Old Dog Poops While Walking?

correct answerThe Short Answer is:

Bowel incontinence is just one of the many problems an aging dog faces. While it might be annoying that he poos while walking remember this is something he cannot control. He isn’t doing it on purpose and you need to bring him to the vet as soon as possible. Veterinarians may recommend medication or surgery for dogs with incontinence problems depending on the cause of the condition.

In this research you will know the answer to the query “Old Dog Poops While Walking?“.

Its no fun to see your dog grow old and its especially heartbreaking to see him poop while walking.

While you cannot help but feel sorry for your companion of so many years you need to remember that aging is a natural process and theres little you can do about it. 

You can help your old dog cope with whats happening by trying to understand whats happening.

Check out all possible causes of this embarrassing new habit your dog seems to have acquired and what you can reasonably expect.

Why do old dogs poop while walking?

Dogs walking in circles while pooping is fairly common and has to do mostly with marking their territory and becoming comfortable enough to urinate. Youhave probably seen your own pet do this when he was young. 

The experience of walking and passing small amounts of feces without even acknowledging it is something you havenot experienced before so its natural to be concerned. Fecal incontinence is what is called in medical terms.  

He does not acknowledge his casual pooping because in most cases he has no idea whats happening behind his back and obviously he has no control over it.  If your dog does not assume the standard defecation pose while eliminating this is the most obvious sign.

Why do old dogs lose control of their bowels?

You can put it down to the dog getting older but you should not accept it as fact without having your pet examined. Dogs lose control of their bowels for a variety of reasons and depending on the cause there are things you can do to help.

Experts say that lack of bowel control in senior pets can be caused either by sphincter incontinence or reservoir incontinence.

Reservoir incontinence

The rectum is the area where feces are normally stored until it is time to go potty.  Its no problem for a young healthy animal to hold it but a senior dog might have problems holding it. It can be caused by an inflammatory disease diarrhea any number of diseases that affect the intestines or even cancer for dogs can be diagnosed with that as well.

It is quite possible that your dog understands what hes doing but cannot control it when he has issues with his rectum. If your dog poops while walking and raises his head to look at you he probably senses trouble. It means hes not completely unaware of the embarrassing situation but he wants to know how you react.

Try to keep calm and do not say anything that might add to the dogs stress in an already stressful situation. Dogs’ inquisitive looks should be taken as a silent cry for help from their owners. Although your dog knows all of this is very wrong he is unable to prevent himself from dropping small amounts of feces during his everyday walks.

Make note of where your dog has accidents most often if he starts having accidents in the house. If it is mostly near the door then your pet was aware that it was going to happen and tried to get outside.

Sphincter incontinence

When one defecates the anal sphincter relaxes. Feces will leak out from the dogs sphincter when he loses control especially during walks but also while sleeping.

Often sphincter incontinence occurs because of a local issue such as a wound or an abnormal growth or when the nerves controlling the opening are damaged.

The sphincter actually consists of two muscles an internal one and an external one. If either of the nerves controlling them is damaged the dog will start pooping uncontrollably.

When the spine is injured the nerves may be affected. The dogs nervous connection may be affected when he or she has the disc vertebrae or spinal issues such as degenerative myelopathy in old age.

The shorter the dogs body the greater the risk of developing Intervertebral Disc Disease a condition characterized by bulging or ruptured discs in Dachshunds Basset Hounds Corgis or Pekingese. Aside from losing control of bowels your dog might also show signs of trouble moving an unsteady gait and a reluctance to jump or climb stairs. You should have your pet examined as soon as possible if he yelps during any of these movements or even if you pick him up. Leaving IDD untreated can result in very serious health issues including paralysis.

Additionally cognitive dysfunction in dogs can lead to your pet having accidents especially indoors. This syndrome results in a variety of behavioral changes including house soiling incidents. As dogs age they forget their housetraining and go to the bathroom whenever they feel the need to. The problem isnot that the dog is incontinent he can hold it practically but he does not remember to do so when inside.

What are some signs of incontinence?

One of the most obvious symptoms is pooping while walking your dog but there are other signs that your dog might be developing an incontinence problem.

  • Skooting on the floor is a sign your pet has a problem with his anal glands.
  • Anal inflammation or redness may also be present.
  • Constant licking of the anal area may also occur.
  • Tenderness and distension of the abdomen may also occur.
  • There may also be problems walking or running which may be caused by nerve damage.
  • You may feel weak in the back legs.
  • Dogs may change the way they carry their tails.
  • Having small pieces of feces in your pets sleeping quarters indicates your pet also excretes uncontrollably in his sleep not just when he walks

You should keep in mind that fecal incontinence can also be caused by parasitic infestations or gastrointestinal diseases so do not just assume he has pooping accidents as a result of aging. When the dog suffers from a disease drugs can help him overcome it.

How does walking help a dog poop?

Housetrained dogs know that a walk is a perfect time to relieve themselves so it almost becomes a reflex. Other physiological factors however may cause your dog to poop while on a walk. Walking stimulates the digestive system because it involves a lot of muscle activity. In general passing food stimulates the stomach muscles which in turn stimulate the intestines. As soon as the feces reach the rectum the dog will naturally want to relieve himself.

For this reason extended walks are highly recommended for dogs who suffer from constipation.

The only difference is that an elderly dog with bowel incontinence cannot control his pooping so walking stimulates the elimination process too. An incontinent dog tends to release small amounts of feces continuously instead of holding everything to release it all at once.

Why is my older dog pooping excessively?

Pet owners complain that their senior pets seem to poop more than they used to. The pet owner knows the bathroom habits of the dog they have had for years but with an incontinent dog it might only seem like hes peeing more often. In addition to letting go of the feces easily reaching the rectum for an outside observer it just looks as though hes pooping excessively.

The dog poop however does tend to increase when certain conditions exist.

Obviously a healthy young animal that raids the trash can behind your back will have more food to process and dispose of.

It is more common for excessive pooping in elderly pets to occur as a result of changes in the biome (gut bacteria) or intestinal inflammation (colitis). Similarly more than usual pooping can indicate the presence of intestinal cancer. Tumors tend to appear in the colon or rectum in dogs over the age of nine years although they are uncommon.

How will a vet help my old dog that poops whilst walking?

In case your dog starts pooping while walking you should take him to the vet as soon as possible.

Veterinarians will ask about your dogs medical history and about the food your dog eats his usual potty routine the frequency of pooping incidents and other changes in his behavior or appearance.

An examination of the rectal cavity will be necessary to rule out tumors wounds or inflammation of the anal glands. Your pet may also need a full blood count a fecal exam and an abdominal ultrasound to pinpoint the cause of its problems.

The treatment of intestinal parasites or inflammation can be achieved with the appropriate medication while the treatment of rectal masses might require surgery.

Surgical option

Treatment might be challenging if your dogs problems are caused by damage to the spine. Nerve damage caused by a ruptured or herniated disc can be repaired surgically but it is an expensive option. The tests required to diagnose spinal damage range from $1000 to $3000. Surgery can cost as much as $4000 for a complex operation. A simple intervention might cost as little as $1000. Although this might seem quite a bit keep in mind that excessive pooping is just an inconvenience whereas spinal damage can cause paralysis and progressive weakening of your dogs hind legs and if you love your dog you want to avoid that at all costs.

Non-surgical treatment

The dog may be able to recover without surgery in less severe cases. There will have to be severe restrictions on your pets movements for at least four weeks after surgery. In some cases the dog will be confined to a room or even crated. Meanwhile he will be given medication to reduce inflammation and pain.

How can you help an old dog with bowel incontinence?

When your dog is old and frail the vet might decide surgery is no longer an option in which case you’ll have to deal with his incontinence and help him maintain a good quality of life.

It isnot a problem if your dog poos a lot when you walk him provided you have plenty of baggies to clean up the mess.

When your dog has accidents in the house you will need to increase the number of walks or potty breaks. You might want to pick up your dog and carry him outside to the designated potty spot if he gets weak legs.

In addition place puppy pads around the house so that your pet can use them in an emergency.

Everyone in your family should keep an eye on the dog and take him outdoors as soon as they notice hes looking for a place to relieve himself.

Since the dog cannot control his bowel movements you should not scold or punish him. The added stress of being angry with him can only aggravate the situation. Dogs that are stressed or depressed are more likely to poop.  

Line the bedding area with pads so you can easily clean up a mess if the dog soils himself at night.

You should always clean up thoroughly after an accident by using a solution of apple cider vinegar and water to eliminate the smell. Your dog may react to the lingering smell and decide the living room is now his bathroom if you do not.

If your case is severe you may want to consider dog nappies. Regularly changing them would not cause your pet any problems. Initially he might find them strange and even try to get rid of them but he’ll soon get used to them.

What is the best diet to help my senior dog poop? 

To reduce the number of feces your dog produces try changing his diet if he has developed bowel incontinence. The best diet in this situation is low fiber. Instead your pets food should contain a high level of protein which helps build muscles. Dogs tend to lose muscle mass as they age which is particularly dangerous if your pet also has mobility issues.

In the meantime you might want to rethink how much food he gets. An old dog who is less active does not need as many calories as a healthy animal who runs around all day long. It is important to prevent your dog from gaining weight if he cannot consume those calories anymore. This is especially important if your dog also suffers from arthritis and weak muscles. He will have an increasingly difficult time moving around as he gets heavier.

Put your dog on a bland diet of boiled rice and boiled chicken breast if his stools are loose and watery. There is no reason why you should only feed him that but you can offer him a nice bowl of rice every other day or at least twice a week.

As senior pets are prone to constipation its important to keep an eye on their bowel movements. Increase the fiber in your dogs diet if he begins passing small hard stools or appears to be straining.


Bowel incontinence is just one of the many problems an aging dog faces. While it might be annoying that he poos while walking remember this is something he cannot control. He isnot doing it on purpose and you need to bring him to the vet as soon as possible. Veterinarians may recommend medication or surgery for dogs with incontinence problems depending on the cause of the condition. Your beloved pet can hopefully live a few more years in good health thanks to the spine problem being repaired. The best you can do if the damage cannot be repaired is to make him as comfortable as possible and show him a lot of love.

If you want to read more about dog health tips read here: Dog Health Tips and Tricks.

Old Dog Poops While Walking? (Watch Video)

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