Trying to potty train a puppy can be one of the most challenging tasks as a dog owner. They have yet to set a proper toilet schedule and tend to go as and when they like.
Things usually get better as the dog gets older.
Or maybe not quite.
Has your adult dog been waking you up in the middle of the night to poop?
Some dogs have to wake their owners up at night to poop due to inflammatory bowel disease, old age, anxiety or poor toilet training.
It can be very frustrating for a dog owner who has to get up early for work the next day.
In this article, we will be taking a deeper look at the possible reasons for your dog’s night pooping habit and how you can correct it.
Why Is My Dog Suddenly Pooping In The Middle Of The Night?
The problem here isn’t due to your dog pooping in the middle of the night. It can happen every now and then even if your dog has a usual toilet schedule.
What we are more concerned about here is if the behavior happens out of the blue and continues over a period of time.
Here are some reasons that can be causing it.
A stomach issue is usually one of the most common reasons that is making your dog poop in the middle of the night.
You might not have realized it but your dog could be suffering from inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). This is when your dog’s intestines or digestive system are inflamed.
This inflammation will damage the lining of the digestive system and prevents their dog food from being digested properly.
The root causes of IBD aren’t exactly known yet but scientists think that it could be due to genetics, food allergies or bacterial/parasitic infestation.
Dogs with this condition can suffer from chronic diahrrea, chronic vomiting, weight loss and pooping clear liquid.
Another similar condition which affects the dog’s digestion process would be irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). This stomach issue is also widespread amongst humans.
IBS is caused when the dog’s intestinal muscles don’t work effectively which leads to chronic diarrhea or constipation. Causes of IBS in dogs are mainly due to stress or the upset stomach not being agreeable with certain foods.
This thing about IBS is that it can come and go rather suddenly which can make the dog feel gassy and bloated. Dogs that are experiencing such gastrointestinal problems can feel a strong urge to poo in the middle of the night.
Your dog’s diet can play a major in its pooping schedule. If you have recently made a change in your dog’s diet such as transitioning your dog from kibbles to raw or canned food, the sudden change can affect your dog’s stomach.
Whenever you made a switch in your dog’s diet, it needs to be done slowly over time to allow the dog’s body to adjust. Do not just serve your dog the new diet all in one meal.
For example, if you have been feeding your dog dry food since its puppy days and wish to transition to a raw meat diet, slowly mix in the raw meat with the dry food over each meal.
If you are also feeding your dog a lot of carbs like rice, you might start to see tiny white specks on your dog’s poop. This is due to your dog not being able to fully digest the rice which is then expelled in the fecal matter.
When I made the change from wet food to raw meat for my dog, it took about a month. Taking it slow also allows dog parents to watch out for any unknown food allergies.
Besides changing to another type of diet, feeding your dog poor quality food can affect your dog’s pooping frequency.
By using better quality dog food that has better ingredients, it allows your dog’s body to absorb the nutrients more efficiently which means less pooping.
Similar to humans, our dogs can suffer from anxiety disorders as well. All dog breeds can suffer from dog anxiety and it is a common emotion for our furry friends.
What we do not want is for this anxious emotion to snowball into something that starts to affect our dog’s health and quality of life.
Here are some ways that can trigger an anxious dog:
Fear related anxiety is brought about by putting your dog in a new environment. The unfamiliar sights, sounds and smells will send your dog’s anxiety into overdrive.
There are dogs that are also afraid of loud sounds like fireworks or sirens.
If your dog has fear-related anxiety, it might be too distracted by what’s happening around it to poo during the evening walk.
Separation anxiety is rather common in many of our dogs with some showing more severe symptoms. These dogs can start to get very unsettled when they are not around their owners.
This can lead to unwanted behaviors like pooing and peeing inside the house or destroying stuff at home.
As adult dogs get older, they might start to have health-related issues due to their old age that can affect when and how they poo.
A senior dog is more prone to having joint and arthritis issues. This makes movements like squatting to poo a lot more challenging now. This lack of mobility in the joints of senior dogs could be making them unreluctant to poo and will hold it in for as long as possible.
When your senior dog wakes you up in the middle of the night to poop, your dog probably can’t hold it in any longer.
Senior dogs may not have the fortitude to hold in their poo till morning any longer. There are times when I feel the urge to poo in the middle of the night but will just sleep it off.
It might be a different story if I was a lot older.
Older dogs that suffer from Alzheimer’s can forget their house training and toilet schedule. They might end up pooing inside the house or whenever they feel like it.
This is something that I’ve noticed with dog parents that leave out dry food for their dogs to ‘graze’ at will. This isn’t a healthy feeding option as most dogs are greedy and tend to overeat. This will make them obese and suffer from many health problems.
Dogs that are allowed access to food all the time might eat more in the evening and have to poop in the middle of the night.
Not Enough Excercise
Dogs that get adequate exercise and playtime during the day won’t tend to wake up in the middle of the night to poop.
When dogs are asleep, their digestive system will slow down and they won’t really feel the urge to poop.
But if all that your dog does during the day is eat and sleep, it will become more active at night. And this activates their digestive process.
How Do You Stop Your Dog From Pooping At Night?
Now that you are more aware of the possible reasons that are making your dog wake you up at 3 a.m. to poop, here are some methods that can help your dog to reschedule its pooping time.
Visit The Vet
This would be the very first thing that I would do if there has been such a drastic change in my dog’s pooping schedule.
If this change has been ongoing then your dog needs to be checked by the vet. Don’t attempt to diagnose the dog on your own. The vet might need to run some tests and scans on your dog just to be sure there aren’t any underlying health-related reasons.
Seek veterinary advice as soon as possible.
Calm Your Dog Down
If your dog has behavioral problems due to an anxiety disorder, you will need to find ways to keep your dog calm.
There are certain training methods that can help your dog cope better with anxiety.
One way is to practice counter-conditioning on your dog. Assuming that your dog is well-trained, you can get it to focus on you and now on the event that is triggering its anxiety.
Another effective method is to desensitize your dog to whatever is making it anxious. Do it in small doses and do not dump your dog in the ‘deep end’ to quicken the process. Desensitization needs to be in gradual steps to be effective.
Anti-anxiety medication is another way that can help your dog while it is being trained. I understand that there are many dog parents that are not keen on giving their dogs such a treatment.
My take on such medication is that if taking it will improve my dog’s quality of life, I will be open to the idea.
Such medications aren’t for life and can be stopped once the dog gets better.
Set A Proper Feeding Schedule
Dogs do well if they are trained to observe a fixed feeding schedule. It helps their bodies get used to a routine which in turn will help set when they need to poo.
I’m sure we humans have our daily eating and toilet routines too and don’t deviate far from it.
Most dog owners will feed their dogs once in the morning and another time in the evening. But for those of us that have an irregular working schedule, you can use an automated feeding machine to stick to your dog’s feeding schedule.
If you are feeding your dog canned food, get one that can accommodate ice packs to keep the food fresh.
For dogs on a raw food diet, I wouldn’t recommend using an automated feeder as raw food can’t stay fresh for too long.
You might have to do a hybrid diet of canned food and raw food.
Try to not feed your dog too late at night as it still needs some time to digest its food before taking a poop. A good time for its last meal of the day would be around 5 p.m.
This will give your dog ample time and use the toilet before your bedtime.
Give Your Dog Adequate Playtime
I believed that you would have done your research on the kind of activity requirements your dog breed requires.
If you are someone that can only commit less than 30mins of playtime for your dog daily, don’t get a dog breed like a corgi for a first dog.
Giving your dog the proper amount of exercise to burn off all its excess energy is important for both its mental and physical health.
Don’t be upset when your dog wakes you up late at night to use the toilet because you have not been walking your dog enough.
Do Dogs Revenge Poop?
Rest assured that when dogs wake up in the middle of the night to poop, they are not doing it out of revenge or anger.
In fact, dogs are incapable of such an emotion like revenge or bearing grudges. It is common for us humans to impose our emotions on our pets.
When your dog wakes you up at night to poop, it does so because it needs to poop.
When nature calls, we have to go. Unlike humans, most dogs will have to do their business outside of the house.
If your dog wakes you up to answer the call of nature, do not be angry or worse, go back to sleep and ignore your dog. You will find a large pile of dog poo in your room if you were to do that.
The important thing to note here is how often is your dog doing this? If it is a one-off event, I wouldn’t be too worried about it.
However, if this behavior has been persisting for some time now, please get your dog to the vet for a proper checkup.