If your dog has been flawless for many years in the potty training department, you may be rightfully concerned when your dog starts dropping poop balls around the house. Your dog may be dropping poop pieces shortly after coming inside from pooping in the yard, or you may be finding small poop balls on the bed where your dog sleeps, in any case, what’s causing this? There can be various causes and it’s always a good idea to see the vet so to find the underlying cause and treat it accordingly. Of course, in dogs with long hair by their bum, the poop may get stuck there causing it to randomly drop. Trimming the hair back there may be a worthy thing.
A Lesson in Anatomy
When dogs are about to have a bowel movement, nerves detect the presence of feces filling up the rectum. When dogs detect this feeling, if they are well potty trained, they will either “hold it” until it’s potty time, ask to be let out in the yard or use the doggy door.
This feeling though is not something dogs are born with. When puppies are very young, they do not have sphincter control yet, which is why it is difficult to potty train them initially. The moment young puppies realize they need to potty, their waste already makes it to the floor!
This is why there’s no point in getting mad at puppies for having accidents in the home, they just haven’t developed the ability to hold it yet. It’s sort of like scolding a baby for soiling a diaper.
The ability to control the output of pee and poop only happens when puppies mature and attain better bladder and bowel control. Once they reach this control, it is possible to train puppies that great things happen if they go potty outdoors rather than on the carpet of rug. Defecation in dogs is therefore dependent on the correct functioning of several neuroanatomic structures.
A Problem with Discs
Dogs who are dropping poop around the house may be suffering from lack of nerve supply. This means they are no longer able to detect the sensations associated with the rectum filling up with feces. What causes this lack of nerve supply? This most often happens in aging dogs and dogs suffering from a variety of medical conditions.
If your dog is leaving poop balls around the house, there are chances that there may be a disc issue affecting the vertebrae in the dog’s back which interferes with the nerve supply to the area, explains veterinarian Dr. Loretta. Basically, a disc ruptures and pushes on the spinal cord causing interference with the nerve’s job in relaying information.
Affected dogs may demonstrate pain when their spine and hips are examined by the vet. If there is arthritis in the spine, this may be visible on x-rays. Lumbosacral stenosis, the narrowing of the spinal cord in the lower back, can also be a culprit. It’s important to rule out presences of masses or tumors of the vertebrae.
Dogs affected by disc problems generally get better with steroids or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as Rimadyl, Metacam or Deramaxx. Pain medications such as Tramadol may be needed too. Supplements containing glucosamine and chondroitin may help as well. However, in some cases surgery may be needed.
Not all causes of fecal incontinence in dogs are neurological, as mentioned, there may be non-neurological causes; however they tend to be less common. In this case, the problem may be triggered by some form of disease process affecting the area of the dog’s anus, explains veterinarian Dr. Fiona. These problems may range from growths and infections to tumors.
However, these problems are likely to cause several symptoms that can be quite noticeable to dog owners. For instance, you may see the dog having problems defecating, straining, and the dog may have misshapen stools, explains veterinarian Dr. Nick.
Through a careful veterinary exam, your vet should be able to determine if the underlying cause is neurological or something else is going on.
Issues with Hind Legs
In many cases, leaving poop around the house in a perfectly well house trained dog, is not really a true case of incontinence, but rather a problem with the dog’s hind legs. These dogs have weak legs that are debilitated because of arthritis.
Affected dogs may therefore be unable to adopt the ideal defecation posture as they should. Since these dogs therefore do not squat as they should, they may not be able to fully evacuate, which leads to the poop balls left behind when the dog walks into the home.
Arthritis seems to negatively affect the nerve supply to the dog’s anus, therefore it’s possible that this leads to dogs to dropping stool unintentionally, further explains veterinarian Dr. Nick.
Fortunately, there are many effective medications to treat arthritis and many dog owners report owning a “new dog’ after starting them. The issue of old dogs ‘slowing down’ is often a matter of joint pain. Consult with your vet for proper diagnosis and treatment.
Pooping During Sleep
If your dog is lying down on her bed and sleeping and then suddenly you notice a ball of poop, chances are your dog may be suffering from true fecal incontinence. Fecal incontinence, is simply a medical term used to depict the lack of control over defecation, which leads to involuntary loss of bowel contents. This term though doesn’t provide much information on what may be causing it.
In a dog pooping during sleep, there may be an underlying health problem, and as seen, the causes may be several. It may stem from a neural or spinal problem, explains veterinarian Dr. Edwards.
It’s therefore important bringing this to a vet’s attention so that the vet can conduct a neurological exam and check the dog’s rectum to see if there are any abnormalities. There are chances that pooping during sleep occurs because the colon is overfull and sleeping leads to reduced muscle tone.
The Power of Fiber
As seen, tackling the issue of dogs dropping poop balls around revolves around finding the underlying issue and treating it accordingly; however, there are few things you also try to see if things get better.
For instance, there may be some improvement by switching the dog to a a low-residue diet. A low residue diet may help reduce the number of poop ball dropped around because it decreases the amount of stool being formed. Your vet clinic will carry several brands of this diet.
Some dog owners report improvement by adding more fiber to a dog’s diet. The fiber helps because it makes the dog’s stool firmer. One way you can increase fiber in your dog’s diet is by adding two tablespoons twice daily of plain pumpkin (not the pie filling) to the dog’s food, suggests veterinarian Dr. Fiona.
There are also several medications your vet may prescribe such as Lomotil or Imodium to slow down transit times or phenylpropanolamine or diphenoxylate which may help increase tone of the internal anal sphincter.