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My Dog is Constipated! How Can I Help?

Constipation is a common digestive problem that our veterinary team encounters in dogs at Pittsboro Animal Hospital. In this article, our Pittsboro vets will discuss the causes and treatment options for constipation in dogs and the dangers associated with leaving it untreated.

Constipation in Dogs

If your dog has infrequent bowel movements, difficulty passing them, or not passing them at all, your pet is likely suffering from constipation.

Dog owners must know that the inability to pass feces or experiencing pain associated with passing feces is considered a medical, veterinary emergency and must be addressed by a veterinarian immediately.

If your canine companion is straining to pass a stool and/or producing hard, dry stools, these are also signs that your dog needs to be examined by a veterinarian as quickly as possible.

Sometimes, dogs may pass mucus when attempting to defecate, circle excessively, scoot along the ground, or squat frequently without defecating. If you press on their lower back or stomach, they may have a tense, painful abdomen that makes them cry or growl.

The Causes of Constipation in Dogs

There are a handful of possible causes for your dog's constipation. A few of the most common ones are:

  • Lack of exercise
  • Ingested pieces of toys, gravel, plants, dirt, and bones caught in the intestinal tract
  • Excessive or insufficient fiber in his diet
  • A side effect of medication
  • Blocked or abscessed anal sacs
  • Excessive self-grooming (excessive amounts of hair to collect in the stool)
  • Other illnesses leading to dehydration
  • Sudden change in diet or sampling new foods
  • Trauma to pelvis
  • Matted hair surrounding the anus (caused by obesity or lack of grooming)
  • An orthopedic issue that's causing pain when a dog positions himself to defecate
  • Neurological disorder
  • Enlarged prostate gland
  • Obstruction caused by tumors or masses on the anus, or within the rectum

Senior pets could suffer from constipation more frequently than younger dogs. However, any dog that encounters one or more of the scenarios above could suffer from constipation.

The Symptoms of Dog Constipation

It may be a sign of constipation if your pup is straining, crying, or crouching when attempting to defecate. Additionally, if your dog has not had a bowel movement in more than two days, it's important to take them to the vet right away.

However, remember that these symptoms could also indicate a urinary tract problem, so it's crucial to have your vet conduct a thorough physical examination to determine the root cause.

How Constipation in Dogs is Treated

If your dog is experiencing constipation, it can be tempting to search online for advice. However, it is important to be cautious as the information can be unreliable. Giving your dog any human medication or treatment without first consulting with your veterinarian is never recommended. Many human medications can be toxic to dogs, and it's better to be safe than sorry.

The best action is to contact your veterinarian and schedule an appointment to examine your dog. The appropriate treatment for your dog's constipation will depend on the underlying cause. If your dog has ingested something harmful, a blockage may require immediate surgery. Blood tests can help determine if your dog has an infection or is suffering from dehydration.

During the exam, your vet will review your dog's medical history and perform a rectal examination to rule out any abnormalities or other causes of constipation. Based on the findings, your vet may suggest one or a combination of treatments to help your dog feel better. It is always best to consult a professional rather than self-diagnose and treat your dog at home.

  • A prescription diet high in fiber
  • More exercise
  • A stool softener or another laxative
  • Enema (administered by a professional, not at home, as there could be a risk of injury or toxicity if done incorrectly)
  • Medication to increase the large intestine's contractile strength
  • A small bowl of goat or cow milk
  • Adding more fiber to your dog's diet (wheat bran, canned pumpkin, or products such as Metamucil)

Carefully follow your vet's instructions because too many of these or the wrong combination could bring on the opposite issue - diarrhea. You don't want to trade one digestive problem for another.

What Could Happen if Your Dog's Constipation Goes Untreated

If your dog is constipated and you don't take any action, it could lead to a condition known as obstipation. This means that your dog won't be able to empty its colon on its own, which can cause a buildup of feces in the colon.

This can cause your canine companion to experience unproductive straining, lethargy, loss of appetite, and potentially even vomiting. It's important to address constipation in dogs immediately to prevent it from worsening.

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.

If your pup suffers from constipation, contact our Pittsboro vets today to schedule an appointment for your dog.

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Pittsboro Animal Hospital is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Pittsboro companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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