Most of us have probably experienced the discomfort of constipation and we know what to do about it. But what about when your dog has constipation?

Do you know what to do? Do you know what causes it or when it’s time to go to the vet for help?

Though it may sound like a minor thing to worry about, if left without treatment, constipation can lead to serious complications. As uncomfortable as it is for us, it can be much more so for our furry friends. Knowing how to recognize and treat dog constipation will make you a better and more responsible pet owner.

Stick with us as we examine the causes and treatments of dog constipation. We hope you don’t have to deal with it often, but when you do, you’ll be prepared.

What Is The Cause Of Dog Constipation?

Before we discuss the signs of dog constipation, we need to first understand what causes it.

When your dog digests food, automatic muscle contractions in the digestive system push food through the small and then the large intestine. If something happens to interrupt the flow of this process, constipation can occur.

If your pet gets an obstruction in their intestines, this can cause constipation. Their discomfort can be compounded if your dog is dehydrated. When your dog’s body needs water and they can’t get it externally, their body will retrieve it from fecal matter, making their stool rock hard and difficult to pass.

You’ll find several causes of constipation in dogs:

  • Advanced age
  • Dehydration
  • Fiber content of the diet
  • Problems with the anal gland
  • Excessive grooming, causing a hairball
  • Side effect of medication
  • Enlarged prostate
  • Tumors or growths in the pelvic area
  • Orthopedic problems
  • Spinal injuries
  • Hernias

The common result of these conditions is often constipation and discomfort for your dog. As you can see, a wide variety of problems can lead to constipation, so you need to be vigilant in monitoring your dog’s health and habits. The first step in treating dog constipation is knowing what can cause it.

What Are Symptoms Of Dog Constipation?

So, now that you know what can cause dog constipation, how do you recognize when your dog is suffering from it?

It’s important to be able to recognize these signs and the varying degrees of severity so you can correctly determine whether you should treat your dog’s constipation at home or bring them to the vet.

Pay attention to your dog’s bowel movements. If they haven’t had one in more than a couple of days or if you notice an extreme amount of straining while defecating, your dog might be constipated. Severe constipation can present as vomiting, loss of appetite, weakness, or a distended belly. If your dog cries or appears to experience pain, you should take them to the vet right away.

Mild constipation is easy to recognize if you’ve been paying attention to your dog’s habits. If you notice your dog taking longer than normal to defecate, and their feces is small and hard, you might have a case of mild dog constipation.

You may also notice a small amount of liquid feces along with the small hard pieces, or debris matted around your dog’s anus, also signs of constipation. If you can, determine whether your dog has mild or severe constipation before attempting to treat it on your own. Remember, severe or ongoing constipation could require the help of a veterinarian.

Ways To Relieve Dog Constipation

constipated dog

If your dog is experiencing mild constipation, you can treat them at home using some simple home remedies, but if you see no improvement after a day of treatment, you should take your dog to the vet.

If your dog’s constipation has only been happening for a day or two, and they’re not experiencing extreme pain, vomiting, or blood in the stool, you can safely treat them at home. Remember, while we’re offering a few common home treatments, you should only use one treatment at a time.

Some basic home remedies for dog constipation include:

  • Wet Dog Food: If you’ve been feeding your dog all or mostly dry food, switch to canned food for a day to see if the moisture content helps your dog resume normal bowel function.
  • Water: Make sure your dog always has access to plenty of fresh water. Dehydration is a major cause of dog constipation.
  • Canned Pure Pumpkin: Feeding your dog canned pure pumpkin – not canned pumpkin pie filling – can be helpful in relieving dog constipation. It provides extra moisture and fiber to your dog’s diet, and most dogs enjoy the flavor.
  • Increase Daily Exercise: If your dog has a sedentary lifestyle, this might contribute to their dog constipation. The problem can be remedied by taking your dog for more or longer daily walks.
  • Olive or Mineral Oil: The best way to incorporate one of these oils into your dog’s diet is to mix it with their food or just add a small amount to the bowl. Don’t use too much or you’ll end up giving your dog diarrhea, trading one digestive issue for its opposite.
  • Chicken Broth with Ginger: Ginger is good for the digestion, and chicken broth contains some fat. Combine them, and you have a digestion soothing mixture that should help relieve your dog’s constipation.
  • Powdered Fiber Supplement: Dissolved in water or mixed with wet food, this should help your dog’s digestive system get back on course, just as it helps humans. Mix ½ teaspoon of powder per 10 pounds of body weight.
  • Fur Mats around the Anus: If your dog has long fur, dirt and debris might get caught in the fur around their anus, making it difficult for them to defecate. Look at this area on your dog, and carefully trim away any matted fur you see. This might help relieve dog constipation.
  • Green Beans: If your dog likes green beans, carrots, apples, or other fibrous dog-safe vegetable, feed it to them as a snack. The extra fiber and liquid from the vegetable should help your dog’s constipation to resolve itself.

The above list may seem daunting, but remember, you should only pick one method of at-home treatment for your dog’s constipation. If your dog doesn’t respond to the home remedy you chose, it’s time to take them to the vet for some expert dog constipation treatment.

Ways To Treat Severe Dog Constipation

sick dog

If your dog’s constipation doesn’t go away within a couple of days of treatment, you should take your dog to the vet. They can examine your pet and help you decide what the next steps should be.

Don’t skip this part! Delaying your visit to the vet can have serious health consequences for your dog, including obstipation. This happens when the large intestine becomes so packed with feces, you dog is unable to eliminate. Symptoms of obstipation include vomiting, loss of appetite, straining, and exhaustion.

Your vet has a laundry list of treatment options to help relieve dog constipation. Some of these treatments include procedures done at the vet’s office, some are prescribed medications or special diets. Your vet can even recommend over-the-counter medications to give to your dog, with their express approval.

Some of the treatment options your vet might present to you are:

  • An Enema: This procedure would be carried out in the vet’s office under the careful watch of the veterinarian and qualified technicians.
  • A Medication: This will probably be a laxative, stool softener, or a medication to strengthen the walls of the large intestine.
  • A Special Diet: Your veterinarian might prescribe a special high-fiber diet for your dog to eat over a certain period.
  • Surgery: In extreme cases, your vet might decide surgery is the best option. The impacted feces can be surgically removed, and if necessary, diseased or damaged colon tissue can be taken out.
  • You’ll need to come prepared with specific information to help your vet reach their diagnosis. Your dog can’t talk, and the vet can only gain so much information from a physical examination.
  • You need to be able to tell your vet when your dog last had a bowel movement. Tell your vet what color and consistency it was, and whether your dog has been straining or in pain while trying to defecate. Let your vet know if your dog has experienced any changes in diet or if they’ve eaten any non-food substances that might form a blockage.
  • If your dog has suffered any of the more serious symptoms, such as vomiting, bloating, or exhaustion, tell your vet. Also, don’t forget to inform your vet of any medications your dog is currently taking. Constipation might be a common side effect, and if that’s the case, your vet needs to make a long-term treatment plan.
  • Your dog is part of the family, and you want them to live the healthiest life possible. From time to time, we all experience illnesses such as constipation, and your dog is no exception. Knowing the causes, symptoms, and treatments to help relieve dog constipation will make you a better pet owner and will help your dog stay happy and healthy.

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