Constipation is a common digestive problem in dogs which may need medical intervention. You might think that it doesn’t pose much threat compared to other health issues, but it can be life-threatening depending on the cause of constipation. In this guide, we share how to treat constipation in dogs for informational purposes.
What is Dog Constipation?
The dog’s digestive system can be sensitive at times and can become agitated due to the ingestion of a foreign object or when there’s a change in your dog’s diet which may result in hard stools. Mild constipation can be treated by giving your dog enough water, but when left untreated, may lead to chronic constipation. If you’ve noticed the following in your dog, then it’s probably experiencing canine constipation:
- Infrequent bowel movements
- Finding it hard to pass fecal matter
- The dog’s bowel movements are completely absent
It’s imperative that dog owners recognize when there’s a veterinary medical emergency with their constipated dog. This includes when they’re unable to pass a normal stool or experience pain and signs of discomfort while passing fecal material. If this is your dog’s specific case, then be sure to give them immediate care.
Common Signs of Constipation in Dogs
Common symptoms of constipation include crying, crouching, or unproductive straining when trying to defecate. If your dog’s constipation lasts more than two days, be sure to seek your vet’s advice immediately. Keep in mind that these symptoms could be similar to those of a urinary tract issue, so be sure to have your vet do a full physical exam to get an accurate diagnosis of your pet.
Other signs of constipation in your furry friend include the following:
- Hard and dry stools
- Your dog strains to pass their stool
- Squat without defecating
- Circling excessively
- Passing mucus when trying to defecate
- Scooting around the ground
Your pup may also feel a tense and painful abdomen that makes it growl or cry when you press its stomach or lower back.
Most Common Causes of Constipation
There are a wide range of causes behind your dog’s constipation, but the most common reasons include the following:
- Feeding it too much fiber
- A lack of exercise
- A side effect of dog medications
- Failing to give it the right amount of fiber
- Abscessed or blocked anal glands
- No access to fresh water, leading to dehydration
- Excessive grooming which leads to the accumulation of hair in your dog’s digestive tract
- Ingesting pieces of toys and other foreign objects
- A sudden change in your dog’s diet or giving it new dog food
- An orthopedic issue that affects your dog’s ability to defecate
Older dogs may experience more frequent constipation compared to younger dogs. However, this applies to dogs that may be facing one or more of the situations listed above.
Treatment Options for Your Dog’s Constipation
You’ll find that looking for answers online will offer you wide-ranging advice, some of which is trustworthy, while others are questionable home remedies. Just remember that you should never provide your dog with human treatments without first consulting your vet. Many medications designed for humans are toxic to dogs, and the best thing you can do is to seek medical advice from your veterinarian.
Your vet will be able to determine the best treatment for your pup by determining the underlying cause of your dog’s condition. Blood tests may show if your pup has an infection or is dehydrated. Moreover, your vet may ask for your dog’s medical history and perform a rectal examination or diagnostic tests to rule out other possibilities.
They will then recommend a combination of these treatments:
- Giving your dog regular exercise
- Using a stool softener
- Providing a prescription for a high-fiber diet
- Adding sources of fiber to your dog’s diet such as pumpkin pie filling or wheat bran
- Administering enema through a professional
- Using medication to help the large intestine function better
- Feeding your dog a small bowl of cow or goat milk
Be sure to follow your vet’s instructions properly when treating your dog for constipation because giving your dog the wrong combination of these can lead to the opposite problem – diarrhea. This won’t help your dog at all and may cause even more stress to your dog’s intestinal tract.
How to Treat Constipation in Dogs
The loss of appetite may not be a sign of health problems for pet owners, but any digestive issue, whether it takes the form of weight loss or serious cases of constipation should be given attention. If your dog passes an uncomfortably large amount of feces, it’s a good idea to speak to your vet, so you can get the information you need to treat your pet. Remember that the best way for pet parents to care for their pets is to visit the vet on a regular basis.