How Long Can a Dog Go Without Pooping?

When was the last time you felt constipated? It's a rather unpleasant experience, right? Fortunately, it's a rare occurrence in our lives, and most of us never even experience the issue.

Did you know your dog can experience constipation? That's right; it's not only a people problem. If your dog hasn't gone to the toilet in a few days, it's constipated and needs assistance.

How long can your dog go without pooping? How do you know it'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 it's constipated.

Is it Normal for a Dog to Not Poop for a Day?

A dog trying to defecate or poop outside in the park

Several factors influence your dog's bowel movements. It's normal for your dogs to do their "business" around one to five times a day. Dogs with health diets and digestive systems will take a 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
  • How much has your dog eaten in the last 24 to 48-hours?
  • What kinds of foods are your feeding your pooch?
  • The age of your dog – Puppies poop more than senior dogs
  • Your dog's fiber intake
  • Your dog's health and use of medications like opioids

Dogs are creatures of habit, and they like to do their business in one specific section of the yard. 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?

So, how do you know it's time to take your dog to the vet for medical help with its constipation? If you see your dog trying to poop, and it's crying or whining when trying to poop – it's a sign of constipation.

Reasons Why Your Dog Is Having Trouble Pooping

A sick and tired German Shepherd lying down on the ground

Here are a few reasons why your dog is experiencing constipation.

1. Underlying Health Issues

If your dog experiences constipation, they're probably dealing with an underlying health condition. Take your dog to the vet, and they'll examine it to find the source of the problem.

When dogs get constipated, it results in a packing of feces in the colon. The feces harden, and your dog has to try and pass dry poop – which is incredibly painful.

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 function.

As a result, the dog requires a colostomy bag, and some dogs might not fully recover from the effects of the disorder. 

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 impacted feces, causing blockages.

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.

Blocked colon results in severe health complications and your dog can get into trouble fast if you don't seek medical attention for it.

When the megacolon effect starts, it's impossible to reverse, and your dog may end up dying from the impact of the disorder.

3. Hypothyroidism and Hyperglacemia

These conditions are uncommon in dogs. However, if your furry friend is dealing with a thyroid issue, it results in metabolic changes that might cause the onset of constipation.

Similarly, if your dog is dealing with the effects of too much calcium in their blood, it may cause digestive disorders and blockages.

4. Dehydration

When your dog feels dehydrated and can't get a drink, it's body absorbs the moisture from feces in the colon. As a result, the pop calcifies in the colon, resulting in the effects of constipation.

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 its anal glands, it might cause constipation in the animal. Infected glands protrude from the skin around the anus. The condition might cause the glands to harden, producing a foul smell around the dog.

Infected anal glands are painful for your dog, causing massive amounts of inflammation around the pelvic region and then even in rupture of the sacs. Constipation is one of the more common complications of this disorder.

Look out for the following signs for a dog with an anal gland problem: 

  • Scooting rear end along the floor
  • Bad breath
  • Blood visible in a dog's anus and/or in stool
  • Persistent licking of the afflicted are only worsens the condition.

To stop and prevent further anal gland issues is to use a “cone of shame” or an inflatable collar, or a dog diaper to cover the area.

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.

If you're changing food brands, make sure you do it in stages. Mix half old food with half new food for a few days to give your dogs gut time to adjust to the change.

How Can I Stimulate My Dog to Poop?

A cute beagle puppy drinking fresh water from a large metal bowl outdoors

If your dog feels constipated, it's best to take them to the vet for a checkup. However, your dog might only have mild constipation, and the vet might tell you to take them home and try a few remedies to see if they can overcome the condition itself.

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 activity

If your dog experiences frequent bouts of constipation, your vet may recommend drug therapy to strengthen the large intestine, improving its contractive capacity.

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 an option, your vet might need to perform emergency surgery on your dog to remove the calcified feces from the colon before it's too late.

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 feels constipated because of dehydration, take them into the house and let them cool down. Make sure they have a large bowl of fresh water next to them. Don't give your dog cold water from the fridge – they don't like it, and they'll avoid 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 administers an IV drip to your dog to reintroduce fluids and critical minerals lost due to the effects of dehydration. The vet will likely keep your dog overnight and monitor its condition.

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 issues antibiotics to stop the infection.

If your vet suspects the dog food brand to be the problem, they may recommend foods 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.

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.

Take your dog to the vet for an assessment. If you fail to get your dog treatment in time, they may end up developing the dreaded megacolon. As a result, your dog could end up wearing a colostomy bag for the rest of its life or prove more fatal. 

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