How Long Can a Dog Go without Pooping?

Most normal, healthy dogs poop at least once a day and possibly more than once. Younger dogs, especially, are prone to going multiple times per day because of their faster metabolisms and high activity. If you have noticed that your dog hasn’t been pooping like normal when you take him outside, it could be a sign of a problem. Fortunately, there are things you can do to help.

How Long Is Normal?

The digestion process can be kind of random, so it is normal for your dog to sometimes go 12 or even 24 hours without a bowel movement. It’s not that abnormal to go 48 hours. Anything over 48 hours could be a sign that something is wrong, though. That’s the point at which you should start getting concerned, even though it’s still probably not a serious problem. You should call your vet and let them know what’s going on.

Causes of Constipation in Dogs

Causes of Constipation in Dogs

There are a lot of things that can give your dog constipation. Some of them are not very serious. Others are and require you to take action.

  • Dehydration
  • Swollen prostate gland (male dogs only)
  • Ingesting hair when grooming (this is especially likely for long-haired dogs)
  • Pieces of blankets, toys, balls, or other swallowed objects
  • Not eating enough
  • Stress
  • Pain in the rear legs or hips
  • Neurological disorders
  • Endocrine disorders
  • Worms
  • Old age

Warning Signs

There are other warning signs you should watch out for besides simply not having a normal bowel movement for more than 48 hours. If you see hair in your dog’s stool when they do manage to go, that could be a sign that your dog is over-grooming and swallowing enough hair to form bowel obstruction. That means you need to give your dog more thorough, regular grooming so this doesn’t happen.

Over-grooming could also be a sign of a skin condition. Check your dog carefully for rashes, discolorations, flaky skin, and other unusual skin conditions that could indicate a problem.

If your dog whimpers when they try to poop, it could be a sign of bowel obstruction, especially true if your dog is bloated with an abdomen that is painful to the touch. Call your vet immediately if you notice these symptoms as intestinal obstruction or intestinal blockage can be life-threatening!

If your dog’s stool is hard when they do manage to go, it is a sign of potential dehydration. You need to give your dog more water and possibly get low-sodium dog food.

What You Can Do

There are things you can do to help. For starters, when you notice that something is wrong, start checking around for a potential reason. Has your dog been getting enough water? If they need more, that’s easy enough to fix. If they have it and aren’t drinking for some reason, there could be a problem. If they go on not drinking, call the vet.

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Has your dog been eating well? If they leave a lot of food in the bowl, it could be a sign of a loss of appetite. If the problem goes away quickly on its own, it’s probably just one of those random things. If it doesn’t, and if you recently changed dog food brands, it could be a sign your dog doesn’t like the new brand. If that’s not it, it may be due to an illness. Time to schedule a vet appointment.

Dog Warning Signs

You should also look at your dog’s favorite chew toys. Are they missing pieces? Are they shorter than they were? If so, it might be a sign that your dog’s swallowed something and it’s blocking the intestine. If you have reason to suspect that this is the case, call the vet right away. Your canine pal might need medicine or surgery.

If your dog’s on medication, look at the side effects. If constipation is one of them, this is probably just an expected result of the medicine. Though you should, as noted above, get help if your dog goes too long without going.

If your dog is having trouble squatting or is walking funny, they may be suffering from a problem with their hips or rear legs, especially if you have an older dog. Problems like these can sometimes make it difficult for your dog to poop because they make it difficult to crouch down on their rear legs. This is a problem for a vet to handle.

If your dog has problems with worms, this could be the cause of constipation. Deworming your dog will take care of it.

You can also try buying one of those dog food brands that encourage digestive health. This can even help if the problem is caused by old age.

Probiotics help for mild constipation, and they do make probiotics for dogs. They work by re-establishing the natural balance of good bacteria in the digestive tract. However, you should ask your vet if it is OK for your dog to have them.

As a pet parent, making sure your healthy dog gets plenty of exercise could also do the trick. For one thing, simply moving around can help food move through the intestines. For another, exercise raises the metabolism, and a fast metabolism will make it easier for your dog to go.

Stress can sometimes cause constipation, especially if the stress makes your dog lose their appetite. If you have a constipated dog, try to look for signs of stress, including worried looks, unusually frequent requests for reassurance, lethargy, and a lack of interest in doing things they used to like to do.

A Word of Caution

Do not try to give your dog any medicine for constipation yourself, like stool softeners. Especially do not try any home remedies for canine constipation. Some people swear by pumpkin or increased dietary fiber. but you should check with your vet before making any changes. Only your vet knows what medicine your dog needs and how much is safe. So call first, and ask if it’s OK.

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