Issues affecting the bowels can affect all dogs regardless of breed or age. and constipation is one issue that is seen more than the rest. In this post, our Wake Forest veterinarians talk about constipation in dogs and why your dog may become constipated.
Constipation in Dogs
If you notice that your dog is passing hard, dry stools or mucus when trying to defecate, or that he has not had a bowel movement in 48 hours or more, he's likely suffering from constipation.
Today, we'll list some common causes for constipation in dogs, along with signs, and share advice on what to do next.
If your dog exhibits any of these symptoms of constipation, see your vet in Wake Forest right away.
My dog is constipated, why?
There is a wide range of things that could cause constipation in dogs. Some of these causes include:
- Enlarged prostate
- Insufficient daily exercise
- Insufficient fiber in the diet
- Ingested hair from excessive self-grooming
- Pain due to orthopedic issues when attempting to defecate
- Tumors, masses, or matted hair surrounding the anus
- Abscessed or blocked anal sacks
- Ingested items such as dirt, fabric, toys, or grass
Dog Constipation Symptoms
Signs of constipation include straining, crying, or crouching when attempting to defecate. Also, if it’s been more than two days since they have had a bowel movement, see your vet immediately.
Remember these symptoms may be similar to those that may point to a urinary tract issue, so your vet needs to perform a full physical exam to diagnose the cause.
How is constipation in dogs treated?
When you bring your dog to the vet for constipation, they will perform a full physical exam and possibly some diagnostics to determine the root of the ailment. Based on the cause of the constipation, your vet will prescribe medical or some other at-home remedy.
The veterinarian may prescribe one of the numerous common treatments for constipation in dogs, such as dog-specific laxatives, increasing the amount of fiber in your dog's diet, increasing your dog's daily exercise, and/or medication to increase the strength of the large intestine.
What can I give my dog for constipation?
Google “How to help a constipated dog” 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 show if your pup is suffering from dehydration or has an infection. Your vet will probably ask about your dog's medical history, conduct a rectal examination to rule out other abnormalities or causes, and might recommend one or a combination of the following treatments:
- More exercise
- A stool softener or another laxative
- A prescription diet high in fiber
- 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 trying too many of these or the wrong combination could cause the opposite problem - diarrhea. You don’t want to swap one digestive issue for another.
What Happens When Constipation in Dogs Goes Untreated
If your dog’s constipation goes untreated, they could reach the point where they become unable to empty their colon on their 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.