<img height="1" width="1" style="display:none" src="https://www.facebook.com/tr?id=1289632567801214&amp;ev=PageView&amp;noscript=1">
New call-to-action

How to Figure Out Which Dog is Having Diarrhea or Pooping in Your House

This page may contain affiliate links, for which we earn a commission for qualifying purchases. This is at no cost to you, but it helps fund the free education that we have on our website. Read more here.


Whose poop is this anyway...

If you've got more than one dog (or cat) at home, odds are good that you've been faced with the "whose poop is this?" question at some point. Right? Whether you're needing to know because someone is having diarrhea, or because one of them is pooping on your carpets, figuring out which pet is having "bowel problems" is always the first step to figuring out why.

Fortunately there's a quick and easy trick to help you figure out whose is whose, and it involves something that you likely have in your home right now (or can very easily, and inexpensively, grab at the store)... crayons!

How to feed your dogs crayons (this trick can be used with cats, too)

Using a vegetable peeler, make small shavings of different colored crayons —a different color for each pet. Mix a small PV-dog-poo-crayons-tip.jpgamount of these shavings (about 1/8 tsp) into a small amount of wet food for each pet. Then separate your pets while they each eat their "colorful little snack” (watch to ensure that nobody is eating another's color-this will mess up your experiment). Then just keep an eye out for abnormal poops, the color of crayon in the poop will tell you whose it is!

INSET PHOTO: This "funfetti"-like poop wasn't the result of someone getting this tip horribly wrong. It was actually the, rather colorful, "end result" of a dog that got into a whole box of crayons! The dog was fine, and the family was in no danger of accidentally stepping on this bomb in the yard!

So, crayons are actually just one of the safe, easy, and not-too-messy ways to help you determine which of your dogs is having diarrhea or pooping in your home. If you prefer, you can also use a small amount (5-10 drops, depending on your dog's size) of concentrated gel paste food colorings (sometimes called "icing colors"). Just be aware that if you use these concentrated food colorings, they may stain your carpets! Alternatively, you can also use a small amount (about 1/8-1/4 tsp, depending on your dog's size) of regular, everyday glitter (VIDEO: the Saint Louis Zoo uses glitter!).

One important note should you elect to use the gel paste food colorings... at this time we aren't aware of any brands that contain the sweetener xylitol, but they could be out there, or could come on the market. Be sure to always read the label before using any gel food colorings for this trick with your pets. If you find gel paste that contains xylitol, please let us know and we'll add it to this list of over 700 products that contain xylitol. (In case you weren't aware... xylitol is VERY dangerous to dogs!)

Regardless of whether you use crayon shavings, gel food colorings, or glitter, you may have to do this for a few meals or a couple of days—depending on how frequently your pets "go" and how closely you're monitoring their stools. But these are all safe, sure-fire ways to help you figure out the "who," so that you can then focus on the "why."

Why your pet may be having 'bowel problems' or defecating where they're not supposed to

There are many reasons why a dog may be having diarrhea, or why they may be pooping on your floors.

Diarrhea can result from:
  • Dietary indescretion (i.e., eating, or being fed, things they shouldn't)
  • Infectious causes (e.g., viral, bacterial, worms, and others)
  • Hormonal conditions (e.g., hyperthyroidism, Addison's disease, and others)
  • Inflammatory reasons (e.g., inflammatory bowel disease, pancreatitis)
  • And a host of other reasons
Defecating in the wrong place can also have a variety of causes, including:

Your vet truly is your best resource for working through the potential causes of your pet's diarrhea and/or inappropriate defecation. Don't make the (often incorrect) assumption that your pet is "doing it out of spite" or that it'll "pass"—doing so may just be prolonging your pet's discomfort.

Please note: Unless otherwise stated, products, services, and/or companies mentioned, or links to same, are for illustration purposes only and their inclusion does not constitute an endorsement from Preventive Vet. Additionally, we are NOT compensated if you choose to buy what we feature.

Topics: Dog Health, Dog, Blog, Crayon Shavings, Arthritis in dogs, Diarrhea, Multi-dog household, Bowel issues

Photo Credit: Preventive Vet

Please do not ask emergency or other specific medical questions about your pets in the blog comments. As an online informational resource, Preventive Vet is unable to and does not provide specific medical advice or counseling. A thorough physical exam, patient history, and an established veterinary-patient-client relationship is required to provide specific medical advice. If you are worried that your pet is having an emergency or if you have specific medical questions related to your pet’s current or chronic medical conditions, please contact or visit your veterinarian, an animal-specific poison control hotline, or your local emergency veterinary care center.

Please share your experiences and stories, your opinions and feedback about this blog, or what you've learned that you'd like to share with others.