Q: Why is my older dog inappropriately eliminating in the house?

Original Question: "I have a 12-year-old Husky and the past 3 to 4 weeks he has been doing his number two in the house. He doesn’t seem to have control of his bowels and he hasn’t done anything like this before. I was wondering what the problem might be? Thank you." - Barbara

Vet Certified Answer | Answered: October 12, 2017

Hi Barbara,

Thanks for writing to us. There are a few things I can suggest for your Husky. It would be a good idea to have your dog examined by your veterinarian to see if there are any physical reasons why he might be changing his habits. For example, there are some localized neurological conditions that can cause fecal incontinence/loss of bowel control. Your vet may want to know if there is some sort of pattern to the accidents. Does it happen at a certain time of day? For example, if it is always in the morning before he goes out, then perhaps he just can’t hold it as long anymore – 12 years is what I would consider senior for a larger breed like a Husky.  I would also want to know if he goes outside if given the opportunity, or if he prefers to go indoors only.

I would also recommend asking your vet about a condition commonly seen in older dogs called “canine cognitive dysfunction.” With this disorder, the brain structure and metabolism change over time with age, and this leads to alterations in behaviour. In some ways, it can be compared to dementia that many older humans experience. One of the first signs of this is a loss of house training in a dog that was previously well trained to go outdoors. There are many supplements, medications, and diets that can help support older dogs that may be experiencing this issue. Your vet will be able to assess your dog and determine the best course of action.

Best wishes,

Dr. Kim Hester

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