You may not spend a lot of time thinking about your dog’s poop—but from a medical point of view, it can provide some very valuable insight into their overall health.
Keeping tabs on what your dog’s stool looks like, how often they defecate, and what their particular habits are can clue you in very quickly to certain health concerns.
How Often Should a Dog Poop?
In general, how often dogs poop depends on their life stage:
Most adult dogs poop once a day on average, although for some dogs, two or three times per day is still considered normal.
Puppies, on the other hand, may need to go much more often—sometimes as much as five times a day or more.
Senior dogs may need to defecate less frequently, closer to the once a day or sometimes even less than that.
While your dog may have their own patterns, any change in consistency should get your attention.
If your dog is a consistent once-a-day pooper and suddenly starts pooping three or four times a day, there’s a reason behind it. It could be as simple as a change in your dog’s diet or exercise schedule, but it could also be a sign of a health problem that needs to be addressed.
How Long After Eating Does a Dog Poop?
Most dogs will poop about 30 minutes after eating, or immediately after waking up. These are both great times to plan walks or exercise for your dog. Of course, all dogs have different schedules, so you’ll learn what works best for your dog.
For most dogs, it takes between 8-12 hours for a meal to be fully digested, with puppies digesting food faster than older dogs. If your dog eats a smaller meal, they’ll digest it faster than a larger meal, also. So if you’re feeding your dog two meals a day, they are likely going to have to defecate about twice per day.
Why Is My Dog Pooping So Much?
If your dog is always a frequent pooper, going several times a day may just be normal. However, if they suddenly need to go more often, or it seems to be urgent when they need to go, there may be an underlying medical issue.
Why Is My Dog Not Pooping?
Just like pooping too frequently, not pooping often enough can be a sign of a health problem. If your dog skips a poop but is not straining, it’s not as concerning. However, if your dog is regularly straining to poop and not producing any stool, or the stool is firmer than normal, they may be constipated.
Constipation can be caused a number of issues, including dehydration. Check with your vet to see if there may be an underlying cause. Don’t try to treat the constipation by giving your dog any sort of laxative unless recommended by your veterinarian. Even dog-safe laxatives may have side effects like diarrhea.
When Should You Worry About Your Dog’s Poop Schedule?
An occasional extra poop or missed poop is normally nothing to worry about. Several factors influence your dog’s elimination habits, including their diet, how often they eat, getting extra snacks, raiding the trash, how much exercise they get, stress, and the household schedule.
Any change in the normal pattern that lasts for more than a day or so should be checked out. The same is true for the stool itself: any change in color, odor, or consistency may signal that something is going on.
When you are unsure if something is normal, keep careful notes (even keeping a diary might be helpful) and check in with your veterinarian.
How Often Should You Walk Your Dog?
Barring any medical reason, such as arthritis or mobility issues, it’s almost impossible to walk your dog too often. However, if you want to time walks or letting your dog out for when they are most likely to poop, it should be at least twice per day, about 30 minutes after meals.
Afterward, it’s always a good idea to find and pick up the poop. This will not only keep the yard or street clean, but it will also let you check for changes in smell, color, and consistency.
The most important thing is to know what’s normal for your dog, and then watch closely for any changes. If you do see changes, keep track of what you’re seeing and let your vet know what’s going on.
Featured image: iStock.com/Robert Kovacs
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