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How Long Can a Dog Go Without Pooping?

Dog head tilted outside in the garden
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Unsavory as the topic may be, the truth is that your dog’s poop is pretty important. Not only are proper bowel movements essential for your dog’s overall health, but you can also tell a lot about how your dog is doing based on their bathroom habits. 

If your pup hasn’t pooped in a day or so, you may start to wonder: how long can a dog go without pooping? Here’s what you should know if your pup’s poop is on your mind.

How Often Should a Dog Poop?

Curious dog with head tilted

How often a dog poops varies based on several factors, including things like diet, activity level, metabolism, and age. Although many dogs will defecate multiple times a day, younger dogs, more active dogs, and dogs with high fiber diets tend to have more frequent bowel movements. 

“Due to a higher metabolic rate and more activity, young puppies do tend to have more frequent bowel movements,” says Dr. Jamie Whittenburg, a veterinarian in Lubbock, Texas. For example, “most puppies will need to defecate within 30 minutes of eating a meal, so this is a good time to take them out.”

Breed and size may affect a dog’s stooling patterns, as well. Instead of expecting your dog to poop a certain number of times a day, “it’s important to monitor your dog when they are healthy and determine what is ‘normal’ for them,” says Dr. Whittenburg. “Once this is established, you will know if there are drastic changes, such as constipation and diarrhea.” 

How Long Can a Dog Go Without Pooping?

Tiny puppy looking up to owner feeling stressed

There’s no exact answer to how long a dog can safely go without having a bowel movement. “The important thing for a pet parent to do is to notice a change in what is normal for their dog,” says Dr. Whittenburg. 

For example, dogs are prone to dietary indiscretions from time-to-time (who among us hasn’t fed our pup a table scrap here and there?), and this may cause loose stools for a day or two. “Usually this is nothing to worry about,” says Dr. Whittenburg. “On the other hand, a change in diet, a decrease in activity, a decrease in water intake, and certain medications may cause a dog to become constipated. In most cases, this will resolve in a day or two.”

In the case that your dog has bloody stool, excessive diarrhea, has not had a bowel movement in days, or is straining, you should take them to the veterinarian immediately.

Dog Not Pooping: Common Causes

Dog looking sad sitting outside as he is constipated

Common causes to a dog not pooping include: 

  • Dietary changes
  • Decreased water intake
  • Decreased activity levels
  • Certain medications

All of these things can lead to constipation. 

On the other hand, “not defecating is not a reliable indicator of an obstruction,” says Dr. Whittenburg. “Contrary to popular belief, dogs with intestinal obstructions often continue to have bowel movements and may even have loose stool.” 

What to Do if Your Dog Isn’t Pooping

Dog at the vet feeling unwell

If you have concerns about your pet’s pooping, it’s best to see a veterinarian as soon as you can. 

However, if your dog seems to be constipated regularly, it may be helpful to add fiber to their diet. Dr. Whittenburg suggests using canned pumpkin—one tablespoon for small breeds and three tablespoons for larger dogs daily—or feeding a dog food that’s marketed as higher in fiber to help. 

Aside from dietary adjustments, be sure your dog is also drinking enough water. After all, fiber alone won’t help a dehydrated dog, and could in fact worsen the constipation.

“Activity can be helpful as well,” Dr. Whittenburg adds. “Taking a constipated dog on a long walk will aid in colonic movement, and often induces a bowel movement.”

4 Products to Help Dog Poop Problems

Dog outside looking anxious

If you are truly concerned about your dog’s bowel movements, it’s always important to contact your veterinarian for advice. “When a dog is truly constipated, it’s essential to determine the underlying cause and correct it,” says Dr. Whittenburg. 

Dr. Marcy McKeithen, owner of Motor City Vet Care, also suggests using caution when trying over-the-counter medications. “Pets are very different from humans,” she says, “so some of the remedies we might have for humans could be very harmful for a pet.”

With the proper input from your veterinarian, some of the following products might help if your dog is having poop troubles:

Great Pet Great Poop Digestive Support Supplement

Great Pet® Great Poop Digestive Support Dog Supplement

A good supplement offers the proper ingredients to provide your pup with a diet that supports overall digestive health. This one offers fiber, probiotics, and digestive enzymes that your dog needs to naturally support digestive health and help avoid issues like diarrhea, loose stool, constipation, and more. It comes in a tasty chicken flavor that most dogs enjoy and is made without corn, soy, artificial flavoring and preservatives. 

NaturVet Stool Ease

NaturVet Stool Ease Soft Chews Digestive Supplement for Dogs

If pain is causing your dog to avoid pooping, a stool softener can help alleviate the problem. These tasty soft chews are easy for dogs to eat and are veterinarian approved. They’re made with an enzyme blend that helps to soften stool, making pooping easier for your pup. 

Hill’s Prescription Diet Gastrointestinal Biome Digestive/Fiber Care

Hill's Prescription Diet Gastrointestinal Biome Chicken Flavor Dry Dog Food

With your veterinarian’s blessing, changing up your dog’s food can do wonders for their digestive system. This prescription diet is formulated by nutritionists and veterinarians to help support good bacteria in your dog’s gut and balance out their microbiome—firming up loose stools and preventing constipation. It also contains Omega-3 fatty acids for additional health benefits.

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