Are Still White Spots In Dog Poop After Deworming?
Many owners panic about white specks in dog poop shortly after they have treated their pet with dewormer. But often this actually means that the wormer has done it’s job – you are seeming the dead worms being expelled from your dog’s body. These tiny white specks can be present for a couple of days after treatment.
However, remember that worms are just one of the potential causes of there being white specks in poop. If you’ve wormed your dog and you are still seeing these specks, there is likely another cause.
Finding a few white specks as a one off in a dog who is otherwise well is of no major concern. However, if the signs are continuing, it is best to have your dog checked over at your local clinic.
What does dog poop look like with parasites?
Whipworms appear as tiny threads with one side being extended. Roundworms resemble spaghetti and can grow to many inches. Tapeworms are seldom seen in dog poo, however tapeworm eggs are more commonly found in dog poop and appear as small white seeds or specks.
Why does my puppy have white spots in his poop?
The most common reasons for finding white specks in your puppy’s poop are intestinal parasites (such as tapeworm, roundworm or whipworm), dietary indiscretion or eating too much bone.
What does white specks in dog poop mean?
Finding white specks in your dog’s poop can indicate a few different things including worm infections, foreign body ingestion, excessive bone consumption and food malabsorption to name a few.