Constipation is a common issue in dogs. It can be serious, depending on the cause. In this article, our veterinarians in Franklin discuss the causes of constipation in dogs and how you can help your pup.
Constipation in Dogs
If your dog is having trouble going to the bathroom, like having trouble pooping, not pooping at all, or seems to be in pain while pooping, they might have constipation.
Dog owners must 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 require immediate care!
If your dog is straining when trying to pass a stool and/or is producing hard, dry stools, these are also signs that indicate your dog needs to be examined by a vet quickly.
Sometimes, dogs might poop out mucus, scoot on the ground, walk in circles a lot, or try to poop but nothing comes out. If you touch your dog's lower back or belly and they seem tense and in pain, they might cry or growl. This is another sign that they need to see the vet.
Causes of Dog Constipation
There are a variety of reasons why a dog can become constipated. Here are a few of the most common reasons:
- 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 facing one or more of the scenarios listed above could suffer from constipation.
Common Constipation Symptoms in Dogs
Recognizing constipation in your pet can be quite straightforward. Look for signs like your pet striking, caring, or assuming a crouched position when trying to poop
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
If your dog is constipated, don't rush to try random remedies you find online. It's important to consult your vet first. Some human treatments can be harmful to dogs.
The best approach is to contact your vet and schedule an exam for your dog. The treatment will depend on what's causing the constipation.
If your dog ate something they shouldn't have, it could be causing a blockage, which is a serious issue requiring urgent 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 medical 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 the 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 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.