Constipation is one of the most common digestive problems that our Perry veterinarians encounter. While it may not appear to be a serious condition, constipation in your dog can be fatal depending on the cause.
What is constipation in dogs?
If your dog's bowel movements are infrequent, difficult to pass, or absent, he or she is most likely constipated.
It's critical for pet parents to understand that the inability to pass feces or the pain associated with passing feces is a veterinary medical emergency that requires immediate attention!
If your dog is straining to pass a stool and/or producing hard, dry stools, these are also indications that your dog should be examined by a veterinarian as soon as possible.
Dogs may pass mucus while attempting to defecate, circle excessively, scoot along the ground, or squat frequently without defecating in some cases. If you press on their stomach or lower back, they may experience a tense, painful abdomen, causing them to growl or cry.
What causes constipation in dogs?
Constipation in dogs can have a variety of causes, but the most common are as follows:
- Ingested pieces of toys, gravel, plants, dirt, and bones caught in the intestinal tract
- Lack of exercise
- Excessive or insufficient fiber in his diet
- Other illnesses leading to dehydration
- Blocked or abscessed anal sacs
- Excessive self-grooming (excessive amounts of hair to collect in the stool)
- A side effect of medication
- An orthopedic issue causes pain when a dog positions himself to defecate
- Enlarged prostate gland
- Sudden change in diet or sampling new foods
- 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
- Trauma to pelvis
Constipation may occur more frequently in elderly pets. However, any dog that is exposed to one or more of the scenarios described above may develop constipation.
What are common dog constipation symptoms?
Constipation is characterized by straining, crying, or crouching when attempting to defecate. Also, if your dog hasn't gone in two days, call your vet immediately.
Remember that these symptoms may be similar to those of a urinary tract issue, so have your vet perform a full physical exam to rule out urinary tract issues.
What can I give my dog for constipation?
If you Google "how to help a constipated dog," you'll find a plethora of information from sources that are both reliable and questionable.
It is never a good idea to give your dog medications or treatments that are intended for humans without first consulting your veterinarian. Many human medications are toxic to dogs, including antibiotics.
The best course of action is to contact your veterinarian and schedule an appointment for your dog to be examined. It will be necessary to determine the underlying cause of your dog's constipation in order to determine the best course of action.
In the event that your dog has consumed something it shouldn't have, there is a possibility that a blockage is causing the problem. This is a medical emergency that will almost certainly necessitate immediate surgery.
Blood tests may be used to determine whether or not your pup is suffering from an infection or is dehydrated. The veterinarian will likely take a medical history and perform a rectal examination to rule out any other potential causes or abnormalities, after which he or she may recommend one or a combination of the following therapies:
- A prescription diet high in fiber
- A stool softener or another laxative
- More exercise
- Enema (administered by a professional, not at home, as there could be a risk of injury or toxicity if done incorrectly)
- Adding more fiber to your dog’s diet (wheat bran, canned pumpkin, or products such as Metamucil)
- A small bowl of goat or cow milk
- Medication to increase large intestine’s contractile strength
Follow your veterinarian's instructions carefully, as using too many of these or the wrong combination could cause diarrhea. You don't want to exacerbate an existing digestive issue.
What can happen if my dog is constipated and not treated?
If your dog's constipation is not treated, they may develop the inability to empty their colon on their own (a condition called obstipation). The colon is then overburdened with an uncomfortably large amount of feces, resulting in lethargy, unproductive straining, loss of appetite, and possibly 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.