Fecal Incontinence in Dogs

Faecal Incontinence in Old Dogs


Incontinence in dogs: a common complaint I hear from the owners of old dogs is fecal incontinence – normal looking bowel movement or stool “accidents” that get left somewhere in the house by a dog who knows better, and who didn’t do it on purpose.  Often the owner finds them where the dog sleeps, or they see them come out when the dog first struggles to stand after a nap.  But is this really dog incontinence?

What Causes Incontinence in Dogs?


In most cases, this is not true incontinence.  True incontinence in dogs stems from a lack of anal sphincter control, and I think in most cases that is only a small part of the problem.

I know this picture has nothing to do with the article, but really... who wants to see a picture of a geriatric dog straining to defecate?

I know this picture has nothing to do with incontinence in dogs, but really… who wants to see a picture of a geriatric dog straining to defecate?

This problem seems to almost exclusively affect dogs with very weak or debilitated hind ends.  These dogs have difficulty standing, and most importantly, they have difficulty assuming a proper “defecation posture”.

Because they lack the strength to comfortably squat and defecate, they do what I refer to as the “walk & drop” – rather than crouch, they keep stepping forward while defecating.

Presumably, because defecating is so awkward and potentially uncomfortable for these dogs, they never fully evacuate their colon; they seem to defecate just enough to relieve any immediate urge, but not much more.  As a result, they spend most of their day with a mostly full colon.

Sometimes this catches up with them when they sleep, when a mostly full colon becomes an over full colon.  Combine that with the reduced muscle tone of a deep sleep and suddenly you have the recipe for a soiled bed.  Alternatively, as they engage their abdominal muscles to stand, pressure in the abdomen increases, causing them to have an accident while first getting up from a nap.

 What can I do to help?


Sometimes increasing the amount of non-digestible fibre in the diet helps (1 ice cream scoop of canned pumpkin with each meal for a large sized dog).  There are prescription medications available that improve colon motility, but I’ve not found them particularly effective.  Giving plenty of opportunity to defecate outside before bedtime is definitely helpful.

Another random picture that has nothing to do with the article.

Another random picture that has nothing to do with incontinence in dogs.

The treatment with which I have seen the best results is to address the underlying lower back pain – increase the dog’s comfort and hind end strength so that it can hold a better defecation posture and therefore better evacuate its colon.  Using a combination of manual therapy (chiropractic and/or physiotherapy style adjustments and mobilizations) with acupuncture, as well as a comprehensive arthritis treatment protocol, yields the best results.  I’ve seen countless patients whose quality of life was greatly improved with that protocol, and who have less “accidents” as a result.

Having said that, by the time the dog is at the “walk & drop” stage, they are usually quite debilitated, and the more advanced a condition is, the harder it is to turn around.  But by being aware of earlier signs and responding when you first see them, the chance of preventing this problem in the first place is much better.

 Some of the more common earlier signs include:
  • Hesitation or reduced ability to jump up (e.g.: into the car)
  • Body shakes that don’t reach from head to tail
  • Stiffness or difficulty standing (e.g.: pulling from front legs instead of pushing from the back)
  • Fatiguing earlier on walks
  • Stumbling or scuffing hind feet
  • Altered head, back or tail posture


What about urinary incontinence?


Although that is a blog topic unto itself, lower back pain is a common cause of dogs leaking urine in their sleep.  Treating that underlying pain often resolves urine leakage issues.

Resolving back pain can be a effective treatment for both urinary and fecal incontinence, but is also an important goal unto itself.  Less pain is a good thing.

Posted on in Geriatric care, Non-surgical Therapy, Nutrition

81 Responses to Fecal Incontinence in Dogs

  1. Britani

    This is the absolute FIRST thing that I have come across that seems to fit 100% of the problems that I am having with my 14 year old Australian Cattle dog. I have take her to the vet and have been told that it is more than likely exactly what you have described. She has been put on Prednisone to reduce swelling and Tramadol for pain. I am, however, still really struggling with getting this under control to where I can have her inside for extended periods of time without an ‘accident’. I am at a loss as far as where to go from here. Do you have any other suggestions?

    • Dave01

      Your best bet is to find a veterinarain with rehabilitation medicine training (CCRT) – you can look for one here: http://www.caninerehabinstitute.com/Find_A_Therapist.html, or chiropractic training – Canadian graduates can be found here, but other educational institutes have their own lists – http://www.veterinarychiropractic.ca/graduates.htm.

      It can be hard to find someone with all these skills in one spot, so many people end up finding a person for acupuncture, and someone else for either the chiro and rehab. I hope that helps.

  2. Barbara

    We are having this problem with our old dog, who is almost 14. The difference, though, is that her hips/back legs seem to be in pretty good condition. She weighs about 75 lbs, but is not overweight, and she still “dances” for breakfast and can get up on the loveseat with no problem. The description of the sleep/poop issues sounds like what’s happening with her, but without the pain/arthritis/joint issues. Most recently she came inside in the early evening, went into the kitchen to make sure I hadn’t dropped anything on the floor, and left a “gift” in there, and another one in the dining area as she was walking around. Could this be more related to canine cognitive disorder?

    • Dave01

      It can happen purely due to cognitive dysfunction. In my experience though, by the time they get to unnoticed defecations, there are many other signs of confusion and disorientation. Can she assume a proper defecatory posture? If not, then there is a physical issue, regardless of how good her mobility is otherwise. If she defecates in a normal position comfortably, then I would wonder more about CD, although it’s hard to say anything concrete without having examined her.

    • hava

      Thank you for this article. Even though my dog’s situation is somewhat different, there are many similarities.
      He is 8 y old on high doses of prednisone to control his insulinoma and hypoglycemia. He recently spent 3 days in the hospital and apparently was not emptying his bladder or bowels completely. First thing I notices was dribbling urine, but it went away quickly with the help of Flomax. The fecal nuggets started later and he is producing them in his sleep. His stool is rather loose, but the nuggets are totally firm. I already give him pumpkin and he is on Flagyl. Anything else I can do to help?

      • Dave01

        That case isn’t nearly so straight forward. Glucose dysregulation can cause neurologic side effects that are likely playing a big role. Bottom line is if you suspect lower back pain (flinching on palpation, decreased ability to jump up), consider having that treated. If there is nothing to suggest lower back pain, then the treatment I suggested in the article is unlikely to work.

  3. Allison

    Has any one seen this in puppies? I just got (Sunday) french bulldog puppy who seems to be having fecal incontinence with all the symptoms noted above, particularly while sleeping.

    Obviously if this is a spinal issue I am concerned at how to treat a 5 month old puppy. And am not sure I can commit to a lifetime of poo pellets stuck on my clothes, furniture, etc as leave behinds every time she sleeps (a problem now). I have started her on a diahrrea med, as a suggestion from my vet, but the pellets are not runny. I love this dog and deeply hope there is a solution.

    • Dave01

      Spinal cord issue is an obvious concern – did your vet do a neurological assessment? A neuro exam and x-rays would be the quickest way to find out what is going on, but if this is true incontinence then there is likely no easy solution.

  4. Renee Joseph

    Thank you for this great information! It applies completely to our 12 yr old Alaskan Malamute. I appreciate the accurate information.

  5. Jenny Case

    This sounds like my old guy Max. He’s an Akita, just turned 14. He was hit by a car when he was a year old and it broke his pelvis in several places and twisted his spine. He has become more and more feeble in the last year. He still has a lot of strength in his front end but none in his haunches. I feed Science diet JD and supplement with Longevity. He looks fabulous for an old guy. We walk 2-3 times a day and he has to sit almost completely down on his haunches when he poops. And he goes normally 2xs a day. But sometimes a chunk “falls out” when he’s in the house and especially in the middle of the night. It causes him much distress to poop in the house and he’ll immediately eat it unless I can get to it first. This just may be a fact of life for us at this point. He’s such a trooper and doesn’t act like he’s in pain, just weak. I’m wondering if the fillers in SD could be contributing to his inability to fully evacuate his bowels? I’d appreciate any advice here. Thank you

    • Dave01

      I can’t really be much help over the internet; I would have to see him to offer anything specific, except that if you haven’t yet seen a vet trained in rehab medicine (CCRT or DACVSMR), chiropractic, and/or acupuncture (ideally all 3), then please try to find one. There are lots of pharmaceutic options beyond just anti-inflammatories that can make him more comfortable. If you haven’t discussed them with your vet, then that is another avenue.

      Akitas will quietly absorb pain, so until he is examined for it, it is hard to say if he is in pain or not. If he has non-painful weakness in the hind end, then there is likely pressure on his spinal cord and acupuncture would be your best bet.

      Different diets work better with different patients, but this isn’t a dietary problem. If the J/D helped at all, it says that he has arthritic pain.

      I hope that helps

      • Jenny Case

        Thank you for your response. I’m trying to walk him closer to bedtime and that seems to help prevent the middle of the night accidents. I will chat with my vet again and look at some other options you’ve suggested. We’ve verified arthritis in many of his joints with x rays. His right stifle is significantly larger than his left. So it is what it is. He has been on rimadyl for the pain too, off and on. With the cold weather, he’ll need more it seems. I know he’s stoic but he’s just so darn happy and I think he will “tell me” when it’s his time to go. Again, thank you.

        • Jamie

          I too have an Akita, he is 11.5. He has the same issues as discussed in this article. He mostly has accidents while sleeping and he doesn’t know it has happened a lot of the time. The vet says he has arthritis and he is on an anti-inflammatory, it helps his pain (which he doesn’t show), but doesn’t really seem to help the accident problem. All his organ functions are great, it is just his hind end that is having the issue. He is still active and happy though. I am wanting to try acupuncture, but not sure if there are any vets in my area who do it. I hate when dogs get old :-(

  6. Naomi

    Just want to say thank you, it’s nice to have some accurate information on this subject. Seems like other websites have some pretty out there ideas about fecal incontinence

  7. Lorraine weller

    if I had any doubts as to the problem I’m having with my 11y old Dalmatian I don’t now you have described my problem perfect . I’m finding it so hard to cope with I ave a yorkie who has just been diagnosed with diabeties and had to deal with the urinating every where as he had no control now that’s sorted I have this to deal with,I’m at wits end waking up mid night having to scrub carpets I’m finding it hard not to shout at him even though I know it’s not his fault. Again thank you for the information “

  8. Katie

    This is exactly the issue with our old girl, Daisy. It is getting progressively worse. She also has recurrent UTI d/t inverted female parts. We have opted not to treat the UTI anymore — amakacin isn’t doing it for her. I know I’ll be vilified for mentioning it, but we are going to consider putting her down over the next several months. She has periods of happiness, but the effort of her getting up and down is painful to watch and I’m sure doesn’t feel good for her. And the look on her face after an accident…we know it’s not her fault but we can see she knows she’s supposed to go outside. This will be the hardest decision to make.

    • Dave01

      When considering euthanasia, I use the following 3 markers to determine quality of life:
      1) Is the appetite good?
      2) Is the patient easily distracted by events in the environment, and/or still entheused about activities that use to bring please. If the patient becomes quiet and less interactive, and no longer takes pleasure from previously enjoyable activities, then that is a sign of chronic pain/suffering.
      3) Is the patient able to perform basic functions like going out to go to the bathroom without being in pain, or requiring more assistence than the owner is able to provide?

      It sounds like she bounces between passing the second criterion, but consistently doesn’t meet the 3rd… right in that gray area that says the time is close. For the owner’s who aren’t sure, I also ask “Is she still having a good time? Enough to justify the bad times?” Soemtimes the answer to those questions directs you to the right choice.

  9. Becky

    I have a rat terrier that is fecal incontinent. He is learning to control his bladder. Took him to a specialist. He has a broken tail injury. I can’t remember the actual term for it, but the injury from the tail being pulled really hard. It’s an old injury, from well before I got him.

    I make sure to take him out to urinate, and he always tries to have a bowel movement, as well. The specialist believes if I keep helping him with potty training that it may help him some.

    He wears a diaper because he’ll just poop unexpectedly sometimes. But we’re working on not having to keep a belly band on him.

    I’ve been adding pumpkin to his food since I brought him home. I believe it helps him feel when he has to go because he’s bulked up. I also add turmeric for swelling and pain. Since using the turmeric, he no longer hesitates in jumping up, no longer drapes himself over pillows to sleep (taking pressure off of his back, and you can just tell by the way he moves, he doesn’t hurt like he did.

    Thank you for this article. I’m sure you’re helping many. I hope my added information might help someone else figure out what is going on with their dog.

  10. Anne

    Thanks so much for this article … It describes my nearly 14 year old labbie’s problem so well. He started to defecate in the house ‘now and again’ a few months ago … It is now happening every few days. He does have arthritis and is on metacam (for over a year now). This has helped him a lot with his mobility but clearly no help with his bowel control. It seems to happen very suddenly … And then he starts to walk away dropping several piles on his way. He is generally very alert and still gets excited when it’s meal time or for a walk or when we come home so am confident there is no cognitive problem.

    I found your three step thoughts on euthanasia really good and helped give me a basis for that hard decision which I know isn’t too long away now. Thanks so much!

    • Dave01

      Glad I could help. Metacam is great for arthritic pain, but not as helpful for muscle spasm/pinched nerve pain, or muscle weakness, which is often the underlying cause in these cases. If you can find someone with chiropractic or rehab medicine manual therapy skills, especially when combined with acupuncture – that’s your best change of reducing the amount of incontinence and increasing mobility.

    • Michelle

      Anne ,
      I’m experiencing the exact story for my 12 year old lab. Did you find anything to help?

  11. Yarra Espinosa

    I have a 14 year old Dalmation who is struggling with many of the symptoms that you described. The walk and drop is our dog’s only method nowadays. Her accidents in the house, which are many, span large areas as she attempts to get to the back door. She often has accidents when she gets up from her bed. What is so frustrating is that we will take her out and she will do nothing. We go inside and 2 minutes later will be walking and dropping as she tries to make it to the back door. I asked my vet about this and he prescribed her anabolic steroids to strengthen her muscles, with the hope if it helping her with her incontinence. I am hoping to get a second opinion about this treatment method. Ant input?

    • Dave01

      All I can do is repeat what I said in the blog… I’ve had the best success with treating the lower back, muscle spasm and arthritis pain. Try to find a vet trained in rehab medicine (CCRT or DACVSMR), chiropractic, and/or acupuncture (ideally all 3). Building muscle helps, but she needs to get the pain under control to make real progress. You can ask your vet about combining NSAIDs with amantadine or gabapentin and see if that helps.

  12. TammyW

    I have a 3 yr old american bulldog, that has always been a very clean dog and never had any issues with being incontinent until about a couple of weeks ago. All of a sudden she is deficating everywhere. I have never seen her do this. It’s not diarhea or anything like that. She even pooped on her bed. She does seem to be slightly limping, so that could be the cause according to the article. She is otherwise a very happy and active dog. It’s been puzzleing to me though. Do you think that a hurt leg could be the actual cause in a dog this young? Or should I be looking for other causes?

    • Dave01

      That is an odd case – I couldn’t begin to comment without first having a complete physical exam. That would be the place to start, and it will identify if there is any pain present.

  13. Rainey

    This exactly describes my foster dog. She’s around 3 and was found as a stray and when I got her she had a bad case of giardia and kennel cough. We assumed her fecal and bladder incontinence was due to that. She’s tested negative for the giardia now and is over the cough, and in all other ways seems a healthy dog. She can run like any other dog and leap while playing with toys. But when she goes to sit it is very slow and shaky and the few times she attempted a ‘defecation posture’ she could barely hunch her back. She’s very hesitant to jump on the couch and usually requires assistance. She can ‘push’ to urinate most of the urine, but only twice could she get out any poop, and she usually has a wet diaper after a couple hours (she ‘leaks’ most of the time). I have to express her bladder and colon a few times a day. Is there any chance a chiropractor could help?

    • Dave01

      Yes. You never know until you try, and you will want to make sure that her urinalysis is normal (dogs that leak urine are prone to infections, and infections can make the leaking worse), but I have seen many cases with that sort of history either completely or partially resolve. It is one of those treatments where you never know until you try, but it would take 3 appointments at the very most to confirm if it is helping.

  14. Melissa

    Hello- this sounds somewhat similar to what is going on with my dog right now. She is a 4 yo siberian husky, and she just had a cruciate repair 2 days ago. She has never had any issue with stool incontinence, but today when I took her to go outside, she had a small amount of stool that fell onto the floor. Her bottom is now soiled, and I cannot get to it to clean it. The stool that was on the floor was a very dark color, and it is the first bowel movement (however small that it was) that she has had since the surgery. She is on metacam, and due to the color of the stool, I was wondering if I should stop giving it to her. I’m not sure if it is a dark color due to a GI bleed, or if it is just because it is the first since the surgery. Thank you for posting this, I was beginning to be very worried about her, and the vet office is closed.

    • Dave01

      there are other mitigating factors being so close to surgery – this is definitely a topic to take up with your surgeon but is likely a minor temporary thing. good luck.

  15. Miranda Luck

    Good piece and interesting/nice to see that so many people are willing to try and deal with this situation. I’ve the same (night time bed poops and occasional daytime mishaps) with my 10 year old Great Dane who is in fine fettle otherwise! Having tried everything suggested (plus more!) we are now learning to put up with it but have found putting down childrens disposable bed wetting sheets (on her bed and beyond) very useful!

    • Anne Marie Rocca

      Thank you – this article has really helped, and to know that there are many others coping. My washing machine is constantly filled but not with my clothes, the floor smells that peculiar smell from the stuff to prevent smells. Pheobe is somewhere between 14 and 16 – and bless her – we feel we owe her for being such a perfect dog in the past – but its getting very hard to know what is best to do. I’m off to find some child sheets to see if that helps the situation with the constant washing.

  16. love my pups

    thank you for your article. you described our now 15 year old Shepard mix to a T. she is also being treated with rymidol and pain meds . . i fear that we are not in the early stages at this time. it has been in last 2 years that she has (poop and walk). and over the last 6-8 mos that her accidents have been increasing. as of recently it is 2-3 different accidents a night. and some in morning/day.

    we recently also have considered acupuncture and our vet has referred us a rehab person as well. just the consultation is several hundreds of dollars and fear this may be out of our realm of finances.

    i am seriously considering diapers at this point as even our night walks don’t seem to stop the accidents and it breaks our hearts to not let her on the bed anymore (we have another dog that does sleep with us).

    do you recommend doggie diapers for this situation? we have never used them before and don’t know if they are useful for feces. she is 60 lbs and washing her hind
    quarters every day i am sure becomes part of the process. but would love your input on the use of diapers as we know nothing about them and how they are constructed if they are useful for this issue.

    thank you again for your article it is so right on in what we have watched her go through and not completely understood what was happening. we also have noticed like you said that her poops are smaller and more frequent. She is healthy as an ox and still loves to play so would love to find a way to incorporate her back into as normal a life as we can. Hoping the diapers are viable option…

    • Dave01

      whatever works – some people have used diapers with success. Others use towels. The ability to manage something like this at home really varies between patients so it is hard to give suggestions that work for everyone. The bottom line is that if diapers help make the situation managable enough that your dog is happy and your house is sanitary, then great. I’m not sure if that helps or not, but don’t be afraid to get creative – nothing to lose by trying

  17. Cindy

    My older shepherd mix dog has had problems squatting and loose bowels for some time now. However I don’t experience it as a problem. Her feces are pretty compact, it is easy to pick them up and wipe the floor and she doesn’t seem to be bothered either! I do feed both my dogs a high quality food and I think this helps. She sleeps a lot and doesn’t want long walks anymore but she can go up and down stairs! seems pretty happy and all is well. If anything the change in her bowel habits is a sometimes humorous. I appreciate the insight into its cause however and certainly would not wish for my dog to suffer.

  18. MikeL

    Hmm, I googled this issue for my 4 yr. old mini Lab who seems totally healthy and happy.
    She’s been leaking off and on for a couple years, including very strong smelling urine (which has gotten better lately) but lately its like anal glands or some poop.
    She does have some insecurity issues, and is afraid of most other dogs. She seems to feel the need to dominate them and we try to socialize her often.
    She does twist and turn when she poops but I don’t see any mobility issues.

    • Dave01

      That definitely sounds like something to take up with your regular veterinarian – a lot of potential causes that might be going on there.

  19. Pat

    I have a 13 yr. old Yorkie that I love more than life itself! She has congestive heart failure and a collapsed trachea.Yesterday I found her laying, seemingly unaware, in a pool of urine. Last night, in bed, there was a repeat. This morning when she woke up, in my bed, I picked her up to carry her outside and saw that she had defecated apparently in her sleep. She has a Cardio (my dog fainted at her last appt.) & a regular vet who is very young.I don’t trust either with her as she is so frightened when we go to appts.Please help me help her!

    • Dave01

      Is she on lasix/furosemdide? If so, that is likely the root of the urine problem which will be hard to overcome without pulling her off meds. Without someone experienced in musculoskeletal examination taking a look at her, I’m not sure I can offer much more. If you don’t live close enough to see me, then you can look at some of the links I’ve posted before in the comments below to find someone closer. If she is so fragile that she can’t go into the vets, then the situation gets trickier still as finding someone in a position to do housecalls is even tougher. Sorry I couldn’t be more help.

  20. Kevin

    14 yr old male Pointer mix in recent yrs has developed multiple moveable abdominal lumps that continue to grow. No pain but may be affecting movement. within last 6 months rear muscle strength decreasing, stairs a challenge, pulls more with front paws. After a normal squat to poop stance begins walking away before “done”. Muscle tone along spin seems decreasing showing more spine with abdomen “hanging” off it. Not in any pain, just aging.

    • Dave01

      Has he been examined by someone trained in musculoskeletal assessment? I only ask because based on your description, I would be very, very surprised if he truly wasn’t in pain. Difficult using stairs and raising for a lying position, or difficulty maintaining a defectation squat position are all classic signs of pain. He really sounds like he needs to be looked at.

  21. Terri

    I have a 4 year old yorkie that just came home from the hospital 2 days ago from pneumonia. She had a regular BM the first day, but since then has left droppings here and there. She is on antiobotics (switched from injectables to pills when she came home) … My first instinct is to think it is the medicine since she never had issues prior to this… She has been on prednisone and hydrocodone for awhile for a collapsing trachea, the new drugs (antibiotics for pneumonia) she is on are: baytril and clavamox… Could this be a temporary issue from the meds?

    • Dave01

      There are a number of potentially confounding factors there – I would wait until she recovers from the pneumonia and is off the antibiotics before worrying too much. Hydrocodone is constipating, so consider pumpkin fibre to help with that.

  22. Glen

    Our 15 year old Rottweiler was treated last Tuesday for a mild fecal impaction with 2 enemas, Flagyl, a stool softener and Prilosec. She seemed to feel better immediately but since that day (this is the 5th day now) she keeps leaving little fecal surprises all over the house. Sometimes she realizes it has happened and other times she is oblivious to it. She’s been walking and dropping for a couple of years now but this particular development is new. Our vet said she probably still has something (a bug) attacking her colon, but she defacates normally during the day and leaves these small, soft, formed stools here and there, often while laying down. She is still very active for her age but she does have joint pain and takes Novox every night before bed. Any suggestions?

    • Dave01

      Just what I wrote inthe article – if you decrease lower back pain then the situation will probably improve and/or completely resolve…

  23. Heather Nelson

    I have a almost 8 year old chi that started doing this when had anal gland infection went to vet it is cleared up she shows no signs of pain or decreased movement she is extremely fast and active outdoors she does have spot on tail from damage birth feels like break curve near end tip. My vet said this is from her holding it to much she goes out plenty but is easily distracted and high anxiety but this week she’s dropping poop again in last few month she will do it then stop then do again I already checked glands she sometimes doesn’t eat regular but she maintains healthy weight The food is high quality w occasional grocery store treats or food my toddler gives her that’s the issue I can’t have tot finding poop. Any advice I will try pumpkin

    • Dave01

      Did your vet confirm that anal sphincter tone wasn’t affected by the anal sac infection?

  24. Kelli Whitacre

    I have a poodle/dauschund mix that’s about 10 years old. She has an enlarged heart n murmur, and an inflamed disc in her lower back. She does have rt leg weakness with reflex reduction in it. She walks n drops and has been having bm that’s jelly looking pink tinged and she doesn’t seem to know she is messing. They can’t do surgery because of her heart. Any suggestions?

    • Dave01

      The treatments mentioned in the article have an excellent change of improving her musculoskeletal comfort. Your description of the BM suggests an inflamed large intestine, which will contribute to the problem and should be fixable with medication.

  25. Terry Moyer

    My 15 yrs blk lab/shepherd/chow mix seems like she could be fecal incontinence…pretty much noticed it after she had her 1st bout of vertigo 9 months ago and its seems more so now after she had her second bout of vertigo a couple of months ago. She is still has the head tilt from the vertigo, but she is still active and has a good appetite. My sister & I would come home from work and we would find where she had a plop of fecal in the sun porch, followed by another small plop in the living, etc. we even find plops of bm on the
    stairs. We noticed one time she did it while we were home and we were letting her outside that she plopping here and there on her way to the door. She doesn’t seem to have any pain but her rt hind leg seems like it gives out once in while more so when she tries to rush up the stairs. Any suggestions…she is due for her yearly checkup in July.

    • Dave01

      If her right leg gives out then there is likely something going on, quite possibly intermittant “sciatica” type pain. I can’t really suggest anything above what was already in the article – have someone experience in treating musculoskeletal pain take a look at her and see how she responds to treatment.

  26. Deanna

    I have the same problem of fecal
    incontinence and back leg weakness in
    my 15 year old aussie girl.
    she has a great appetite, she just
    had a skin tumor removed successfully.
    Had to keep her quiet for two weeks
    until healing took place and the sutures
    were removed.
    she was injured a couple of years ago
    when she banged into the shed trying to
    catch a frisbee and dragged her hind legs
    to me, then but I’m not sure this weakness
    came about because of that injury.
    I have her on a very good supplement for her’
    back legs, only going on 3 months and see no
    improvement yet..
    I need to exercise her more, our winter
    and spring weather has been horrid.
    How much exercise is too much at first?
    She has a body halter and leash otherwise]
    she prefers to sit or lie down…
    she eats a great diet, organic fruits and
    veggies too and I do not get her vaccinated
    anymore… I use all natural bug sprays
    and what other natural ways can I get her
    walking again?
    thanks, Deanna
    she doesn’t seem in pain at all except
    when she gets up from sleep in the morning
    she is stiff as can be in her back legs.
    I adopted her when she was 4 months old.
    I plan to give her a few more good years.

    • Dave01

      With a history like that – reluctance to stand and stiffness getting up – it sounds like there is some hind end pain that needs to be looked at. I’ve listed websites below where you might find a practitioner in your area. Good luck!

  27. Alison Sato

    Thank you so much for this article. I find it fits my 12.5 yr old Weimaraner girl’s profile perfectly. Her pooping problem started about 6 months ago happening once in a blue moon and then more frequently. I couldn’t figure out what was going on – she was happily taking her 1.5 mi walks everyday and although she looked stiff, didn’t look like being in pain.

    I put her on Tramadol (she can’t take Remidyl because she’s on Temaril-p for her allergy) and it improved slightly but now back with a vengeance it seemed. I’ll take her out for a longer walks in the evening but she won’t do anything other than pee and wants to go back inside and protests staying out for longer walks. If not happening at 2-3 am in the morning, she’ll wake up in the morning around her usual time and I’ll take her out, let her pee and stay out for extra 2-4 min to see if she’ll poo. She wants to go back inside (to get her breakfast) and refuse to take the time to poo, then has an accident as she’s walking inside the door… she’s usually trotting into the room as she “walk and drop” trails of poo before I can track her (without stepping on her poo) back outside to finish off what she started in the house…

    She’s crated all day while I’m at work due to her separation anxiety and efforts in the past and current to get her out into an enclosed space with separate area for pee/poo has failed int he past and not working so well right now. Unfortunately I live in an apartment with carpet everywhere…

    I just started her on acupuncture (had horrible time due to her anxiety) and Chinese herbal medication for anxiety… I’m hoping it works but I feel like I’m not making any progress with her. I thought about anti-anxiety drugs but potential of interaction with her other meds and the drug’s side effects, not sure if that’s the right path either…

    • Dave01

      Glad to hear the article helped. I found that for pain issues, acupuncture on its own didn’t work fast enough, but that it really boosts the effectiveness of manual therapy (chiropractic manipulations and physiotherapy style mobilizations). Again, in the comment section below, I’ve listed some websites you can use to start a search for someone in your area who can help.

  28. kaley

    I have a 7 year old Boston terrier. The last couple days he’s had horrible gas stronger and more often then normal. Throughout the night he pooped all over the floor. He’s been pooping more often. Doesn’t seem to be any pain and he’s acting completely normal. The poop is solid and sometimes a tiny bit softer. Not sure what to do. Was going to try some yogurt but not sure if that will make it worse or not. Thanks.

    • Dave01

      that’s sounding suspiciously like a colitis issue. Your regular vet should be able to help. Without seeing the patient, I can’t comment on the yogurt, but most dogs tolerate it fine.

  29. Gillian

    Thank you for posting this article. And thank you to everyone who has responded with their stories. My Cleo is doing exactly what you describe and while I was attributing it more to a sphincter control issue or perhaps due to her “doggie dementia” which the vet recently suggested she is showing signs of your description fits her to a T. I will try some of the suggestions to help control these accidents. Cleo is my first baby. She’s a 12 year old shepperd and probably one of the kindest and smartest dogs I have ever met. I almost lost her last year when she appeared to have a splenic tumor – ended up being a terrible gastric infection. She is medicated for her severe back end arthritis. Through the winter I kept saying, wait until summer and we will see. But now the bowel incidents. I read through your 3 ideas regarding euthenasia and that was also helpful. While Cleo continues to eat and drink, greet me at the door (when she hears me) and attend to the kids, she is showing signs of separation anxiety and increasing difficulty with stairs in and out of the house. Now I watch day to day and wonder how to make one of the toughest decisions I may need to make.

  30. Cecilia Yuan

    We have a 7 year old yellow lab who is happy and full of life. Couple of weeks ago she had gas problem. About 5 days ago, she leaks poop when sleeping. Vet checked her that everything is normal. She is on two medications. 1: Diethyl Stibestrol 1 mg once every 4 days. 2: Potassium Bromide 400 mg, 2 ml once 1 day. Please help !

  31. Michele

    Thank you. This sound like my 14 year old lab pit bull mix.
    Her back end is arthritic and for the past 8 months or so has no control over her bowel function. Also just had 2 bouts back to back of bladder infections. She has been scooting in a circle and then shortly after she gets up we have presents. Normally 2-3 firm but soft. At least 3-4 nights a week she goes in her sleep
    It seems she doesn’t even know she is doing it. It was suggested that I get her laser treatments on her hips that would help a great deal but not sure if they just want more money from us. Any insight?

    • Dave01

      Just what I said in the article – find someone with the skills needed to improve back pain. If you scroll through the comment section below, I’ve listed websites to get you started. Laser will help, but I think you will see better results from combining it with manual therapy (chiropractic and physiotherapy style treatment).

  32. Cecilia Yuan

    My problem solved. The vet put her on Flagyl for five days. She is fine know.

  33. Marty Bernstein

    We have a 14 1/2 year old Pointer. About 18 months ago, Homer started having blood in his stool. We took him to the vet, but the vet couldn’t figure out what was wrong with him. They thought he had some sort of colon cancer, but wasn’t sure and suggested a colonoscopy, but felt that they were pretty sure on the cancer. Since he was pretty old, we decided against the colonoscopy. However, 18 months later he is still alive. He is now fully incontinent with bloody foul smelling liquid stools, but otherwise he seems alert and mobile. We go on regular walks, and he is eating normally, but loosing significant weight. The Vet initially ruled out worms and parasites (18 months ago). We also have an 11 year old Pointer, who is just fine. We tried all sorts of diets, from boiled chicken, eggs and rice, to an all gluten-free or grain-free diet. Nothing has worked. Any ideas?

  34. Marty

    We have a 14 1/2 year old Pointer. About 18 months ago, Homer started having blood in his stool. We took him to the vet, but the vet couldn’t figure out what was wrong with him. They thought he had some sort of colon cancer, but wasn’t sure and suggested a colonoscopy, but felt that they were pretty sure on the cancer. Since he was pretty old, we decided against the colonoscopy. However, 18 months later he is still alive. He is now fully incontinent with chronic bloody foul smelling liquid stools, but otherwise he seems alert and mobile. We go on regular walks, and he is eating normally, but loosing significant weight. The Vet initially ruled out worms and parasites (18 months ago). We also have an 11 year old Pointer, who is just fine. We tried all sorts of diets, from boiled chicken, eggs and rice, to an all gluten-free or grain-free diet. Nothing has worked. Any ideas?

    • Dave01

      that sounds more like an internal medicine issue than a musculoskeletal issue… you’re most likely to find your answer through lab tests, ultrasounds or scoping.

  35. Judy

    All these posts have been most informative and enlightening for which I thank you all. I have twin West Highland terriers of 8 1/2 years old, both boys. At three months, one was diagnosed with double
    Legg-Calvé-Perthes Disease – subsequently both ball joints were amputated. All well until this year when his back legs started to lean inwards feet first. One vet said he could not possibly have osteoarthritis because there are no bones there. The next vet said he has severe osteoarthritis and has prescribed robenacoxib aka onsior. Obviously there is stiffness at best, as well as possibly stretched tendons affecting his movement. We can all help him with this but now the fecal problem started in June – two or three times a day without warning despite having almost unlimited access to outdoors but he does not seem to be upset or fazed at all. we make no comment, simply clean it up. His quality of life is good, he eats fairly well and loves the albeit limited walks. He is still loving and happy and, as always, enjoys life in general with his bro. Would you be able to recommend the best way forward please, as at not yet nine years old, we do not wish to even consider the Rainbow Bridge. Thanks.

    • Dave01

      Odds are very good that we are dealing with lower back pain – lumbosacral, or sacral-iliac joints, muscular spasm pinching nerves etc. These things are readily fixable to some degree in almost all cases (even curable depending on the situation), but they don’t respond well to anti-inflammatories. Some of my responses below will help to direct you to find someone trained in treating back muscle a/o vertebral issues in dogs. It is worth looking for someone who gets good results as that is your single best chance of resolving this issue. Good luck!

  36. Richard

    Hi I have got a lab who is 14 years old, she has arthritis on her back legs,she does get up and welcome people with no pain,she does fall over sometimes and pooed on her bed .She goes out twice a day, she on metacam,Tramadol 4 times a day for her joints, do you think it time because she is happy in herself but my step dad think I am being cruel keeping her alive

  37. Heidi

    Thank you for the article. It describes my 11.5 year old Thai Dingo. I took him to my usual vet a few months ago to be looked at, and he was put on Rimadyl, which increased his mobility but caused diarrhea. In July, I took him to a different vet for a second opinion, and he had blood and urine analyzed, which were all normal. However, the pathologist who looked at the samples suggested nerve damage around the lower back as the cause of the problem. She referred me to a university clinic to see a neurologist and have an MRI done. The MRI showed an unusual image of the skin surrounding the spinal cord. The neurologist took samples of the spinal fluid, which were normal. The blood samples were normal as well. We are still waiting for some other lab results, such as toxoplasma. However, the neurologist put my dog on steroids and antibiotics for suspected inflammation or infection of the spinal cord. If this does not help, she thinks the unusual image may be a tumor. A biopsy is too invasive. The symptoms, however, have improved. Jo knows much better now when it is time to poop. He still walks and drops, but he has not lost anything during his sleep or elsewhere inside the house since the treatment started. He has increased thirst and urination due to the steroids, and sometimes pees on the balcony without telling me that he needs to go out, but that is much easier to take care of than his soiled bed sheets, which caused him lots of distress. And he has jumped in the car recently, a thing he had not been able to do in months.

  38. rennetta

    hi, we recently purchased a mini australian bulldog pup, he’s almost 10 weeks old now. i took him to our vet last week as he had chronic diarrhoea as well as a swollen anal area and seemed to show no control over his bowels or any feeling either. the vet diagnosed him with anal sphincter incontinence and explained to me that its incurable and suggested having him put down, the breeder offered to take him back and im assuming she would have him put down too, but we dont want this to happen as we love him dearly and other than his bowel issues (the swelling has gone down, his diarrhea has stopped as long as he’s only fed a diet of dry food) he’s a healthy energetic active and loving puppy. is there any treatment or therapy i could try, surely it doesnt warrant having him put down. i would really appreciate any advice thankyou

    • Dave01

      that sounds more like a primary neurolic deficit issue – if so, your best luck at treatment is going to be management (controlling the diarrhea, diet modification, diapers, etc.) and hoping you can find an acceptable solution that provides good quality of life plus a hygenic home. I’m sorry that I can’t be much more help than that.

  39. walter

    Our wonderful 11 yo miniaussie leaves small presents for us, usually when asleep (nap or evening) she is in good health, active, eats very well but too fast, has great bowel movements on walks and appears not to be in any pain or discomfort. this started a couple of years ago. thanks for your site and help!

  40. krista Burke

    thanks so much for this great article, it exactly describes what my dog is going through. As he is 150 pounds, 13 years old and is being treated for arthritis (ongoing for many years), i suppose there is not much else to do. But, understanding the situation makes it much easier. I will try the pumpkin with his food, since i seem to already be doing all of the rest of your ideas (extra time outside, daily “walks”, cartrophen for the arthritis).

    • Dave01

      find someone with manual therapy skills – a veterinary chiropractor or CCRT – in most cases, that is one of the most significant things you can do.

  41. Cassie

    I thought the time had come last night. Perhaps it has. Bailey is 14.5 yrs old – half cocker, half hound. Severe arthritis in back end..5 yrs post surgery for torn cruciate ligament. Torn again a yr or 2 ago and doc said the arthritis was probably holding it more stable. Can hardly crouch to poop -not sure if weakness or pain. He’s on significant doses of Rimadyl and Tramadol. Poops while walking, standing, or sleeping, multiple times daily. Mostly deaf, poor vision. Last night he couldn’t get his back legs to work right for a few moments, and his cloudy eyes looked straight through me, as he panted. The meds hadn’t had time to start working. He put his head in my hand, and his paw over my forearm. I asked him if our time was up, told him again what a good dog he was.

    I got the sling out, and he wagged his tail and walked around the kitchen, albeit a little aimlessly. My office and bedroom are upstairs, I can’t carry him, so he often goes to the foot of the stairs when I go up and looks up longingly.

    I had my daughter give him extra hugs and we took pics when she off to college again.

    This is so hard.

    • Dave01

      My sympathies to what is always one of the hardest decisions to make, even when it is the right one.

  42. Cassie

    Thanks! Bailey’s particularly bad day …maybe some temporary numbness in hind parts…was followed by a good day where he..both last night and this morning…when coming inside (a few hours after meds), pranced across the kitchen like a young dog and said “Where the hell is my food. I don’t care that I already ate, I want some more. And btw, aren’t I a fine looking dog?”

    Of course both times…as soon he GOT across the kitchen, he realized..”omg..not again..,I’m about to poop on Mom’s kitchen floor”.,..and then he and I rushed back to the door. Too late of course.:)

    But I can pick up poop for a little longer as long as he is feeling chipper and can walk and get up and down.

    Thanks so much for this blog!

    • Dave01

      That happens a lot – it’s not uncommon for owners to book “the appointment” for the next day, cancel because the dog perked right up, book it again a week or two later, cancel, etc. until it is finally time. Welcome to the emotional roller coaster.

  43. Danie

    My 4 year old German Shepherd has been pooping and peeing in the house a lot, and using the bathroom much more often lately.

    It started a few months ago.. she has always been house trained but out of nowhere she started peeing and pooping more and more even though her diet remains the same.

    She also started peeing and pooping in several places in one night while we’re sleeping.. whereas for the last 4 years she has had no problems holding it until morning.

    We always make sure to take her outside before bed, and even now that she has started doing this, I go out in the middle of the night with her just to avoid cleaning up a mess.. but it never works. She will still use the bathroom at least once on the floor over night.

    Nothing has changed in her life, nothing stressful or traumatizing has happened to her.. so I am thinking it must be health related.

    Do you have any ideas what could be wrong with her? I plan on taking her to the vet in a couple of weeks when I have some money saved up. Just curious if anyone knows what the problem could be.

    Thank you!

    • Dave01

      That sounds more like a medical problem than it does a musculoskeletal issue – a veterinary examination would be the first necessary step to try and find an answer for you.

  44. Nina

    I recently rescued an elderly Maltese/bichon who was found in bad condition, living outdoors. I’m having trouble with training him to use puppy pads; I don’t expect him to hold his urine/feces all day while I’m at work, but he will defecate and then walk around in it. This is unhealthy for him and unsanitary for my house. I was considering using a diaper but I’m not sure how to do so for both urine/feces. I don’t want him to be uncomfortable or to become infected…any ideas or suggestions for how to correct this behavior OR start using diapers? Thank you.

    • Dave01

      that sounds more like a behavoural problem, which isn’t really my department – I would recommend consulting with a dog behaviourist or your veterinarian. Sorry I couldn’t be more help.


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