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Pooping in house.

Species: Dog
Breed: Lhasa Apso
Age: 2-5 years
I got my dog Clyde on June 25, 2012. He is a 4 year-old Lhasa. His previous owners had given him up recently because he would not stop going to the bathroom in the house. While at the shelter he was having diarrhea with blood, which they attributed to stress from being around the other dogs. Unfortunately this is the only information I have on him up until I got him. He has had all his shots, and has no worms.

When I got Clyde he was having problems going to the bathroom. Several times on walks I noticed he was straining, but not able to have a bowel movement. He would poop inside, though. His stool ranged from large (~1 – 1.25 inches in diameter) to very small drops. It was hard. I noticed he was very swollen around his anus and took him to the vet. The vet said his anal glands were VERY full, and x-ray showed that he was backed up about halfway to his stomach with stool (and grass). Since I had not had Clyde very long I have no idea how long he was having these issues. His anal glands were emptied and he had an enema. The next few days he had vomiting (only the first day) and diarrhea. On the second day he had bloody diarrhea, which was more blood than diarrhea. He was very lethargic. I called the vet who said this was due to the enema, and he was given medication (not sure what and the bottles have been disposed of). He was on a diet of rice and ground beef for 5 days.

When he first moved here he peed inside for the first two days, but stopped completely with a little positive reinforcement. He has not stopped pooping in the house. If I have the day off and am home all day he will not poop in the house. The next day he will poop in the house several times. Other than that he poops in the house every day. I would estimate 2 times a day simply because there are always 2 spots he goes and it looks like an average amount for a dog his size. Lately his stool has been softer again. It is still formed, but a bit mushy where it sticks to the floor. Yesterday he started straining outside again (this is the first time since he moved in that he’s even attempted to go poop outside) with no bowel movement. Today when I got home there was a LOT of poop in the floor. I’m watching 2 other dogs right now that came over yesterday, so I am thinking maybe the straining without bowel movement may be due to that (since the only times I’ve seen this are when he’s in a stressful situation). Other than that he seems to have no problem going inside daily. He's happy and energetic, wags his tail, walks, runs, plays.

Do I need to take my dog to the vet again or are these behavioral issues? When I call him over and tell him ‘no’ for pooping in the house he ducks his head down like he knows he’s done something wrong (I do not yell or spank). Since he was able to stop peeing inside, but not pooping I really feel like there is more going on. Could he possibly have a dilated bowel from being so backed up before (I have no idea how long he was like that)? Could he have some type of gastroenteritis and would that be helped by a special diet? Is there something else I should be looking for or paying attention to? Is there something else I should be doing?

Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

It sounds like you and Clyde are having a frustrating problem! From what you have described I would guess that this is more likely to be a medical issue than a behavioral one. A behavior problem should not cause Clyde to have soft stools.

If this was my case, the first thing I would do is a fecal exam in the lab to look for parasites. Parasites can definitely cause soft stools and an inability to hold them (i.e. accidents in the house). Some parasites need to be treated with special medications and others can be treated with regular dewormers.

It's also possible that he has a food allergy. A trial on a prescription hypoallergenic food may be beneficial to him.

It's also possible he has a form of inflammatory bowel disease. This can be hard to diagnose without having biopsies done. If your vet cannot find other things wrong with him they may consider trying him on medication to help with intestinal inflammation.

There are other possibilities such as intestinal bacteria or even a foreign object in his intestines as well.

I would definitely recommend taking Clyde back to see the vet again. Hopefully they can find out why he is doing this!

Let me know if you have more questions.

Dr. Marie.

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Disclaimer: Although Dr. Marie is a qualified veterinarian, the information found on this site is not meant to replace the advice of your own veterinarian. and Dr. Marie do not accept any responsibility for any loss, damage, injury, death, or disease which may arise from reliance on information contained on this site. Do not use information found on this site for diagnosing or treating your pet. Anything you read here is for information only.

Customer reply:

Dr. Marie,

His stool was checked for parasites, and he has none. He has been trying to go outside lately, with some success. He is still straining without being able to have a bowel movement most of the time. When he is able to go it is just one piece. He is still going inside when I am gone, and going quite a bit. He keeps chewing on his right side by his butt/tail, and I know that he does not have fleas so I feel there might be something else in the area bothering him. He has a hard bulge in that area near his anus, and it is tender on palpation (the bulge and tender area are just under where he is chewing). I've watched, and when he is straining to poop that side of his anus bulges out. This bulge was not there after having his glands emptied and having his enema. His glands do not seem full. Any other ideas?
Thank you for your help with this. I feel like the more people I have thinking about this the better chance I will have figuring out what is wrong. I know it's difficult without being able to do a physical exam on him but maybe you will be able to think of something that has not been looked at yet. Thank you.

Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

What you are describing now, sounds like Clyde may be developing an anal sac abscess. Or...the other possibility is if he has something called a perineal hernia. I'm hoping it's not that because a perineal hernia is really serious.

It does sound like he is going to have to go back to see the vet again. You can ask them if they feel that a perineal hernia is possible. It's kind of hard to explain what happens with these but basically, a pouch forms at the very end of the rectum on one or both sides. The pouch can fill up with stool and make it very difficult for the dog to have a bowel movement. It can be fixed by surgery but it is quite an expensive surgery to have done.

If it is an anal sac abscess then sometimes these can heal with medicines (such as pain meds and possibly antibiotics) and sometimes they need surgery to be opened up and drained.

Customer reply:

I took Clyde back to the vet this morning and he does have 2 perineal hernias. Since he wasn't so backed up this time they were able to feel them on rectal exam. He will be having surgery as soon as I can make it possible. Unfortunately, I may have to wait until I get my next student loan check in September. Until then he will be on a special diet to keep his stool soft. If there is any other advice you could give so that I can keep him as comfortable as possible until then I would welcome it. Thank you so much for your time and for the information you have shared with me.

Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

On one hand, I'm glad that he has a diagnosis, but that is crummy that it is bilateral perineal hernias.

You can talk to your vet about adding some things to his diet that can help to soften his stool even more such as lactulose. (Unfortunately I can't make specific recommendations for you over the internet.)

If I have a patient like this I will have them come in for frequent enemas (i.e. once or twice a week) as well to help stop stool from collecting in the pockets.

You can likely keep him comfortable with these things until you are able to have surgery done.

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Dr. MarieDr. Marie is a veterinarian who practices in a busy animal hospital in Ottawa, Ontario. She created Ask A Vet Question as a resource for good, accurate veterinary advice online. Dr. Marie treats dogs, cats, hamsters, guinea pigs, and rats. She has been a vet since 1999.

Is an online vet visit just as good as a trip to your veterinarian? No! But, many times, asking an online veterinarian a question can help save you money. While Dr. Marie can't officially diagnose your pet or prescribe medications, she can often advise you on whether a vet visit is necessary. You can also ask Dr. Marie for a second opinion on your pet's condition.