Constipation is a digestive condition often seen by our veterinary team at Newkirk Family Veterinarians. Today, our vets in Egg Harbor Township share the common causes of constipation in dogs and why it must be treated quickly.
If your pooch is having infrequent bowel movements, a hard time passing them, or none at all, they are most likely constipated.
It's very important for dog parents to understand that the inability to pass feces or suffering from pain associated with passing feces is considered a veterinary emergency that needs to be seen by a veterinarian as fast as possible!
Straining to pass a stool and/or producing hard, dry stools are also signs that your pooch needs to be assessed by a vet immediately.
In some cases, dogs may pass mucus when trying to defecate, scoot along the ground, circle excessively, or squat frequently without defecating. If you press on their lower back or stomach, they might have a tense, painful abdomen that makes them cry or growl.
Common Causes of Constipation in Dogs
There are various possible causes for your dog's constipation, we have listed a handful of the most common ones below:
- Excessive or insufficient fiber in his diet
- Lack of exercise
- A side effect of medication
- Excessive self-grooming (excessive amounts of hair to collect in the stool)
- Ingested pieces of toys, gravel, plants, dirt, and bones caught in the intestinal tract
- Blocked or abscessed anal sacs
- Other illnesses leading to dehydration
- Trauma to pelvis
- Sudden change in diet or sampling new foods
- Enlarged prostate gland
- 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
- An orthopedic issue that's causing pain when a dog positions himself to defecate
Senior pets may experience constipation more often than younger dogs. But, any dog that faces one or more of the scenarios detailed above can experience constipation.
Sign & Symptoms of Constipation in Dogs
Signs of constipation include straining, crying, or crouching when attempting to defecate. Also, if more than two days have passed since your pup's last bowel movement, you should take them to the vet immediately.
Remember that these symptoms could be similar to those that can point to a urinary tract problem, so it’s imperative to have your vet perform a complete physical examination to diagnose the underlying cause.
Treating Dogs With Constipation
Google “How to treat constipation in dogs” and you will discover a variety of ranging advice, from sources that can be either trustworthy or dubious.
Never give your dog medications or treatments that are made for humans without asking your veterinarian first. Lots of human medications are toxic to dogs.
The best thing you can do for your constipated dog is to call your veterinarian and bring your pup in for an exam. Your dog's treatment will depend on the underlying cause of their condition.
If your pup has consumed something they weren't supposed to a blockage may be the issue. This is a medical emergency that will probably require urgent surgery.
Blood tests could help reveal your pup has an infection or is suffering from dehydration. Your vet will probably look at your dog's medical history, implement a rectal examination to rule out other causes or abnormalities, and might suggest 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)
- A small bowl of goat or cow milk
- Medication to increase the large intestine’s contractile strength
- Adding more fiber to your dog’s diet (wheat bran, canned pumpkin, or products such as Metamucil)
Follow any instructions your vet provides you with carefully because too much of these or the wrong combination could lead to the opposite problem - diarrhea. You don’t want to swap one digestive issue with another.
When Dog Constipation Isn't Treated
If your pup's constipation isn't treated, they may get to the point where they won't be able to empty their colon by themselves (a condition called obstipation). The colon then gets packed with an uncomfortably large amount of feces, leading to a loss of appetite, lethargy, unproductive straining, 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.