- Not a substitute for professional veterinary help.
As a dog parent, I spend a fair amount of time looking at and picking up my best pal’s poop. I know when Rudy has eaten something that didn’t agree with her and when she had an especially large meal earlier in the day. Poop pickup is just a fact of life, but what happens when your dog isn’t giving you much to pick up? Is there a problem if your pup isn’t pooping?
Most dogs poop every day, and many poop more often, Dr. Catherine Ashe DMV explains. Frequency of bowel movements varies from dog to dog–some just poop more often than others. Some pups poop after each meal, and the frequency is based on the number of meals a dog has in a day.
If your dog skips a day occasionally, it’s not cause for concern, especially if the poop looks normal. After 48-72 hours without a bowel movement, however, it’s time to call your vet, writes Dr. Ernest Ward DMV. It could the the sign of a serious health condition.
First, think through the issue. Does your dog have enough time to poop on your walks? Have you made any changes to her diet? Has she had enough water to stay well hydrated, especially in hot weather?
Next, take a look at your dog’s rear end. If there is matted hair covering her rectum, she might not be able to poop. A mat of hair and fecal matter, called a fecalith, is more common in long haired dogs, and acts as a brick wall to the passage of poop. If your dog has a fecalith, you can try removing it by gently trimming the mat using scissors and gloves.
Once you determine that your dog is well hydrated, accustomed to the food she’s eating, and has a clear exit path with no blockage, your vet might recommend boosting your dog’s dietary fiber by adding some canned pumpkin (1-2 tablespoons/day) or a laxative like Metamucil to his diet.
If your dog is eating regularly but isn’t pooping every day, check for more symptoms. Your dog might be straining to poop, having discomfort with bowel movements, passing mucus, or passing ribbon-like soft feces (a sign of colon blockage). If so, it’s time to call your vet. Make a note of each of the symptoms you see, and maybe even a photo of his pooping posture and (if you can stomach it) the poop itself to show your vet.
If your dog has been having a hard time pooping for several days, there could be a buildup of dry fecal matter in his colon. He might need help from a veterinarian to remove the backup. A vet can do this with enemas, suppositories, medications or manual removal. Please don’t try these remedies at home! Serious injury (and a very irritated dog) can result.
Dogs can go 24 hours without pooping once in awhile, but most dogs poop 2-4 times per day. I had a long chat about my dog’s poop frequency with my vet once. Most beagles are known to be food hounds, but my beagle mix Marzipan would only eat every other day, and she pooped only on the days she ate. My vet said that was fine as long as the poops looked normal.
Constipation can be a sign of dehydration, that your dog’s digestion is off balance, or it can be a symptom of an underlying medical condition. There are many problems that can keep a dog from pooping.
Causes related to daily activity & behavior
- Eating indigestible material or very dry material such as pork bones, rocks, or soil
- Sudden change in diet or ingestion of new foods
- Drugs that cause constipation (such as antihistamines, diuretics, narcotic pain relievers, and sucralfate)
- Fear, anxiety, and other behavioral conditions that alter passage of normal bowel movements
- Inadequate exercise and physical activity
Causes related to underlying medical conditions
- Foreign bodies or intestinal obstruction, including hair balls
- Arthritis pain that makes “assuming the posture” difficult
- Pelvic injuries or abnormalities
- Neurological disease leading to weakness
- Diseases of the colon, such as megacolon (enlarged colon)
- Hormonal diseases (hypothyroidism, hyperparathyroidism)
- Tumors or masses in the colon or rectum
- Feeding your dog a well-balanced diet that suits her lifestyle is essential, whether she’s a small dog, a senior, has a sensitive tummy, or is a picky eater.
- If your dog tends to get constipated, talk with your vet about adding fiber to her diet by adding some vegetables or using a high fiber dog food.
- Make sure that your dog stays well hydrated by providing lots of fresh water and even adding canned food or broth to her meals.
- Get your dog checked regularly (every 6-12 months) for worms, and follow your vet’s recommendations for preventative deworming medications.