Written by Ella White
There’s one thing that almost everyone can agree on: puppies are adorable. But if you’ve just welcomed a new puppy to the family, something you might find less endearing is all the poop. From toilet training to picking up after them multiple times in one walk, it can feel like all you’re ever doing is clearing up puppy poop.
So, why do puppies poop so much? Do they really poop more than adult dogs? How much should your puppy be pooping, and when is it not normal? We’ll answer these questions and more in this article.
It’s true that puppies do poop a lot. Even adult dogs can poop up to three times a day, but most commonly they will only need to go once.
As newborns, puppies are likely to poop after every feed. Up to 12 weeks it could be more than six times per day, and by six months down to three times per day. But the good news is, by the time they’re one year old, a puppy with a healthy digestive system should have settled into their proper pooping habits.
The reason puppies poop more than adult dogs is because their intestines are still developing, so their food is processed (although not always fully digested) quicker than it is by older dogs with a more mature digestive tract. Therefore, the younger the puppy is, the faster their food will pass through their digestive system. Resulting in more frequent pooping.
While it’s absolutely normal for young dogs to poop upwards of six times per day, you should eventually notice a gradual shift to a more ‘normal’ routine as they get older. So while pooping every hour is normal while they’re still very young, by the time they’re 6-12 months old this should have settled down.
Be sure to look out for any changes to the consistency, texture, color, and anything that is in their poop that shouldn’t be, as this could be a sign of illness or parasites. If your dog has settled into pooping three times a day and suddenly they go back to five or six times a day, they might have a stomach upset or other digestive issue. In these cases, seek veterinary advice.
Like human babies, puppies need to eat more to make up for their increased energy needs as they grow, which in turn means they will poop more. Generally, this should only be a cause for concern if you notice differences in the poop itself.
New dog owners should also be aware that most puppies are born with intestinal parasites, which can affect and even be spotted in your puppy’s poop. For this reason, your vet will probably recommend deworming and stool sample examinations while they’re very young.
If you think your puppy is pooping too much, you might need to seek medical advice. But first, consider these factors:
If your puppy’s increased pooping frequency lasts longer than 24 hours and is not soothed by stomach-settling foods like bone broth, pumpkin, or chicken, take them to the vet for an examination.
Most puppy owners will find themselves wondering if the sheer volume of poop is normal, rather than worrying if their pup is pooping frequently enough! So if you’re concerned that your dog has suddenly started pooping much less frequently, or if they seem to be having trouble pooping (for example if they’re straining to go) they may have a blocked intestine.
Intestinal blockages can be caused by something they’ve chewed or eaten, including pieces of their own toys. If you think your puppy is suffering from a blocked intestine, seek veterinary attention immediately.
If your puppy is otherwise unwell and eating less as a result, this could also lead to less frequently pooping. When they’re feeling better and back to their normal intake of food, their pooping should return to normal too. If you’re still concerned, check with your vet.
Because young puppies, like human babies, are still developing and have little control over their bodies, they tend to poop very quickly after eating.
Usually, pups will poop around 30 minutes after eating so giving them access to outdoor space (or wherever they’re trained to go to the toilet) soon after they’ve finished eating is a good way to avoid accidents.
Small pups might not yet understand that after they’ve eaten, their body will signal that they need to go to the toilet. So consider this during training and help them build the connection with going outside to poop soon after eating. Stay with them until they’ve pooped and then praise them. As well as creating a positive routine, it will also reduce the chances of your dog coming in too soon and then pooping inside the house.
Even if your puppy hasn’t just eaten, you should be aware of signs that they might need the toilet. For example circling, sniffing the floor, or posturing their body as they would before pooping are all indicators that they’re about to go – so get them outside or on a mat quick!
If your dog is well trained and knows where they’re supposed to go to the toilet, then you should pay close attention to where they go. If you notice that they’ve started pooping outside of their regular area, it could be a sign that they weren’t able to make it to their designated toilet spot in time.
Of course, plenty of puppies have accidents and it’s usually nothing to worry about (unless it’s on your white carpet!) – but if you notice a change in the consistency and it seems runnier than usual then your dog may have an upset stomach.
Because there is so much potential variation in what puppy poop can look like, it can be difficult for owners to know whether changes to their dog’s poop are a sign of health problems. But, as a rule, it should be brown, large but not excess, soft but not runny, and compact as you might expect of a dog’s poop.
The time of day, your dog’s diet, and your dog’s size will all determine what their poop looks like, but you’ll begin to get a sense of what a healthy poop is for your individual dog. Then, if you notice it being too large, too small, too hard, too runny, or a different color you will be able to take this as an indication that something could be wrong.
Dogs excrete fluid from their anal glands on their feces when they go to the toilet, so you might notice wetness or liquid on their poop. This is normal. But if you spot blood or undigested materials in their poop – including under-digested food, foreign bodies like chew toys, and parasites like worms – then seek medical attention.
You should be able to pick up your dog’s poop without it being too soft or runny. It should be brown like milk chocolate, but variations on the shade are usually still healthy. If it’s yellow, this could be a sign that they have a problem with their liver. If it’s black, it could be blood as a result of internal bleeding. In these cases, see your vet immediately.
These are a number of reasons that your puppy’s poop might be irregular, either in appearance or in frequency. Some causes of irregular puppy poop are more serious than others, but these are the most common factors to consider:
If your dog’s diet has been changed you will probably notice a difference in their poop. Allow your dog up to two weeks to settle into their new diet and, if possible, ease them into their new way of eating to prevent any sudden changes to the consistency and frequency of their pooping.
Excessive pooping can be a sign that your dog is unwell – usually as a result of bacteria in their bowels or digestive tract. Bacteria can cause diarrhea, vomiting, intestinal issues, kidney issues, and pain like cramping. This is commonly picked up from dogs scrounging for scraps in high bacteria areas like the trash can.
Puppies can also pick up bacteria from dog poop itself, which contains over 23 million coliform bacteria. This is one of many reasons that it’s important to clear up after your dog both at home and while out on walks.
Eating too much or eating unhealthy food like table scraps can cause stomach issues in puppies that lead to irregular poop. This can be solved by rectifying the quality and quantity of their diet.
An irregular routine can make it harder to predict when your puppy will go to the toilet and can lead to accidents. Create a routine of toilet breaks for your dog so they learn when to go and won’t be caught short. After food, play, naps, and on walks are the best times to train your dog to poop.
Dogs love routine. And if their established habits are disrupted by changes to their environment – including a new home or new animals and humans joining the family – it could trigger a change in their toilet cycle.
Usually, their stress will settle down within a week and with it their pooping routine will return to normal. If it doesn't, your dog may need medical attention to treat anxiety or another underlying digestive issue.