Constipation in dogs may, at first, seems like a minor health issue. Depending on its cause, however, constipation can be life-threatening. Here, our Avon veterinary team offers some advice about the causes of your dog's constipation, its diagnosis and its treatment.
Is your dog constipated?
If your pup's bowel movements are infrequent, difficult for them to pass or absent, your pet is likely suffering from constipation.
Straining when attempting to pass a stool and/or is producing hard, dry stools, are also considered signs that your dog should be examined by a vet as soon as possible.
Constipated dogs may circle excessively, scoot along the ground, pass mucus when trying the defecate, or squat without defecating relatively frequently. If you press on their stomach or lower back, you may also notice that they have a tense abdomen and they may react with a growl or cry since it is causing them discomfort.
It's important for pet parents to know that the inability to pass feces or pain associated with passing feces is considered a veterinary medical emergency and requires immediate care!
Causes of Constipation in Dogs
There are many possible causes for constipation in your dog. Some common ones include:
- A side effect of medication
- Lack of exercise
- Enlarged prostate gland
- Blocked or abscessed anal sacs
- An orthopedic issue causing pain when a dog positions himself to defecate
- Matted hair surrounding anus (caused by obesity or lack of grooming)
- Excessive self-grooming (excessive amounts of hair to collect in the stool)
- Excessive or insufficient fiber in his diet
- Sudden change in diet or sampling new foods
- Other illnesses leading to dehydration
- Neurological disorder
- Trauma to pelvis
- Obstruction caused by tumors or masses on the anus, or within the rectum
- Ingested pieces of toys, gravel, plants, dirt and bones caught in the intestinal tract
Aging pets may also experience constipations more often than younger ones. That being said, any dogs may suffer from constipation if any of the above scenarios apply to them.
Dog Constipation Symptoms
The signs of constipation in your dog can range from crying and crouching when trying to defecate to obvious straining. f it's been longer than two full days since your dog's last bowel movement, you should see your vet as soon as possible.
Keep in mind that these symptoms may be similar to those that could point to a urinary tract issue, so it’s important that your vet perform a full physical exam to diagnose the cause.
Treatments for a Constipated Dog
Google “What can I give my dog for constipation” and you’ll find wide-ranging advice, from sources both trustworthy and dubious.
It's critical that you never give your dog any treatments of medications that are formulated for people without consulting your vet first. Many human medications are toxic to dogs.
The best thing to do in these situations is to contact your veterinarians and bring your dog in for an exam. This treatment for your dog's constipation will depend on the underlying cause of your pooch's condition.
If your pooch has eaten something they shouldn't have there is a chance that there is a blockage causing the issue. This is a medical emergency that will likely require urgent surgery.
Your vet may also recommend blood tests to determine whether or not your pup is suffering from dehydration of an infection too. Vets will take into account your pet's medical history, conduct a rectal exam and rule out any other causes before recommending one or more of these treatments for your dog's constipation.
- More exercise
- Prescription diet high with fiber
- Stool softener or another laxative
- Enema (administered by a professional, not at home, as there could be risk of injury or toxicity if done incorrectly)
- Small bowl of goat or cow milk
- Adding more fiber to your dog’s diet (wheat bran, canned pumpkin or products such as Metamucil)
- Medication to increase large intestine’s contractile strength
Follow your vet’s instructions closely, as trying too many of these or the wrong combination may bring on the opposite problem - diarrhea. You don’t want to trade one digestive problem for another.
Potential Complication Due to Constipation in Dogs
If your dog's constipation isn't properly treated, they may reach a point where they can't empty their colon on their own at all (this is called constipation). Their colon will become packed with an uncomfortably large amount of feces, causing symptoms like lethargy, a loss of appetite, vomiting and unproductive straining.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.