Treating Constipation in Dogs

Constipation is one of the most frequently encountered digestive problems in dogs seen by our Ventura veterinarians. While constipation may not appear to be a serious condition, depending on the cause, it can be fatal to your dog.

What is constipation in dogs?

Constipation manifests as infrequent, difficult, or absent bowel movements.

Inability to pass feces or pain associated with passing feces is a veterinary medical emergency that requires immediate attention!

If your dog is straining to pass stools or producing hard, dry stools, you should take them to the vet as soon as possible.

It's possible for dogs to squat or circle excessively without defecating. If you press on their stomach or lower back, they may growl or cry.

What causes constipation in dogs?

Constipation in dogs can be caused by a variety of factors, the most common of which are:

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

Constipation is more common in elderly pets. Constipation can occur in any dog who is subjected to one or more of the scenarios listed above.

What are common signs of constipation in dogs?

Constipation can be identified by straining, crying, or crouching while attempting to defecate. Additionally, if it has been more than two days since he last had a bowel movement, you should immediately contact your veterinarian.

Bear in mind that these symptoms may be similar to those associated with a urinary tract infection, making it critical for your veterinarian to conduct a thorough physical exam to determine the cause.

How to relieve constipation in dogs

Google “How to treat constipation in dogs” and you’ll find wide-ranging advice, from sources both trustworthy and dubious.

Never give your dog human medications or treatments without first consulting your vet. The same goes for human medications.

Call your vet and schedule an appointment for your dog. The treatment for constipation in dogs depends on the underlying cause.

If your dog ate something they shouldn't have, there may be a blockage. This is a medical emergency requiring immediate surgery.

Blood tests can reveal infection or dehydration in your pup. Following a medical history and rectal exam to rule out other causes or abnormalities, the vet may recommend one or more of the following treatments:

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

Follow your veterinarian's instructions carefully, as using too many of these or the wrong combination could cause diarrhea. You don't want to exacerbate an existing digestive issue.

What can happen if my dog’s constipation is not treated?

If your dog's constipation is not treated, they may develop the inability to empty their colon on their own (a condition called obstipation). The colon is then overburdened with an uncomfortably large amount of feces, resulting in lethargy, unproductive straining, loss of appetite, and possibly 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.

Is your dog constipated? Contact our Ventura vets today to book a consultation for your canine companion.

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