Constipation in Dogs: Causes and Treatment
infrequent or absent bowel movements-is one of the most common health problems
associated with a pet’s digestive system. Telltale signs, such as dry, hard
stools and straining when trying to defecate, can also be an indicator of other
disorders, including hypothyroidism. Another symptom of this disorder is the
passage of mucus when a dog attempts to defecate.
What Causes Constipation?
There are various reasons why a dog may be constipated:
- Not enough fiber in his diet
- Lack of exercise
- Blocked or abscessed anal sacs
- Enlarged prostate gland
- Excessive self-grooming can also cause large
amounts of hair to collect in the stool
- Ingested gravel, stones, bones, dirt, plants or
pieces of toys, etc. caught in the intestinal tract
- Matted hair or a tumor at the anus causing an
obstruction Side effect of medication
- Orthopedic problem that causes pain when a dog
positions himself to defecate
- Neurologic disorder
- Dehydration due to other illness
How Can I Tell if My Dog Is Constipated?
If your dog has not had a bowel movement in over two days or if
he strains, crouches or cries out when attempting to defecate, you should see
your veterinarian right away.
Note: These signs may also be symptoms of a urinary tract
problem, so it’s important that you see your vet to determine the cause.
Which Dogs Are Susceptible to Constipation?
Elderly pets often suffer from infrequent or difficult bowel
movements. However, the condition can occur in any dog who doesn’t eat adequate
amounts of fiber, get enough exercise or suffers from one or more of the causes
How Can I Treat My Dog’s Constipation?
Depending on what’s causing your dog’s constipation, your vet
may recommend one or several of the following treatments:
- A stool softener or other laxative
- Medication to increase the contractile strength of
the large intestine
- Adding fiber to your dog’s diet with canned
pumpkin, wheat bran or a product such as Metamucil
- A veterinarian-prescribed, high-fiber
- An increase in exercise
- An enema (administered by a
professional, not at home, please)
What Can Happen If Constipation Goes Untreated?
If your dog’s constipation is not alleviated, obstipation-the
inability to empty his colon on his own-can occur. In this state, the colon is
packed with an uncomfortably large amount of feces, causing unproductive
straining, lethargy, appetite loss and possibly even vomiting.