dog constipation

How to Treat Dog Constipation

Reviewed by Lauren Goode, DVM

Dog constipation occurs when a dog is unable to generate normal feces on a regular basis, which is usually once or twice per day for a dog.

Constipated dogs will not “go” at all, will strain to defecate, and will generate rock-hard feces.

Dogs with persistent diarrhea may retain hard, dry feces in their digestive systems.

Obstipation occurs when there is so much feces that it becomes compacted and the dog is unable to defecate at all.

What is Dog Constipation? 

dog constipation

Constipation in dogs is a temporary ailment characterized by infrequent or difficult stool or feces passage. 

When attempting to defecate, many constipated dogs can struggle or endure pain. Obstipation, a severe kind of constipation, is frequently linked to a significant, long-term, or irreversible medical condition.

Because one of the colon’s main tasks is to absorb water, the held feces can become hard and dry, making passing it even more difficult.

Dogs suffering from constipation can get dehydrated in various conditions. Due to their prolonged straining, some constipated dogs may pass tiny volumes of liquid excrement or blood. 

When the dog strains, small amounts of liquid fecal material is able to squeeze around the hard fecal bulk, which is sometimes misinterpreted as diarrhea.

What Causes Dog Constipation?

dog constipation

Waste is full of water and electrolytes when it is propelled through the intestines to the colon by peristaltic waves, a natural muscle activity. The waste is pushed out as a stool and the water is absorbed in the colon.

The colon will continue to absorb water if this process is slowed or impeded, and the stool may become firmer, drier, and perhaps compacted.

Constipation in dogs can be caused by a variety of factors, including:

  • Lack of physical activity
  • Unhealthy eating habits
  • Fiber deficiency
  • Age
  • Hypothyroidism and renal (kidney) problems
  • Anal gland problems
  • Dehydration
  • Prostate enlargement
  • Spinal injuries 
  • Surgery – Constipation can be caused by medical procedures and the medicines used during those treatments. If you see this in the post-surgical time, call  your veterinarian for help.
  • Stress and psychological difficulties – Something in the surroundings that causes a dog to retain it—stress and psychological difficulties.
  • Tumours in the rectum or colon
  • Trauma to the pelvis
  • Constipation is also a problem for dogs with long hair or those that lick or groom themselves excessively.

Signs of Dog Constipation

dog constipation

Signs of constipation in dogs include:

  • Lack of defecation for a few days
  • Stool with a pebble-like texture
  • Straining but not generating a lot of stool
  • Tenesmus is characterized by the inability to defecate or the production of tiny volumes of liquid fecal matter mixed with blood.
  • Painful or difficult defecation.
  • Stool with mucus
  • Blood in stool 

Diagnosis of Dog Constipation

dog constipation

A physical examination and medical history will be used to diagnose the majority of cases. Your veterinarian will most likely feel a hard, bulging colon while examining your dog’s abdomen. 

He or she may do a rectal examination to rule out cancers, foreign substances, or other abnormalities, such as rectal strictures (a narrowing of the exit channel caused by a prior disease).

Abdominal radiographs (X-rays) are frequently used to detect the amount of constipation and whether or not there is a blockage. 

To check for dehydration or infection, blood tests and urinalysis are useful. An abdominal ultrasound may be used in advanced situations to determine the source of your dog’s constipation. 

If a rectal tumor or stricture is detected, biopsies may be recommended.

Treatment of Dog Constipation

dog constipation

If your dog is constipated, you may be able to treat him with a home remedy, but see your veterinarian first.

The majority of constipation situations are simple to resolve. The impacted, hardened fecal matter must first be loosen or removed. 

Enemas, physical removal, and medicines are among the procedures that can be used for treating constipation. 

Commonly recommended medications include dioctyl sodium sulfosuccinate (DSS) (brand name Ducosate®) and lactulose (brand names Cephulac®, Kristalose®, Generlac®, Constulose®, Enulose®). 

Drugs like cisapride (brand names: Prepulsid®, Propulsid®) or tegaserod may be advised in circumstances when stimulant laxatives are necessary.

During several enemas or to replenish fluids to treat dehydration, some dogs may require hospitalization. 

Additional treatments for constipation, such as surgery or lifetime medical or nutritional care, may be required for more serious disorders. 

Depending on the reason for constipation in your pet, a low-fiber or high-fiber diet may be required. 

Constipation in dogs caused by behavioral or psychogenic factors may require behavioral change through training and/or medication. 

After the constipation has been resolved, supplements such as probiotics may be taken.

How to Prevent Dog Constipation 

dog Constipation

Your veterinarian may recommend feeding a therapeutic diet, adding vitamins or drugs to the food, or returning for more testing or treatments, depending on the particular reason of your dog’s constipation. 

Constipation in the majority of dogs is caused by consuming a new food or substance, and medical intervention is not required. 

Other dogs may need to be treated for the rest of their lives to keep their bowel movements in check.

When to See a Veterinarian

dog Constipation

It’s a good idea to call your veterinarian as soon as you suspect that your dog has constipation. Constipation is a symptom of a number of severe illnesses.

Obstipation is an accumulation of dry feces that becomes lodged in the colon as a result of long-term or chronic constipation. 

This might contribute to a disease known as megacolon, which is characterized by an inability to defecate regularly. 

The colon swells and loses its capacity to transport excrement forward. Constipation is both a cause and a symptom of this condition.

Constipation will be a rare problem for most dogs, which may be avoided with a well-balanced food, access to fresh water, and regular exercise.

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