By Dr. Monica Tarantino
As an old dog owner, you may encounter such a problem that your old dog starts pooping in the house even though they are previously house trained. Dogs often can do this for a combination of reasons that we discuss below which can include age-related reasons or disease processes that cause them to inadvertently mess in the house.
Why Is My Old Dog Pooping In The House?
There are different causes why your senior dog is pooping in the house. It is important that you are not punishing them for pooping in the house. Oftentimes, the older dogs cannot help it.
Most of our older dogs have a history of being well trained. They have been trained to go outside all throughout their life. So why are they pooping in the house now?
If your old dog is pooping in the house, it is important to recognize that most older dogs do not deliberately poop in the house because they are lazy or do not care. Often there is an underlying cause that they have difficulty communicating with you.
Though it may seem frustrating at the time, punishing a senior dog for this will just make things worse and unpleasant for a dog that does not want to upset its owner. Many times, in fact, an old dog pooping in the house can be a sign of disease or something they cannot help.
Here are some of the common reasons your senior dog may poop in the house.
In the elderly, your dog can have a bowel control problem. With old age comes a decrease in sensory perception and decreased muscle strength causing loss of voluntary control as well as involuntary bodily functions that bring about incontinence. There are different types of fecal incontinence that can occur in older dogs as well.
Dogs may experience a weakening of the signal from their spinal cord to the muscle due to damage of nerve, resulting in a weakening of the muscles themselves that cause contraction.
The parasitic disease might find its way into your pet's anus and lead to problems when it comes to pooping as the inflammatory process creates lesions within the anus and anal sphincter muscles which generally results in the inability for dogs to control when they defecate.
Tumors in the anal area or GI tract can invade cells and tissues found in those areas and causes them to malfunction, resulting in an inability to control bowel movements.
Some dogs may have a decreased ability to communicate with you that they need to go outside. With my own geriatric dog Becca, she used to sit at the door when she needed to go out. Now she walks by the door and stares for a moment then keeps walking.
Their ability to see, move and hear changes as they get older. Meaning they can have increased bouts of forgetfulness just like people do as they get older. Older dogs also commonly have increased frequency or urge due to disease elsewhere.
If a dog has anal sacs, then those anal sacs can become infected or impacted. The result is the same for both: the sphincter muscle becomes damaged and is no longer able to shut completely, leaving the dog unable to “hold it” and prone to poop leaks or worse, constant accidents in the house or on walks.
If you change your dog's diet it will also affect their bowel movement. Different foods and treats can have different levels of fiber or ingredients that do not agree with your dog. Changing food too quickly can cause this or adding in a new food that a pet is not used to. The best thing to do is to check the new food and if it is causing the problem change it immediately.
Dogs with diarrhea or soft stool have an increased urgency to defecate. So, if your dog suffers from diarrhea or starts pooping everywhere in the house it can also mean that something is irritating their GI tract.
In some cases, dog anxiety leads to some problems with regard to bowel movements. Dogs, as a species, like very much to maintain consistency in their everyday life so it follows that major disruptions in their schedule will cause inconsistencies in another area of their lives, such as by defecating inappropriately.
What to do if your old dog is pooping in the house
If your old dog is pooping in the house, it is important to get to the bottom of it and make sure that your dog is comfortable and healthy. Discussing what is happening with your vet is the first step you should take.
Often, they will need to do an exam and some diagnostics including a fecal to check your pet. They may recommend a specific diet for your dog.
Once they have ruled out disease and diet, it may be age-related changes that are causing your dog to poop in the house.
Remember, it is important not to punish your older house-trained dog that is pooping in your home. Often there is a reason for it. Instead, try to work on different solutions for them.
These can include things such as:
· Letting them out more frequently
· Using pee pads next to the doors or areas they like to go in
· Blocking off nice furniture or rolling up carpets so they do not have access to it.
Senior dog's defecating in the house can be a fairly common problem and it’s something that your vet will be able to help you with. It could be a health problem, age, or behavioral.
By Dr. Monica Tarantino
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