Why does my old dog poop while sleeping

Why does my old dog poop while sleeping?

Last Updated: August 20, 2023

In this article you will know the answer to the query “Why does my old dog poop while sleeping?“.

How to deal with old dogs pooping in their sleep

What a nasty surprise! The sight of your dog sleeping in its own feces is quite shocking. That dog has been yours for years but you have never seen it like this since it was just a puppy. After you house-trained it properly you have had no problems with it ever since. Now this?

There is a fact that many dogs develop incontinence as they age and accidents like pooping in their sleep occur. You should know what this problem is and how to solve it.

Why does my old dog poop while sleeping

What is incontinence?

Incontinence is the inability to control the bladder and bowels and there are a number of reasons why it occurs. A similar incident might occur when your pet is awake but if it happens while your pet is sleeping the problem is obvious and out of its control. Are you sure its not intentional?

Watch the dog carefully to distinguish between real incontinence and a behavioral problem. 

This is no accident when your dog is right in front of you looking you straight in the eye and it relieves itself on the carpet.

Even though you know your pet should not pee on the floor they do it anyway just to spite you! Perhaps you did something to annoy them – maybe the dog was unjustly punished in their opinion maybe you made them wait too long before taking a walk.

Try to figure out what the dog might be trying to tell you by this brazen act of defiance if this is the case! Count your blessings too since this is a problem you can easily solve whereas true incontinence is a serious medical condition.

Clear signs your dog has an incontinence problem

  • Before letting out a bit of urine the dog does not squat or raise its leg
  • Dogs do not squat to defecate; they have a bowel movements standing up or even walking
  • if they smell of urine or feces
  • if the dogs bedding is soiled in the morning

Usually if this is the dogs first accident the problem is in its early stages and a simple solution such as letting them out more often to go potty will resolve it. 

One word of advice

Watch in horror as the dog dribbles urine on your carpet but do not punish the poor animal. When a dog is house-trained it knows this is bad and probably feels embarrassed or afraid it will be punished. Make sure the mess is cleaned up and take your dog to the vet right away!

Diagnosing incontinence in older dogs

Theres no doubt about it. As dogs age they can become incontinent but you should not simply dismiss it as an old age problem. There might be a health issue so you need to take the dog to the vet to find out the exact cause as some of them are treatable.

Urinary tract infection

Dogs can develop UTIs at any age but older dogs are more prone to developing bladder stones or tumors that cause an infection. Veterinarians often prescribe antibiotics for dogs with infections which may cure your problem. On the other hand if we’re talking about bladder stones or tumors these might require surgery.

Kidney disease

The dog may develop kidney disease as it ages causing it to drink more water. Consequently the dog needs to go potty more often and sometimes the situation becomes urgent. The dog will relieve itself even inside the house when it can no longer hold it in so you can not really blame it for that.

Gastrointestinal Disorders 

In some cases its not old age but diarrhea and other stool issues that cause a dog to have an accident even in its sleep. Make sure the dog gets checked out by the vet!

Spinal problems

A traumatic spinal injury or intervertebral disc disease can often cause incontinence which might or might not be caused by aging. Sometimes medical or surgical treatment can resolve the problem but if your dog has severe nerve damage the vet cannot do much. 

When your beloved pet loses bowel control due to a lower vertebral disorder it will inevitably start pooping in its sleep.

Anal gland disease

Scooting on the floor could be a sign that your dog has a condition that involves the anal sacs or glands. Look for a bloated abdomen and tenderness or aversion to being touched near the tail. It is possible for all dogs to develop such problems but they tend to be more severe in older dogs. Fortunately this is something that can be treated.


There is no doubt that this is related to age. Joint pains may make it difficult for the dog to assume the proper position to relieve itself and the poor thing may try to hold it in until it can no longer.

Brain Disease 

There may be a brain tumor in some cases but more often than not its just old age dementia. This condition has been termed canine cognitive dysfunction or senility and it simply means that the dog will forget things just like an elderly person.

When the dog begins to have accidents and forgets his housetraining it may be an early sign of canine dementia. Some medications can ease the symptoms and slow the progression of the disease but the condition is permanent.

Are certain breeds more prone to incontinence?

The problem of incontinence usually arises as the animal enters middle age and beyond but this is partly determined by the dogs size and breed. In comparison a 5-year-old Great Dane is considered middle-aged but a smaller dog like a terrier of the same age is still considered young and should not have incontinence problems.

Dobermans Old English Sheepdogs and Cocker Spaniels are bred more likely to develop incontinence in their senior years although doctors do not know why this happens.

Another factor to consider is that spayed female dogs are more likely to become incontinent due to a lack of estrogen.

How can you help an incontinent dog?

Theres nothing else you can do but put up with the mess after you have taken your dog to the veterinarian and he gave him medications that did not help much. The senior years of your dog should be as comfortable as possible and you should treat them with the respect and love they deserve. Follow these tips to make things easier for both of you.

  • Walking and potty breaks should be increased daily. Walk your dog before you go to bed.
  • Change the feeding schedule by making breakfast and lunch bigger and supper smaller. Give your dog dinner earlier in the evening.
  • Additionally eating stimulates bowel movements so it might be a good idea to walk your pet after every meal.
  • A veterinarian should be consulted before you limit your pets water intake. Dehydration can have serious consequences!
  • You can place waterproof sheets on your dogs bed or anywhere your pet likes to nap.
  • When your dog has an accident during the day clean the spot thoroughly to remove any smell. You do not want your pet to become accustomed to relieving itself in the corner of the living room.
  • In order to prevent odor and irritation bathe your dogs genital area as often as possible.
  • If your dog has long hair you may want to consider trimming it at least in the genital area to prevent dirt from getting into the fur. 
  • Once you have done everything within your power its time to think about dog nappies! If the dog is uncomfortable you will have to change the diaper several times a day to prevent irritation. If In event that the situation is under control during the day but your dog is pooping at night only use diapers at night!

Can you put down a dog for incontinence?

It is unfortunate that many dog owners wonder if it is time to put down their animal when it develops incontinence. It is a good idea to assess the dogs overall health before speaking to a vet.

Is the dog comfortable free of pain and still able to enjoy life despite the accidents? Perhaps he still has some life left in him and the occasional pooping in its sleep does not bother him as much as it does you.

It is very difficult to make this decision and many vets will not euthanize a dog while he has a good quality of life. 

As time passes your beloved companion of many years will eventually suffer from old age-related problems like incontinence. It might be a health-related issue that the doctor can treat.

If not you should think about how you can make your pet comfortable in old age while keeping your home clean and odor-free. You can both cope with the situation by walking more often eating smaller meals and waterproofing their sleeping quarters.

It may be unpleasant to clean up the mess but its still the same dog and hes still your friend!

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Amanda Dogs Trainer

Amanda (Author)

With over a decade of experience, Amanda is a distinguished dog trainer. Her expertise in canine behavior has transformed countless lives, fostering harmonious human-canine connections. Through compassionate and personalized approaches, she empowers owners to understand and connect with their furry companions, creating a legacy of joyful tails and transformed lives.

Osvaldo Maciel Dogs Trainer

Osvaldo Maciel (Content Reviewer)

Osvaldo Maciel, a stalwart in the field with 14 years of experience, is a revered dog trainer. His journey is defined by a profound understanding of canine behavior, shaping unbreakable human-canine bonds. Osvaldo guides owners to connect with their beloved pets, leaving an indelible mark of happiness and transformation. His legacy shines through the countless lives he has touched.

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