How Long Can a Dog Go Without Pooping? Your Questions Answered

As pet owners, we quickly become accustomed to our pets habits – including their toilet needs! Whether your dog’s bowels have them whining at the back door at 7am sharp every morning, or tend to come into action during the afternoon walk, dealing with your dog’s toilet routine is part and parcel of pet ownership. But what do you do if your pooch’s routine goes off-kilter? Is it ok for them to skip a day? Or two… or three? Should you take your dog to the vet right away? How many days can a dog go without pooping? Believe it or not, constipation is quite common among dogs, and it is usually easy to manage in the early stages. However, it does have the potential to cause serious problems, especially in puppies, elderly dogs, or those with other illnesses. Keep on reading to learn more about your dog’s pooping habits, and when to call in the professionals.
Dr. Kathryn Dench - Qualified Veterinarian Surgeon with over ten years of experience in small animal medicine.
October 4, 2022
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6
min read

How Long Can My Dog Go Without Pooping?

A healthy dog will normally defecate at least once every 24 hours, but several factors can make them miss a day, such as dehydration, stress, or recovering from diarrhea. If your dog does not pass stools for 48 hours or longer, or they are straining but unable to pass anything, they may be experiencing constipation, and you should take them to the vet.

How Often Should a Dog Poop

Generally, adult dogs release normal stools once or twice daily, since the food they consume usually takes about 6-8 hours to get digested. For puppies, this can happen 5-6 times daily because the food passes through their digestive tract faster. 

However, each dog is unique, so this standard can vary according to factors such as activity and diet. It’s important to be aware of your dog’s normal routine. The same thing applies to younger dogs. If you are still concerned about how long a puppy can go without pooping, it is important to watch for consistency in the number of times they poop each day.

It’s worth noting that if there have been changes to your pet’s digestive system recently – like having an anesthetic, or a bout of diarrhea – it is not uncommon to take 2-3 days to get back to normal, and your dog may not pass any stools in that time.

Causes of Constipation in Dogs

You know what constipation feels like, so you don’t want your dog to go through the same discomfort. 

After the intestines absorb nutrients and water from the dog’s food, a mass of undigested waste products known as the stool is formed. The stool passes out of the dog’s body through the rectum and anus. If your pet cannot release a normal stool regularly, they may be suffering from constipation.

Dietary Changes

Introducing new food to your dog can result in constipation while their digestive system adjusts to dietary changes. If you really need to switch to a new food, make the change slowly and ensure they get enough dietary fiber. 

Insufficient fiber content can cause dry and hard stools. However, excessive fiber is also not good, as this can result in difficulty absorbing the minerals from the food. Aim for 2- 4% fiber in the dog's diet to achieve a healthier digestive tract.

Dehydration

One of the main functions of the large intestine is to reabsorb as much water as possible from undigested food and turn it into a stool. If your dog does not get enough fluids, the water from the large intestine is withdrawn to hydrate the body. This results in producing dry and hard poop that is difficult to pass.

Keeping your dog properly hydrated is a key factor in its digestive health. It also saves you from worrying too much about how long a dog should go without pooping.

Matted Fur

Long-haired dogs can sometimes suffer from matted fur, and when this happens around the bottom, it can block the passage of poop. This condition can be prevented by proper grooming through regular trimming and fur brushing. 

Swollen Anal Glands

Dogs have small anal glands on either side of their anus, producing pungent-smelling fluid. When a dog poops, the fluid in its anal glands is also squeezed out. However, sometimes the glands are not completely emptied, and they can get blocked and swollen. This can make it hard for the dog to pass stools. You may need to empty your dog’s anal glands or take them to the vet. 

Medication Interactions

Some of the medications we give our pets can influence their digestive system. Opioid painkillers, for example, which are commonly given as part of an anesthetic or for chronic pain, can slow the digestive process. Heart failure medications that act as diuretics can also reduce the amount of water in the body, inadvertently leading to dry stools that are difficult to pass.

If you notice any changes to your dog’s normal routine while taking medication, let your veterinarian know. They’ll be able to tell you if it’s normal for the medicines they prescribed, and whether to make any changes to their treatment. Never stop a prescribed medication without consulting with the veterinarian first. 

What To Do If Your Dog Isn’t Pooping? 

Constipation can be the beginning of more serious health problems, so it is a good idea to take your dog to the vet as soon as you recognize the condition. Long-term constipation can progress to megacolon, where the large intestine is extremely dilated.

However, constipation can sometimes be resolved with simple home remedies:

  • Remember that constipation is often linked to poor hydration, so the best thing that you can do about it is to provide your dog with access to fresh drinking water.

  • Another option is to give your dog a stool softener. It contains a blend of enzymes formulated to prevent the formation of compacted and hard stools.

  • Canned pumpkin works as a dietary solution to help promote good bowel movements. Pumpkins are high in fiber and moisture content and are safe for both puppies and adult dogs.

  • Constipation can also result from a lack of exercise. As the pet owner, you can expose your dog to more physical activities as they help in good colonic movement. 

When trying out home remedies, remember not to give an enema at home because it can only cause injury or toxicity to your pet. If you think your dog might need an enema, it’s best to take them to the vet clinic.

If you’re worried about medical expenses, good news! Pet insurance can help cover emergency health expenses. Click here to learn more and compare affordable plans.

Final Thoughts

Constipation is a serious health problem that all types of dogs experience. This condition can be managed with proper care without exposing your pet to more serious health risks. 

As a pet owner, it is good to be familiar with your dog’s pooping routine and check how long a dog can go without a bowel movement. You should be aware of the common causes of constipation to prevent it from happening in the first place. While there’s no harm trying home remedies to help ease your dog’s constipation, some cases do require a veterinarian’s professional expertise.  

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GoodPaw Pet Services Inc., GoodPaw, offers free advice, product information and other editorial resources that are intended for informative purposes only, and should not be used in place of proper veterinary care. This information should not be used to diagnose or treat your pet. If your pet is experiencing any health concerns, contact a licensed veterinarian. GoodPaw assumes no responsibility for action taken based on information given from GoodPaw.com.

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