Yellow diarrhea in dogs is something that may alarm dog owners considering that a normal dog’s poop color is considered to be brown. There are several possible causes that may trigger yellow stools in dogs, in some cases the episode may be just temporary due to something the dog ingested, but in other cases, the yellow diarrhea may be persistent and may require veterinary attention.
This is important considering that there are several conditions that require medications for treatment.
Yellow Stools in Dogs
In a healthy and happy dog, normal stool color is usually brown. The brown color is due to two substances that are produced by the liver, namely, bilirubin and bile.
Bilirubin is composed by dead red blood cells that have gotten old and tends to have an orange-brown hue. As the red blood cells die, the body recycles them and produces bilirubin.
Bile, one the other hand, is a yellowish-brown fluid that helps in the digestion of fats. It is produced by the liver, but it is stored in the gallbladder. When the dog ingests fats, the gallbladder squirts some bile into the intestinal tract to help break up the fat.
Somewhere along the dog’s intestinal tract bile and bilirubin combine. Just as when you mix paint together on a palette, the mixture of bilirubin and bile produces brown which is what gives poop its distinctive color.
So how do stools end up being yellow? There may be chances that there may be an absorption problem or some other type of problem interfering with the process of the stools obtaining their normal brown color. Several conditions such as digestive issues or liver, gall bladder, or pancreas disorders may cause yellow stools in dogs, as seen below.
Causes of Yellow Diarrhea in Dogs
The best way to determine what causes yellow diarrhea in dogs is to have the vet run several tests. A good place to start is by submitting a stool sample for a dog fecal test. A blood chemistry profile is helpful too as it can help pinpoint any problems with some internal organs.
At times, what the dog eats may cause oddly colored stools. For instance, dyes in dog food or treats can cause a temporary discoloration of the stool. Following is more detail on some potential causes of yellow stools in dogs.
Intestinal parasites may include worms, but also protozoans, which are microscopic single celled organisms.
Among worms, whipworms are known for causing yellowish stools in dogs. About 70 percent of the time, worm eggs can be detected by a stool sample test, but whipworms may not lay eggs very often. Worms can be eradicated by using the most appropriate dewormer suggested by the vet.
Among protozoans, a potential parasite affecting the dog’s digestive tract may be coccidia. These one-celled, protozoal organisms are known to cause soft, yellow stools, explains veterinarian Dr. Scarlett. Giardia, another troublesome protozoan parasite, may too cause yellowish-green stools in affected dogs.
A Problem with the Liver
As mentioned, bilirubin consists of old red blood cells (the breakdown of hemoglobin) that are produced by the liver. However, there may be instances when excess bilirubin is produced, a condition known as hyperbilirubinemia. Excess bilirubin production may be indicative of a problem with the liver.
When the liver is not working properly, bilirubin therefore fails to be converted into an excretable form and ends up accumulating in the body.
Conditions that cause damage such as tumors of the liver or of the bile ducts may lead to elevated bilirubin levels. Generally, in the case of liver problems, along with yellow stools, affected dogs will have other symptoms such as diarrhea, vomiting or weight loss.
A Digestive Disorder
In other words, if the dog’s bowels work too quickly causing diarrhea, the poop will show up as yellow or mustard color due to insufficient digestion and therefore decreased absorption of the substances responsible for causing brown color in the intestines.
The digestive disorder may be mild, possibly due to stress or some dietary indiscretion, in which case a short fasting period followed by a bland diet for dog’s diarrhea may help. In this case, the yellow color of the poop should go away once the condition is resolved, explains veterinarian Dr. Loretta.
Another disorder that may cause yellow diarrhea may include exocrine pancreatic insufficiency. In this condition, the diarrhea appears voluminous, greasy, soft and bad smelling with a pale yellow/gray color. Affected dogs will have frequent bouts, even up to 6 to 10 bowel movements per day, explains veterinarian Dr. Rebecca L. Remillard.
Irritable bowel syndrome can too cause yellowish diarrhea in dogs.
A Problem with the Gallbladder
Your dog’s gallbladder is a hollow structure found under the liver on the right side of the abdomen. It’s main role is to store and concentrate bile produced by the liver.
The presence of gallstones in the gallbladder can cause yellow stools because these may reduce the amount of bile that reaches the dog’s intestines. Gallbladder stones require surgery in order to be removed.
As seen, there are several causes of yellow diarrhea in dogs. If your dog has yellow diarrhea, please see your vet for proper diagnosis and treatment.