How to Treat Constipation in Dogs

Posted: 05/12/2022 | BY: Jenna Bruce | Categories:

It’s no fun dealing with constipation. The gas, bloat and cramping makes life frustrating and uncomfortable. Dogs suffer with constipation from time to time, and they also deal with the accompanying physical discomfort.

how to treat constipation in dogs

In this article we’ll discuss what causes constipation in dogs, what signs to look for, and remedies that can bring your best friend much-needed relief.

What is Constipation in Dogs?

Dog constipation refers to your dog’s inability to produce normal stool on a regular schedule. Healthy dogs typically “poo” once or twice a day. Dogs who suffer from constipation will not go at all, strain to go, or produce rock-hard tiny stools.

While it is quite common for a dog to experience constipation every once in a while, some dogs have chronic constipation in which they retain hard, dry stools in their digestive tract. This condition is known as obstipation. With obstipation there is so much fecal matter trapped in your dog’s tract that it becomes compacted and they cannot defecate at all. If you think your dog is experiencing obstipation and you have not seen them “go” in more than 3 days, please take them to your vet.

Signs of Dog Constipation

It should be pretty apparent when a dog is dealing with constipation. The most common signs are:

·         Not having a bowel movement for 2 – 3 days

·         When they do go, their dog poop is dry and hard

·         Straining when they go, meaning they may be in the squat position for quite some time before anything happens

·         Producing small amounts of liquid fecal matter with trace amounts of blood in it

What Causes Constipation in Dogs?

causes of dog constipation

Your dog’s digestive system works similarly to your own. When your dog eats food, it passes through the stomach and intestines and eventually lands in the colon. Once here, the colon’s job is to remove electrolytes and water from the fecal matter. In fact, water reabsorption is the colon’s primary function.

For the fecal matter to be moved out of the colon, what are called “peristaltic waves” must occur. Should this process becomes impaired or slowed, the fecal mass will remain in the colon where it will continue to lose moisture, eventually becoming dry, hard and impossible to move any further.

The following are some of the most common causes of constipation in dogs:

Diet

Like humans, when a dog’s fiber intake is low they may experience constipation from time to time. Also like humans, dogs that drink very little water or have an electrolyte imbalance may also become constipated.

And finally, unlike humans, dogs often eat things they shouldn’t, like toys and kitty litter, and these things may cause blockages.

Age

Senior dogs tend to have more issues with bowel movements than younger dogs. This may be because with age, a dog’s entire metabolism and digestion slows.

Activity Level

Although the science isn’t entirely clear, there seems to be a correlation between activity level and defecation. Those dogs who get regular exercise may have fewer constipation issues than those dogs who are quite sedentary.

exercise for dog constipation

Disease

Cancers and tumors that grow in the digestive tract or pelvic region can block passage of fecal matter.

Dogs that have impacted anal glands or prostate enlargement may also experience constipation.

Prescription Medications

Like people, dogs can experience constipation due to common prescription drugs like opiates, diuretics, antihistamines, some antacids, and certain cancer drugs.

Stress or Anxiety

Some dogs experience a higher degree of stress than others. When these dogs are exposed to something in their environment that upsets them, they might hold it.

Orthopedic Disorders

Hip dysplasia and other orthopedic conditions can make it painful and difficult for your dog to squat.

Surgery

Often the drugs administered during a surgical procedure may result in constipation.

How to Treat Constipation in Dogs

If your dog has only been constipated for a day or two, there are some effective home remedies you can try:

Add Pumpkin to Your Dog’s Food

This is often the go-to solution for many dog owners. Pumpkin has a high fiber and moisture content. Plus dogs absolutely LOVE the taste. Simply mix unsweetened canned pumpkin pie filling into their food. There are also numerous recipes online for delicious pumpkin treats to help keep your dog regular.

Change Your Dog’s Diet to Wet Food

Some dogs simply don’t drink much water. When these dogs are fed a dry-food-only diet, they can easily become backed up. Canned food is a great way to ensure your dog is getting enough water into their diet. You can either mix some canned food into their dry food, or switch to a canned food diet altogether. Speak to your veterinarian to see what they recommend.

While we’re on the subject of water, be sure your dog always has access to fresh, cool water each day. Some dogs may drink more if they are given a water fountain instead of a water bowl.

Daily Exercise

You may have noticed you have an easier time going when you have had some exercise. The same is true for your pup. Be sure to take them on regular walks to help keep them regular.

When To Take a Constipated Dog to the Vet

can constipation in dogs be serious?

If your dog has not been able to go for more than 3 days, it’s important to bring them in to your vet immediately who may want to do an X-ray to see if they have swallowed something that is causing a blockage.

In addition, if your dog suffers from chronic constipation, this could be a sign of an underlying disease that warrants a trip to the vet.

Be sure to bring information with you to the visit. For instance, the vet will want to know:

  • The last time your pup produced a normal bowel movement
  • Stool color and consistency
  • Changes in their diet or routine
  • Non-food items they may have eaten (bones or kitty litter)
  • Straining
  • Injuries
  • Any vomiting, lethargy, or a bloated appearance

Relief for Your Pup and Your Wallet

Whether your dog’s constipation is easy to resolve or is an indicator of an underlying disease, you want to ensure you can get them the treatment they need. And the last thing you need is to feel apprehensive about treatment costs when your fur baby is not feeling well.

A pet insurance plan ensures you can always give your best friend the care thy need but without breaking your bank. Did you know that some pet health insurance plans can provide reimbursements for up to 90% of the vet bill?

Pet Insurance Review was started by pet lovers to help other pet lovers in times of need. We bring you the most comprehensive pet insurance plans so you can always afford to get your dog the help they need.

Get a free quote today.

References:

  1. Malcolm Weir, DVM, MSc, MPH; Ernest Ward, DVM. What is Constipation in Dogs? Retrieved from: https://vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/constipation-in-dogs
  2. Retrieved from: The Colon: What it is, What it Does and Why it is Important https://fascrs.org/patients/diseases-and-conditions/a-z/the-colon-what-it-is,-what-it-does
  3. Retrieved from: https://www.vetinfo.com/canine-constipation-after-surgery.html

 

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