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My dog is constipated! What should I do?

My dog is constipated! What should I do?

Our Southborough Veterinary Hospital vets frequently encounter constipated dogs, a digestive issue that could potentially be life-threatening. In this blog, our Southborough vets discuss the causes of dog constipation and why it's essential to have it treated early.

Dog Constipation

If your dog is having trouble with their bowel movements, like difficult for them to pass or absent, it could mean they're constipated.

You must know that the inability to pass stool or experiencing pain when passing stool is considered a veterinary medical emergency that needs to be treated immediately!

If your dog is struggling to poop and their poop is hard and dry, they should also see a vet right away. 

Sometimes, dogs might pass mucus when attempting to defecate, scoot along the ground, circle excessively, or frequently squat without defecating. If you touch their lower back or stomach and they cry or growl because it's painful, it's a sign they need to see the vet as well. 

The Causes of Constipation in Dogs

There are a number of possible causes of constipation in dogs. Some of the most common include:

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

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

Common Symptoms of Constipation in Dogs

Crouching, crying, or straining when attempting to defecate are signs of dog constipation. Also, if your dog hasn't had a bowel movement in more than two days, you should take them to the vet immediately.

These signs may resemble a urinary issue, so it's crucial to have your vet complete a physical exam so your dog's condition can be diagnosed.

What to Give Your Dog For Constipation

If your dog is constipated, it's important to be cautious. Don't use any human treatment or medicines on your dog without consulting your vet first, as they can be harmful 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 dog ate something they shouldn't have, there might be a blockage causing the issue. This is an emergency that may require surgery. 

Blood tests may help reveal that 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:

  • A stool softener or another laxative
  • More exercise
  • A prescription diet high in fiber
  • 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)
  • Enema (administered by a professional, not at home, as there could be a risk of injury or toxicity if done incorrectly)

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.

When Dog Constipation Goes Untreated

If your dog is constipated and doesn't receive treatment, it could lead to a condition called obstipation. In obstipation, your dog may become unable to empty their colon naturally. This can result in a buildup of a lot of stool in the colon, causing your dog to feel tired, lose their appetite, strain without success, and possibly vomit.

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 Southborough vets as quickly as possible if your dog is constipated.

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