Not Pooping in Dogs

Written By hannah hollinger
Published: 05/31/2017Updated: 09/17/2021
Veterinary reviewed by Dr. Linda Simon, MVB MRCVS
Why is my dog not pooping?

What is Not Pooping?

Most dog owners complain that their dog is suffering from diarrhea rather than constipation. If your dog is not pooping, there is usually a serious problem that needs to be addressed by your veterinarian. Your dog is considered to be constipated when they have difficulty pooping or they are not pooping at all. When they are having difficulty pooping they are producing feces that are hard and dry. This happens when the feces remain in the colon for too long and the moisture is absorbed back into the body, making the feces hard, dry and very difficult to pass. 

If your dog’s constipation persists and is not treated quickly, their large intestine can stretch out and no longer effectively function. The stretching of the colon can lead to a chronic condition known as megacolon. 

There are several different causes for why your dog is not pooping including:

  • Partial or complete obstruction in the colon
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Hypercalcemia
  • Swallowing a foreign object 
  • Dehydration
  • Lack of exercise
  • Lack of dietary fiber
  • Infected anal glands
  • Intestinal obstruction
  • Environmental stress

Why Not Pooping Occurs in Dogs

Obstruction of the Colon or Intestine

There are times when a foreign object, impacted feces, or tumors obstruct the colon. This obstruction may be partial, meaning feces can still move past the obstruction with great difficulty, or complete, meaning no feces can move past the obstruction. Your dog can experience severe complications from an obstruction in the colon and death can occur if not treated quickly. This is also true for the intestines. Dogs that like to eat or chew on things are more prone to intestinal obstructions that will require surgery to remove.

Hypothyroidism or Hypercalcemia

Hypothyroidism and hypercalcemia are both relatively common conditions in dogs. When the thyroid gland is not properly functioning or when there is an abnormally high volume of calcium in the blood your dog can experience difficulty defecating. 

Dehydration, low fiber and low activity levels

Dehydration can cause your dog to be unable to poop as the moisture that is in the feces is being resorbed by the body to try and compensate for the lack of fluids in the body. If you suspect your dog is severely dehydrated seek veterinary care immediately. Just like with humans, dogs need a specific amount of fiber in their diet along with exercise to keep their digestive tract fully functional. Start giving your dog more exercise and read the label on your dog’s food. 

Infected Anal Glands

Infected anal glands can also cause your dog to not poop. You can generally tell if the anal glands are the issue by examining the anus and looking for hard, protruding pockets around the anus. There will also be a foul smell present. Some dogs scoot their bum on the ground and lick the area.

Environmental Stress

Environmental stress can cause your dog to not poop. Changes in their routine, food or environment can cause brief bouts of constipation.

What to do if your Dog is Not Pooping

Dogs that have obstructions from eating foreign objects such as socks, bones, rocks, or children’s toys will need to be examined by your veterinarian. If your dog is unable to pass the foreign object naturally and thus clear the obstruction, surgery will be required to remove the object. 

There are times when the obstruction is due to tumors that have formed within the small intestines or the colon. These will also require surgery and the tumors will need to be biopsied. Your veterinarian will discuss the procedure and the possible outcomes. 

Dehydration that is mild can be treated at home; offer plenty of cold, fresh water for your dog. You can offer them small amounts of canned dog food which contains moisture and will help with dehydration. If your dog is suffering from severe dehydration you need to seek immediate veterinary care. A dehydrated dog will have dry gums, a prolonged skin tent and will be lethargic. Your veterinarian will begin intravenous fluids to rehydrate your dog while they are trying to determine the cause of your dog’s severe dehydration. 

Infected anal glands will need to be expressed, if possible. If the anal glands are severely infected, surgery may be required to lance the abscess and drain the infection. Your veterinarian will prescribe antibiotics and strong pain relief for your dog. 

You may want to consult your veterinarian if you suspect your dog is having trouble defecating due to a lack of dietary fiber or exercise. Your veterinarian can recommend a food that will provide the right amount of fiber and an exercise plan that will benefit your dog.

Prevention of Not Pooping

You can take steps to prevent your dog from becoming constipated. Always have plenty of fresh water available for them to drink. If your dog is a chewer, keep all tempting objects out of reach. Feed a food that has high fiber content and make sure your dog gets plenty of exercise. Those prone to anal gland issues may need them regularly emptied.

As soon as you notice your dog is having difficulty pooping, begin taking notes of what has changed in their environment, what they have eaten and how long they try to poop. Your veterinarian will need this information to make a proper diagnosis.

Some causes of constipation in dogs can be expensive to treat. To avoid high vet care expenses, secure pet health insurance today. The sooner you insure your pet, the more protection you’ll have from unexpected vet costs.

Cost of Not Pooping

Depending on the cause of your dog not pooping, it may cost a simple office visit to your veterinarian. However, if it is something more severe such as an obstruction in the colon or intestines that can cost between $800 and $7000 with the average cost being $3000. Infected anal glands can cost between $75 and $2000 with the average cost being around $500.

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Not Pooping Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals





Eight Weeks


22 found this helpful


22 found this helpful

My pet has the following symptoms:
I’ve had my puppy for 6 days and she has been pooping pretty regularly. The stools are soft but not any softer than what they should be based on my research. This morning she pooped after waking up but hasn’t pooped after her breakfast (about 3.5 hours ago), based on the last few days this is unusual for her but then again she’s only been with me for 6 days. Should I be worried? Thank you!

Jan. 10, 2021

Answered by Dr. Linda S. MVB MRCVS

22 Recommendations

Not at all, no. As long as she is acting normally, eating and playful, I would not worry. It is expected for a dog to empty their bowels less as they get older and there is variation from day to day. Most adult dogs pass stool 1-2 times a day, though puppies will go more regularly. She may just have gotten more used to her new food. Continue to monitor her but there is no cause for concern now.

Jan. 10, 2021

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One Year


9 found this helpful


9 found this helpful

My pet has the following symptoms:
Concave Chest
Dog 5 days didn’t pee and poop

Nov. 3, 2020

Answered by Jessica N. DVM

9 Recommendations

Hello- Thank you for your question. If your pet has not urinated or a defecated for five days then you need to see a veterinarian as soon as possible. I would be concerned that your pet is not eating well, or potentially having kidney or bladder disease if not urinating. Your veterinarian will be able to examine her, and provide recommended diagnostics. I would plan on having them perform a urine check, bloodwork and x-rays. Good luck!

Nov. 3, 2020

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