How to Aid a Constipated Dog

As a devoted pet parent, you’re attuned to your canine companion’s habits, including their regular potty routine and the appearance of their usual bowel movements. You might even recognize when your dog needs to relieve itself just by observing their demeanor. Nonetheless, when your dog struggles to defecate or experiences a complete inability to poop, it raises concerns.

Isolated instances of constipation are typically not a cause for alarm. However, if your dog remains constipated for more than 24-48 hours, it’s crucial to consult a veterinarian, as it could signify an underlying medical issue. If you’re searching for guidance on how to alleviate a constipated dog, you’ve come to the right place. Continue reading to gain insights into canine constipation, its causes, and potential remedies.

Understanding Canine Constipation

Constipation in dogs is marked by the inability to produce regular, healthy stools. While most dogs defecate once or twice daily, a constipated dog may experience the following symptoms:

  1. Absence of stool for over 48 hours.
  2. Hard, dry stool.
  3. Struggling during defecation.
  4. Painful defecation.
  5. Presence of mucus or blood in the stool.

You can detect a constipated dog when they attempt to defecate but are unable to expel anything. The stool, when eventually passed, tends to be hard, dry, and compacted. Dogs experiencing gastrointestinal discomfort may resort to eating grass or dragging their hindquarters on the floor.

Common Causes of Canine Constipation

Several factors can contribute to constipation in dogs, with many of them mirroring the causes of human constipation. Prominent culprits for canine constipation encompass:

  1. Inadequate exercise.
  2. Dehydration.
  3. Subpar diet or nutritional deficiencies.
  4. Excessive or insufficient dietary fiber.
  5. Age-related factors.
  6. Obstructions in the digestive tract.
  7. Hypothyroidism.
  8. Renal (kidney) issues.
  9. Consumption of human foods.
  10. Prostate problems.
  11. Certain medications.
  12. Pelvic trauma.
  13. Tumors.
  14. Chronic constipation.
  15. Stress.

Effective Remedies for Constipated Dogs

As a responsible pet owner, you might be seeking ways to assist a constipated dog, particularly if they are in discomfort during defecation. Several remedies can be attempted at home to alleviate the situation:

  1. Canned Pumpkin: Plain, canned pumpkin serves as a natural laxative for dogs due to its high fiber content. It is often recommended by veterinarians for dogs with upset stomachs. Moreover, the substantial water content in canned pumpkin can help soften the stool and maintain your dog’s hydration. Always ensure that the pumpkin is plain, and avoid any pumpkin pie fillings or spiced variants, which can be toxic to dogs.
  2. Introducing Wet Food: Wet dog food boasts a higher water content than dry food, which aids in softening the stool. However, it’s advisable to transition your dog’s diet gradually. A sudden switch from dry to wet food may lead to gastrointestinal issues. Instead, blend a small portion of wet food with your dog’s dry food, monitoring for any adverse reactions.
  3. Increased Exercise: Physical activity plays a role in regulating bowel movements in dogs by stimulating the digestive process. If your dog exhibits a habit of moving around before defecation, it’s a sign that exercise can facilitate the process. Sedentary dogs are more prone to constipation, so engage in longer walks or runs to enhance stool quality.
  4. Enhanced Hydration: Adequate hydration is essential for healthy bowel movements in dogs. Some dogs may not consume sufficient water, even when a full bowl is provided daily. To encourage water intake, consider adding water to your dog’s kibble to make it more appealing.
  5. Fiber Supplements: Certain pet-safe fiber supplements can be used to soften the stool. However, it’s essential to consult with your vet to ensure the chosen supplement is safe for your dog. Excessive fiber intake can exacerbate constipation, so professional guidance is advisable.
  6. Stool Softeners: If home remedies prove ineffective and your dog remains constipated, a stool softener may be necessary. Always consult your vet to obtain a prescription for a safe and suitable stool softener for your dog.

When to Seek Veterinary Attention

Unchecked constipation can pose significant risks to your dog’s well-being. Prolonged constipation can result in hard, dry fecal matter accumulating in the colon, culminating in obstipation, a severe form of constipation. Obstipation is characterized by the inability to pass feces through the colon, leading to colon enlargement, bloating, lethargy, appetite loss, and strained defecation. This condition, known as megacolon, may escalate into critical complications, necessitating surgical intervention or even proving fatal.

Contacting your veterinarian is prudent under the following circumstances:

  1. If your dog typically experiences regular bowel movements and has a limited history of constipation.
  2. If various home remedies have been ineffectual and constipation persists.
  3. In cases of prolonged or chronic constipation, as it may indicate colonic impaction.
  4. When your dog’s last normal bowel movement occurred.
  5. Information regarding dietary changes or potential access to non-standard food items.
  6. Whether your dog exhibits discomfort while urinating or defecating.
  7. Details about any medications your dog may be taking.
  8. Any relevant injuries.

For diagnostic purposes, consider bringing a stool sample for examination, which can help rule out parasitic infections.

Medical Intervention Should your veterinarian deem medical intervention necessary, several approaches may be employed to eliminate impacted feces and facilitate regular defecation:

  1. Enemas: The administration of enemas can aid in fecal matter removal.
  2. Manual Removal: In some instances, your vet may need to manually extract the impacted feces.
  3. Laxatives: Medications such as laxatives can be prescribed to alleviate constipation.
  4. Surgery: In rare cases, surgical procedures may be required to address severe constipation or complications arising from it.

After your dog receives treatment for constipation, dietary enhancements based on their specific fiber requirements are recommended. Additionally, your vet will provide instructions for preventing constipation in the future, contingent upon the cause and diagnosis of your dog’s condition.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a natural laxative for dogs?

Pumpkin is a common natural laxative for dogs due to its high fiber content and prebiotics, which promote gut health.

How long can a dog go without a bowel movement?

Dogs typically have bowel movements once or twice daily. If your dog hasn’t defecated for 48 to 72 hours, it’s advisable to contact your vet, as prolonged constipation can be detrimental to their health.

Can I give my dog olive oil for constipation?

Olive oil and coconut oil can be used to soften stool. However, their high fat content may not be suitable for dogs, especially those with underlying medical conditions. Consult your vet to determine the most appropriate solution for your dog’s constipation.

In Conclusion

Although dog constipation might initially appear as a minor issue, it can escalate into a severe health concern if not addressed promptly. While occasional constipation can be attributed to diet or dietary indiscretions, persistent or chronic constipation should always be evaluated by a veterinarian. The course of action to alleviate constipation in dogs hinges on its underlying cause, and certain cases may necessitate professional medical attention. Always stay vigilant and responsive to your dog’s well-being, ensuring they maintain healthy and regular bowel movements.