The color and firmness of your dog’s stool can tell you a lot about their health and may be a sign that something is wrong. There are many reasons why your dog may experience hard stools, but these six reasons are the most common.
Typically, hard stool in dogs can be a sign that your pet needs more water, has too much or too little fiber in their diet, there is a blockage in their intestines, they are reacting to a new medication, they are ill, or they are injured. Once you know more about the cause of your dog’s hard poop, you will be able to determine what to do to help them.
If your dog does not drink enough water then they may become dehydrated. When that happens, their stool will become hard. The easiest remedy to helping your dog with hard poop related to dehydration is to make sure they have access to plenty of fresh, clean drinking water.
Some dogs may not be “strong drinkers” and often forget or even refuse to drink as much water as they need to. There are several things you can do to encourage your pooch to drink more water. Some dogs also may prefer running water over still water in a regular bowl. If that's the case, simply switch to pet water fountains instead of water bowls.
The amount of fiber in your dog’s diet can have an impact on your dog’s stools. If there is too much or too little fiber, their stools may harden. If your dog does not have enough fiber in their diet, you can switch to higher fiber dog foods or try other alternatives.
Instead of switching food brands, simply add a little more fiber by feeding them a few tablespoons of canned pumpkin. Canned pumpkin is an excellent source of fiber and will help give your dog the fiber they need to soften their stools and aid in their digestion.
Other whole foods that are high in fiber that your dog might like to eat include: green vegetables, carrots, apples, sweet potatoes and peaches. Before giving your dog any of these high fiber snacks make sure they are clean and free of pits, seeds, or stems.
In the rare case that your dog has hard poop because they have too much fiber in their diet, you may need to switch to a different dog food brand, limit natural or whole food treats, or talk to your veterinarian about other ways to decrease their fiber intake.
3. New Medication
The side effects of some medications increase the hardness of a dog’s stool. If your dog has recently started a new medication, check the list of potential side effects and talk to your veterinarian about your concerns. They may suggest adding canned pumpkin to their diet to help them adjust to the new medication, increase water intake or possibly switch to a different brand of medication.
Your dog may experience hard stools or difficulty defecating if there is a blockage in their stomach or intestinal tract. There are many things that can get caught in your dog’s intestinal tract that could cause a blockage, including, but not limited to: stones, plants, hard treats or bones, dirt, pieces of toys, or even their own hair.
To prevent a blockage from happening, watch your dog if they are prone to eating plants, grass, dirt, or stones. These items can collect in the stomach or intestines and are not able to be digested by your dog. When you give your dog hard treats, bones and toys, there are ways to prevent ingestion that could possible lead to a blockage.
Make sure that they do not swallow small hard treats or bones that have been broken or split into smaller pieces. Discard of these and any toys that have become damaged. If a toy is damaged the dog may be able to ingest small pieces that break off.
Excessive grooming by your dog can cause a buildup of their hair in their stomach, too. If too much hair gets into their intestines it can create a blockage. To remedy this, watch for intense licking, cleaning, or grooming by your dog. Help limit your dog’s hair intake by brushing and grooming it’s coat. Do not let your dog eat clumps of matted hair, and discourage them from over self-grooming. If a blockage does not pass on its own your veterinarian may suggest surgery to remove the blockage.
Hard stools may be the result of a variety of illnesses. Tumors, enlarged prostate glands, neurological disorders, and orthopedic problems are all types of illnesses that can cause hard stools in dogs. The treatments vary depending on the exact diagnosis.
If you believe your dog has hard poop due to illness, take them to the veterinarian for an examination and diagnosis. Your vet may be able to prescribe a medication, perform surgery, or offer other suggestions of how to help soften your dog’s stools.
If your dog sustains an injury to area around their pelvis, then they may have hardened stools. Once the injury has been diagnosed and the dog has had time to heal then their stools should return to a normal consistency.
To properly diagnose an injury, your veterinarian will perform a physical examination and may request x-rays be completed. Treatments vary based on the injury itself, but the most common treatment to repair an injured pelvis is surgery. The most common form of pelvic damage is due to an accident, but other forms of pelvic injury include hip dislocation, muscle tears, or hip dysplasia.
The best ways to help prevent your dog from experiencing hard poop is to make sure they have fresh, clean water available (preferably running water to entice them to drink more), they have a proper diet with enough (but not too much) fiber, and their treats and toys are discarded when damaged or broken.
If you suspect that your dog has a blockage, illness, or injury, take them to the vet for diagnosis and treatment; do not attempt to fix it on your own. Your dog should also be taken to a veterinarian if hard stool is accompanied by the following: pain or difficulty defecating, lethargy, lack of appetite, or vomiting.
Medication, the addition of fiber, or a change in diet may help your dog. A pet safe stool softener, enema, or surgery may be required, but these treatments should only be administered under the direction of a veterinarian.