One of the major issues you will probably have to deal with if you have a disabled dog is incontinence. Number two is especially an issue, as the mess can be considerable. If you’re one of those people with a pathological fear of getting dirty, then you may find the following article hard to swallow. However, if you’re determined to keep your disabled dog, then you will just have to suck it up (thankfully, not literally!).

The best way to deal with your dog’s potty problems is to take control. Learn to express the bowel so that your dog will do its business under controlled conditions. It’s not as hard as it sounds. It’s actually quite similar to stimulating the poop reflex in babies, although babies don’t bite, so dogs can be a bit challenging. If you put forth the effort, however, it can pay dividends.

Stimulating the reflex

When you express the bowel, it’s tantamount to saying “It’s time to go.” There are several ways to do this, but it all involves some touching and squeezing of the dog’s anus, so you will need gloves (preferably the thin disposable latex ones used by vets). You may also need:

  • Squirt bottle
  • Baby wipes
  • Paper towels or old newspapers
  • Cool (not cold) water
  • Petroleum jelly


If your dog is small, this is probably the easiest and neatest way to get it to give it up. Hold your dog over the toilet bowl with its butt in the clear over the water (make sure the tail doesn’t make splash down first!) in the crook of your arm so you have a clear field of view. Your dog may struggle at first, so make sure you have a firm grip or you might end up with it in the toilet

When you’re ready, find the anus opening and with your other hand (gloved), gently push down on the tissue around it. If you feel something solid, then your dog has something for you. Make a pincher of your fingers and squeeze the hole shut and release several times, pulling outward all the while. If your dog has anything to give, it should plop (or ooze) out at some point.


If your dog is bigger, this may be a more practical method. Put some cool (not cold) water in a squirt bottle. Adjust the nozzle so it produces a stream rather than a spray. Place your pet on an old newspaper or several sheets of paper towel, and lift the tail to find the anus. Squirt the cool water in the opening, and you should see it pucker. Do this several times to get the anus going. You can also use baby wipes to add to the stimulus. Do it long enough (and presuming your dog has anything in there), you should get satisfaction soon enough. After the business is done, simply fold up the newspaper or paper towels and dispose.


A simpler method, requiring less effort, is using an ice cube. Do the same as with Method 2, but instead of using a spray bottle, have an ice cube ready. Place it directly on the opening and keep it there. When you feel some pushing against the cube, then you have success. This is especially useful in large dogs, because their poop is going to be proportional to their size, so you don’t want your face anywhere too near the opening!


This is the last resort when none of the above methods work for your pet. It involves direct stimulation of the sphincter (just the outer one, don’t worry), which means inserting your finger slightly into the anus. Do the same as for Methods 2 and 3, but instead of water or an ice cube, you will need lubricant. Rub the end of selected gloved finger with petroleum jelly and insert in the opening. Go in just a centimeter or two, don’t go prospecting! This is just to stimulate the reflex, you’re not trying to pull it out yourself! You may have to wait a while, but it will come.

Important tips

You should stick to a regular time and place for expressing the bowel to get your pet used to it. Pets can be stressed when they are presented with a situation they don’t understand. It will also make your pet more “regular.”

The best times to express the bowel are in the morning and just before bedtime. However, each pet’s system differs, so you may have to go through a bit of trial and error to find the optimal times to get it to do doodoo.

You may have to change your pet’s diet if the stool is too hard or too soft. In either case, it’s just more work you don’t need. Dried food may be your best option, but not all brands produce the ideal type of stool (solid, low odor). Some people swear by Science Diet w/d, while others recommend Bil-Jac. Again, trial and error is in the cards.