Q. In the last week our 3-year-old Yorkie-Maltese mix has been releasing his stool in the house. We have come home to three different days of stool all over the house. He seems fine in appearance and character but this is not normal for him. We don’t give him human food, and he eats a natural blend of dog food. We have checked him over to see if he is losing hair, has any lesions or bug bites. We have found nothing. He is current on shots. Can you tell me what else I should be looking for in his symptoms?
A. Your dog’s apparent accidents in the house need to first be separated into two major categories: behavioral versus medical.
The best place to start is to rule out medical causes, and a most important diagnostic test would be microscopic analysis of the stool. This could detect an imbalance of bacteria, which might cause occult (hidden) bleeding into the intestines, inflammation of the lining of the intestine and a sense of urgency where your Yorkie-Maltese is not able to avoid going in the house. There also could be parasites such as hookworms, or other giardia, which often is found in stream water – even puddles on the ground.
In addition to a microscopic exam, the stool should be sent to a laboratory for testing for giardia and cryposporidium, two parasites that can be very hard to detect.
A change in diet could also lead to loss of bowel control.
Once a medical cause is ruled out, it may be time to look at behavioral causes. Is there anything different in his environment or schedule? Are feeding times and amounts the same?
Hopefully your veterinarian can help you with this detective work, and figure out what is going on with your little guy.