Q. My 8 yo Rottweiler is dropping "poop pellets". It is not intentional. We usually find one where he's been sleeping. He is not ill or injured.

A. Fecal incontinence in dogs occurs when a dog is no longer able to control his bowel movements. This can often happen when a dog is sleeping, walking around the house or playing outdoors. Fecal incontinence is absolutely no fault of the dog, in that it occurs because he no longer has the ability to sense his bowels.

Fecal incontinence is typically more common in dogs of advanced age or those suffering from some type of illness or medical condition. It's not a condition which is highly common, but it is a condition that should signal to a dog owner that an underlying medical health issue exists and needs to be evaluated.

Fecal incontinence occurs when there is a laxity in the muscles of the rectum or colon.

In older dogs, the most common cause of fecal incontinence has to do with a disorder of the nervous system. As the aging process takes over, the anal sphincter becomes less efficient at holding in bowels and allowing a dog to detect when he needs to eliminate.

Fecal incontinence is typically very identifiable based on the symptoms reported. However, the cause of the condition is not always as transparent. The first step in diagnosis will be to have a fecal test. A fecal test will check for the presence of any parasites or worms which could be destroying the colon or rectum. If any type of worm or parasites is discovered, a strong dosage of medication will be given to eliminate them, and a monitoring period may be needed to determine if the incontinence has improved.

If the parasitic infection has been treated and fecal incontinence continues, a colonoscopy will be performed. A colonoscopy is the process of inserting a tube into the rectum to look at the muscles and inner lining of the colon. This procedure should identify any abnormalities which could be causing fecal incontinence.

Treatment should always consist of treating the direct cause. If there appears to be significant damage done to the lining of the colon and rectum, a change in diet may be in order, to harden the stool and make it more difficult to pass.

The trouble with fecal incontinence is that only the cause is treatable - not the condition itself. Effective treatment of the reason for fecal incontinence can sometimes help to alleviate the symptoms. Even after treatment, fecal incontinence can still be an irreversible condition.

Answered By

Related Questions

Related Articles

Cushing's Disease in Dogs

Hyperadrenocorticism in Dogs The endocrine system is the collective system of organs that control hormones in the body, one of which is the cortisone hormone, responsible for protein and carbohydrate metabolism in the body....

Read More
Parvo in Dogs

Canine Parvovirus Infection in Dogs The canine parvovirus (CPV) infection is a highly contagious viral illness that affects dogs. The virus manifests itself in two different forms. The more common form is the intestinal form,...

Read More

DISCLAIMER: The answers in Ask petMD are meant to provide entertainment and education. They should not take the place of a vet visit. Please see our Terms and Conditions.

IMPORTANT: The opinions expressed in Ask petMD content area are solely those of the User, who may or may not have medical or scientific training.

Our Ask petMD experts include veterinarians, vet techs, veterinary students, pet trainers, pet behaviorists and pet nutritionists. These opinions do not represent the opinions of petMD.

User-generated content areas are not reviewed by a petMD veterinarian or any member of the petMD editorial staff for accuracy, balance, objectivity, timeliness, or any other reason except for compliance with our Terms and Conditions.

petMD does not endorse any specific product, service, or treatment. Do not consider petMD user-generated content as medical advice.

Never delay or disregard seeking professional medical advice from your veterinarian or other qualified healthcare provider because of something you have read on petMD.

Continue Reading