Potty training your dog is essential if you do not want them to take care of their business inside the house. New puppies will take anywhere from 4 to 6 months to train, while some may take even a year.
But when your well-trained dog suddenly starts pooping inside or leaving little poop balls while sleeping, it could be pointing to a more significant issue. For example, your dog could be constipated, suffering from bowel incontinence, or healing from an injury.
So, if you are wondering why is my dog leaving little poop balls while sleeping, this article will explore its different causes and remedies, and discuss dog poop in general.
How Does the Pooping Process Work in Dogs?
Let us first understand the pooping mechanism in dogs. Puppies less than 12 weeks old are still developing muscles that hold the poop in.
For example, when the poop fills the rectum, the muscles and nerves indicate that it is time to go potty. In the case of a house-trained dog, it will hold the poop in and let you know that it needs to be let outside to relieve itself.
But this ‘holding the poop in‘ does not come naturally to dogs. They are not pooping in the house for the fun of it. Do not get mad at them. It is something they learn over the training process. Positive reinforcements are the way to go about it.
Take your dog outside, and when they poop, reward them for the task. This lets them know that their good behavior is appreciated when they poop outside. However, if you use punishment, they will be scared of going potty, and you. Thus potty training dogs require both physical and mental conditioning.
Reasons Your Dog is Leaving Poop Balls While Sleeping, and Their Remedies
If your dog has started pooping involuntarily, for example, while sleeping, it could point to a physical issue with their nerves or muscles, or it could be neurological. Let us look at different reasons and their remedies.
1. Bowel Incontinence
When your dog loses its ability to control its bowel movements, the condition is referred to as bowel incontinence.
It could mean that your dog realizes they are about to poop, but before they can let you know, the poop lands on the floor. It could also mean that your dog poops without any awareness, for example, while sleeping.
Bowel incontinence presents itself in two forms: Reservoir and Sphincter.
The rectum, the last part of the large intestine, is responsible for holding and storing the poop until the dog can go poop outside. Unfortunately, the dog’s rectum fails to hold the poop like it usually does with reservoir incontinence. Your dog knows it needs to go outside, but it cannot control the poop from falling out.
The condition can occur from diarrhea, cancer, inflammatory bowel, or large intestine diseases. For example, if your house-trained dog suddenly starts leaving poop near the door or patio entrance, the poop is soft and has blood or mucus; these could be symptoms of reservoir incontinence.
You will have to take your dog to the vet for a thorough examination. In cases of bowel incontinence, the treatment depends on the underlying cause. For example, the vet will prescribe anti-diarrheal medication if it is diarrhea.
In the case of inflammatory bowel disease, there is no cure, but the condition can be treated.
The treatment plan will involve a mix of medication, diet changes, and supplements. The vet will further adjust the treatment depending on how your dog responds.
The anal sphincter is the muscle that closes the anal opening and ensures that the poop does not just fall off. In the case of sphincter incontinence, the sphincter muscle loses its ability to stay close. Nerve damage or lesions are possible causes of this condition.
If your dog is suffering from sphincter incontinence, it will leave poop balls without being aware of the situation. That should answer your question, why is my dog leaving little poop balls while sleeping. They could unknowingly poop a bit while barking or playing.
Apart from poop balls, you will see other symptoms like inflammation of the anus, redness, involuntary peeing, and trouble walking.
Sphincter incontinence is more challenging to treat than the reservoir. In case the lesion is a tumor or an abscess, surgical intervention might be necessary. In case of a wound, your dog’s condition might improve after the wound heals. The vet will recommend physical therapy as well.
In case of nerve damage, medication might help to improve communication between the nerves and muscles. However, focusing on managing the symptoms is a better alternative in most cases. For example, finding the dog a spot in your home where they can poop or adjusting the diet can help.
2. Disc Problems
Aging dogs and those suffering from multiple health conditions can develop disc issues. The disc could rupture and put pressure on the spinal cord. This, in turn, affects the nerves‘ capability around the rectum to do their job. So your dog does not realize it needs to poop.
Your dog could also experience pain in the spine and hip area. The narrowing of spines is a degenerative disease affecting many aging dogs. Apart from losing control over bowel movements, you will see other symptoms like difficulty walking, weakness, and paralysis of the tail.
If the vet diagnoses an issue with the discs: medication involving steroids, anti-inflammatory drugs, and supplements will be prescribed. Surgery is also performed to reduce the pressure on the nerve roots. Any issue with the disc needs to be treated, or the condition will continue to deteriorate.
You will not only find yourself cleaning up your dog’s pee and poop all day long, but your dog will be in a considerable amount of pain.
If your dog is constipated, they might find it difficult to pass the hard lump of stool at one go. The result is they leave little poop balls around the house. This is a typical health issue among dogs, but you need to find and fix the underlying cause to prevent constipation from turning chronic.
Constipation can occur due to poor diet, dehydration, stress, lack of exercise, medications, anal gland problems, and age. In addition, your dog could exhibit other symptoms like lack of pooping for multiple days, straining while pooping, bloody or mucus-filled stool.
If constipation is a one-off issue for your dog, adjusting their diet helps. For example, include more fiber in their food, make sure they are drinking enough water. Take them out for walks, make this a routine and stick to it.
If the constipation is severe, the vet might suggest laxatives, other medications, manual removal of the poop, or surgery. Do not give your dog over-the-counter medications. It is best to talk to your vet first. Constipation could also be a symptom of another health condition; thus, a thorough check-up is essential.
Has your dog recently been in an accident? For example, did it fall or get into a fight with another animal? Injury around the posterior area could interfere with the way your dog poops. For example, if pooping hurts, your dog will not use pressure to get the whole lump out. This will lead to poop leaking out in small quantities.
You might notice other symptoms like difficulty walking or running, decreased range of motion, and visible signs of pain.
In case of an injury, it is best to get the dog examined by the vet. Injuries left untreated could lead to infection, which brings other health complications. In addition, if your dog refuses to poop or poops only in small quantities, it could affect their digestive system.
The vet will prescribe medications or topical treatment to help heal. Your dog might require surgery in case of any internal injuries.
5. Neurological Issues
As the dog ages, its muscles will become weak. It will lose bladder and bowel control or even develop memory issues. Your senior dog is not leaving poop balls around the house to infuriate you. It could actually be a combination of bowel incontinence and memory problems.
Bowel incontinence can lead to aggressive behavior among dogs. In cases of reservoir incontinence, your dog is well-aware it needs to poop. It knows that the pooping place is outside and will attempt to reach there. But due to weak muscles, they might just end up going inside the house.
This action will confuse them. Thus it would help if you were patient, not resort to punishments and look at options for managing the symptoms.
You can try containing your dog in an area in the house that is easy to clean up. Then, take them out at regular intervals so they can relieve themselves. The schedule becomes all the more important for older dogs. Do not make sudden changes in their diets, exercise, or sleeping routine.
Keep up with the regular vet appointments. They might recommend therapy to better care for your dog. When your canine friend starts aging, they will need a little extra care, attention, and patience from you.
How Should Healthy Dog Poop Look Like?
According to AKC, the five factors that you should evaluate when looking at dog poop are:
The color of a healthy dog poop should be chocolate brown. It should be shaped like one long log piece. The consistency should be solid but squishy. The size should be proportional to the amount of food consumed. And lastly, the poop should not contain blood, mucus, or white grain-like pieces.
When Does Dog Poop Become a Cause for Concern?
Poop becomes a cause of concern when it deviates from healthy standards.
If the color is anything other than chocolate brown, then an investigation into the cause is necessary. For example, if the poop is green in color, it could mean your dog consumed excessive grass or is suffering from a gall bladder issue.
If the poop is orange in color, it could be a liver issue. If the poop has red streaks, your dog could be suffering from constipation, injury, or other bowel issues.
If the consistency of the poop is watery, your dog’s intestines could be the problem. Or, if the poop is hard pebble-like, your dog is dehydrated.
Monitoring your dog’s poop is necessary to gain insight into their overall health. If you notice sudden changes in your dog’s poop schedule or the poop itself, call the vet.
Bowel incontinence, disc problems, constipation, injury, or neurological issues could answer your question, why is my dog leaving little poop balls while sleeping.
If you notice your potty-trained dog leaving little poop balls in its bedding, near the door, or anywhere around the house, it would need a thorough examination by the vet.
The vet can treat the condition with diet, medications, and surgery in some cases. In other cases, you will have to shift your focus to manage the symptoms and make lifestyle changes to better tend to your pet’s needs.
Heather Abraham is a professional blogger who owns two dogs, a cat, a parrot, and a leopard gecko. She has a connection with animals since she was a child. She shares her love for all pet breeds and provides information on pet food, toys, medications, beds, and everything else.
She is committed to learning about the internal workings of animals. Her work permits her to work closely with knowledgeable vets and obtain practical expertise in animal care. When she is not working, her love of animals continues in her writing. Her goal is to educate and uplift readers who also have a passion for animals through her writing.