Hi stranger! Signing up for MypetMD is easy, free and puts the most relevant content at your fingertips.

Get Instant Access To

  • 24/7 alerts for pet-related recalls

  • Your own library of articles, blogs, and favorite pet names

  • Tools designed to keep your pets happy and healthy

or Connect with Facebook

By joining petMD, you agree to the Privacy Policy.

Q. My 8 yo Rottweiler is dropping "poop pellets". It is not intentional. We usually find one where he's been sleeping. He is not ill or injured.

Answered By

A. Fecal incontinence in dogs occurs when a dog is no longer able to control his bowel movements. This can often happen when a dog is sleeping, walking around the house or playing outdoors. Fecal incontinence is absolutely no fault of the dog, in that it occurs because he no longer has the ability to sense his bowels.

Fecal incontinence is typically more common in dogs of advanced age or those suffering from some type of illness or medical condition. It's not a condition which is highly common, but it is a condition that should signal to a dog owner that an underlying medical health issue exists and needs to be evaluated.

Fecal incontinence occurs when there is a laxity in the muscles of the rectum or colon.

In older dogs, the most common cause of fecal incontinence has to do with a disorder of the nervous system. As the aging process takes over, the anal sphincter becomes less efficient at holding in bowels and allowing a dog to detect when he needs to eliminate.

Fecal incontinence is typically very identifiable based on the symptoms reported. However, the cause of the condition is not always as transparent. The first step in diagnosis will be to have a fecal test. A fecal test will check for the presence of any parasites or worms which could be destroying the colon or rectum. If any type of worm or parasites is discovered, a strong dosage of medication will be given to eliminate them, and a monitoring period may be needed to determine if the incontinence has improved.

If the parasitic infection has been treated and fecal incontinence continues, a colonoscopy will be performed. A colonoscopy is the process of inserting a tube into the rectum to look at the muscles and inner lining of the colon. This procedure should identify any abnormalities which could be causing fecal incontinence.

Treatment should always consist of treating the direct cause. If there appears to be significant damage done to the lining of the colon and rectum, a change in diet may be in order, to harden the stool and make it more difficult to pass.

The trouble with fecal incontinence is that only the cause is treatable - not the condition itself. Effective treatment of the reason for fecal incontinence can sometimes help to alleviate the symptoms. Even after treatment, fecal incontinence can still be an irreversible condition.

DISCLAIMER: The answers in Ask petMD are meant to provide entertainment and education. They should not take the place of a vet visit. Please see our Terms and Conditions.


Ask an expert about your unique situation now FOR FREE!

IMPORTANT: The opinions expressed in Ask petMD content area are solely those of the User, who may or may not have medical or scientific training. Our Ask petMD experts include veterinarians, vet techs, veterinary students, pet trainers, pet behaviorists and pet nutritionists. These opinions do not represent the opinions of petMD. User-generated content areas are not reviewed by a petMD veterinarian or any member of the petMD editorial staff for accuracy, balance, objectivity, timeliness, or any other reason except for compliance with our Terms and Conditions. petMD does not endorse any specific product, service, or treatment. Do not consider petMD user-generated content as medical advice. Never delay or disregard seeking professional medical advice from your veterinarian or other qualified healthcare provider because of something you have read on petMD.