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What to Do If Your Dog Is Constipated

Tips on What to Do If Your Dog Is Constipated

There are many reasons why your dog might be constipated. It's important to monitor them to make sure that they do not have any underlying illness that's more serious. Once you understand the symptoms and causes of your dog's constipation, you will be able to choose the best course of treatment and possible ways to prevent a recurrence in the future.

Symptoms of Constipation in Dogs

The best way to tell if your dog is constipated is to monitor their poop as you clean it up. Hard poop is the first symptom of constipation in dogs. When the poop is abnormally hard keep an eye out for the following symptoms:

  • Dry poop
  • Small, pebble sized in appearance
  • Decreased appetite
  • Straining to poop
  • Vomiting
  • Decrease in regularity

Additional, more severe, symptoms include:

  • Blood in the stool
  • Lack of bowel movement for two or more days
  • Whimpering or expression of pain when pooping
  • Difficulty urinating or pain when urinating

Causes of Constipation in Dogs

There are many different causes of constipation in dogs, including: internal blockage, external blockage, dehydration, side effects of medicine, low mobility, and internal damage. Some of these causes are more severe than others and treatment options vary.

1. Internal Blockage

An internal blockage could be from an environmental foreign object that has been ingested, such as leaves, rocks, or wood chips. Other foreign objects may be ingested and cause a blockage if your dog likes to chew things (toys, shoes, paper, etc.) and swallow the pieces.

Excessive licking can cause your dog to ingest its own hair which could also cause an internal blockage. Internal blockages could also be the cause of an illness. Tumors, both cancerous and benign, can cause a blockage in your dog’s intestines.

2. External Blockage

External blockages happen when the hair around the dog’s anus becomes matted to the point where hair blocks the stool from exiting the dog’s body. By blocking the anus, the feces can cause a buildup of feces resulting in constipation.

3. Dehydration

When a dog becomes dehydrated, or they do not have access to fresh drinking water at all times, they can suffer from constipation. This is the most common reason why dogs get constipated.

4. Side Effects of Medication

Some medications list constipation as possible side effects. This is because of the impact that the medication has on a dog’s digestive system, or because they cause the dog to pee more and get dehydrated quicker.

5. Low or Decreased Mobility

If your dog does not get regular exercise or is inactive, constipation may become an issue. Regular exercise and activity helps to keep your dog’s bodily fluids moving and organs functioning properly.

6. Internal Damage

If your dog experiences a physical trauma, such as getting hit by a car, they may have internal damage that causes an internal blockage or organ damage leading to constipation.

Treatment for Constipation in Dogs

Treatment for Constipation in Dogs

Once you have assessed how severe your dog’s constipation is, there are a few things that you can do in times where their constipation is mild to moderate; however, if your dog’s constipation is severe, veterinary care may be necessary.

The most common treatment for mild cases of constipation is drinking water – simply ensure that your pooch is well hydrated. To do this, make sure they have access to fresh, clean water. If your dog is not drinking water even after you have provided them with plenty, you might try adding some low sodium broth (either chicken or any bone broth) to their water to entice your pup to drink, or replacing their dry dog food with some wet dog food, at least temporarily.

After hydration, the next best thing to help relieve constipation in a dog is to get your pooch moving more and even try light exercise. Regular movement through walking, exercising, training, working out or playtime will help keep your dog’s body and organs functioning properly and is a great way to relieve constipation in dogs.

If your pet is constipated because of an external blockage (due to matted hair around anus), the best way to relieve their constipation is to remove the said blockage the right way. What you can do is to shave the hair around their anus yourself, or bring your dog to a professional groomer to do this.

Internal blockages are more difficult to treat. Your veterinarian may want to perform tests, like an X-ray or other scans, in order to estimate the size of the blockage. If your vet believes that the blockage may pass on its own, they will suggest that you monitor your dog’s fecal output. If the dog’s blockage appears too big to pass on its own, the vet may suggest surgery to remove the blockage.

Surgery may also need to be performed if your dog’s constipation is a result of internal blockage caused by a tumor, or if it is the result of internal damage or trauma.

If the constipation is believed to be the result of a new medication, check with your veterinarian on how to best treat or relieve your dog’s constipation through decreasing the side effects of that medication. This may mean stopping the meds and exchanging them for something else, or adding additional medication to prevent constipation.

For example, in rare cases, your veterinarian may suggest laxatives or enemas to help relieve constipation. It is not suggested to self diagnose and give your dog a laxative or enema by yourself at home prior to veterinary approval. If not done correctly, an enema could cause more harm than good. Laxatives should also be used with caution because they could cause dehydration, thus leading to further constipation in your dog.

Prevention of Constipation in Dogs

There are a few ways to prevent constipation in your dog. As previously mentioned, hydration is incredibly important to keep your dog’s bowel movements regular. So make sure there's always clean, fresh water available. To encourage your dog to drink it, you can use pet water fountains which are more enticing to dogs.

Regular walks and exercise is essential, and it will help keep your dog’s body healthy and bowels functioning correctly. If your dog constantly chews on toys, shoes, rocks, or other inappropriate objects, be sure to use the “take and replace” method: take the inappropriate object away from your dog and replace the object with an object that is appropriate. Always throw away and replace any dog toys that become broken so that your dog does not ingest the pieces.

If your dog regularly experiences constipation, your veterinarian may suggest a change to their diet. Changing their diet to a high fiber dog foods will help with their digestion. Switching to wet dog food may also be recommended since it's higher in water content but more expensive than dry kibble. Additionally, pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix) can also be added to your dogs food to increase your dog’s fiber intake.

Best Foods for Constipated Dogs

Some dog food brands are higher in fiber content and are often vet recommended for constipation. They will contain both soluble and insoluble fiber. Here are three most popular brands for this condition:

Best Supplements for Constipated Dogs

Other than food, you can also add certain supplements to both deal with current constipation in your dog and to prevent future cases of constipation. Some of the more popular enzymes, supplements and dog constipation relief aids are:

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Shelly lives in Iowa with her husband and Australian Shepherd named Tex. She's been an animal lover since she was a child. Currently, she enjoys reading and writing about dogs, and spending time with her family and getting involved in all things pets.