We don’t often pay enough attention to our dog’s pooping habits, but we should. Knowing how often your dog normally poops can really clue you in to certain health issues before they become a big deal.
How long can your dog go without pooping? How do you know if he's feeling constipated? It's not like your dog speaks English, but it does leave you some subtle clues in their behavior.
In this post, we'll look at how long your dog can go without pooping and what to do if he's constipated.
Is it Normal for a Dog to Not Poop for a Day?
Several factors influence your dog's bowel movements. It's normal for your dogs to do their "business" anywhere from one to five times a day.
Dogs eating healthy diets and that have regular digestion will typically poop in the early morning and sometimes in the evening.
Some of the factors affecting your dog's pooping frequency include the following.
- How many times you feed your dog during the day – the more feeding sessions, the higher the pooping frequency.
- The amount of food your dog eats.
- The kind of food-more fillers equals more waste.
- The age of your dog – puppies poop more than adults and seniors.
- Your dog's fiber intake.
- Your dog's overall health and use of medications.
Dogs are creatures of habit, and they like to do their business in one area of the yard and at around the same times each day. If you notice there's nothing to collect for a day or two, it could be a sign of constipation in your pooch.
When Should I Be Concerned About My Dog Not Pooping?
Dogs can normally go 12-24 hours without pooping. If nothing shows up after that 48-hour mark, it’s time to suspect constipation.
Also, any straining, crying, or whining can be signs that they are having difficulty. Speak to your vet if you notice any of these signs of constipation.
Reasons Why Your Dog Is Having Trouble Pooping
Here are a few reasons why your dog is experiencing constipation.
1. Underlying Health Issues
Anything that affects the transit time of feces can lead to constipation. This can include digestive inflammation, decreased intestinal motility, foreign objects, or arthritis in the hips or back.
The longer feces stays in the colon, the more water can be removed, resulting in dry, hard feces that is hard to pass.
2. Complete or Partial Obstruction of the Colon
Your dog might experience a partial or complete blockage of the colon, causing constipation. There are several reasons this problem occurs, including health problems like tumors and enlarged anal glands.
Some dogs and puppies like to chew on everything they can find. Swallowing foreign objects and fibers also causes problems in the digestive tract.
Avoid giving your dog any rope chew toys with frayed ends as they may swallow the individual fibers, causing digestive issues like intestinal blockages.
Matted hair around the anus can also block fecal passage. If your pup has longer hair, make sure they are properly groomed or clipped to prevent this from happening.
3. Hypothyroidism and Hypercalcaemia
If your furry friend is dealing with a thyroid issue, it results in metabolic changes that might increase the chances of constipation.
Less commonly, if your dog is dealing with the effects of too much calcium in their blood, it may cause digestive disorders and blockages.
When your dog is experiencing dehydration, the body absorbs more moisture from feces in the colon. As a result, the poop hardens in the colon, resulting in feces that are difficult to pass.
The effects of dehydration are severe. Your dog might experience other health complications associated with mineral imbalances from dehydration.
5. Infected Anal Glands
If your dog is dealing with an infection in the anal glands, it might cause constipation. Infected glands protrude from the lining just inside the anus. The condition might cause the glands to enlarge, and exude a foul smell.
Infected anal glands are painful for your dog, causing inflammation around the anus. Constipation is one of the more common complications of this disorder due to a partial or complete blockage of the rectum.
Look out for the following signs for a dog with an anal gland problem:
- Scooting rear end along the floor
- Straining to defecate
- Blood visible around a dog's anus and/or in stool
- Persistent licking of the afflicted area.
Infected anal glands will need to be treated by a veterinarian.
6. Change in Diet
Changing foods can cause constipation in your dog. Changing your dog's food disrupts the gut biome's health, and your dog might experience bouts of diarrhea or constipation.
Mix ¼ of new food with ¾ old food for a few days, then move onto half and half, then ¾ new with ¼ old. This process should take 7-10 days to completely change over to a new diet.
How Can I Stimulate My Dog to Poop?
If your dog feels constipated, it's best to take them to the vet for a check-up. However, with mild constipation, your vet might have you take them home and try a few remedies to see if they can overcome the condition without further invasive treatment.
Depending on the cause of constipation in your dog, your vet might recommend one of the following home treatments.
- Laxatives and stool softening agents
- Increase your dog's fiber intake with foods like canned pumpkin or bran
- Add a fiber supplement like Metamucil (sold under the generic name Psyllium) to their diet. Be sure to select one that does not have artificial sugar because some are toxic to dogs. And of course, make sure to consult with your veterinarian first.
- Increase exercise
- Increase water consumption
How Do Vets Treat Constipation?
If those home treatments don't get your dog pooping, the vet might have to conduct an enema to prevent the severe effects on constipation from affecting the colon.
If the enema is not successful, your vet might need to perform emergency surgery on your dog to remove the hardened feces from the colon.
Some dogs experience a twisting of the intestines or colon, causing constipation. If that's the case, the surgeon will need to remove the affected section to resolve the issue. Tumors can also be a problem, and the vet will need to remove them and send them for biopsy to check for cancer.
If your dog is constipated because of dehydration, increase water consumption by providing them with plenty of fresh, clean water. You can even add a little sodium-chicken broth to entice drinking.
If your poor pooch is suffering from the effects of severe dehydration, they'll require a trip to the vet's office. Your vet may administer fluids to help rehydrate and replenish lost electrolytes.
If infected anal glands cause constipation, your vet will express them to resolve the problem. The vet may need to perform minor external surgery on the sacs to drain them. After the procedure, the vet may prescribe antibiotics to stop the infection and anti-inflammatories to make your pup more comfortable.
If your vet suspects the dog food brand to be the problem, they may recommend foods more suitable for your dog. There are dozens of different dog food formulations available from dozens of brands.
Your vet will make recommendations on the foods they feel offer your dog the best nutritional value. Good food produces less waste and features formulation to improve digestion in dogs prone to developing digestive issues.
If your dog experiences frequent bouts of constipation, your vet may recommend drug therapy to strengthen the large intestine, improving its contractive capacity.
When To See a Vet
If your dog remains constipated for more than a day, it's time to act. Leaving it any longer could result in disaster for your poor pet.
If you don't take your dog to the vet for medical attention, you run the risk of the colon stretching. As the condition progresses, your dog develops a disorder known as "megacolon," where the organ loses most of its muscular function. As a result, a dog may become incontinent or have other lasting effects.
Next Read: How To Remove Dog Poop Stains From Carpet