How Long Can A Dog Go Without Pooping?

How long can a dog go without pooping you ask? Most dogs will defecate once or twice a day, usually after a meal or during regular exercise. Of course, puppies have more frequent eliminations as anyone in the middle of housetraining is aware.

You may notice that your dog is straining to poop, or frequently trying to poop but unable to. Perhaps your dog has been able to pass some stool, but it is hard or chalky. These are signs that your dog is constipated.


Constipated Canines?

Constipation is not unusual for canines, and is not an immediate cause for concern. However, because it can be related to more serious conditions, it is worth having some basic information if your dog is experiencing less frequent bowel movements than normal. 

If your dog is not having any other symptoms, it is probably okay to wait 48 hours before consulting with your vet. This article will explore common causes of constipation, other accompanying symptoms that could be cause for concern, and some treatments to consider.

Causes Of Constipation

constipation in dogs is cause by vary reason

There are a wide variety of possible causes for constipation in dogs. Since some of these causes can be life threatening and require specialized treatment, it is important to consult with your veterinarian for a proper diagnosis. 

Common causes of constipation in dogs include:


If your dog got into something that they cannot digest, it may have blocked their intestinal tract, preventing regular movements. This is a potentially life-threatening condition that may require surgery. If you suspect your dog may have eaten something that could be causing a blockage, do not delay. Take your dog to the vet immediately.


When your dog is not drinking enough water, it can cause harder stools which in turn can lead to constipation. If you have noticed that your dog is drinking less, or has other signs of dehydration like sticky saliva or skin that seems tight and less elastic than usual, check out these hydration tips for dogs.

Diet changes

Sudden changes in your dog’s diet can sometimes cause changes in stool, including constipation. Make sure you gradually change your dog’s food to try to maintain digestive health during a dietary transition.


If you notice that your dog is defecating less while traveling, after a move, or in conjunction with a major life change, then anxiety may be the culprit.

Medication Side-Effects

If your dog is experiencing constipation in conjunction with a new medication then it may well be a side-effect of the drug. In many cases, your dog’s system will adjust over time, however, give your vet a call as they may want to try a different course of treatment. Supplements and vitamins can also be the culprit.

Age and Exercise

Older dogs and those that are less active are more prone to having trouble with regularity than other dogs. Adding fiber to your dog’s diet or taking longer walks may well be enough to help your dog poop more normally. Consider a diet a specific for older dogs.


Some intestinal parasites can cause constipation in canines. Your vet may want to run some tests to eliminate this potential cause.

Physical Impediments

Injuries or degenerative conditions, particularly to the hips or spinal cord, may be negatively affecting your dog’s ability to pass regular stools.

Impacted or Inflamed Anal Glands

Sometimes anal glands can become painful which can make it uncomfortable for your dog to pass stool. Regular anal gland expressing is important for dogs that have chronic issues with impacted or infected anal glands.

Underlying Medical Conditions

If you are noticing a trend towards constipation in your dog, it is important to bring it to the attention of your veterinarian as it could be a symptom of a more serious condition that needs treatment. Kidney disease, hernias, cancer, hyperthyroidism, enlarged prostate and other possible underlying conditions may need to be addressed.

Other Dangerous Symptoms To Look For

symptoms that may be signs of constipation

There are a few other symptoms that may be signs of real and immediate danger if they accompany your dog’s inability to defecate. Please consult your vet immediately if constipation is accompanied with any of the following, even if symptoms of trouble defecating are recent: 

  • Loss of appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Lethargy
  • Shaking or visible discomfort

Treating Constipation

As always, it is important to consult your veterinarian before administering any course of treatment, particularly since constipation can indicate a more serious condition. There are some safe remedies to try at home if the constipation is not advanced or accompanied with any of the worrying signs listed above. 


One way to add some fiber to your dog’s diet to help with regular elimination is to add a few tablespoons of canned pumpkin to their food a few times a day. Get the plain pumpkin, not the kind with additional spices or sugars added. Consider freezing into ice cubes for perfectly portioned amounts that will keep.

Additional Exercise

Sometimes a bowel movement will be stimulated by exercise. An extra walk around the block or a trip to your favorite hiking trail may do the trick.

Canned Dog Food

The additional moisture in canned dog food may be enough to help soften your dog’s stool for a movement. Because it is shelf stable, you can keep a few cans on hand for dogs that are prone to intermittent bouts of constipation.

Stool Softener or Laxative

It is critical to work with your veterinarian to decide on a laxative to treat your dog’s constipation since some over the counter medications are toxic to dogs.


Left untreated, constipation in your dog can become a life-threatening condition. If you are not seeing any other symptoms it is probably okay to wait up to two days before consulting with your vet. However, do not let it go on longer.

A condition called Megacolon can cause irreversible damage if constipation is left untreated, even if no other underlying problems are present. This condition can require lifelong regular veterinary care if allowed to progress. When in doubt, consult your veterinarian if problems with constipation persist longer than a few days.

Mat Coulton

Mat Coulton has worked with dogs for just under a decade and is the founder of, a doggy lover’s website that provides great tips and advice for pet parents everywhere.

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