Dog Pooping in the House: Why and What to Do
One of the proudest moments of being a dog parent is the joy you feel when you have successfully potty trained your new puppy. However, as your dog grows, he may have some accidents from time to time.
But what happens if your dog starts pooping in the house more than a few times?
This behavior would definitely be abnormal for a house trained dog. Let’s take a look at some of the most common reasons and what you can do about them.
Why does my dog poop at home?
If your dog keeps pooping in the house, he may have a health problem or something has changed in his routine, diet, or home environment that is causing the accidents.
The first step is to rule out a medical reason, which means making an appointment with the veterinarian.
Any medical condition that causes inflammation of your dog’s intestines or an increased sense of urgency can lead to an accident in the house. A common cause of gastrointestinal disease in dogs is intestinal parasites (worms).
Dogs can come into contact with parasites in the yard, at dog parks, or by being in contact with other dogs or cats. These parasitic worms create inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract, causing diarrhea, blood and/or mucus in the stool.
Food allergies or intolerances can also cause gastrointestinal upset in dogs. Although food allergies in dogs are relatively uncommon, between 10% and 15% of dogs diagnosed with food allergies show signs of both skin diseases and gastrointestinal diseases, usually in the form of loose stools.
Common food allergies in dogs include beef, dairy, chicken, wheat, and lamb. Food intolerance or allergy can cause your dog to defecate more frequently, have loose but formed stools, and have more gas and stomach noises.
Separation anxiety has become a more common problem for some dogs, especially if there is a change in how often you are home with them. If your dog is used to you being home with him most of the day and then her schedule changes and you are away for longer periods of time, this can be annoying for your dog.
Dogs with separation anxiety typically begin to become nervous or anxious when you are preparing to leave the house (grabbing a coat or keys, putting on your shoes, etc.). Your dog may start engaging in behaviors such as destructive chewing, pacing, whining, or soiling the house.
Noise phobia/outdoor stressors
Your dog may be pooping inside because something outside scares him or makes him anxious. Some dogs have a more nervous personality and loud sounds, such as passing vehicles, dogs barking, thunder, people yelling, or other loud noises, can contribute to fear and anxiety.
Your dog may also be anxious about potential predators, rain, people running by, or wheeled objects such as skateboards, suitcases, or bicycles passing by them. If your dog is tense and fearful when he is outside, he may not use the bathroom until he returns indoors.
Some dogs may poop at home because they didn’t spend enough time outside to go to the bathroom. When dogs go outside, they typically want to sniff and explore their surroundings for new sights, smells, or sounds. So if your dog spends a lot of time exploring instead of urinating and defecating, he may not have had enough time to poop outdoors.
Change of routine
Most dogs get used to a schedule of eating, going for a walk or even playing at certain times. If there is a sudden change in this routine, your dog may not be ready and this may contribute to pooping in the house. With a newly housetrained pet, any new stressor or change in their daily routine can cause setbacks.
As your pet ages, your housetraining skills may not be as sharp as they were when he was a puppy. Older dogs may begin to show mild signs of canine cognitive dysfunction or mild canine dementia, where they begin to forget certain learned behaviors. Common signs seen include pacing, wandering, increased anxiety, and more episodes of house soiling.
Another age-related factor is arthritis. An older dog with signs of hip or knee pain may have more difficulty getting into a position to defecate, so he may have trouble going to the right place.
Sudden changes in your dog’s diet can cause gastrointestinal upset. Whether it’s because he bought a new brand of food or treats or his dog got into the trash, a dog’s intestinal tract doesn’t handle this type of abrupt change well.
Changing diet can cause a massive change in the microflora biome (good and bad bacteria) that make up your dog’s intestinal tract. This imbalance can cause loose stools, causing accidents in the house.
How to stop a dog from pooping at home
No matter the underlying cause of your dog’s inappropriate defecation in the house, punishment will not solve the problem. Don’t yell at him or rub his nose, as this is not an effective strategy.
Here are some tips on how to stop your dog from pooping indoors. Consult your veterinarian if these strategies do not help resolve the problem.
Address underlying health conditions
It is important to make an appointment with your veterinarian to find out possible medical conditions.
Intestinal parasites can be diagnosed through fecal tests and easily treated with antiparasitic medications. Additionally, if your pet is at greater risk of exposure to intestinal parasites, it is essential to keep them on monthly prevention as a form of protection.
For food allergies, your veterinarian may recommend a prescription diet, such as a hydrolyzed protein or new protein diet, to see if your pet tolerates the food better.
Ask your veterinarian about adding a daily probiotic to your pet’s food, such as Purina® Fortiflora or Nutramax® Proviable to help promote a balanced gut microbiome.
Seek Help for Your Dog’s Anxiety or Separation Anxiety
Helping your pet with anxiety-related issues often involves some type of behavior modification or desensitization.
For separation anxiety, dogs need to be retrained over time to see being left alone for certain periods as a positive thing. Ask your veterinarian about professional trainers or veterinary behaviorists who can help with your pet’s specific problem.
Pheromones, such as Adaptil®, and calming supplements, such as Zylkene® or Purina® Calming Care, also help with anxiety. If you think your pet may need more aggressive therapy, consult your veterinarian.
Get recommendations for age-related problems
If your pet begins to show signs of mild dementia or cognitive dysfunction, schedule a checkup with your veterinarian. There are special medications and diets for older pets that will help them face this new stage of their life.
Your veterinarian can also examine your dog for any signs of pain or discomfort associated with arthritis and may recommend joint supplements or pain relievers.
Keep your dog focused during potty time
If your dog seems to get distracted from the potty mission, you can help him stay on track.
For example, if your pet has been inside all day, instead of playing with it when you get home, immediately let it go outside into the yard or start walking. Once he has urinated and defecated, praise your dog and/or give him a treat to reinforce the purpose of being outside. Then you can play with your dog.
Change your dog’s diet gradually
Any time you change your dog’s brand of food, or even the type of food within the same brand, it is important to gradually transition to the new food over at least a week.
Start by giving 25% of the new food with 75% of the old food for two days, then a 50:50 mix for the next two days, then 75% of the new food with 25% of the old food until fully transitioned to new food.
This gradual transition of foods will reduce the likelihood of gastrointestinal upset. You might also consider adding a probiotic like Purina® Fortiflora or Nutramax® Proviable to help make this transition smoother and improve your dog’s overall gastrointestinal health.
Cover image: iStock.com/chendongshan