Constipation in Dogs: Causes and Treatment

Signs Your Dog is Constipated

The signs of constipation in dogs are typically what you would expect and are similar to what we experience as humans. You may notice your dog hasn’t gone in a while or is struggling to go when he is trying to defecate. The most common and obvious signs your dog is constipated include:

  • Hard, small stools
  • Lack of defecation for a few days
  • Painful defecation (whimpering or yelping when trying to go)

If you notice a change in your dog’s bowel habits, then it may be a sign that he is constipated. Identifying that he or she is constipated is the first step to understanding why your furry friend is not feeling his best. Quick treatment of your dog’s constipation can not only help him feel better sooner, but can also help you avoid a more serious problem down the road if left untreated.

Common Causes of Constipation in Dogs

There are many reasons why your dog may be constipated. Identifying what could be causing your dog’s constipation can help you know how to treat it. Constipation in dogs can lead to more serious problems if left untreated. Below are some of the most common causes your dog may be struggling with constipation.

Diet

One of the most common reasons dogs struggle with constipation is a change in diet or a poor diet to begin with. A low-fiber diet or high calcium diet can be the culprit. Look for brands of dog food that have high fiber content and lower calcium levels. It may take a few tries to see what works for your dog and what he likes, but your veterinarian can be a great source for recommendations.

Age

As your dog gets older and moves around a lot less, constipation is a very common struggle in elderly dogs.

Lack of Activity

If your dog isn’t very active, he or she could be at risk for constipation. Lower activity levels usually results in a slower metabolism which can lead to constipation.

Dehydration

Just like in humans, dehydration can cause constipation or a lack of defecation.

Drugs or Medication

If your dog has recently been put on a new medication or regularly takes medicine, certain medications have been known to cause constipation. Look at the side effects listed on the bottle or speak to your veterinarian.

Surgery

If your dog has recently had surgery, constipation may be a side effect from the procedure or medicine provided. Your veterinarian will alert you of these potential side effects before or after your dog’s surgery.

Diseases, Illnesses, or Injuries

Tumors, cancers, injuries, metabolic diseases, and more can result in constipation.

Stress

Have you ever noticed that your bowel habits change when you are stressed? The same happens for our furry friends. If they are in a stressful environment or have experienced a few stressful situations in the last few days, they may have trouble going.

What Can I Give My Dog if He Is Constipated?

If you have noticed your dog hasn’t been able to have a bowel movement in a day or two there are a few things you can try at home to help relieve his constipation. While these home remedies are safe, it’s still a good idea to call your veterinarian and make them aware that your dog is struggling with constipation so they can be prepared to see your dog if these remedies don’t work.

High Fiber Foods

If it’s only been a day or two that your dog has been constipated, introducing some high fiber food outside of their dog food can help give them the relief they need. Pureed pumpkin or canned dog food is an excellent way to quickly give your dog a dose of high fiber as well as add some moisture to help soften up their stools.

Water

Keeping your dog hydrated is key to helping your furry friend with his constipation. When your dog is dehydrated, it is harder for them to pass their stools. Make sure he has access to water and consider giving him a dog-friendly electrolyte booster.

Exercise

Getting your dog up and around can help them loosen up their stool or any blockage that might be present. Take them for a walk or a run if they are feeling up to it and see if that helps them feel the urge to go to the bathroom.

Stool Softeners

If the above remedies aren’t working, you can try a dog friendly stool softener to help soften up your dog’s stool. Be sure to check with your veterinarian to see what they recommend.

Should I Take My Dog to the Vet if He Is Constipated?

If you notice your dog hasn’t defecated in a while, it’s a good idea to give your veterinarian a call to make them aware. They may have you try some home remedies first before bringing your furry friend in or they may want to examine him right away. Addressing your dog’s constipation early is key to prevent worsening symptoms. Before you give your vet a call it may be beneficial to have answers for the following:

  • Last time your dog had a bowel movement
  • Behavior during a bowel movement
  • Color of stool and consistency
  • Diet
  • Last thing he ate
  • Recent injuries
  • Other symptoms

If your dog’s constipation doesn’t resolve itself within a day or two, your veterinarian will most likely have you bring him in or bring him back for a follow-up. Sometimes constipation can be a side effect of a disease or illness. Your veterinarian will run some tests to identify the cause and recommend an appropriate treatment plan.

When you have a constipated dog it can be an uncomfortable process for both you and your furry friend. Seeing your dog in discomfort is never easy. When in doubt, always call your veterinarian to ensure your dog is getting the best care possible.

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