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Ask the Veterinarian/Anal sphincter control


Hey there!

This isn't an emergency, at least I don't think it is, and I was wondering what you'd think or if you'd recommend something. My black lab, Raleigh, I think he's around 10-11 months, seems to not have control of his anal sphincter when he's asleep. I first noticed a strange smell coming from him when he was a few months old whenever he slept, it didn't smell like feces, but almost had a fishy smell. Sometimes when he got up there would be a wet patch where he was. I had suspicion that it was coming from his anus, and it wasn't until last night that that was confirmed. I was at my desk, he was on my bed, and I noticed the smell was extremely strong, so I turned to look and his anus was wide open. As in open like there was an imaginary poo coming out. I tapped his hip,thinking it would... Close. But it wasn't until he woke up that it went back to normal. I've only smelled that smell when he's sleeping, so I only think it occurs when he's unconscious. I've heard this could happen to older dogs, but not puppies. He has never defecated in his sleep. What do you think? Is this something I should be concerned about? Would you suggest I take him to the vet? I'm not quite sure what they could do...

Anyway, thanks for reading! Hope to hear from you soon!
Taylor & Raleigh

If he is still having the same issue at 11 months old that he had as a young pup then I would take him in for a check up.

What you are describing isn't unusual but I would be concerned as he got older that it might become a problem.

He may just be a very relaxed sleeper, but again, I would at least speak to your vet about this issue.  

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Jana Connell RVT, CVT


PLEASE READ BEFORE SUBMITTING TO ME: I am NOT a vet and do NOT diagnose diseases. That is only for a licensed Veterinarian to do. I will give you suggestions and steer you toward calling your vet for help. You can call the vet's office and talk to the technician there or the vet at times. Don't be afraid to call them! If you have a serious issue with your pet please post it to one of the veterinarians in here- I will tell you the same thing in my answer. IF your pet is injured or in an emergency situation, CALL YOUR VET- Do not wait and post in here. Just call the vet's office and get them in to see the vet right away. Critical treatment time is lost if you seek answers here when you should have your precious pet at the vets!! Don't sit at home waiting for an answer when your pet is critically ill or injured!! I can answer most questions about small animal and wildlife care as well as small animal nutrition. I can also answer questions about all phases of dental care for small animals. I DO NOT answer questions about birds (unless it is wildlife or songbirds) or HAMSTERS/GERBILS/CHINS/GUINEA PIGS/REPTILES/FROGS/RABBITS/PET BIRDS OF ANY KIND so please submit these questions to the appropriate sections. I, as well as other experts in here, do NOT do homework questions- that is for YOU to do! Please respect these rules for all of us. Thanks!


I have over 42 years experience in the field of veterinary medicine. I specialized in small animals and did wildlife rehab for over 25 years, mostly raptors, squirrels and opossums. I am a Small Animal Nutritional Consultant with 6 certificates from Hills Pet Foods, CNM and Purina. I also specialized in Small Animal Dentistry which is a field I truly love. I also Teach Veterinary Technology to working technicians who are studying to take their California Tests to become Licensed Technicians. They have to take both the VTNE (Veterinary Technician National Exam) and the California boards.

Audubon,World Wildlife Federation, American Society of Veterinary Dental Technicians.


Licensed with California and Oregon, RVT and CVT. Certified Veterinary Dental Technician Have over 1500 logged hours of Continuing Education Credits(that means I keep up to date!).

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Nominated for Expert of the Month for the last 5 years.

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