Constipation is a very common digestive issue for dogs. Today, our Benicia vets will offer advice on why your dog may be constipated and what you can do to help.
About Constipation In Dogs
If your dog's bowel movements are infrequent, difficult for them to pass or absent, your pet is likely suffering from constipation.
Pet parents need to know that the inability to pass feces or pain associated with passing feces is considered a veterinary medical emergency and requires urgent care!
If your dog is straining when attempting to pass a stool and/or is producing hard, dry stools, these are also considered signs that your dog should be examined by a vet as soon as possible.
In some cases, dogs may pass mucus when trying to defecate, circle excessively, scoot along the ground, or squat frequently without defecating. If you press on their stomach or lower back, they may have a tense, painful abdomen that causes them to growl or cry.
Causes Of Constipation
There are several possible causes of constipation in dogs, some of the most common include:
- Ingested pieces of toys, gravel, plants, dirt, and bones caught in the intestinal tract
- Lack of exercise
- Excessive or insufficient fiber in his diet
- Other illnesses leading to dehydration
- Blocked or abscessed anal sacs
- Excessive self-grooming (excessive amounts of hair collected in the stool)
- A side effect of medication
- An orthopedic issue causing pain when a dog positions himself to defecate
- Enlarged prostate gland
- Sudden change in diet or sampling new foods
- Matted hair surrounding the anus (caused by obesity or lack of grooming)
- Neurological disorder
- Obstruction caused by tumors or masses on the anus, or within the rectum
- Trauma to the pelvis
Geriatric dogs may experience constipation more often. However, any dog that faces one or more of the scenarios above can suffer from constipation.
Common Symptoms Of Constipation
Signs of constipation include straining, crying, or crouching when attempting to defecate. Also, if it’s been more than two days since he has had a bowel movement, you should see your vet immediately.
Keep in mind that these symptoms may be similar to those that could point to a urinary tract issue, so your vet must perform a full physical exam to diagnose the cause.
Treatment For Constipation
Google “How to help a constipated dog” and you’ll find wide-ranging advice, from sources both trustworthy and dubious that will tell you what to do if your dog is constipated.
Never give your dog medications or treatments formulated for humans without consulting your vet first. Many human medications are toxic to dogs.
The best thing to do is contact your veterinarian and bring your dog in for an exam. The treatment for your dog's constipation will depend upon the underlying cause of your dog's condition.
If your dog has eaten something they shouldn't have there is a chance that there is a blockage causing the issue. This is a medical emergency that will likely require urgent surgery.
Blood tests may help reveal that your dog has an infection or is suffering from dehydration. The vet will likely take a medical history, conduct a rectal examination to rule out other causes or abnormalities, and may recommend one or a combination of these treatments:
- Prescription diet high in fiber
- Stool softener or another laxative
- More exercise
- Enema (administered by a professional, not at home, as there could be a risk of injury or toxicity if done incorrectly)
- Adding more fiber to your dog’s diet (wheat bran, canned pumpkin, or products such as Metamucil)
- Small bowl of goat or cow milk
- Medication to increase the large intestine contractile strength
Follow your vet’s instructions closely, as trying too many of these or the wrong combination may bring on the opposite problem - diarrhea. You don’t want to trade one digestive problem for another.
If your dog’s constipation goes untreated, it could reach the point where they become unable to empty its colon on its own (a condition called obstipation). The colon then becomes packed with an uncomfortably large amount of feces, causing lethargy, unproductive straining, loss of appetite and potentially vomiting.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.