Depending on what is causing the lack of poop – your dog may only have a matter of days without pooping before they will be ill enough to need urgent medical treatment and surgery.
If your dog isn’t pooping – you need to find out why fast! Many people don’t know that a dog not pooping can be really dangerous – and that your dog could actually die within days.
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Why is your dog not pooping a real medical emergency?
There are many reasons why your dog not pooping should be treated seriously – and this is exactly why it should be taken seriously.
Because more than one thing can cause it – it is best to get a veterinarian to rule out the serious ones.
Dogs can die – literally in days – because of untreated intestinal blockages. Especially if other symptoms were missed or ignored.
Many things that cause constipation can easily be resolved within a week – but often you don’t have that much time to act.
How long can a dog go without pooping depends on a number of factors – but anything longer than 48 hours needs investigating.
Why you need to act fast if your dog is not pooping
Intestinal blockages along with bloating and infection could be very painful for your dog – and need urgent surgery.
Other problems could be just as serious: such as your dog has swallowed something sharp, magnetic, or materials like yarn and stockings that can get twisted into the gut wall and cause tearing and torsion
Dogs normally poop once or twice a day – as that is how their guts work best.
The gut isn’t just ‘a thing that processes food’ it is a delicate and vitally important system.
It not only nourishes the body and keeps your dog in perfect health – it also eliminates all the waste, toxins, and poisons in the body – flushing it out safely every day.
Needless to say, if this poop doesn’t leave the body every day – your dog will not be able to get rid of these toxins. They will build up to dangerous levels in your dog.
It isn’t just the retained poop itself that is dangerous though – what is causing it could be far worse. Sometimes the lack of poop is just a symptom of something far worse.
Can my dog die because they are not pooping?
Unfortunately, yes. Dogs can – and do – die because they stopped pooping.
Serious health issues (like heart failure or tumors) can take months to build up – or can come on quite suddenly (like being hit by a car or eating a sock).
Often though – you can’t see these things at all. The only signs of these conditions could be things like: your dog pooping less, eating less or acting differently.
It is essential that you can tell when your dogs are acting ‘out of sorts’ and speak to a veterinarian – or keep a very close eye on them. Acting fast is the difference between successful treatment or life-changing outcomes.
Damage caused to the gut wall during a serious intestinal blockage could very easily become permanent if left untreated too long.
Even the simplest things that wouldn’t have been dangerous by themselves can sometimes lead to a serious medical emergency.
What types of things can cause a serious medical emergency?
There are a huge number of things that can cause digestive issues and constipation – many of them temporary and harmless. However, others can get real serious real quick – here are a few examples:
- Tumors – growths and cancers could cause an intestinal blockage over time – and need urgent treatment
- Gastric Torsion – air trapped in the gut can cause damage to the delicate tissues and cause cell death
- Abscesses – infections from the simplest things can swell and then rupture into the body
- Swallowed Items – often these are harmless and pass through – but if they tear the gut wall in transit they can be fatal
- Poisons – ingested poisons can stop blood flow to the gut or to other organs and cause multiple failures
- Parasites – Internal parasites can affect the shape and size of the gut causing the gut to fold in on itself
Essential symptoms every dog owner should be able to identify
Spotting when your dog isn’t pooping can be life or death – and understanding what may have caused it can help your veterinarian choose the best treatment.
Sometimes it can be linked to an incident you remember – such as a missing sock, an accident, or a garbage raid. Sometimes it can be associated with some other symptoms such as vomiting, tiredness, or coughing.
Each of these other symptoms – or lack of them – could help work out what is wrong and get your dog the best treatment.
But always remember – dogs can go for 2 days without pooping and come to no real harm.
If it goes on for longer or is accompanied by more serious symptoms – then make sure you contact your vet:
- Missing poop: Is there no poo at all? Is the poop hard small balls – or long thin tubes? Is there a lot of mucus or bleeding?
- Crying: Often dogs who are constipated or have torsion or internal pressure will be very uncomfortable
- Growling or biting: If your dog never did this before when grooming or picking up – it could be in real pain
- Hunching up: Often dogs try to curl up their backs to relieve pain, tucking the tail right under themselves
- Straining: This one can’t be missed on walks – and constant straining with no poop is an obvious one
- Loss of appetite: Often if you are feeling full or bloated – it dampens your appetite considerably – as does bending down
- Panting: If your dog isn’t being over-exercised (like long runs or playtime) or isn’t someplace hot – they shouldn’t be panting
What do emergency vets do for dogs that are not pooping?
Treatments vary depending on any other symptoms presenting at the time and the type of dog.
It also can be affected by your dog’s age and other existing health issues. Things like back and hip pain can contribute to constipation, for example.
Firstly, they would check the most obvious things that don’t require any treatments or procedures.
They might check in the mouth and anus for obvious blockages, take your dogs temperature, check their heart rate, listen to their lungs and feel the abdomen.
They may ask you about other things such as feeding, activity levels, and behaviors while they do this to get a fuller picture.
If nothing is obvious from this, they may suggest a stool sample test which can check for certain microbes such as viruses and bacteria, as well as harmful parasites.
Urine samples could rule out and organ disease such as liver failure and kidney issues.
They may also suggest x-rays or other scans if they suspect internal injuries or more serious blockages – and potentially endoscopy to take samples or remove blockages.
Only once they are happy they have a good idea of what is causing the constipation will they suggest a treatment.
This could range from taking a wormer to eating tinned pumpkin; or from emptying the anal glands to emergency surgery.
What home remedies help your dog to poop?
If you know or strongly believe that your dog hasn’t pooped just because it is backed up (rather than a serious blockage) and it doesn’t have any other serious symptoms as discussed above – there are many home remedies that you could try to resolve it yourself.
As long as your dog isn’t in obvious pain or discomfort – increasing their moderate exercise level to several controlled walks a day could help re-start their gut transit.
Often, lack of activity is a common cause of short-term constipation anyway – so just get their system back up and running.
Lack of overall moisture in their diet can often stall up digestion – there is a LOT of water involved in digesting food and creating stools.
If your dog isn’t drinking a lot or is getting too hot or too much exercise – they may be using their water for something else – causing the gut to miss out. Feeding moist food every so often can help resolve this.
A certain percentage of a dog’s diet should be indigestible – but not too much.
This bulky mass of what we call fiber travels through the gut collecting all the toxins and waste materials and helping them on their way out.
Without the fiber – the gut stops moving effectively and cannot make any poop.
Use dewormers regularly
Many dogs suffer from worms – who eat the dog’s food (the food you paid for your dog!).
Regular deworming helps keep your dog’s gut working at its best and making sure that there is no build-up of worms that could affect the shape or health of the gut (and your dog).
So, how long can a dog go without pooping?
As you have read, depending on what is causing the lack of poop – your dog may only have a matter of days without pooping before they will be ill enough to need urgent medical treatment and surgery.
Other cases may resolve themselves in a week with a few changes to diet and lifestyle – and others will need a combination of treatments for other health issues if they were the cause of the lack of poop in the first place.
Regular vet checks can help treat and more importantly – prevent – constipation in dogs.
Regular health checks mean that veterinarians can spot and then identify other health issues BEFORE they affect the gut. And this could definitely be a lifesaver.