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Why Does My Dog Defecate in Her Sleep?

Dear Dr. Barchas, Our Black Lab, Butterfly, turds occasionally in her sleep. Not during the day but only at night. This is frustrating for us...

Dr. Eric Barchas  |  Oct 3rd 2011


Dear Dr. Barchas,

Our Black Lab, Butterfly, turds occasionally in her sleep. Not during the day but only at night. This is frustrating for us as well as embarrassing for her as she realizes what she’s done and runs away.

Why would a dog poop in her sleep? This is even when she’s had a walk or has gone out.

Lisa
San Rafael, CA

Until I read this I didn’t realize “turd” could be used as a verb!

I am going to assume that the nocturnal bowel movements are normally formed, and not diarrhea or liquid anal leakage. If you are seeing soft stools, then you should pursue treatment from your vet.

If the stools are normal, then Butterfly probably is suffering from a weakened anal sphincter. Is she elderly? Dogs, like humans, often become incontinent when they are older.

In addition to walking her (to try to clear out the pipes) before bed, you also may want to mix up Butterfly’s feeding schedule. Meals can stimulate colonic activity and defecation. If you feed a large meal at breakfast and a much smaller one at dinner, she may start making it through the night. You also may want to consider switching to a low-fiber food — this will cause Butterfly to defecate less in general.

You also should get a veterinary checkup to confirm that no obvious medical problems are contributing to this issue. If none are found, there will be good news and bad news. The good news: This problem isn’t likely to cause any harm to Butterfly. The bad news is that this problem could be tough to eliminate.

Photo credit: Computerjoe.