At American Pet Hospital we know that constipation in dogs may not seem like a serious problem but it can be a sign of a serious veterinary emergency. Today our Modesto vets explain some causes of constipation in dogs and what you should do if your dog is constipated.
How can I tell if my dog is constipated?
Are your dog's bowel movements infrequent, difficult for them to pass or absent altogether? If so, your pet is likely suffering from constipation.
Straining when attempting to pass a stool and/or is producing hard, dry stools, are also considered signs that your dog should be examined by a vet as soon as possible.
Constipated dogs may pass mucus when trying to defecate, circle excessively, scoot along the ground, or squat frequently without defecating. If you press on their stomach or lower back, they may have a tense, painful abdomen that causes them to growl or cry out.
Important Note! The inability to pass feces or pain associated with passing feces is considered a medical emergency and requires immediate care! Contact your vet right away.
Why is my dog constipated?
There are a number of possible causes of constipation in dogs, some of the most common include:
- 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 causing pain when a dog positions himself to defecate
- Enlarged prostate gland
- Sudden change in diet or sampling new foods
- Matted hair surrounding 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
Elderly pets may experience constipation more often. However, any dog that experiences one or more of the scenarios above could develop constipation.
My dog is constipated, what should I do?
“What can I give my dog for constipation?” is a popular search on the web, and the answers provided come from trustworthy and dubious sources.
The first thing that you should know is to never give your dog medications or treatments formulated for humans without consulting your vet first. Many human medications are toxic to dogs.
If your dog is constipated, the best thing you can do for your pet is to contact your vet to book an urgent examination. The treatment for your dog's constipation will depend upon the underlying cause of your pup's condition.
If your four-legged friend has eaten something they shouldn't have there is a chance that there is a blockage causing the issue. This is a medical emergency that will likely require urgent surgery.
Blood tests may be recommended to help determine whether your pup has an infection or is suffering from 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:
- Prescription diet high in fiber
- Stool softener or another laxative
- More exercise
- Enema (administered by a professional, not at home!)
- 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
Follow your vet’s instructions closely, as trying too many of these or the wrong combination may bring on the opposite problem - diarrhea. You don’t want to trade one digestive problem for another.
What could happen is I don't treat my dog's constipation?
If your dog’s constipation goes untreated, it is possible that your pup could reach the point where they become unable to empty their colon on their own (a condition called obstipation). The colon then becomes packed with an uncomfortably large amount of feces, causing lethargy, unproductive straining, loss of appetite and potentially vomiting. Intestinal blockages caused by the ingestion of foreign objects such as toys or fabrics can quickly become fatal.
When it comes to your pet's health and safety err on the side of caution, contact your vet if your pet is constipated.
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.