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Ask Dr. Michael Salkin Your Own Question
Dr. Michael Salkin
Dr. Michael Salkin, Veterinarian
Category: Dog Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 30418
Experience:  University of California at Davis graduate veterinarian with 45 years of experience
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Frequent pooling by my dog. he is 10 and lived with me

Customer Question

Customer: ***** ***** and frequent pooling by my dog. he is 10 and lived with me for 18 months. over the last 3 months he poops in the middle of the night. He doesn't wake me up and sleeps in same room. on one occasion he pooed on the bed yesterday he was walked at lunchtime and an hour after his dinner. then let out at 10pm before bed. at 4am i was woken by the other dog and let them out but noticed he had already pooed by the the back door (where he is fed) - it was cold so would have happened earlier. then we went back to bed and at 7.30 when we got up he had pooled again there is no mucus, blood or diarrhoea it is always solid
JA: Thanks. Can you give me any more details about your issue?
Customer: i just want to know how to stop him pooing in the middle of the night. everything i've read i've implemented - extra walks, lots of exercise, bland stable diet. he won't poo indoors from 6am-10pm just at night. he won't go in a crate - he howls and barks all night and he poos where behaviourists say he won't - bed and feeding areas
JA: OK got it. Last thing — JustAnswer charges a fee (generally around $19) to post your type of question to Dog Veterinary Experts (you only pay if satisfied). There are a couple customers ahead of you. Are you willing to wait a bit?
Customer: i can wait
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Customer: also should let you know I'm uk based :)
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Dog Veterinary
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 1 year ago.

I'm sorry that your question wasn't answered in a timely manner. My first thought was that he had developed fecal incontinence and that he wasn't aware that he was defecating. That would explain his pooping when asleep on the bed and also a lack in the ability of his being able to control his anal sphincter. His howling and barking all night, however, suggests sundowner's syndrome - a form of senility in people and pets in which the dark and quiet of night accentuates the sensory deprivation experienced by many senile dogs causing them to become quite anxious. This can be as difficult to manage in dogs as it is in people. Behavioral reconditioning won't be effective in such a patient. We resort to psychotherapeutic drugs with anxiolytic (anti-anxiety) activity such as the benzodiazepines, tricyclics, or SSRIs. These can be prescribed by his vet. They're not reliably effective but worth a try. Here's a quick review for you: Please note the drugs available in the UK and please respond with further questions or concerns if you wish.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
thank you - he only howls and barks if put in the cage, if not in the cage he is fine. Is there anything I can do if he has faecal incontinence?
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 1 year ago.

Thank you for the additional information. There are quite a few possible etiologies for fecal incontinence to pursue...

Sphincter incontinence

Non-neurogenic: caused by perineal/anal sphincter tumors, fistulas, trauma, anal sac disease, strictures, or scarring

Neurogenic: caused by spinal, lumbosacral pain, and intracranial disease resulting in abnormal behavior and/or mentation (mental status)

Reservoir incontinence: caused by abnormal feces (not in this case) or rectal masses

It can be challenge identifying the cause of fecal incontinence. His vet needs to carefully digitally examine your dog's rectal area. If nothing untoward is found a neurogenic disorder orginating in an older dog's spine is often the culprit. Degenerative myelopathy (a Lou Gehrig-type of disease), degenerative disk disease, and tumor in or around the spinal cord are considered.

Please continue our conversation if you wish.