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Constipation in Dogs: Signs, Causes & What to Do

Constipation in Dogs: Signs, Causes & What to Do

When a dog is having a difficult time having a poop it can lead to uncomfortable symptoms and even pain along with becoming a danger to their health if not treated quickly. Our Gillette vets discuss the concerns with constipation in dogs, what to look for and what steps you should take if your pup suffers from this affliction.

My Dog is Constipated – What should I do?

If your pooch’s bowel movements are infrequent, difficult or absent, he is suffering from one of the most common health problems seen in pets’ digestive systems - constipation.

Inability to pass feces, or pain associated with passing feces is considered a veterinary medical emergency and requires immediate care.

If he also strains when attempting to defecate and/or is producing hard, dry stools, these are also hallmark signs.

Some dogs may also pass mucus when trying to defecate, circle excessively, scoot along the ground, or squat frequently. If you press on their stomach or lower back, they may have a tense, painful abdomen that causes them to growl or cry.

The Causes of Constipation in Dogs

There may be many factors contributing to your dog’s constipation:

  • Lack of exercise
  • Excessive or insufficient fiber in his diet
  • Other illnesses leading to dehydration
  • Blocked or abscessed anal sacs
  • Excessive self-grooming (may cause a large amount of hair to collect in the stool)
  • Neurological disorder
  • Side effects of medication
  • An orthopedic issue causing 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)
  • Ingested pieces of toys, gravel, plants, dirt and bones caught in the intestinal tract
  • Obstruction caused by tumors or masses on the anus, or within the rectum
  • Trauma to pelvis

Elderly pets may experience constipation more often. However, any dog that faces one or more of the scenarios above can suffer from constipation.

The Symptoms of Constipation in Dogs

Signs of constipation include straining, crying or crouching when attempting to defecate. Also, if it’s been more than two days since he has had a bowel movement, you should see your vet immediately.

Keep in mind that these symptoms may be similar to those that could point to a urinary tract issue, so it’s important that your vet perform a full physical exam to diagnose the cause.

What can I give my dog for constipation?

Google “How to help a constipated dog” and you’ll find an abundance of information, some of which may not be entirely reliable. So what do you do if your dog is constipated?

Your first step should be to reach out to your vet. They will schedule an examination for your pup right away. Blood tests may help reveal infection or dehydration. The vet will likely take a medical history, conduct a rectal examination to rule out other causes or abnormalities, and may recommend one or a combination of these treatments:

  • A prescription diet high in fiber
  • A stool softener or other laxatives
  • 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)
  • Small bowl of goat or cow milk
  • Medication to increase the large intestine’s contractile strength

You should always administer any medication or take any action under the direct supervision of your vet. Failure to do so may lead to other complications.

Fortunately, we have an in-house lab where diagnostic tests are performed and an in-house lab and pharmacy that’s stocked with a range of medications and prescription diets, providing us quick access to any medications your pet may need while in our care.

The Prognosis for Dogs with Untreated Constipation

If you do not seek veterinary care for your dog if they are suffering from constipation then they may end up experiencing a condition known as obstipation. This condition results in your dough being unable to empty their bowels on their own. The colon then becomes packed with an uncomfortably large amount of feces, causing lethargy, unproductive straining, loss of appetite 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.

Is your dog straining and in pain when trying to have a bowel movement? They may be constipated. Visit our animal hospital in Gillette for immediate veterinary care for your dog.

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

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