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What is Pooping in His Crate?

If your dog has been pooping in his crate, it may be a cause for alarm. 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 pooping in his crate can give you and your vet important clues as to the cause of your dog’s behavior. While there are many reasons why your dog may be pooping in his crate, common ones include:

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

Why Pooping in His Crate Occurs in Dogs

Reasons why your dog may be pooping in his crate relate to behavioral issues, physical limitations, or medical reasons that can cause your dog to be unable to hold it 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 it 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 it 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 it 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 poop 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. 

Anxiety

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 poop 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 symptoms include episodes of diarrhea or vomiting, and sometimes, weight loss. Diet and bacterial proteins have both been identified as possible causes. 

Infections

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.

Incontinence

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. 

Trauma

 

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.

Medications

 

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.

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What to do if your Dog is Pooping in His Crate

To correctly diagnose why your dog is pooping in his crate, your vet will first look at the age of your dog, and ask pointed questions about his potty training and any concurrent symptoms. 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 poops 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 vet 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 and 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 that have no cure. 

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 and counterconditioning. 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.

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Prevention of Pooping 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 expose him to lots of new people, animals, and places to encourage confidence and lessen the chance of anxious tendencies. Use crate training techniques to teach your dog that the crate is a safe place to be. 

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Cost of Pooping 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 be rather expensive, ranging up to $5000. Inflammatory bowel disease can average $2800, while degenerative myelopathy can be slightly less at $1800. Infections can range up to $1000, with parvovirus averaging $700 and intestinal parasites around $300. Behavioral issues involving anxiety can range from $200 to $1500.

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Pooping in His Crate Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

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Boxer, pitbull and whippet mix

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Two Years

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Sudden Pooping And Peeing In Crate. What Should I Do?

I adopted my dog from the shelter almost a year ago, and I have another shelter rescue plus 2 smaller dogs. We recently got one of the smaller dogs and my dog has started peeing and pooping in the cage every night despite being let out several times before bed. It seems as though he is purposely hold his poop so that he may go in the cage, and he has now began peeing in the cage despite going several times before bed. He didn't used to do this before and he seems to really love the new addition to the family. However he has no medical issues and the only reason I can come up with is the puppy.

Aug. 29, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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Thank you for your question. It is hard to say why he suddenly has changed habits since getting the new dog, but there are a couple of things that you may be able to do to help. One thing that can help is to have set feeding times, so that you know when he will need to defecate, as it is normally about 30-60 minutes after eating. Also, taking him for actual walks rather than just having him stay outside can help, as that can stimulate dogs to urinate and defecate. Praising him when he defecates and urinates outside will help reinforce that behavior. Ihope that all goes well for him.

Aug. 29, 2020

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Pitbull

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Three Years

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Goes #2 In Crate

I have 2 dogs one we have had since he was 7 weeks old and then Lola. We took her in at 3 mos old. She was abused and we were her 4th home at 3 mos old. She had a lot of anxiety. She’s gotten so much better. I work at home and I have to be on a phone, my dogs won’t behave if they are out they run wild, play, bark, normal things. So I have to crate them so I don’t lose my job. They are next to me in my office and they come out on my breaks, my lunch, etc.... Lola is so good no issues with going to the bathroom but if I go to the grocery store she will go #2 in kennel and eat it, I need help

Aug. 24, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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Thank you for your question. I'm sorry that your dog has this trouble. There are medications that you can give to try to deter them from eating their own feces. It may be an issue at this point, however, since it has been going on for 4 years. There are over the counter deterrents that you can buy, but it might be best to get a prescription from your veterinarian to give her the best chance at it working, since it has been going on for so long. The other thing that you can do is to actually walk her before you put her in her kennel. Walking will sometimes stimulate them to defecate more than going out in the yard no. Those things might help her. I hope it all goes well for her.

Aug. 24, 2020

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Pug

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Less than a year

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Diarrhea And Uncontrollable Pooping

Uncontrollable pooping. Even though she has pooped several times, she keeps trying to poop although nothing comes out but water. I assume she is sick, but have no option but to wait it out for a few days to see if the symptom worsens or get better.

Aug. 7, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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Thank you for your question. She may have a parasite, or she may have eaten something that is not agreeing with her. If you have no choice but to watch her, it may help to feed her a bland diet of boiled white rice and boiled white chicken, and see if that helps. If it is not improving with that bland diet, or if she starts vomiting, then she should see a veterinarian.

Aug. 8, 2020

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Pit Bull

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Five Months

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Noisy Breathing

Lyra still poops in her cage and her sister doesn’t. I feel she is sick but the last time she was taking medicine it made her stool worse

July 31, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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Thank you for your question. Some medications do cause soft stool, but others will help with parasites if that is the problem. The first thing that I would do would be to make sure that Lyra doesn't have any parasites, and your veterinarian can do that for you. I hope that all goes well for her.

July 31, 2020

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Pit Bull

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Two Years

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Noisy Breathing

Hello! So I am fully aware that my dog currently has heart worms (he was a stray), and they gave him an antibiotic and he finished that about a week ago and the past two days he has pooped in his cage, which he has never done before, and it was diarrhea, he is also very thirsty, normally he doesn’t drink much but recently he’s been drinking almost 3x as much as usual. Just was wondering if this is something new or it’s just getting worse.

July 29, 2020

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Dr. Gina U. DVM

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Hello I'm sorry that your pet is not feeling well. Heartworm treatment can be really rough on a dog's system. He may be having diarrhea as a side effect from the treatment or possibly from something he age. I recommend that you take him to a veterinarian for an exam. Good luck.

July 29, 2020

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Lexi

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Golden Retriever

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10 Weeks

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None

We have a puppy she is 10 weeks old we are crate training her. For the 1st 2weeks she did brilliant & only peeed on her puppy training mat but the last 4 mornings we've woke up to her barking & her crate being dirty.

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Anabel

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Labrador Retriever

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2 Years

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Poop In Crate
Pee In Crate Occasionally
Walking Pooper

I have had Anabel since she was 8 weeks old. Shet has been crate trained o the best of my ability and will still poop and pee in her crate. She was the runt of her litter, now weighs 45 lbs and stands maybe a foot to a foot and a half from foot to shoulder. She won't poop or pee in the house (unless left out of crate) but will in the crate overnight every other night or more and during the day occasionally. Mostly it's at night even though we let her out after 6-8 hours. I feel like this isn't normal for a 2 year old lab as my other one was fully potty trained and can hold her poop for longer than 10 hours (work day). I'm pregnant now and am getting to where I cannot bend over that much to clean that kind of mess up anymore and am in desperate need of help. Her poop isn't abnormal in any way that I know of, still solid and has never had diarrhea, UTD on shots, not spayed yet, mother and father have no medical conditions. I know it's not the crate size because she walks and poops so it wouldn't matter if I got her a smaller crate, I find her standing and waiting to be let out every time.

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Kashi

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English Bulldog

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12 Weeks

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Mild severity

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Pooping In Crate
Peeing

I need help! We have a 12 week old English Bulldog Puppy. We have a two-year old, (Had her since 9-weeks) and she was nothing like this. I know every dog is different, but the puppy bulldog is so difficult. We first had a small crate, realized it was too big for her. So, we went out and bought one with a divider, that she can grow into. We cut off her feeding time at 7:30pm. We take her out at night before we crate her, and she still pee's and poop's. She's healthy, she's been to the vet. She will do her buesiness outside, but come inside and still pee or poop in her crate. Also, she will not hold her pee no matter what. She won't even sniff to poop, she's so entertained into playing or distracted that when it comes, it comes. Anyone have any tips? :( My first English Bulldog, was nothing like this. We struggled for a week, but after a week she got the hang of it.

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Bailey

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Border Collie

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2 Years

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Mild severity

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Poop

My dog is two years old and was crate trained for potty control reasons. All went well and I gained trust in her to be out of her kennel as she grew up when I left for work. She began pooping in our spare room. We kept the room closed off. She began pooping in our living room then in front of my bedroom door! She was created today and went to the bathroom 4 times today poop and pee. I left for class and was gone for 5 hours and she pooped in it! It's not too big for her. She stands, turn around, and lay down in it.

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hades

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Pit bull

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3 Months

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Fair severity

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Potty Training

my 3 month old pit bull puppy is constantly relieving himself in the house. we let him go and do his business outside and sometimes he goes poop twice even, but the moment we let him back in he poops and pees on the floor. so we put him in his kennel so that we can teach him that this behaviour is not tolerated (and to clean his poop/pee up), but he just goes to the washroom in there too. we are trying to train him that outside is the right place to do that, but we've had no luck and he's been with us for a month now. even if we have constant eyes on him he still decides that it doesn't matter and goes to the bathroom. we have an older pit bull mix and we thought that she would be a little bit of a guide when it comes to this, but he has quite the attitude when it comes to rules. I don't know what to do about him.