My Dog Has Diarrhea and Now Won’t Poop

My Dog Has Diarrhea and Now Won’t Poop: Addressing Canine Digestive Issues

An image of a german shepard out in the forest and can't poop

Discovering that your dog has diarrhea can be concerning, and if it progresses to the point where your dog won’t poop at all, it’s understandable to feel even more worried. Diarrhea in dogs can arise from a variety of causes, often leading to an increase in the frequency of bowel movements due to irritation or infection of the intestines. However, if after a bout of diarrhea your dog stops defecating entirely, it may indicate that their gastrointestinal system is recovering, or it could signify a more serious condition that requires attention from a veterinarian.


Diarrhea typically speeds up the passage of waste, preventing proper stool formation, which can lead to depletion of the material needed to form solid waste. When your dog suddenly goes from frequent, loose stools to not pooping at all, monitoring their behavior and symptoms is crucial. It’s essential to ensure they are not suffering from dehydration or an underlying issue such as a bowel obstruction. Consulting with a veterinarian to determine the appropriate course of action is always the best response to such health concerns.

Key Takeaways

  • Persistent diarrhea followed by an absence of stool can be a sign of recovery or an indication of a more serious health issue.
  • Observing your dog closely and seeking a veterinarian’s advice is critical when dealing with significant changes in bowel habits.
  • Ensuring proper hydration and understanding potential causes of digestive disruption can aid in the management and prevention of future issues.

Understanding Canine Diarrhea and Constipation

When your dog experiences diarrhea followed by an inability to defecate, it’s crucial to understand the underlying causes and recognize the symptoms to seek appropriate veterinary care promptly.

Causes of Diarrhea and Constipation in Dogs

Diarrhea in dogs can stem from simple dietary indiscretion, such as eating something they shouldn’t have, to serious health issues like infections or inflammatory bowel disease. Stress and illness can disrupt your dog’s gastrointestinal tract, leading to acute diarrhea or, if it persists, chronic diarrhea. On the flip side, constipation can occur due to dehydration, pain, foreign objects in the digestive tract, or tumors. Medications and diet changes are also common culprits.

  • Dietary Changes: Sudden changes can cause stomach upset.
  • Parasites: Intestinal parasites like worms can lead to digestive issues.
  • Foreign Objects: Consumption of non-digestible items can obstruct the digestive tract.

Signs and Symptoms

You’ll notice symptoms like watery or non-formed stool if your dog has diarrhea. In contrast, constipation involves difficulty passing stool or less frequent bowel movements. Look out for signs of vomiting, lethargy, visible abdominal straining, or a hunched posture indicating pain.

  • Diarrhea: Loose, frequent stools; urgency to defecate.
  • Constipation: Straining to defecate; hard, dry stools.

Diagnosis and Importance of Veterinary Care

Your veterinarian will perform a thorough examination to diagnose the cause of your dog’s symptoms. They might recommend diagnostic tests such as fecal examinations to check for parasites or blood work to identify any underlying illness or infections. Timely medical intervention can prevent complications like dehydration and ensure your dog receives treatment for any gastrointestinal tract issues. If your pet has eaten a foreign object, prompt care is critical to prevent life-threatening blockages.

Treatment and Management of Digestive Issues

When your dog experiences digestive troubles like diarrhea followed by an inability to defecate, prompt and proper treatment is essential. It’s vital to understand that these symptoms can indicate underlying health issues, necessitating a visit to your veterinarian for accurate diagnosis and appropriate management.

Medication and Dietary Changes

If your dog is suffering from diarrhea and now is unable to poop, medications may be necessary to treat underlying causes such as infections or parasites. Your vet may prescribe antibiotics if a bacterial infection is suspected. Alongside medication, a temporary shift to a bland diet — typically boiled chicken and processed rice — may help soothe your dog’s digestive system. Gradually reintroduce their regular diet as advised by your vet. Pumpkin puree is another dietary addition known for its fiber content, which can both firm up stools during diarrhea and soften them when your dog is constipated.

Using Probiotics and Fluid Therapy

Introducing probiotics into your dog’s regimen can support the balance of healthy bacteria in their gut, aiding in digestive health and recovery. Be sure to choose a formula specifically designed for dogs. Fluid therapy is also crucial, especially if your dog has had severe diarrhea, as dehydration can become a serious concern. Ensure they have constant access to fresh water and monitor their intake. If you notice signs of severe dehydration or bloating, seek emergency veterinary care immediately, as this can be life-threatening.

Home Care for Recovering Dogs

During recovery, limit treats and avoid any sudden changes in diet to prevent further digestive upset. Gentle, home-based care can support their recovery, including home remedies for dog diarrhea such as small amounts of pumpkin puree and ensuring they stay hydrated. Watch for persistent symptoms like abdominal pain or ongoing bowel issues and report these to your veterinarian. Your attentive care at home is a vital component of your dog’s return to health.

Preventing Future Digestive Problems

To prevent your dog from suffering future digestive issues, consider these proactive steps:

Monitor Your Dog’s Diet: Carefully select a diet tailored to your dog’s age, breed, and health status. Avoid sudden changes in diet, as these can trigger food intolerance and diarrhea. Introduce new foods slowly over several days.

Consistent Feeding Routine: Establish and maintain a regular feeding schedule. This practice can help stabilize your dog’s pooping habits and reduce the risk of dietary indiscretion—when dogs consume something they shouldn’t.

  • Fresh Water: Always provide access to clean, fresh water. Hydration is critical, especially if your dog has had diarrhea, which can lead to dehydration and further discomfort.
  • Fiber-Rich Foods: Incorporate the right amount of fiber into your dog’s diet, which can aid digestion and firm up stools. Consult your vet on suitable high-fiber foods or supplements.

Regular Vet Check-Ups: Regular check-ups with a veterinarian can help catch and treat parasites and other underlying causes of diarrhea in dogs. Your vet can ensure that your dog maintains a healthy lifestyle.

Recognize and React: As a dog owner, familiarize yourself with the normal appearance and frequency of your dog’s stools. Promptly address any changes with your vet to prevent small issues from becoming major health concerns.

In summary, maintaining these healthy practices is integral to your dog’s digestive health and overall well-being.

Frequently Asked Questions

If your dog has diarrhea and is not defecating afterwards, you may have concerns about their health and recovery. The following FAQs address common issues and offer guidance on what actions to take.

What treatments are available for a dog that isn’t defecating after a bout of diarrhea?

Immediate home care includes ensuring your dog stays hydrated and providing a bland diet. For more persistent cases, vets might prescribe anti-diarrheal medications, which can lead to temporary delays in bowel movements.

How can I care for my dog that has diarrhea but is otherwise behaving normally?

Providing a bland diet and plenty of fluids is often recommended. Monitor your pet’s behavior and stool, and limit stress to aid in recovery.

What is the expected duration before a dog resumes normal bowel movements following an episode of diarrhea?

It can vary, but it’s not unusual for a dog to take a day or two to return to regular bowel movements after diarrhea, especially if anti-diarrheal medications are in use.

Is it common for dogs to experience a period of not defecating after having diarrhea, and for how long can this occur?

Yes, it’s common. Your dog’s digestive system might need a brief period for recovery, and this can last 24-48 hours after the last diarrheal episode.

What should be done if a dog has not had a bowel movement for multiple days after experiencing diarrhea?

If your dog hasn’t defecated for more than 48 hours, consult a veterinarian, as prolonged constipation might indicate other health concerns.

When is it necessary to seek veterinary care for a dog that’s not pooping after previous diarrhea and is also vomiting?

You should seek immediate veterinary attention if your dog is also vomiting, as these symptoms together can suggest potential bowel obstruction or other serious conditions.

Dr. Jeff Kordell, DVM is a practicing veterinarian in the northern suburbs of Chicago. He is a graduate of the University of Illinois Veterinary School. Dr. Kordell owns Animal Medical Center at Fort Sheridan and has had his own private practice for over 30 years. He is the co-founder of K&S Veterinary Labs LLC the maker of DiarRice.