My dog is constipated! What should I do?

Constipation is a frequent digestive issue in dogs. While you might not think it is serious, constipation could be life-threatening depending on the underlying cause. Our vets in Weldon Spring  discuss the causes of constipation in dogs and how you can help your pup.

Constipation in Dogs

If your dog is having trouble with infrequent or difficult bowel movements or isn't passing stool at all, they might be dealing with constipation.

It's critical for dog owners to know that it's a veterinary emergency when a dog is unable to pass feces or is experiencing pain associated with passing feces. If this sounds like your dog, they requires immediate care!

Watch out for signs like straining during bowel movements, producing hard and dry stools, or passing mucus without successful defecation. Excessively, scooting, circling, or squatting often without results are also indicators. If you press on your pup's stomach, they might have a tense, painful abdomen that makes them cry or growl.

Causes of Dog Constipation

Several reasons can lead to constipation in dogs, but a few of the most common include:

  • Excessive or insufficient fiber in their diet
  • A side effect of medication
  • Lack of exercise
  • Excessive or insufficient fiber in his diet
  • Blocked or abscessed anal sacs
  • Other illnesses leading to dehydration
  • Excessive self-grooming (excessive amounts of hair to collect in the stool)
  • Ingested pieces of toys, gravel, plants, dirt, or bones caught in the intestinal tract
  • Sudden change in diet or sampling new foods
  • Trauma to pelvis
  • Neurological disorder
  • An orthopedic issue that's causing pain when a dog positions himself to defecate
  • Enlarged prostate gland
  • Matted hair surrounding the anus (caused by obesity or lack of grooming)
  • Obstruction caused by tumors or masses on the anus or within the rectum

Senior pets might experience constipation more frequently. However, any dog that's facing one or more of the scenarios listed above could suffer from constipation.

Common Constipation Symptoms in Dogs

Signs of constipation include straining, crying, or crouching when attempting to defecate. Also, if it’s been more than two days since they have had a bowel movement, see your vet immediately.

Remember, these symptoms may be similar to those that may point to a urinary tract issue, so your vet needs to perform a full physical exam to diagnose the cause.

What You Can Give Your Dog for Their Constipation

You can also explore Google “How to treat constipation in dogs,” and you'll find advice from sources both reliable and questionable sources. 

Never give your dog medications or treatments formulated for humans without consulting your vet first. Many human medications are toxic to dogs.

The best step is to get in touch with your veterinarian and schedule an examination for your dog. The treatment for your dog's constipation will depend upon the underlying cause of your pup's condition.

If your dog has ingested something inappropriate, there could be a possibility that a blockage is causing the problem. In this situation, a medical emergency might require immediate surgery. 

Blood tests could show if your pup is suffering from dehydration or has an infection. Your vet will probably ask about your dog's history, conduct a rectal examination to rule out other abnormalities or causes, and might recommend one or a combination of the following treatments:

  • More exercise
  • A stool softener or another laxative
  • A prescription diet high in fiber
  • Enema (administered by a professional, not at home, as there could be a risk of injury or toxicity if done incorrectly)
  • Medication to increase large intestine's contractile strength
  • A small bowl of goat or cow milk
  • Adding more fiber to your dog’s diet(wheat bran, canned pumpkin, or products such as Metamucil)

Carefully follow your vet’s instructions because trying too many of these or the wrong combination could cause the opposite problem - diarrhea. You don’t want to swap one digestive issue for another.

What Happens When Constipation in Dogs Goes Untreated

If your dog’s constipation isn't treated, it could lead to a condition called constipation. This makes it hard for them to empty their colon,  causing lethargy, unproductive straining, loss of appetite, and potentially vomiting.

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.

Contact our vets in Weldon Spring today to schedule an appointment if you believe your dog is constipated.