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The Defecation Deadline: How Long Can a Dog Go Without Pooping?

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Dog constipation isn’t an immediate sign of a serious illness, although not pooping can cause some real problems. 

When dogs eat, their food goes straight into the colon (unlike ours, which has to go through the intestines before it goes to the colon) and then straight out. Your dog usually goes one to three times during a day, generally, after he eats. How would you know your dog is constipated?

  • Straining 
  • Crying while trying to go 
  • Passing little balls or hard matter 
Cute dog in the grass

If the dog is dragging his butt along the ground or the carpet, or if he’s licking his butt, the cause might be neurological. If that’s the case, your dog might have pain, or he’ll favor his hindquarters. 

Experts say that straining isn’t always because the dog is backed up. The colon could spasm, causing the dog to pass mucus, blood, or very little soft stool. A urinary tract infection could also cause straining, requiring a visit to the vet. 

There are many causes of constipation in your dog: 

  • Medications like diuretics and antihistamines 
  • Not drinking enough water 
  • Changes in his food or ingesting bones 
  • Cancer or prostate gland problems 
  • Abscesses and tumors in the anal gland 
  • Abnormal growth of the lymph nodes in the abdomen 
  • Physical problems like pain in the back and hips 
Dog is pooping

Your dog not pooping isn’t in itself a medical emergency, but other health problems might be. Heart problems in your dog, for example, make the dog pant excessively, rendering him weak and unable to eat or drink. Constipation would then be a problem you’d need to get checked pronto. 

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So the short answer to the question is, dogs can go up to approximately 48 hours without pooping.

If your dog hasn’t pooped in a couple of days, then he could develop a physical impairment. This allows backup from the colon to get into the body, causing bacterial troubles. This then turns into sepsis, a fatal thing for your dog. A vet will need to operate on the dog to remove the backup. 

Monitoring the dog’s diet and adding fiber is elemental to keeping your dog healthy enough to poop frequently. 

Last update on 2020-07-13

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