Out of all the digestive issues our veterinary team sees in dogs at Mill Plain Veterinary Clinic constipation is one of the most common. Here, our Danbury vets discuss the causes and treatment options for constipation in dogs, as well as the dangers of having it go untreated.
Constipation in Dogs
If your dog is having infrequent bowel movements, difficultly passing them, or none at all, your pooch is probably suffering from constipation.
It's critical for dog owners to know that the inability to pass feces or experiencing pain associated with passing feces is considered a medical veterinary emergency and has to be addressed by a veterinarian immediately!
If your canine companion is straining to pass a stool and/or is producing hard, dry stools, these are also signs that your dog has to be examined by a veterinarian as quickly as possible.
Sometimes, dogs might pass mucus when attempting to defecate, circle excessively, scoot along the ground, or squat frequently without defecating. If you press on their lower back or stomach, they might have a tense, painful abdomen that makes them cry or growl.
The Causes of Constipation in Dogs
There are a handful of possible causes for your dog's constipation, a few of the most common ones are:
- Lack of exercise
- Ingested pieces of toys, gravel, plants, dirt, and bones caught in the intestinal tract
- Excessive or insufficient fiber in his diet
- A side effect of medication
- Blocked or abscessed anal sacs
- Excessive self-grooming (excessive amounts of hair to collect in the stool)
- Other illnesses leading to dehydration
- Sudden change in diet or sampling new foods
- Trauma to pelvis
- Matted hair surrounding the anus (caused by obesity or lack of grooming)
- An orthopedic issue that's causing pain when a dog positions himself to defecate
- Neurological disorder
- Enlarged prostate gland
- Obstruction caused by tumors or masses on the anus, or within the rectum
Senior pets could suffer from constipation more frequently than younger dogs. Although, any dog that encounters one or more of the scenarios above could suffer from constipation.
The Symptoms of Dog Constipation
Signs of constipation include straining, crying, or crouching when attempting to defecate. Also, if more than two days have passed since your pup's last bowel movement, you should take them to the vet immediately.
Remember that these symptoms could be similar to those that can point to a urinary tract problem, so it’s imperative to have your vet perform a complete physical examination to diagnose the underlying cause.
How Constipation in Dogs is Treated
Google “How to treat constipation in dogs” and you’ll find wide-ranging advice, from sources both trustworthy and dubious.
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 pup's condition.
If your pooch 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 could help reveal your pup has an infection or is suffering from dehydration. Your vet will probably look at your dog's medical history, implement a rectal examination to rule out other causes or abnormalities, and might suggest one or a combination of the following treatments:
- A prescription diet high in fiber
- More exercise
- A stool softener or another laxative
- Enema (administered by a professional, not at home, as there could be a risk of injury or toxicity if done incorrectly)
- Medication to increase the large intestine’s contractile strength
- A small bowl of goat or cow milk
- Adding more fiber to your dog’s diet (wheat bran, canned pumpkin, or products such as Metamucil)
Carefully follow your vet’s instructions because too many of these or the wrong combination could bring on the opposite issue - diarrhea. You don’t want to trade one digestive problem for another.
What Could Happen if Your Dog’s Constipation Goes Untreated
If your canine companion's constipation is left untreated, they could reach the point where they can't empty their colon on their own (a condition called obstipation). The colon then gets packed with an uncomfortably large amount of feces, causing unproductive straining, lethargy, loss of appetite, and possibly 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.