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Why is My Dog Constipated and What Should I Do?

Dogs of any size, breed, age, or lifestyle can be afflicted with constipation. Here, our Cincinnati vets explore one of the most common digestive issues diagnosed in canines and discuss some causes of constipation in dogs, along with treatment options. 

My Dog is Constipated

Have you noticed that your dog's poop is hard or dry, or contains mucus, when you pick up their stool? Maybe your pooch has not had a bowel movement in 48 hours or more. If either of these circumstances are true, your pup is probably suffering from consipation 

A variety of symptoms may appear in dogs with constipation. Dogs will often whine, crouch, or strain when attempting to defecate. You might even notice string, grass, or matted feces around your dog's anal area. 

In this article, we'll list some common causes of constipation in dogs, along with symptoms, and explain how to help a constipated dog. 

What to Do If Your Dog is Constipated 

If your dog is showing any of the signs of constipation listed above, call your vet to arrange an urgent care appointment as soon as possible. 

If your canine companion has eaten something they shouldn't have, a blockage may be causing the problem. This is a veterinary medical emergency that will likely require surgery

Treatment will depend on which underlying condition is causing your dog's problem. 

What causes constipation in dogs?

A variety of factors can contribute to constipation in dogs. Some of these include:

  • Not enough fiber in their diet
  • Dehydration 
  • Side effects of medication 
  • Neurological disorder
  • Enlarged prostate gland
  • Sudden change in diet or sampling new foods 
  • Insufficient daily exercise 
  • Pain due to orthopedic issues when trying to defecate
  • Ingested pieces of plants, dirt, bones, toys, and gravel caught in the intestinal tract
  • Abscessed or blocked anal sacs 
  • Trauma to pelvis 
  • Obstructions, tumors, or masses within the rectum or on the anus 
  • Matted hair around the anus 

While senior pets may experience constipation more often, dogs can suffer from constipation at any age. 

How is constipation in dogs treated? 

When you bring your dog to our 24-hour specialty and emergency animal hospital in Cincinnati for constipation, a veterinarian will likely ask about your pet's medical history before conducting a rectal examination to rule out certain causes of constipation or anatomical abnormalities. 

The vet potentially run some diagnostic tests to determine what's causing your pooch's condition. Based on the results of the exam and any tests, the vet will recommend medical or at-home remedies to alleviate constipation. 

Blood tests may help your vet discover that your pooch has an infection or is suffering from dehydration. 

Dog owners often wonder, 'What can I give my dog for constipation?'. The veterinarian may recommend a combination of medical and at-home remedies for your dog's constipation. At-home remedies may include: 

  • Increasing the amount of fiber in your dog's diet
  • Special dog-specific laxatives
  • Increasing your dog's daily exercise
  • Medication to increase the strength of the large intestine
  • Enema (administered by a veterinary professional, not at home)

Follow the veterinarian's recommendations closely. Trying too many of these treatment options or the wrong combination of numerous options may lead to the opposite problem—diarrhea. You don't want to replace one digestive problem with another. 

Never give your dog any medication without first consulting your veterinarian. We also recommend consulting a vet before administering at-home remedies. 

Severe Conditions Resulting From Untreated Dog Constipation

Left untreated, your pup's constipation may progress to a 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.

Contact our Cincinnati vets today if you have concerns about your dog's dental health. We can perform a dental exam and cleaning and offer treatment options and advice.

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