Dog Constipation: Signs, Causes, & Treatment

Constipation is the inability to produce regular and normal stools. For a dog, the normal stool schedule is one or twice a day. If your dog is suffering from constipation, he will produce rock-hard stools or strain to defecate.

In chronic cases, the dry and hard fecal matter is held in the digestive tract. It is also referred to as obstipation; a situation whereby the fecal matter is compacted, preventing the dog from defecating.

Signs of Dog Constipation

  • Failure to defecate for several days

  • Pain or distress during a bowel movement

  • Blood in the stool

  • Hard and dry stool that feels like pebbles

  • Dyschezia: This can be very painful

  • Tenesmus: This includes strain during defecation

Why do Dogs Become Constipated?

At some point in life, many dogs become constipated. Although it is not common, constipation is a minor problem that can be solved with various home remedies. If your dog is constipated, he may show signs of strain during a bowel movement, and it may be hard and dry. His appetite may then reduce, and he may begin to vomit.  Your dog may even urinate blood. There are many things that can lead to the constipation of your dog. Some of them may include:

  • Dehydration

  • Foreign body obstruction

  • Ingested grass, dirt and debris

  • Obstruction from abnormal tissue growth such as tumor

  • Medication side effects

  • Insufficient exercise

  • Insufficient fiber in the diet

  • Enlarged prostrate in male dogs

  • Neurological or orthopedic issues

  • Sedentary lifestyle

If any of the mentioned signs are noted, it is important that you contact your veterinary immediately. Sometimes, constipation resolves itself without you figuring out the cause.

Which Dogs are more prone to Constipation?

Older dogs are more likely to suffer from constipation. However, this condition can affect any dog that suffers from any of the conditions mentioned above.

Home Remedies for a Constipated Dog

You may find success with clearing the constipation issues by using some readily available items to relieve your dog of constipation. The following are the foods you could try:

  • Milk: Many dogs, like the case with humans, are lactose intolerant. In a crisis, however, a small amount of milk can act as a laxative.

  • Canned pumpkin: Feed your dog pumpkin to relieve it of constipation. Pumpkin is high in water and fiber content. Either canned or pure pureed pumpkin can be used.

  • Coconut or olive oil: Mineral oil, fruit or vegetable can help in lubricating dog stool.

  • Broth and ginger: In cases of indigestion, a lot of people turn to ginger. This is also a remedy that can work for dogs with constipation. Prepare a ¼ tsp of ginger and mix it with a ½ cup of chicken or beef broth.

  • Cooked green beans: These are rich in fiber and can help in cleaning the colon. It also stimulates bowel movement.

Giving more than necessary of these home remedies can trigger severe diarrhea and dehydration in dogs. Before treating your dog with any home remedy, it is vital that you first check with your vet. Paying a trip to your vet creates the right avenue for tests that could catch and prevent severe conditions.

How is Constipation in Dogs Diagnosed?

Constipation cases in dogs are diagnosed through a medical history or physical examination. Upon evaluating the abdomen, the vet will likely be able to feel a firm colon. Rectal examination may then be conducted to rule out any chances of rectal strictures, foreign bodies, tumors, or any other abnormality. Your vet may also choose to perform an x-ray to determine the extent of constipation and also find out if any obstruction exists. A blood test may also be done to check if there is any infection or dehydration issues. In severe cases, an ultrasound may be performed to identify the cause of the constipation.

Constipation Treatment

Many constipation cases in dogs are easy to treat. If your dog is straining to defecate, it is important that you are sure he has not had a diarrhea episode. Many a times, the urgency to defecate happens after diarrhea. If your dog is actually having diarrhea without your notice yet you believe he is constipating, trying out home remedies will only make the situation worse.  Your vet should determine if your dog is constipating, what caused it, and the best method to control it.

Your vet may need the following information for a proper diagnosis and treatment:

  • The last time your pet had a normal bowel movement

  • Changes in diet

  • Color and consistency of the stool

  • Nonfood items your dog may have ingested

  • Drugs he is using

  • Any injuries

The exam may consist of:

  • Rectal exam

  • Abdominal palpation

  • Barium enema

  • Radiographs of the area around the abdomen

  • Ultrasound

  • Full blood count

  • Urinalysis

  • Neurological exam

Most dog constipation cases can be resolved with mild treatment. The initial treatment may include exercise, hydration, and an increase in dietary fiber in the diet. Enemas and laxative suppositories may be helpful. However, use this only with the prescription of your vet. In severe cases, your vet may choose to undertake the following:

  • Manual removal of feces

  • Use drugs that activate the functioning of the colon

  • Surgery: Sections of the colon may need to be removed to control the constipation

Be sure to maintain a regular schedule of exercise to help your dog avoid constipation. Physical activities encourage sufficient blood flow in the colon for proper functioning. Constipated dogs should also be given enough amounts of fiber. If your dog experiences frequent constipation episodes, consider adding more canned food to his diet to increase the amount of moisture in food.

What Happens when Constipation goes Untreated?

Not relieving the constipation can lead to the inability to empty the colon on its own. This causes the colon to have an overload of feces, which can then lead to lethargy, unproductive straining, vomiting, or loss of appetite.

For many dogs, constipation is an infrequent occurrence that clears within a short time, often not requiring any medical interventions. It is one of the most common digestive issues among animals and affects dogs of all breeds and ages. While it is a common problem, it should not be ignored. Prevent the occurrence by feeding your dog a balanced diet, ensure frequent hydration, and regular exercise.