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Why is my dog’s poop light brown?

It’s no one’s favorite aspect of pet ownership. As our dog’s guardians, we are responsible for their health. This means we need to monitor their poop.

Your dog’s poop can tell you a lot about their health, and reveal potential health issues. Consistency, frequency, and color are all important observations. 

What does your dog’s light brown poop mean? It is usually a sign of normal poop. However, other colors can indicate a problem. 

Why is my dog’s poop light brown?

Dog poop should be brown. Generally, all shades of brown are ok. Dark brown, or chocolate colored poop, and light brown are both acceptable shades. 

If the poop is light tan, gray, or yellow in color, this indicates a problem. Light brown poop does not.  

Creatures of Habit 

First, it’s important to understand what is normal for your dog. If their poop is typically dark brown, and it’s suddenly light brown, this bears monitoring. 

Changes in the frequency or consistency of their poop are also issues that you should keep an eye on. In many cases, it’s simply caused by a change in diet, or even their age. 

However, if it’s accompanied by signs of illness or behavioral changes, there may be a bigger issue at play. 

Change In Poop Color

If your pooch’s poop has recently changed color, it’s natural to wonder why. Poop color is determined by a number of factors. These include your dog’s diet, their gut microbiome, and how their digestive system is functioning. 

If your pooch’s poop is otherwise healthy, look to their diet. Did they change dog food? Are they eating a new food? Even dog treats can change the color of your dog’s poop. 

As long as its still brown, these changes are nothing to worry about. 

Grey Poop

If the poop is very pale in color or a light tan, it can fall into the gray poop category. This can be caused by a few issues. It’s most commonly caused by issues with the pancreas, gallbladder, or liver. 

The gallbladder and liver work together to produce and release bile, which allows your dog to break down food. As the bile does its job and is absorbed by the intestines, it turns their poop brown. 

If bile isn’t present, or isn’t functioning properly, this can cause your pooch’s poop to be very light. 

EPI, or Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency, can also cause a gray or light tan poop. In this case, the pancreas isn’t producing enough digestive enzymes. 

This prevents the proper break down of food. Your dog won’t get enough nutrition from their food, because it isn’t fully broken down and absorbed. EPI can be treated by your vet. 

Yellow or Tan Poop 

Yellow poop is also a concern. This is often simply an upset stomach. This can occur due to changes in diet, or a stomach virus or bacteria. 

Yellow or tan poop can also indicate bile issues. These can be caused by problems with the liver or gallbladder. 

It can also be caused by pancreatitis. Pancreatitis is swelling of the pancreas. The pancreas will activate its digestive enzymes in your dog’s body, causing damage to the pancreas and surrounding organs. This is very painful, and typically causes fever, vomiting, and diarrhea. 

Irritable bowel syndrome and parasites are other potential causes. 

Is light brown dog poop healthy?

If the poop is just light brown, it’s probably fine. If the color has changed from their normal color, it doesn’t hurt to call your vet. If you notice issues with the consistency, frequency, or coating of the poop, this also warrants a call to your vet. 

What does unhealthy dog poop look like?

There are many types of unhealthy dog poop. They can be broken down into the “4 C’s”. These are color, consistency, content, and coating. Unhealthy dog poop can be abnormal in one or more of these areas. 

Concerning Colors

We’ve already looked at yellow and gray poop, but there are other concerning poop colors as well. 

Orange poop is concerning. It can be caused by problems in the liver, gallbladder, or bile ducts. If your pooch has orange poop, you’ll want to get them checked out by the vet. 

The exception to this is if your dog has been eating orange food. If they’ve recently chowed down on carrots or pumpkins, this is probably why their poop is orange. 

Purple or pink poop is rare, and requires prompt veterinary care. HGE, or  hemorrhagic gastroenteritis, indicates a serious problem. It can be caused by intestinal parasites, immune system disorders, and eating a toxic substance.

Green poop can also indicate an issue. Like orange poop, it can be caused by diet. If your pooch loves to munch on grass, an occasional green poop is probably fine. 

However, green poop can be caused by parasites or eating something toxic, like rat poison. 

Black or Bloody Poop

Black poop can indicate internal bleeding, typically in the stomach or small intestine. This requires immediate veterinary care. The poop will typically have a tarry consistency, along with the black color. It can also look like coffee grounds.

Why black instead of red? The blood in the poop is essentially digested, along with food waste. This causes it to turn black instead of red. 

If the poop has spots of blood in it, this typically indicates bleeding further down the digestive tract. It can also be caused by anal fissure, which coats the poop in blood on its way out of the body. 

Black or bloody poop can have a wide variety of causes. Less concerning causes include ulcers and irritable bowel disease. More concerning causes include cancer, infection, ingesting poison or toxins, and foreign bodies. 


The consistency of your dog’s poop also tells you a lot about their health. Healthy poop should be play dough consistency. It will be firm enough to be solid, but not hard. 

If your dog’s poop is hard, this can indicate constipation. Other symptoms of constipation include a reduction in the frequency of bowel movements, pain while pooping, or straining to poop. 

Constipation can be caused by your dog’s diet, dehydration, or a blockage. In some cases, there’s no apparent reason for the issue. 

If it’s soft serve consistency or liquid, this indicates diarrhea. Other symptoms of diarrhea include pooping more often than normal. They may also have other gastrointestinal symptoms, like vomiting. 

 Diarrhea can have a number of causes. These include stomach bacteria or viruses, parasites, food poisoning, eating something they shouldn’t, or simply a change in their diet. 


When it comes to content, problems can’t always be seen by the naked eye. If you notice white spots or worms in your dog’s poop, these indicate intestinal parasites. 

You may also notice fur in your dog’s poop. This can indicate allergies, skin problems, or anxiety that leads your dog to overgroom. 

Some dogs have pica,which causes them to eat nonfood items. If you notice rocks, plastic, or other foreign objects in your pooch’s poop, this indicates a problem. 

However, other issues with the content of your pooch’s poop are only visible under a microscope. Intestinal parasites can’t always be seen with the naked eye, either. 

If there are other signs your dog’s poop is unhealthy, your vet will likely request a stool sample to check the content of their poop. 


Healthy dog poop will have little to no coating. A small amount of mucus coating the poop is considered normal. However, if your dog’s poop looks like someone blew their nose on it, this isn’t healthy. 

When your dog’s digestive system functions normally, their large intestines will coat the poop with mucus. This lubricates it so it can move through the intestines. 

However, there shouldn’t be a large amount of mucus. This typically indicates colitis, or large bowel inflammation. This can be caused by IBS, infection, parasites, stress, or heavy exercise. 

Other signs of colitis include loose stools, urgency, increased frequency, and straining while pooping. 

Consider All Factors 

When determining if your dog’s poop is healthy, or how concerned you should be, it’s important to consider all factors. If your dog has off-color poop, but it’s otherwise healthy, it may simply be something in their diet causing the color change. 

However, if there are changes in more than one area, this is more concerning. If your pooch has diarrhea and green poop, for example, this is more concerning than green poop alone. 

You should also keep an eye out for other symptoms. Many conditions can cause stomach pain, vomiting, fever, or lethargy along with changes to your dog’s poop. 

If your pooch seems unwell along with poop changes, get them to the vet immediately.