Are you concerned about your dog's constipation? Our O’Fallon vets provide tips, causes, and treatment options for this uncomfortable condition.

What is constipation in dogs?

Have you noticed that your dog is struggling with bowel movements? If your pup's bowel movements have been absent, infrequent, or difficult, they may be experiencing constipation, which is one of the most common health issues seen in pets' digestive systems. It is important to note that if your dog is experiencing pain while passing feces or cannot pass feces, it is classified as a veterinary medical emergency and requires immediate care.

Other common symptoms of constipation in dogs include straining while trying to defecate, producing dry and hard stools, excessive circling, frequent squatting and scooting, and passing mucus when trying to defecate. If you press on their lower back or stomach, they may have a tense, painful abdomen that causes them to cry or growl.

In this post, we'll explore the causes and signs of constipation in dogs and how to treat it safely.

What causes constipation in dogs?

Many things can contribute to a dog's constipation:

  • Ingested pieces of plants, dirt, bones and toys caught in the intestinal tract
  • Lack of exercise
  • Other illnesses leading to dehydration
  • Sudden change in diet or sampling new foods
  • Excessive self-grooming (may cause a large amount of hair to collect in the stool)
  • Neurological disorder
  • Enlarged prostate gland
  • Side effects of medication
  • Abscessed or blocked anal sacs
  • Matted hair surrounding the anus (caused by obesity or lack of grooming)
  • Excessive or insufficient amount of fiber in her diet
  • Obstruction caused by tumors or masses on the anus or within the rectum
  • Trauma to pelvis
  • The orthopedic issue causes pain when a dog positions himself to defecate

Constipation may occur more often in senior pets. However, any dog facing one or more of the above scenarios can suffer constipation. 

What are the signs of constipation in dogs?

If your pet struggles to defecate and exhibits continuous straining, crying, or crouching, it may be a sign of constipation.

Additionally, if more than two days have passed since your pet's last bowel movement, it is advised that you seek veterinary attention immediately. However, it is important to keep in mind that these symptoms may also indicate a urinary tract issue.

Therefore, it is recommended that your pet be taken for a full physical examination by a veterinarian to diagnose the underlying cause accurately.

How is constipation in dogs treated?

Managing constipation in dogs can be a challenge for many pet owners. A quick online search may result in a range of advice from various sources, some of which may not be reliable.

The best action is to consult your veterinarian and book an appointment for your dog's examination.

The vet may recommend a combination of treatments or conduct blood tests to detect infections or dehydration during the examination. They may also take a medical history and perform a rectal exam to rule out any other underlying causes or abnormalities.

  • 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

It's important to consult with your vet if your dog is experiencing constipation. Your vet can provide accurate advice on how to relieve constipation without endangering your dog's health.

It's essential to follow your vet's instructions closely to avoid the risk of diarrhea. Trying too many remedies or the wrong combination may result in the opposite problem.

So, it's better to be cautious. The good news is that our clinic has an in-house lab where diagnostic tests are performed, and we have a pharmacy stocked with a range of medications and prescription diets.

So we can quickly provide any medications your pet may need while in our care.

What can happen if my dog’s constipation is not treated?

If your dog is suffering from constipation and left untreated, she may become unable to empty her colon, which can lead to a condition called obstipation. In this condition, the colon becomes packed with an uncomfortably large amount of feces, which can cause lethargy, unproductive straining, loss of appetite, and potentially vomiting. It's essential to seek veterinary care promptly if your dog is experiencing constipation symptoms to prevent the development of obstipation.

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 showing symptoms of constipation? Contact our O’Fallon vets before this issue becomes a major health concern.