Constipation is a relatively common digestive condition among dogs. While this issue might not seem severe, constipation could be deadly to dogs if it goes untreated. Today, our Grand Prairie vets talk about constipation in dogs, including its symptoms, causes, and treatment options.
Constipation in Dogs
If your dog is having infrequent bowel movements, they are difficult for them to pass, or completely absent, your pooch is probably constipated.
It's imperative for dog owners to understand that pain associated with passing feces or the inability to pass feces is considered a veterinary medical emergency that requires immediate treatment!
If your pooch is straining when trying to pass a stool and/or is having dry, hard stools, these are also considered signs that your dog needs to see a vet as quickly as possible.
In some situations, dogs can pass mucus when attempting to defecate, scoot along the ground, circle excessively, or squat frequently without defecating. If you press on their stomach or lower back, they could have a painful, tense, abdomen that makes them cry or growl.
What can cause constipation in dogs?
There are a handful of potential causes of constipation in our canine companions, a few the most common are:
- Ingested pieces of toys, gravel, plants, dirt, and bones caught in the intestinal tract
- Blocked or abscessed anal sacs
- Lack of exercise
- Other illnesses leading to dehydration
- Excessive or insufficient fiber in their diet
- A side effect of medication
- Excessive self-grooming (excessive amounts of hair to collect in the stool)
- Sudden change in diet or sampling new foods
- Neurological disorder
- Matted hair around the anus (caused by obesity or lack of grooming)
- An orthopedic issue causing pain when a dog positions to defecate
- Obstruction caused by tumors or masses on the anus, or within the rectum
- Enlarged prostate gland
- Trauma to pelvis
Senior pets typically experience constipation more often. But, any dog that encounters one or more of the scenarios detailed above can become constipated.
What are the common signs and symptoms of dog constipation?
Crying or straining when trying to defecate are signs your dog may be constipated. Also, if more than two days have passed since their bowel movement, you should call your veterinarian immediately.
You also have to know that these symptoms could be similar to those of a urinary tract problem, so it’s essential to have your vet conduct a complete physical examination to diagnose the cause.
What can I give my constipated dog?
Google “How to treat constipation in dogs” and you’ll find wide-ranging advice, from sources both trustworthy and dubious.
Never give your dog medications or treatments made for humans without talking to your vet first. Lots of human medications are toxic to dogs.
The best thing to do is contact your veterinarian and bring your dog in for an exam. The treatment for your dog's constipation will depend upon the underlying cause of your pup'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.
Blood tests may help reveal that your pup has an infection or is suffering from dehydration. The vet will likely take a medical history, conduct a rectal examination to rule out other causes or abnormalities, and may recommend one or a combination of these 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 all of the instructions your vet gives you because trying too many of these or the wrong combination could lead to the opposite problem - diarrhea. You don’t want to swap one digestive issue for another.
What could happen if my dog’s constipation is left untreated?
If your dog’s constipation goes untreated, they could reach the point where they become unable to empty their colon on their own (a condition called obstipation). The colon then becomes packed with an uncomfortably large amount of feces, 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.