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dog parent must-knows

White specks in dog poop: Here’s what to do

We know it’s not fun to talk about your dog’s poop, but it is a good indicator of their health. Here’s what you need to know when the scoop doesn’t look quite right.

Updated September 25, 2020

Created By

Victoria Lancaster,
dog pooping

📸 by Ryan Mandelbaum

The essentials

  • Don’t be immediately alarmed — White specks can be harmless.
  • Check the specks for movement— It’s important to take a close look at the stool for more than a few seconds.
  • Not all worms are created equal — Your vet should determine what kind of infestation the dog has.
  • Puppy or adult — It’s important to take into account your dog’s age when considering diagnoses and what to do.

What exactly are white specks?

White specks are exactly what they sound like: tiny white dots in a dog’s stool. Don’t panic, they’re not always a cause for alarm and they are common. That doesn’t mean they should be ignored.

How to identify flecks and when should they be cause for concern

You’re going to have to get up close and personal. The main thing to look out for is whether or not the white specks move. Take a look at the poop with a naked eye for several seconds. If they’re static, it might not be cause for concern. If they’re moving, it’s a different story and your dog might have an infection. Remember to look closely, sometimes the specks can appear motionless before a sudden twitch.

White specks can have a variety of causes

  • Undigested food. Your dog may have traces of bones in their stool. This means you might need to check on the quality of your pet’s food and treats.
  • Fly larvae. Has the poop been laying around the yard for a while? If so, the white specks could be maggot eggs.
  • Worms and other infections. This is the one that should cause alarm. Worms are an infestation of a dog’s intestines that can cause other underlying health issues.

Types of worms found in poop: Tapeworm, roundworm & more

Worms aren’t as cut and dry as one might think and can display symptoms other than white specks.

Tapeworm: Tapeworms feed off a dog’s intestines, sometimes laying their own eggs in the lining of their innards. These types of worms often come from eating fleas. You may notice the little sesame seed-like specks on your dog’s behind. Another sign to watch out for is if your dog scoots their butt against the floor or licks their private region more often.

Roundworm: These are mainly caused by when your dog eats another animal’s feces or spoiled soil. They look like long strands of string. The telltale signs of this type of worm are vomiting and irregular bowel movements.

Hookworm: This parasite can be brought on like roundworms. They’re particularly harmful and feed off a dog’s blood. They can penetrate an animal through the skin, so don’t let your dog go lying around in another animal’s poo.

Some worms can’t be seen by the naked eye

The following worms don’t actually appear in a dog’s fecal stool but are instead detected using a blood test. For these, it’s more important that you look out for changes in your dog’s activity or other physical symptoms so you know when to take them to the vet.

Whipworm: If your dog exhibits vomiting, weight loss, or gas they could have this type of infestation.

Heartworm: Mosquitoes cause heartworms which affect the heart, lungs, and blood vessels. An early symptom of heartworm may be a cough but this is not always the case.

Some treatments can be done at home

If undigested food is the issue, the best solution is to make small adjustments to your dog’s diet. It is normal for poop to come in different shapes and sizes depending upon whether your dog is on a dry kibble or raw diet (we don’t recommend raw diets). When eyeing your dog’s food, look out for more meat than bone, though AAFCO approved foods won’t contain whole bone but rather bone meal. This is a good thing because it won’t contain any of the extra bad stuff.

👉 Bones can irritate the GI tract and pose a choking hazard as well as causing bacterial infections.

If maggots are laying eggs in your dog’s leftover poop, the simple fix is cleaning up the poop right after your dog does the deed. That way, there won’t be much time for the feces to decompose and attract maggots.

More serious infections require help from the vet

👉 In the case that your dog does have an intestinal infection, they will need a deworming treatment. 

While some people try to tackle this problem DIY, we strongly encourage going to the vet who can identify exactly what worm is causing your pet’s infection. If you can, bring along a stool sample.

When your vet carries out their assessment, they will identify a diagnosis and prescribe the correct treatment. Depending on the parasite, some treatments are easier and less costly, while others are expensive and do not guarantee a complete cure. Treatments (such as a dewormer) might be administered orally and over a couple of days or by injection.

When puppies are under three months old, it is protocol for them to get a worming treatment every two weeks. After that and up until they’re six months old, deworming should proceed once a month. Puppies are more prone to worms before they’ve completed all their treatment. Sometimes, they can even contract parasites like roundworms at birth. If you notice white dots in their poop it’s better to get them to the vet sooner rather than later. While older pups require less treatment, they should still be checked out regularly.

Practice worm prevention at home

Any type of worm can cause a lot of discomfort for your pup. That being said, there are a couple of preventative steps dog owners can take to fight worms. Watch your dog while they roam outside to be sure they don’t nibble on any animals. If you can’t spectate all the time, just make sure the area they hang out in is free from ticks, lice, and rodents.

👉  A flea-free environment, routine testing, and good hygiene are crucial for worm prevention.

Why poop is your friend

Long story short, dog poop is important. Stools can tell you a lot about your dog’s health. It’s smart to familiarize yourself with their feces so that you know what a normal stool looks like. If white specks do come up and you’re not quite sure if they’re worms, it’s always best to check with your vet.