Bowel Movements in His Crate in Dogs

Written By hannah hollinger
Published: 07/14/2017Updated: 04/15/2021
Veterinary reviewed by Michele K.
Why is my dog having bowel movements in his crate?

What is Bowel Movements in His Crate?

If your dog has been having bowel movements in his crate, it may be a cause for concern. The instinct to keep the den clean is natural in wild dogs, and the crate often becomes this den for domestic pet dogs. To understand why your dog may be inappropriately eliminating in his crate, take a look at some factors surrounding the behavior. The consistency of the stool can be a reflection of your dog’s health. Diarrhea can be a common symptom of many medical conditions. If your dog shows anxious behaviors in his crate, there may be behavioral issues that are causing the inappropriate elimination. Any symptoms concurrent with your dog having bowel movements in his crate can give you and your veterinarian important clues as to the cause of your dog’s behavior. While there are many reasons why your dog may be having this problem, common causes include:

  • Potty training¬†
  • Crate is too big
  • Anxiety
  • Inflammatory bowel disease¬†
  • Infections
  • Muscle and nerve disease
  • Incontinence¬†
  • Trauma¬†
  • Medications

Why Bowel Movements in His Crate Occurs in Dogs

Reasons why your dog may be defecating in his crate relate to behavioral issues, physical limitations, or medical reasons that can cause your dog to be unable to hold his bowels until he is let out of his crate. Often, conditions that cause diarrhea or a loss of bowel control can result in crate soiling.

Potty Training 

If your dog is still a puppy, he may not be completely potty trained. He may also be too young to be able to hold his bowels for too long of a time. Puppies will need to relieve themselves much more often than adult dogs, and can even need to have a bathroom break as soon as every hour. On average, a two month old puppy can only hold their bowels and bladder for about two hours at the most. As your puppy grows older, he will be able to extend that time, but it may be slow. Know that even an adult dog can have limitations, and may not be able to hold their bowels or bladder through an eight to ten hour work day.

Crate is Too Big

Ensuring you have the proper size crate can also make a big difference. When choosing a crate, only allow enough room for your dog to be able to turn around in and lay with his legs out. This important detail will ensure that there isn’t enough room for him to defecate and not lay in it. Dogs have a natural instinct not to soil where they rest, so use this instinct to your advantage, especially when training puppies, or retraining adults. 


A dog who suffers from separation anxiety may become quite anxious when you leave, a common time when he may be crated. He may whine, pant, and pace, but more importantly, he may become so distraught that he may defecate right where he is. Your dog might also suffer from confinement anxiety, which could cause anxious behaviors when he is trapped in a confined space. 

Inflammatory Bowel Disease 

This is a chronic condition that affects the intestinal tract in some dogs. Due to several reasons, the intestinal lining is invaded by inflammatory cells, resulting in an allergic response that interferes with the ability to process and absorb nutrients from food. Common signs include episodes of diarrhea or vomiting, and sometimes, weight loss. Diet and bacterial proteins have both been identified as possible causes. 


Various infections can lead to digestive problems that can cause uncontrollable diarrhea. Parvovirus is a highly infectious virus that can cause severe abdominal pain, bloating, decreased appetite, vomiting, and often, bloody diarrhea. Many types of internal parasites and worms can also cause digestive disruptions, and can result in chronic diarrhea that can damage the muscles in the rectum. This can lead to a loss of full control in that area. Some of the infecting parasites can include roundworms, hookworms, tapeworms, giardia, and coccidia. 

Muscle and Nerve Disease

There are various diseases that can affect the muscles or nerves, causing weakness and debilitation that can affect rectum function. Degenerative myelopathy involves a degeneration of the axons within the spinal cord, resulting in arthritic-like symptoms specifically seen in the hind end. Peripheral myopathy is a condition which causes nerve damage that inhibits sensations, thereby stopping your dog from knowing when he needs to defecate. Myasthenia gravis is a neuromuscular disease that is inherited or immune-mediated. This condition stops the muscles from being able to contract.


There are many medical conditions that can cause incontinence in dogs, especially those that involve a partial or complete paralysis of the hind end. Elderly dogs may also experience incontinence as a consequence of aging, and this is likely treatable to a certain extent.  


Injury can occur from accidents, or from tumors that may have formed near the rectum. These kinds of trauma may damage sphincter control and make it difficult for your dog to control his elimination.


Certain medications can cause disturbances in elimination. If you have noticed the behavior since your dog has been taking a specific drug, talk with your veterinarian about the possible side effects and if that may be causing problems in your dog.

What to do if your Dog is Bowel Movements in His Crate

To correctly diagnose why your dog is having bowel movements in his crate, your veterinarian  will first look at the age of your dog, and ask pointed questions about his potty training and any concurrent signs. It is important to determine if the inappropriate elimination is a behavioral or medical issue. Your veterinarian will perform a physical exam, which will include checking the sphincter muscles, and run many tests to determine if there is a medical reason behind the behavior. Bring a fresh stool sample for testing if you can. Blood tests, a urinalysis and fecal testing can provide valuable information that can lead to a diagnosis. These tests can often diagnose various infections, and evaluate your dog’s internal health. X-rays, MRIs, or a myelography can detect tumors, muscle and nerve diseases, and evidence of any other serious trauma. Inflammatory bowel disease may need an intestinal biopsy for a definitive diagnosis. 

If medical reasons are ruled out, then behavioral issues will be examined. Does your dog become anxious in confined places? Does he get nervous and vocal when you get ready to leave the house? Often, separation anxiety can be diagnosed if your dog only defecates in his crate when you are gone. Monitoring his behavior can give you important clues as to why he may be anxious in his crate.

Once the reason has been determined, a treatment plan will be discussed with your veterinarian that is specific to your dog’s condition. Infections can be treated with appropriate antibiotics and anti-parasitics. Any medications that may be causing elimination problems will be immediately discontinued. Trauma will be evaluated and corrected as needed, such as tumor removal or reconstructive surgery. If incontinence in your older dog is the issue, diapers or more frequent trips outside may help. Dietary changes can sometimes decrease the symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease. While there are not any drugs that can specifically treat a parvovirus infection, supportive care is given to aid in the body’s natural recovery. Physical therapy exercises and pain medication is often prescribed to manage diseases such as degenerative myelopathy.

If your dog is still a puppy, or just needs re-training, use positive training techniques to teach your dog the appropriate place to eliminate. Use patience, consistency, and compassion to ensure that your dog receives the correct message and learns that the crate is not his bathroom. Anxiety can be treated through behavioral modification, counterconditioning and medications. Try leaving toys and treats with your dog when you lock him in his crate so that he will associate good things with time in his crate, thereby lessening his anxiety. Be sure you have an appropriately sized crate that discourages elimination. Always remember that not all dogs are physically the same, and while some can hold their stool for a very long time, other dogs may need to go out more often.

Prevention of Bowel Movements in His Crate

It may be impossible to predict when accidents, tumors, or certain medical conditions can occur, but there are other ways you can prevent this behavior. Be sure to keep your dog on a monthly preventative treatment to protect him from parasitic infections. Use positive reinforcement right away with your puppy to teach potty training, and safely expose him to lots of new people, animals, and places to encourage confidence and lessen the chance of anxious tendencies. Use positive crate training techniques to teach your dog that the crate is a safe place to be. 

Cost of Bowel Movements in His Crate

The cost of treating inappropriate defecation in the crate can range considerably, and will depend on the reason behind the behavior. The loss of bowel control can rang up to $5000. Inflammatory bowel disease can average $500-$2800. Infections can range between $150-$1500, with parvovirus treatment averaging $2500 and intestinal parasites around $300. Behavioral issues involving anxiety can range from $200 to $1500.

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Bowel Movements in His Crate Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals


Silky Cocker



One Year


1 found this helpful


1 found this helpful

My pet has the following symptoms:
Blood In Stool
I left my dog in his crate for the night when I went out and I came home and immediately took it outside and as he was pooping is watery but then there is red after he got it out

Dec. 5, 2020

Answered by Dr. Linda S. MVB MRCVS

1 Recommendations

Blood in the stool can occur due to irritation of the gut, especially if there is diarrhoea. There can be many causes including an infection, parasites or a dietary indiscretion (eating something he shouldn't have). If it is a very small amount (a teaspoon or less) and he remains well (active and eating with pink and wet gums), I would monitor closely and feed a bland diet of chicken and rice for 24 hours. Do also ensure he is up to date with a good quality wormer. If the issue persists or you are concerned, a vet check would be for the best and they may analyse his stool.

Dec. 5, 2020

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Yorkie poo



24 weeks


2 found this helpful


2 found this helpful

My pet has the following symptoms:
Tarry Stool
After he come I about 2am

Sept. 27, 2020

Answered by Dr. Michele K. DVM

2 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. Young dogs are prone to eating things that they shouldn't, especially if they are outside unattended. It would be best to have your pet seen by a veterinarian, as they can examine them and see what might be going on, and get treatment if needed.

Oct. 12, 2020

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