Orange Stool in a Dog: When Everything that Could Go Wrong Does—Sunny’s Orange Stools

When my friend’s puppy’s stool turned an orange color, she was concerned. The last time the pup was at the vet was just a few days before, and everything looked good. What happened?

Stools are supposed to be shades of brown.

Orange Stool in a Dog: When Everything that Could Go Wrong Does—Sunny's Orange Stools

I do stick to my rule “one bad poop, no bad poop,” but more than one orange stool does get me to investigate.

What can cause an orange stool?

It is, of course, possible for a dog to have orange stools if they eat a lot of pumpkin, carrots, or a box of orange crayons. Pumpkin or carrot stools should be generally normal consistency. Crayons may or may not cause an upset and diarrhea.

Coronavirus infection too can cause yellow-green or orange diarrhea. Coronavirus in itself is often self-limiting but can be dangerous if combined with a secondary infection whether bacterial or parvovirus. Severe complications can result in death.

An orange stool can also indicate bile duct or liver problems, or destruction of red blood cells such as with immune-mediated hemolytic anemia.

Particularly with the presence of other concerning signs such as vomiting, lethargy, loss of appetite … I’d be on my way to a vet.

Sunny did not get any pumpkin or carrots, and no crayons were missing.

Sunny’s stools continued being orange, and he started to look “worn down.” My friend made an appointment to have Sunny checked at a vet clinic where they diagnosed him with liver disease.

Chronic hepatitis was the verdict.

The working hypothesis was the problem was likely caused by an infection. After a day on I.V. Sunny was put on a prescription diet, and put on steroids. By now Sunny was jaundiced too.

When Sunny’s test results came back, they showed blood in his urine too. I know when Jasmine’s liver got trashed, her pee was brown too.

Diagnosis updated to hepatitis infection, present or past.

They were going to run more tests and take x-rays, ultrasound and liver biopsy. Further labs showed some conflicting results, including no signs of an infection. X-rays didn’t reveal anything.

A few hours later Sunny crashed, and they couldn’t bring him back.

What on earth happened?

My friend agreed to a necropsy. Sunny died of zinc poisoning. When they opened up his stomach, they found some bolts. Bolts that didn’t show up on x-rays.

How did Sunny manage to find and eat that isn’t half as puzzling as them not showing on the imaging. The last update I heard from my friend was that they are looking at the possibility the technician x-rayed a wrong dog.

I have no idea what to add to that. RIP Sunny.

Related articles:
What’s in the Poop?

Further reading:
What Does Dog Poop Color Mean?

Categories: ConditionsHepatitisOrange poopReal-life Stories

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Jana Rade

I am a graphic designer, dog health advocate, writer, and author. Jasmine, the Rottweiler of my life, was the largest female from her litter. We thought we were getting a healthy dog. Getting a puppy from a backyard breeder was our first mistake. Countless veterinary visits without a diagnosis or useful treatment later, I realized that I had to take Jasmine's health care in my own hands. I learned the hard way that merely seeing a vet is not always enough. There is more to finding a good vet than finding the closest clinic down the street. And, sadly, there is more to advocating for your dog's health than visiting a veterinarian. It should be enough, but it often is not. With Jasmine, it took five years to get a diagnosis. Unfortunately, other problems had snowballed for that in the meantime. Jasmine's health challenges became a crash course in understanding dog health issues and how to go about getting a proper diagnosis and treatment. I had to learn, and I had to learn fast. Helping others through my challenges and experience has become my mission and Jasmine's legacy. I now try to help people how to recognize and understand signs of illness in their dogs, how to work with their veterinarian, and when to seek a second opinion. My goal is to save others the steep curve of having to learn things the hard way as I did. That is the mission behind my blog and behind my writing. That is why I wrote Symptoms to Watch for in Your Dog, which has turned out being an award-winning guide to dog owners. What I'm trying to share encompasses 20 years of experience.

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