Help! Dog Suddenly Waking Up In The Middle Of The Night To Poop

It can be incredibly frustrating or worrying if your dog suddenly has accidents in the middle of the night. You love your canine companion but want to sleep without worrying about your pup.

There are several reasons your dog may be waking up in the middle of the night to poop. Older dogs may have more accidents due to fecal incontinence, for example.

dog suddenly waking up in the middle of the night to poop
Help! Dog suddenly waking up in the middle of the night to poop.

No matter its age, your dog may poop in the house due to illness, medical issues, or behavioral problems. To stop your dog from suddenly waking up in the middle of the night to poop, you need to identify the source of the problem.

Reasons Your Dog is Suddenly Waking Up in the Middle of the Night to Poop

Look at the following reasons your dog may be having accidents at night to help determine the root issue.

Your Dog Has Anxiety

Dogs at any age can wake up suddenly with the urge to do their business. However, most of the time, your dog will attempt to wake you up so you can take them out.

Your pup may have separation anxiety, especially if it’s a new dog or a puppy. So, when they’re alone at night, they may get anxious and have an accident.

Once your new furry friend gets comfortable around you, fewer nighttime accidents should occur.

Some dogs may also poop inside if they feel stressed. Loud noises like fireworks or thunderstorms may trigger anxiety in your dog, causing it to poop.

If you’ve been having a nightly series of storms with thunder or a celebration with fireworks booming in the sky, your dog will likely return to normal once it’s quiet again.

If you suspect your dog has separation anxiety, it may help to work with a behavioral trainer. For predictable dog anxiety-inducing events, your vet may prescribe medication to help calm your pup’s nerves.

Boston Terrier looks scared in blanket
Boston Terrier looks scared in a red blanket.

Your Dog Needs House Training

If you have a younger dog, it may still be getting used to going outside for bowel movements. Perhaps you’re already working on house training your puppy, and it hasn’t gotten the hang of it yet.

Dogs you’ve had for a while without any issues may need a retraining session.

Try attaching a bell to the doorknob and teach your dog that it needs to go outside when you ring the bell. When you take your dog out, give it a jingle, so it associates the bell with doing its outdoor business.

shaggy dog looking through door
A shaggy dog peeks through a door.

Medical Issues

Your dog may have a medical issue, like an infection, causing it to poop at night. Scheduling an appointment with a veterinarian to discuss symptoms, like nighttime bowel movements, can help answer your questions.

If you recently took your dog to the vet and they prescribed your dog medication, this may be the cause of the accidents at night.

Pay attention to your dog’s bowel movements. Here is what to look for:

  • Stool frequency
  • Stool consistency
  • Control your dog has over bowel movements
  • If your dog appears to be in pain while passing stool

Dogs who have recently had surgery or another medical procedure are susceptible to infection. Pay extra attention to your pup’s bowel movements while healing from the procedure.

If you notice any changes to your dog’s stool at any time, contact your vet.

Illness or Disease

If your dog is suddenly pooping in the middle of the night, your pup may have an illness or disease. Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), for example, can cause your dog to have less control of when it goes to the bathroom.

In more severe cases, bowel cancer, diabetes, kidney stones, and liver disease can cause dogs to have accidents inside.

If you take your dog out regularly during the day, it’s possible it only has accidents at night since it’s been a while since it’s been out.

So, even if your dog is only having accidents at night, it’s still best to have a veterinarian examine your dog to determine the source of the issue.

sick brown poodle
A sick poodle lies on the bed.

Physical Limitations in Older Dogs

Older dogs have bodies that don’t work as well as they used to, which can lead to many issues. Some elderly dogs have arthritis or other joint problems, making going to the bathroom more challenging.

Canine Alzheimer’s may cause your dog to forget its potty training or disorient it to where it doesn’t know where it is pooping.

an old dog
An old dog looking at the camera.

How to Stop Your Dog From Pooping At Night?

Whether your pup is having nighttime accidents due to anxiety, medical issues, or old age, you can do a few things to prevent it from suddenly waking up in the middle of the night to poop.

Avoid Feeding Your Dog Late at Night

If your dog eats a meal before bed, the food may reach its colon while you’re asleep. Even if your pup ate earlier in the day, take it out at night.

Boston Terrier eating
A Boston Terrier eating in a bowl with his owner in the kitchen.

Identify Any Other Symptoms

Your dog may exhibit signs and symptoms if there is a more serious issue that is causing your dog to suddenly poop in the middle of the night.

Signs and symptoms may include:

Re-Teach Potty Training

It’s easy to forget our cute and cuddly dogs are wild animals, on the inside at least. Your pup doesn’t instinctively know to do its business outdoors.

Solving the midnight bathroom runs issue may be as simple as going back to the basics and reminding your dogs that they can’t go to the bathroom indoors.

If you recently moved, your dog may not yet understand the new layout or routines.

Yorkshire Terrier at the park
Yorkshire Terrier is being trained at the park.

Take Extra Walks During the Day

Extra walks during the day can be beneficial to your dog in several ways. Not only do dogs need the opportunity to go to the bathroom, but they also need the proper exercise for their weight and breed.

The walking movement helps with your dog’s digestion and bowel movements. Additionally, the exercise can cause your dog to be tired enough to sleep through the night.

If your dog isn’t a fan of rainy weather, make your outdoor trips quick enough to use the bathroom. Then, play with your dog to release excess energy once inside.

German Shepherd walk
The owner and German Shepherd go for a walk.

Be Patient and Calm

We know it can be frustrating when your dog is pooping at night. On top of the inconvenience, you may get less sleep and feel cranky.

Do your best to stay calm with your dog. If you create a sense of fear for your pup, it may feel ashamed and attempt to hide its accidents.

No matter what the issue causing the nighttime bowel movements is, it won’t be solved by anger or yelling at your dog.

fluffy cavapoo puppy with white chest looks at owner
Bicolor and Tricolour Cavapoo puppies have splashes of white and other shades. Cute!

Place Potty Pads Inside

While this may not be the ideal solution, potty pads can make clean-up easier while you determine what the issue is.

Yorkiepoo in playpen
Yorkiepoo in playpen with potty pad.

Final Thoughts

Dogs of all ages can start having nighttime accidents for several reasons. The leading causes of dogs pooping at night are anxiety, potty training issues, illness or disease, and physical limitations.

To rule out any behavioral or medical issues, make sure your dog gets plenty of exercise, is eating the proper amount of food, and isn’t eating late at night.

Pay attention to any symptoms or changes in bowel movements and tell your vet anything different you notice.

Giving the veterinarian as much information as possible can help them to determine the best course of action. While figuring out the underlying issue, always be calm and patient with your dog.