Dog Constipation: Signs, Causes & Treatment
It is relatively common for dogs – especially older ones and smaller breeds to experience constipation. Constipation is the infrequent passage of stool or inability/difficulty having normal bowel movements. Usually, dogs of any breed and age can experience irregular bowel movements at some point in their life. Constipated dogs will normally produce rock-hard stool or strain to eliminate.
So why is your dog constipated, and what should you do about it? Read on to know everything you need to know about dog constipation.
- How To Know If Your Dog Is Constipated?
- What Causes Constipation In Dogs?
- How To Relieve Constipation In Dogs
- When Should You Take Your Dog To The Vet For Constipation?
- Frequently Asked Questions
How To Know If Your Dog Is Constipated?
If you're wondering, ‘why is my dog constipated?', then you need to know how to identify the signs of irregular bowel movements. There is a lot that pet parents can learn from their pet's feces.
Whether you’ve just acquired your first puppy or you’ve welcomed several dogs to your home in the past, there are a few major signs of constipation that you should watch out for.
Generally speaking, healthy dogs should eliminate at least once per day. Dogs that stop eating for whatever reason will, of course, defecate fewer times because they have less in their systems. If your pooch doesn’t defecate for 4 or 5 days, however, it’s time to get worried.
Apart from the dog straining when trying to eliminate, a constipated dog will sometimes experience vomiting, loss of appetite, stress, and depression. That is when you need to call or visit your veterinarian.
Other possible signs and symptoms of constipation in canines include lethargy, blood or matted stool, bladder issues, and diarrhea. So, seek veterinary assistance as soon as possible if you notice mucus or blood around the anus or when your pet is straining to defecate.
Other signs and symptoms that require immediate medical attention include the following:
- Failure to eliminate for a few days
- Pain or discomfort during a bowel movement
- Dry and hard stool
- Dyschezia, which can be extremely painful
- Tenesmus, which involves straining when attempting to defecate
What Causes Constipation In Dogs?
To understand what causes constipation in dogs, you need to determine the cause of their irregular bowel movements. There are several factors that can cause constipation in canines. Some of the most common causes include:
- Ingested dirt, debris or grass
- Harden stools around the anus
- Side effects of medication
- Lack of enough exercise/sedentary lifestyle
- Orthopedic or neurological problems
- Enlarged prostate gland (male dogs)
- Lack of fiber intake in their diet/dietary issues
- Intestinal obstruction due to pieces blocking the colon e.g. foreign objects like strings, toys, and more
Chronic constipation in dogs (which lasts several days) is an indication that there is something more serious to be worried about. Common causes may also include:
- Colon disease
- A metabolic disorder
- Anal gland abnormalities
- Rectal Stricture 
- Psychological disorders
- Intestinal worms
- Tumors in the rectum or colon
- Prostate disease
- Kidney disease
- Serious side effects of medication
If any of the above dog constipation symptoms are present, it is vital to contact your vet as soon as possible. A constipated dog may also heal on his own even before you know the underlying issue.
How To Relieve Constipation In Dogs
If you're asking ‘what can you give a dog for constipation', your veterinarian may recommend dietary modification such as adding canned pumpkin or canned wet dog food to his normal diet. Or she might suggest providing them with more exercise. A home treatment like over-the-counter medications can also help.
You should discuss with your vet about possible home remedies for dog constipation, but here’s a rundown of the best treatments for dog constipation relief:
Insufficient fiber in a dog’s diet is a fairly common cause of constipation, and many dog owners report that increasing fiber intake is an effective dog constipation remedy.
Nonetheless, a lot of fiber combined with a lack of sufficient hydration might also lead to constipation. If your pet is already consuming a lot of fiber, it is important to ensure you’re providing him with plenty of fresh water to help soften the fibrous content.
If your pooch tends to produce rock-hard stools, chances are he needs more moisture content. There are several foods that might help to prevent dehydration or provide the much-needed extra fiber to unblock his pipes.
These include canned pumpkin, wet dog food, wheat bran, Metamucil, or a few drops of olive oil added to his regular meals. Pumpkin is rich in fiber and has high water content, which also helps to maintain a healthy body weight.
Some veterinarians also recommend giving a high fiber supplement to help ease a dog s constipation. However, it’s important to discuss this with your veterinarian, and make sure Fido gets enough fluids in addition to the fiber supplement that you decide to give him.
However, you should check with your animal doctor before doing so, and be sure that your dog drinks plenty of water along with any fiber supplement you provide him.
Diet has a direct impact on virtually every aspect of your pet’s well-being, and today’s foods are packed with additives and fillers – which can have a negative impact on the digestive system. Feeding your pet complete and balanced food is recommended, particularly if your pup tends to experience occasional bouts of constipation.
Not only is proper hydration and exercise important for your pup's health, but these two aspects also help to boost digestive function.
Proper exercises are essential for their intestinal health as well. Keep in mind that dogs that don’t get sufficient exercise might experience chronic constipation along with other medical problems.
Therefore, it’s important to ensure your pooch is getting adequate exercise every day. Experts recommend taking your canine friend out for daily walks or runs for at least 20 minutes each day to help meet their exercise needs.
If the above recommendations don’t help to ease your pet’s constipation, or you simply want a dog constipation treatment method that takes the guesswork out of the equation as far as dosing goes, it advisable to consider over-the-counter medications. Many play the same role as the aforementioned therapies, but these allow you to administer the correct dosage each time.
Fiber supplements such as Vetasyl come in the form of a capsule but some types include smaller amounts of other effective ingredients as well.
An emollient laxative or stool softener like Lax’aire serves the same purpose as olive /coconut oil by providing lubrication, but also include certain ingredients that make them more effective and help to speed up the procedure. However, a dog laxative or stool softener should only be administered by a professional veterinary officer.
Probiotics can also help improve gut function and maintain a pet’s digestive system in good condition. In addition to working as a form of treatment, probiotics also have a preventative effect against constipation in dogs.
While some human medicines can help ease constipation in pets, make sure to talk to your veterinarian before administering any OTC medications to your pooch, as some can be harmful to dogs if the wrong dosage is administered.
When Should You Take Your Dog To The Vet For Constipation?
You should take your dog to the vet when he has persisting or recurring constipation problems. Chronic or recurring constipation problems can result in the accumulation of dry fecal material in the colon, a condition called obstipation.
This can also lead to a different illness characterized by failure to defecate naturally (megacolon). Here, the colon enlarges and fails to pass fecal matter along. Long-term constipation contributes to this condition.
When visiting your veterinarian, make sure to provide her with the following details:
- The last day your pooch had a normal stool
- Stool consistency and color
- Changes in your pet’s eating habits
- Items they may have consumed, including grass and bones
- Straining or discomfort during defecation
- Medications administered
- Possible injuries
- Any blood in their urine
- Any signs of pain or distress, including diarrhea and vomiting
Based on the severity and duration of their condition, your veterinarian may perform the following tests:
- Abdominal palpation
- Barium enema
- Complete Blood Count/Blood tests
- Neurological exam
- Radiographs/abdominal x-rays
- Rectal ultrasound
Frequently Asked Questions
What should I do if my dog is constipated and vomiting?
If you suspect your dog is constipated and vomiting, it’s important to contact your animal doctor immediately. This is because it’s important to identify the root cause of the problem, how it needs to be managed, and how to prevent recurrences.
Depending on the actual cause of your dogs' constipation, your veterinary officer may suggest a number of treatments, including the following:
- Adding a little more fiber in their diet.
- Adding more exercises to their regular schedule
- Increasing their fluid intake to prevent dehydration
- Medications such as stool softeners or laxatives
- A thorough examination
How To Make A Dog Poop Instantly?
Although there's no simple answer to the question ‘how to make a dog poop instantly’, that doesn’t imply you can’t help your struggling pet. Here are a few tips to help your furry friend defecate quickly:
- Make sure your dog’s refusal or reluctance to poop is not a sign of health problems.
- Choose a quiet place and make it your dog’s potty spot.
- Place your pup on his back and massage their left side for a few minutes. As you massage their tummy, it stimulates the muscles around their small intestine and large intestine (also known as the colon) to contract and slowly open up so your pooch can poop.
- Use a command like “Go poop,” “Go potty” or “Do Your Business .” The most important thing is to be consistent and patient when training your dog to poop on command.
How Long Can A Dog Go Without Pooping?
A dog can go a day or two without pooping before he starts experiencing any serious health issues, but it is important to visit your animal doctor if they don’t defecate for more than three days.
Can my dog die from constipation?
No, your dog cannot die from constipation. However, while they cannot die from constipation, it can damage the digestive tract or cause more serious problems if left untreated for longer than 72 hours. If your canine best friend goes longer than three days without doing his business, you need immediate veterinary assistance.
Constipation is a relatively common problem in dogs, but a proper veterinary examination and treatment should have your pet back to his best health within a short period of time. To prevent constipation, make sure little pal is getting a well-balanced diet each day along with fresh water and plenty of exercises.
If you’ve any concerns or questions about what to give a dog for constipation, please call or visit your animal doctor today. They have the best resources to ensure the health and overall well-being of your furry friend.