Like the book says, everyone poops -- and pees -- but the question for your dog is how much? A dog's schedule for eliminating depends on several things: his age, his feeding schedule and his health. When you establish a routine with your dog, you'll get a feel for how often he urinates and has bowel movements.
Growing Out of Potty Breaks
A puppy doesn't have full control over his bowels and bladder, which is why experts such as the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals recommend taking a young pup out hourly so he gets the hang of when and where to do his business. As a dog grows, the time between potty breaks usually increases until he learns to hold his business for up to 8 to 10 hours -- about an average work day for most people. Generally, a healthy adult dog will have one or two bowel movements a day, and urinate three to five times a day.
Senior Dog Needs
Life has a tendency to go full circle, as people and pets sometimes revert back to their old ways as they age. If your dog is in his senior years, chances are he doesn't have the same sphincter control he used to have. Urinary incontinence is leaking urine and fecal incontinence is the inability to control the bowels; in both cases, the dog simply cannot control his basic bodily functions. It's not unusual for a dog in this situation to leak urine, or even poop, when he sleeps. In addition to the natural progression of age, medical conditions such as hormone imbalances, urinary conditions, Cushing's disease, tumors and arthritis can cause incontinence.
What Goes In Comes Out
According to American Animal Hospital, a dog's bowel movements will be based on what he eats, his food's fiber content and how often he eats. A high fiber content usually results in more poop. A dog's urination schedule is similarly affected by his diet, including how much sodium and sugar is in his diet and how much water he's drinking. Normally, a dog's total urinary output over the course of a day is less than 20 milliliters -- or .67 ounces -- per pound. That means a 20 pound dog will urinate around 13 ounces a day, a bit more than a can of soda. Ideally, a healthy adult dog should have at least three to five opportunities to urinate during the day; smaller dogs tend to require more potty breaks than large dogs. A bathroom break first thing in the morning, right before bed and several times in between usually is sufficient for most dogs. American Animal Hospital in Randolph, New Jersey, recommends an opportunity to poop after a meal.
Out of Sorts
Occasionally your dog will get off his schedule. He may become constipated, a potentially painful condition when he can't poop or has a difficult time passing his stool. When he's successful, his stool may be hard or dry. This condition has a variety of potential causes including dietary issues, obstruction and neurological conditions. On the other end of the scale is the problem of too much poop, or diarrhea. Diarrhea can range in form from simple soft stool to watery and bloody. Parasites, infection and eating the wrong thing can lead to this uncomfortable condition that often results in your dog waiting urgently by the door.
A dog can experience similar output problems with his urine. Polyuria, an increased output in urine, is often associated with polydipsia, an increase in thirst. Renal failure and diabetes are common causes of polyuria. If a dog can't, or won't, urinate, she's suffering from urinary retention, caused by a variety of conditions, including electrolyte disturbances, pelvic nerve lesions and urinary bladder overdistension. As your dog's best friend, you know his schedule better than anyone. If you notice a change in his routine -- if your dog strains to poop, has diarrhea, or if his urinary output has changed -- contact his vet.
- American Animal Hospital: How Often Does a Dog Need to Urinate and Have a Bowel Movement?
- Cesar's Way: How Often Should a Dog Urinate?
- PetMD: Increased Urination and Thirst in Dogs
- PetPlace: Constipation in Dogs
- ASPCA: House Training Your Puppy
- HealthyPets.com: Urinary and Fecal Incontinence in Pets
- Cesar's Way: Diarrhea in Dogs
- PetMD: Inability to Urinate in Dogs