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How Long Can Dogs Go Without Pooping? Do This!

Did you recently notice that your dog hasn’t pooped for quite some time?

No matter the length of time you spend outside on your walks, he just doesn’t want to go.

You can probably imagine that going without pooping for too long poses a health risk for your dog.

But how long can dogs actually go without pooping before it becomes dangerous?

It’s essential to differentiate between external factors and medical issues, but there are solutions for both.

Just because your dog might not go to the toilet as often as he used to, doesn’t necessarily mean something is wrong. Vice versa, maybe your dog is suffering from constipation for a long time already.

Let’s dive into your pooch’s pooping habits.

How Long Can Dogs Go Without Pooping?

Dogs can go 12-24 hours without pooping, but once your dog hasn’t pooped for 48-72 hours, it becomes potentially dangerous and you should look into methods to make him poop or consult a vet for constipation.

A dog’s normal pooping schedule should be once or twice a day.

My Rottweiler usually goes twice when she’s on kibble (as a puppy or nowadays when we’re traveling) and if we feed her raw, she usually goes once a day.

But there is that rare day where she skipped a skipped a toilet session.

What is the difference between constipation and your dog just skipping a day?

Constipation simply means your dog can’t poop on a regular basis.

Eventually, it’ll lead to the same outcome whether your dog just refuses to go for too long or whether he cannot go.

However, the solutions for both differ. Additionally, dogs usually don’t hold it in long enough to become a medical emergency, unless they’re incredibly stressed.

Constipation itself isn’t necessarily a medical emergency, though it can become one if ignored.

In some extreme cases, a dog’s poop becomes so hard, dry, and compacted it stays in the digestive tract because the dog simply can’t get rid of it.

This is a more severe condition called obstipation, usually related to a chronic medical condition and might eventually result in a refusal to eat.

How do you get rid of that?

At the point of obstipation, the dog usually can’t get rid of it himself.

He will need medical attention to have his colon evacuated.

What will it do to your dog if simply left there?

Dog poop is composed of a lot of bacteria, in addition to everything else.

Eventually, some of that bacteria can become absorbed into the bloodstream, leading to sepsis (blood poisoning) and death if untreated.

Having nowhere to go, the dog poop will back up into the large intestine.

Owner picking up poop.
Photo by Monika Wisniewska on Shutterstock

A dog can survive without pooping for longer than a full day or even two days, but it can become impossible for him to defecate on his own if he’s gone for two days or longer without pooping.

Unfortunately, a dog will need medical attention once that point has arrived.

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

While it shouldn’t happen constantly, it’s okay for a dog not to poop for a whole day. Monitor your dog and make sure he poops as soon as possible to avoid a medical emergency.

If nothing has changed, dogs usually don’t change their pooping habits drastically.

However, it can definitely happen if you’re traveling, your dog dislikes the cold, your dog hasn’t eaten well, and so on.

As mentioned above, my dog has gone one day without pooping a couple of times. Sometimes seemingly because she can’t find the right spot.

A raw diet will often get a dog’s pooping need down to once a day, but even then, skipping the whole day is unusual.

While it’s not an emergency yet, it does mean something is happening down there that shouldn’t be.

Your veterinarian should be able to find out what’s causing it, and treatment will vary depending on what that cause is.

“A serious, though generally uncommon, consequence or cause of constipation in dogs is megacolon. Megacolon refers to a dilated and weak colon that causes severe constipation.”

Ward, Ernest. DVM.

Dog Is Holding Poop Too Long

If your dog is holding the poop too long of his own free will, the reasons can include stress due to new surroundings, weather, your dog not finding the perfect spot, or overexcitement (though that generally leads to more poop, sometimes diarrhea).

My dog had a strong will as a puppy to just not go pooping.

She’s circling the same place over and over again, then finds something that’s more interesting and completely forgets her task.

Once my dog sniffed something on the ground or decided to carry that stick, it was pretty hard to get her to focus again.

This is what I mean by your dog voluntarily holding it in. Some dogs do it more, others less.

In any case, this shouldn’t be a cause for concern as your dog will probably go if it’s really pressing.

All that is assuming you’re providing your dog a grassy patch (or whatever you trained your dog to go potty on) and stay there for some time.

It’s a completely different story if your dog is trying to poop but nothing comes out.

How Often Should a Dog Poop?

Pooping once or twice a day would be ideal for a dog.

The number of times a dog defecates a day will mainly depend on the diet and should be consistent.

It doesn’t really matter if your dog poops once a day (in my case) or four times a day, as long as this schedule doesn’t change much.

More than twice might be a bit excessive and you might want to look into dietary changes (i.e. raw diet or just more fiber, switching food completely) but it’s usually not too big of a deal.

Puppy Not Pooping After Eating

If your puppy is not pooping after eating, it’s important to monitor that the frequency is proportional to the meals and in any case, it’s good if your pup poops once a day.

Ideally, puppies should eat 3-4 meals a day at 8-12 weeks and they usually won’t go pooping that often.

After 48-72 hours without a bowel movement, your pup could be coping with something serious and it is definitely time to contact the vet.

Poodle pooping on grass.
Photo by Baronb on Shutterstock

If your puppy is very young (first few months of age), his little body is more susceptible to pretty much anything an adult dog could suffer, while his immune system may not yet be strong enough to cope.

Ask yourself this: Does your puppy have enough time during walks or when outside?

If the pup is too young to be potty trained yet, he’ll do his business anywhere convenient.

Is your puppy coping with a stressful environment?

When raising a young dog, you want the environment he lives in to be as stress-free and enjoyable as possible.

Is your puppy dehydrated?

Dehydration can make it more difficult for a puppy (or any dog) to poop.

Because puppies have a smaller circulatory volume in their little bodies, the same fluid loss an adult might experience can be much worse for a puppy (e.g. flea infestations or diarrhea).

If your puppy is not so keen to drink enough water throughout the day, you can actually trick him into drinking more water with these tips.

Rare cases might revolve around a fecalith, or mat of fecal matter and hair covering the rectum which can act as sort of a glued barrier to prevent a dog from pooping. More common in long-haired dogs and trimming the hair helps.

Longer constipation is usually accompanied by a lack of appetite, so your pup still eating would be a good sign. Consult your vet if unsure.

How to Make Your Dog Poop Now

The conventional way to treat constipation is either with a suppository enema or some kind of laxative or stool softener both should be given under veterinary supervision. Natural solutions include fiber-rich food, pumpkin, and coconut oil.

The entire reason your dog isn’t doing his business might be that the business is too hard in the first place.

A store-bought laxative should be medically prescribed because it can cause dehydration and explosive diarrhea is even worse.

Btw: Human medications can be toxic, and should never be used unless advised by a veterinarian.

Sometimes the feces will need to be manually broken down in a clinical setting.

An enema for animals usually involves liquid or gas being injected directly into the colon to break up, soften or expel the contents.

However, if your dog is only dealing with mild constipation that hasn’t become an emergency yet, there are many foods that aid the process.

The higher water and fiber content in canned pumpkin (not pie filler) will help soften your dog’s stool while simultaneously adding bulk (fiber), which is a great alternative.

Coconut Oil & Fiber To Get Your Dog To Poop Now

Believe it or not, a small amount of coconut oil can be great for mild constipation.

You can go with half a teaspoon for smaller breeds, while two teaspoons should work well for larger breeds.

Coconut oil for dog constipation offers a sort of natural laxative effect, while many say it helps enhance a dog’s metabolism, assisting in healthy digestion. 

For more about coconut oil’s health benefits, check out How I Use Coconut Oil to Prevent Fleas and Ticks in Dogs.

How Do I Know If My Dog Has Constipation?

The first obvious sign of dog constipation is a dog that hasn’t pooped in a day or more.

This isn’t normal for dogs, but you might not notice it right away. 

Has your dog been circling anxiously more often than before? Pacing or whining for no good reason you can see?

Has the pup been dragging his bottom across the floor, or have you seen more squats with no results?

When your dog is able to eliminate, will he cry out or show signs of unusual discomfort?

Are the droppings themselves very hard and dry? 

Constipated dogs will often see a decrease in appetite. You might notice sporadic vomiting.

Causes of Constipation in Dogs

There are several things that may cause a lack of pooping in dogs.

Some are more serious than others and several can be fixed easily.

  • Hair (ingested when self-grooming), bones or pieces of, eaten
  • Pieces of toys (i.e. tennis ball) or anything other objects hard to eliminate eaten 
  • Too much dirt or gravel ingested
  • Side effects of medications
  • Dehydration 
  • Some kind of obstruction either in or outside the colon
  • Metabolic, endocrine, or neurologic disorders
  • Enlarge or swollen prostate in male dogs
  • Pain when crouching (caused by anything) discouraging the dog from eliminating
  • Poor appetite, not eating
  • Old age

Are you looking for other articles surrounding canine pooping? Take a look at:

The Ultimate Guide to Dog Diapers

Can Dogs Spitefully Revenge Poop?

Disclaimer: This blog post does not substitute veterinary attention and does not intend to do so. I am not a veterinarian or pet nutrionist. If your dog shows any sign of illness, call your vet.

About Danielle

I am the founder of PawLeaks where I share weekly tips on dog training and behavior. Sharing a passion for dogs and helping owners to solve problems through understanding canine behavior and modification is my number one goal.

Lisa Brattin

Saturday 10th of September 2022

I picked up our dog from the kennel one week ago and she was sick. I took her to the vet 4 days later because she wasn’t eating and was needing to go outside numerous times during the night, but was unable to poop. The vet prescribed a bland diet, antibiotic, and probiotic after giving her an injection(anti-emetic?) and rehydrating her in the office. Our dog is eating well now, not needing to go out at night, but has not made any attempts to have a bowel movement. As far as I know, she hasn’t pooped in one week now. I called vet back yesterday and she didn’t seem concerned. Please advise!

Danielle

Sunday 11th of September 2022

Hi Lisa, I'm not a vet but if you're sure that your dog hasn't pooped in one week, that's definitely cause for concern and I'm not sure why your vet doesn't seem concerned. It's great that she's eating well now and doesn't have to go out at night (does she drink well too?), but she needs to poop at one point ar another.

Personally, I'd consult another vet. Second opinion can't hurt, there might be an undetected underlying issue.

Cheers, Danielle

Deborah Bailey

Wednesday 7th of September 2022

Very informative...