How Long can Dogs Hold Their Poop?

Dec 19, 2022

So how long can dogs hold their poop? It’s an important question for dog parents, particularly because you’re worried about their comfort level (as well as your floor or living room carpet). The answer is that the dog’s ability to hold its stool really depends on the dog.

First things first: What do we mean when asking how long dogs can hold their stool?

The thing is, we don’t typically want our four legged friends holding their poop if they don’t have to. What that means is they’re either purposely or unintentionally not pooping. Sometimes this may be because they’ve become accustomed to scheduled bathroom breaks, but sometimes it means there may be a problem.

It can be a sign of a health issue or a behavioral problem that need to be treated properly. If you notice your dog hold its poop for too long, it is important to consult with a veterinarian to rule out any underlying medical conditions, such as inflammatory bowel disease, intestinal parasites, severe constipation, dehydration, or bacterial infections.

Why is your dog holding poop?

There are a lot of different reasons an adult dog will purposely hold its poop. Like we said, they may just be used to scheduled bathroom breaks, and their body’s become accustomed to pooping on schedule. It may also be that they’re not somewhere they feel is suitable for going potty. Some dogs may be afraid to poop in different places (and yes, many dogs do prefer their privacy). Some science even suggests that dogs poop according to how the earth’s magnetic fields are running!

Of course, other times when your canine friends are holding their poop for long periods, you may be dealing with a medical condition or poor gut health. If a dog has a suitable area and is allowed the opportunity to poop, he most likely won’t hold it on purpose.

How long can a dog hold poop after eating?

As a general rule, a trained adult dog should be able to hold poop for about eight hours. Now, this doesn’t necessarily mean they all can do that or even should do that. It’s debatable whether eight hours is pushing the limit. But most dog owners also know their dogs fairly well, and know their individual limits. Various factors come into play when wondering how long can most dogs hold their poop, and those include their age, size, diet, activity level and gut health.

While a large dog may poop once a day, a puppy may need to go much more often—sometimes as much as five times a day or more. Similarly, an older dog may be pooping two or three times per day.

How long can puppies hold their poop?

Remember, puppies can’t control their bladder until they’re about 16 weeks old. Puppies have smaller everything–bladders, digestive systems, you name it. Generally speaking, a growing puppy should be given the opportunity to poop after every meal, and given lots of opportunities throughout the day. Being smaller, they’re basically little poop factories and what goes in goes back out rather quickly as they grow and develop.

You’ve got a new puppy? A handy hint you can use when it comes to monitoring how often puppies poop is their age. When they’re a month old, they generally can and do poop every hour. When they’re two months, they may graduate to every two hours. The same goes for when they hit three months, but again, how long a puppy can hold poop depends on other factors for the puppy–factors like whether their guts are healthy and the food is quality food. Also, the more food the puppies ingested, the more frequently they may need to poop. We can say the same about larger dogs too.

How long can an adult dog hold its poop?

Healthy adult dogs usually have much greater control over their bowel movements and can hold their poop for longer periods of time than a puppy or a sick or senior dog. Adult dogs generally poop relatively soon after each meal, and a large number of dog parents feed their dogs twice a day. It’s a safe assumption that if that’s your dog’s schedule, they’ll likely need to poop twice a day as well. That said, if your healthy dog gets a third meal, he may need an extra potty break, and sometimes even if they need a bathroom break, their body control allows them to hold their stool for anywhere between 6 and 8 hours.

An average dog poops shortly after waking or about an hour after eating. Sometimes, your furry friends may even poop overnight. Reasons they may ask to use the toilet desperately at night are anxiety, potty training issues, illness or disease, and physical limitations.

How long can a senior dog hold their stool?

Older dogs (don’t we adore them?) are a bit of their own breed, so to speak, when it comes to wondering how long can a senior dog hold their stool. Some maintain their youthful adult abilities their whole life, while others begin having a harder time holding their poop as age starts to set in. Senior dogs may need to poop more frequently than younger dogs, and usually benefit from being given more opportunities to do so (consistently taking potty breaks outside is beneficial for your elderly dog ‘s health).

How can I know if my dog is holding its stool?

There are some pretty good signs your healthy adult dog may be holding its stool or having trouble holding poop. Most adult dogs may pace, particularly near the door, but have a hard time once out there to do their business. They may circle and circle as they look for their spot, and the obvious sign they may be holding their stool is that you just don’t see them poop. Sometimes a day or so goes by; sometimes longer. When your furry friend is not purposely trying to hold its stool (in order to avoid an accident), he may be struggling with gut health issues and that can affect his overall health.

Why is it bad for my dog to hold stool?

As we said, it’s not always bad your dog is holding its stool–especially if your dog is home alone while you’re working or out on errands or whatever. We want our dogs to get potty training for their comfort (and ours)!

But if your house trained dog holds poop for extended periods, it can definitely take its toll on his digestive system and make his fecal matter even harder and more difficult to pass through his digestive tract. If he’s constipated or has other digestive issues, pooping is what helps relieve a lot of abdominal pain, and also excretes a lot of waste, so it’s important to get to the bottom of the issue. If his diet isn’t high enough in quality fiber, he may have a hard time having regular bowel movement. If he’s not exercising enough, he may not be getting enough good physical activity to stimulate his digestive system for more regular dog poop.

If he’s suffering from a condition like inflammatory bowel disease or he’s just finished a round of medicine, he may be unintentionally holding poop. Ensuring good gut health is the best way to make sure dogs don’t hold their poop longer than necessary.

Bernie’s Perfect Poop helps your dog who holds its stool!

photo: Bag of Bernie's Perfect Poop

Every dog owner should know that good dog gut health is good for overall immunity and health, but it is key to a dog having normal poops! When your dog is getting enough quality fiber, he’s able to push food through his digestive system and intestines at just the right speed for optimal nutrient absorption. That helps prevent constipation and other digestive issues like diarrhea, inflammatory bowel syndrome and more.

Quality pre- and probiotics also play a huge role in your dog’s digestive system working at its best. When your dog’s microbiome is flourishing with beneficial bacteria (probiotics), his poop is nice and smooth and slides right on out…that’s where that fun poop emoji gets its image. But that also means they’re able to fight off viruses, bacteria and other conditions more effectively.

Digestive enzymes also ensure food is broken down as much as it can be, and this increases nutrient absorption too, which means your dog’s getting all he should be out of the food you give!

Bernie’s Perfect Poop was created to aid our dogs (Bernie and Lady) and their digestive systems. We know that good health begins in the gut, and that’s why we wanted the best ingredients for them. We combined Miscanthus grass, pre- and probiotics and digestive enzymes into two delicious and easy-to-give formulas so we could make sure they didn’t deal with digestive pain or poop holding.

There’s a reason your vet asks about your dog’s feces–and why they don’t want them holding it for too long. Giving them Bernie’s Perfect Poop will help make sure that’s always the perfect poop at the perfect time.

4.6
4.6 out of 5 stars (based on 2195 reviews)
Read customer reviews

Bernie’s Thoughts on The Timing of Poops

Hi folks! It’s me, Bernie!

One of the great joys in life for a dog is pooping. Yeah, yeah, we know, it can be gross, but it doesn’t have to be!
Especially when you give your dog Bernie’s Perfect Poop!

It’s delicious and easy to scoop, and it’ll make sure your dog’s poop is not just perfect, but comes out as it should, time after time.

If we’re not able to poop when we need to, we don’t feel our best, but Perfect Poop takes care of that for us, and your dog will be thankful!

Wishing your dog poops they’re proud of,
Bernie F.
Chief Dog Officer

Illustration of Bernie sitting and smiling.

Sign up now to receive the latest updates via email.