Dog Waste Station

“I can tell you all about my dog’s poop. Ask me.”

My sister has this friend who deserves a shout-out. His name is Chris Clarke and he lives in Stinson Beach, Calif. And he has a curious problem: Chris is obsessed with his dog’s stool.

He can tell you everything you never wanted to know about his dog’s daily production: The color, quantity, consistency, shape, aroma, location of choice, style of “delivery” and every other quality no other human being (other than Chris, of course) would ever want to hear about any turd.

My sister is so taken with Chris’ oddball interest that she’s pledged to make him a T-shirt that reads, “I can tell you all about my dog’s poop. Ask me.”

I detail this one man’s rich scatological experience not just to expose his somewhat disgusting habit, but also to point out, as I did to my sister after hearing this story, that plenty of pet owners are somewhat overly fixated on their pets’ poop.

I know this not because I share the same penchant for poop-watching, mind you. Rather, I’ve come to realize that a significant percentage of my clients place excessive stock in their pets’ excrement. At the first sign of a “one of these stools is not like the others” moment, they’re likely to be on the phone, detailing its qualities.

I have only one thing to say: Get a life!

OK, that was perhaps overly harsh. After all, poop patrol is one of the few ways non-medically trained pet owners can directly keep tabs on their pets’ health. For owners who have a tendency to worry about their pets’ wellness, it makes sense that they would pay close attention to this one thing.

Apparently, major pet food companies understand this psychology. They know how important the appearance of stool can be to the average pet owner, which I came to learn last year when I toured the Waltham Center (they make Royal Canin, among other products) in rural England.

At this research facility, a few hundred dogs and cats are housed in luxe accommodations, fed a variety of pet food formulations and evaluated frequently to note the effects of these diets on everything from coat quality to dental calculus — and stool quality, of course. In fact, of all the issues assessed, among the most heavily weighted involve fecal matter. A scoring system has been developed to ensure perfect poops.

It seems pet owners care that much about their pets’ excrement. Why else would they take their stool assessment so seriously?

From this veterinarian’s point of view, it doesn’t much matter whether there’s some sporadic (even regular) variation in fecal quality. As long as the animal is thriving and gloriously healthy, why stress over a little soft-serve every now and again?

Not that I'm likely to make any of my more ardent stool-stalkers feel any less motivated to record their pets’ bathroom antics. But I guess there are worse habits, right? At least this one’s potentially helpful.

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