While diarrhea is a more common in dogs, constipation isn't that rare either. Constipation in dogs is often caused by diet or dehydration, but some health problems can also be the culprit.
In majority of cases, this issue can be resolved within a day or two, and poses no dangers to the dog. However, severe cases of constipation, called Obstipation, will be the result of serious and generally permanent medical condition.
How to Know If a Dog Is Constipated?
Keep an eye on your dog’s elimination habits. A dog’s stool can tell you a lot about your pet's health. Pay attention to the appearance, consistency and smell of a dog’s feces and you will be able to spot any potential changes, which often signal a health issue.
Constipation is a complete lack of passage of stools from the dog's body, or insufficient passage. When you notice a dog is straining to do their business and not much gets out or nothing gets out at all, it's safe to assume they're constipated, especially if this lasts for more than a day.
Another common sign of constipation in dogs is a darker and harder stool. Sometimes, mucus or blood can also be present in a dog's feces. Other additional symptoms of a constipated dog may appear if the situation persists for more than a couple of days, and those include vomiting, lethargy or lack of appetite.
What Causes Constipation in Dogs?
There's a large number of reasons that causes constipation in dogs, but lack of fiber in a dog’s diet is the most common. Other potential reasons include insufficient exercise or inadequate water consumption.
Furthermore, dog constipation can be caused by health conditions, and intestinal obstruction is one of the leading causes. Constipation can be a side effect of medications as well, or it can be caused by too much hair in dog’s stool that collects due to excessive self-grooming (hairballs).
A pelvic or hip injury can also lead to your dog becoming constipated, as well as infected anal glands and enlarged prostate gland. Rarely, certain psychological and neurological problems, or even high stress levels can lead to constipation in pets, too.
If you determined that your dog is constipated and you can’t resolve the issue in a couple of days, it's necessary to take your dog to the vet for a check-up.
What to Give to a Constipated Dog?
The two most important things to give to a constipated dog are fiber and water. Using fiber to relieve constipation can be tricky (PDF). Before adding or removing it from a dog's diet, do the math on how much fiber your pooch has been consuming thus far.
Additional fiber can be delivered through food (human foods or high fiber dog foods) or through addition of fiber supplements to your dog's daily meals. That said, note that sometimes too much fiber may also cause your dog to become constipated, so be mindful of the amounts and talk to your vet.
You should also encourage your dog to drink plenty of water, especially when fiber content has been increased in their diet.
These dietary adjustments, mixed with an increased amount of physical activity, will solve the constipation problem in majority of cases. Below are some human foods, supplements and other edibles you can give your constipated dog to help them 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 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. Use about 1–4 tbsp of pumpkin per meal.
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 Dog Food
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 (add 1–4 tsp per meal). Wheat bran is another option, and you can add 1–2 tbsp per dog's meal.
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 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.
The Best Dog Constipation Relief Supplements
While you can choose high fiber dog foods or feed your pooch human food that's high in fiber, for an easier, faster and more convenient way to relieve constipation in a dog, supplements are often the best choice. Here are the best dog constipation relief choices we found to be most effective.
|NaturVet – Stool Ease for Dogs – 40 Soft Chews...||2,603 Reviews||Check Price|
|Zesty Paws Probiotic for Dogs - Probiotics for Gut...||21,603 Reviews||Check Price|
|Lax'aire - 3oz.||1,291 Reviews||Check Price|
In conclusion, constipation in dogs can be a lasting problem but it is often easily solved with dietary changes and regular exercise. When you find yourself asking, what to give a dog for constipation, it's best to start with dietary adjustments and added exercise.
If your dog has a bout of constipation that lasts more than a few days, and addition of fiber and increased water intake does not help, take your pet to see a veterinarian and to get advice and treatment, because this may be a more serious problem.
READ NEXT: The 5 Best Digestive Aids for Dogs