While diarrhea is a much more common issue for pets, some dogs can have a problem with constipation as well. Constipation in dogs is most often caused by diet or dehydration, but some medical conditions can also be the reason behind it. Here are the common causes of dog constipation and what you can do to solve this problem.
How to Know If a Dog Is Constipated?
Keep an eye on your dog’s elimination habits. This is very important not just for constipation but your dog’s stool can tell you much more about his health. Pay attention to the appearance, consistency and smell of your dog’s feces and you will be able to spot any potential changes, which often signal a medical problem.
Constipation is the complete lack of passage of stools from the body, or insufficient passage. If you notice that your pooch is straining to do his business, but not much gets out or nothing gets out at all, it is safe to assume that he is constipated, especially if this lasts for a couple of days.
Another common sign of constipation is a darker and harder stool. Sometimes, mucus or blood can be present as well. Some additional symptoms may appear if the situation persists for more than a couple of days, like vomiting, lethargy or lack of appetite.
What Causes Constipation in Dogs?
However, constipation can be caused by many health conditions as well. Intestinal obstruction is one of the leading causes of constipation in dogs. Constipation can be a side effect of some medications, or it can be caused by too much hair in dog’s stool that collects due to excessive self-grooming.
A pelvic or hip injury can also lead to constipation, as well as infected anal glands and enlarged prostate gland. Some neurological problems or even stress can lead to constipation.
If you determine that your dog is constipated and you can’t resolve the issue in a few days, it is best to take your dog to the vet for a consultation.
What to Give to a Constipated Dog?
The most important things to give to a constipated dog are fiber and water. Dogs should drink plenty of water regularly, but particularly in these cases and with the increase in fiber. That, mixed with an increased amount of physical activity, will usually solve the problem. Here are a few other things you can give your dog to help him move things along.
Pumpkin is well-known for its fiber content, which is why it is a good thing for constipated dogs. Both fresh and canned pumpkin is good, but it is probably better to stick to canned pumpkin because of additional moisture which can make bowel movement easier.
Dogs usually love the taste of pumpkin, so you shouldn’t have any problem getting your pooch to eat it. Don’t give your pet pumpkin pie filling because it contains sugar and spices.
2. Ginger and Chicken Broth
Ginger is one of the best things to aid the digestive health and assist in effective bowel movements. Combined with fats in the broth it can be a very effective thing for constipation.
To make this broth, mix ¼ teaspoon of ginger with half a cup of chicken broth. You can also use beef broth, but don’t use bone broth because it doesn’t have as many fats. The addition of olive oil to your dog’s food bowl will usually allow the dog to eliminate.
3. Olive or Mineral Oil
Any healthy oils can be effective when it comes to better bowel movements because they can act as a laxative. That also means that you have to be careful with them since they can also cause diarrhea.
The key is not to overdo it – just mix a bit of oil into your dog’s food. Don’t give the oil directly to your dog from a syringe or a spoon because it can be accidentally inhaled and end up in his lungs.
4. Canned Foods
If your dog’s diet consists mainly of dry kibble food, that can be the cause of his constipation. Switch things up and give him more canned foods since moisture in wet canned dog food can help with constipation.
5. Fiber Supplements
As I've already mentioned, fiber is necessary for regular bowel movements. There are many fiber supplements you can add to your dog’s diet if he has constipation. Psyllium husk is one of the most popular fiber supplements on the market.
When you increase fiber in your dog’s diet, you also need to make sure that he drinks enough water or the dog might experience pain in his stomach or otherwise have other stomach issues. Also, increase his fiber intake gradually to avoid additional digestive problems. You can also choose a high-fiber dog food instead of supplements.
6. Digestive Enzymes and Probiotics
Probiotics and digestive enzymes are the most popular treatments for constipation among humans, and for generally improving bowel movements and digestion.
These supplements can help with serious maldigestion problems, which is often the cause of both diarrhea and constipation in dogs. You can find digestive enzymes and probiotics in your local pharmacies and health food stores, or you can order them on Amazon. Probiotics can also be found in foods like kimchi, yogurt and kefir.
Laxatives can be a very effective, short-term solution for constipation. However, you should always consult your vet before you give your dog any laxatives and you should avoid doing it often since they will not be as effective as used regularly.
In conclusion, constipation in dogs can be a lasting problem but it is often easily solved with dietary changes and regular exercise. If your dog has a bout of constipation that lasts more than a few days, take him to the vet to get advice and treatment.
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