Digestive System: Bowel Incontinence

Cancer Quicklinks


Dog bowel incontinence is usually common in dogs with behavioral problems. Young puppies and older dogs also commonly have the problem due to involuntary colon activity and poor control over the anal musculature. Similarly, a study shows that some dogs, especially females, commonly get frightened or respond timidly or shyly to strange or uncomfortable circumstances, which results in fecal as well as urinary incontinence.

Infectious diseases, parasitic infestations and surgical or traumatic factors are some other causes for dog bowel incontinence. Any infectious disease or parasitic infestation can cause diarrhea or softening of the stool and is a potential causative factor for bowel incontinence. Most commonly, parvovirus infections, bacterial toxicity and giardiasis (a common intestinal infection) are some of the most common factors that can cause diarrhea. Dogs may show incontinence even after recovery.

Physical traumas and surgical complications are other causes for canine bowel incontinence. Accidents or improper handling of the spinal cord, especially in the lumbo-sacral region can lead to partial or complete paralysis of the hind quarter in dogs, which surely affects efficacy and functioning of muscles, thus may end with bowel incontinence.

Similarly, post surgical complications, such as hernias, lumbo-sacral operations and intestinal surgery can also cause bowel incontinence. It’s noticed that dogs having bowel incontinence due to surgical complications usually never recover.


Dogs will show involuntary defecation in unusual places and will excrete only small amounts of feces at a time. Straining and lethargy with signs of defecation is quite common. Sometimes dogs may lose control over defecation completely. Thus, as a result, a dog will continuously defecate, which is a more severe symptom. Apart from that some dogs may develop psychological and behavioral problems due to an owner’s response over involuntary defecation in unusual places. Eventually, these dogs would either appear stressed or respond with extreme aggressiveness.


Diagnosis of dog bowel incontinence is based on a dog’s history, clinical examination of the anal musculature and colon. This is usually done with a probe called a endoscope. Dogs should be restrained properly before a clinical examination. In the laboratory, fecal samples are examined for the presence of any parasite. Culturing and isolation techniques can confirm the cause of the diarrhea and thus suspected as a possible cause of the bowel incontinence.


There are two different approaches for treating bowel incontinence i.e. specific and supportive. Specific treatment can only be possible if the exact cause has been diagnosed. If incontinence is caused by any any pathological factor (e.g; disease, parasite), it should be preferably treated first with supportive treatment applied thereafter.

In some cases, like that of injury, accident, and surgical complications, these require surgical handling with different surgical operations. A veterinary surgeon will usually operate on the basis of the condition and type of musculature involved. Dietary management is usually important to make feces firm and to reduce intestinal motility. Fiber must be added to the regular diet. Approximately 25% more fiber should be initially add and after improvement 15% thereafter. It should be continued until complete recovery is achieved. There are some complications associated with dietary management, e.g. constipation, which may cause irreversible damage to the concerned muscles and tissues, if a dog strains or feels stressed. Therefore, diet must be formulated by prescription and under the direction of a concerned veterinarian only.

Natural remedies could also be of help in addressing symptoms. Products such as Natural Moves can help to promote regular bowel movements. Other products such as RunnyPoo Relief can help with firm stool formation and also support dog bowel function.