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My dog is constipated! What should I do?

Of all the digestive problems dogs can develop constipation is one of the most common. While you might not think it is serious, constipation could be life-threatening depending on what's causing it. Here, our Port Jefferson vets discuss the causes of constipation in dogs and how you can help your pup.

Constipation in Dogs

If your dog is having infrequent bowel movements, they're difficult for your pup to pass, or completely absent, your pup is probably experiencing constipation. 

It's critical for dog owners to know that it's a veterinary emergency when a dog is unable to pass feces or is experiencing pain associated with passing feces. If this sounds like your dog they require immediate care!

If your dog is straining when trying to pass a stool and/or is producing hard, dry stools, these are also signs that indicate your dog needs to be examined by a vet quickly.

Dogs may pass mucus while attempting to defecate, scoot across the ground, circle excessively, or squat frequently without defecating. If you press on your puppy's lower back or stomach, they may experience a tense, painful abdomen, causing them to cry or growl.

Causes of Dog Constipation

There are a variety of reasons why a dog can become constipated, a few of the most common are:

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

Senior pets might experience constipation more frequently. Although, any dog that's facing one or more of the scenarios listed above could suffer from constipation.

Common Constipation Symptoms in Dogs

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

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

What You Can Give Your Dog for Their Constipation

Google “How to treat constipation in dogs” and you’ll find wide-ranging advice, from sources both trustworthy and dubious.

Never give your dog medications or treatments formulated for humans without consulting your vet first. Many human medications are toxic to dogs.

The best thing to do is contact your veterinarian and bring your dog in for an exam. The treatment for your dog's constipation will depend upon the underlying cause of your pup's condition.

If your pooch 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 can reveal whether your puppy is dehydrated or has an infection. Your veterinarian will most likely ask about your dog's medical history, perform a rectal examination to rule out other abnormalities or causes, and may recommend one or more of the following treatments:

  • More exercise
  • A stool softener or another laxative
  • A prescription diet high in fiber
  • Enema (administered by a professional, not at home, as there could be a risk of injury or toxicity if done incorrectly)
  • Medication to increase 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 trying too many of these or the wrong combination could cause the opposite problem - diarrhea. You don’t want to swap one digestive issue for another.

What Happens When Constipation in Dogs Goes Untreated

If your dog’s constipation goes untreated, they 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.

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.

Contact our vets in Port Jefferson today to schedule an appointment if you believe your dog is constipated.

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

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