A fecal impaction is a mass of
hard stool in the rectum and colon. There may be a predisposing condition, such
as an enlarged prostate, that
compresses the rectal canal.
Dogs with fecal impactions pass
little or no stool despite repeated and forceful straining, are lethargic, have
no appetite, experience abdominal distension and vomiting, and may have a
hunched-up appearance. Digital rectal examination reveals a large, tubular
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Treatment: Veterinary examination and treatment is needed. A severe fecal impaction requires rehydration
with intravenous fluids prior to removal. Most will need to be removed under
general anesthesia using finger extraction and forceps.
Mild fecal impactions may respond to a combination of an osmotic or
stimulant laxative (see Constipation) and a small
enema. (Be careful when giving an enema; if done improperly, you could
perforate the rectum.) A safe and effective small enema is warm tap water
administered at 2.5 to 5.0 ml per pound of body weight. Tap water enemas can be
repeated every few hours.
Tap water enemas are given through a rubber catheter connected to a plastic
syringe or enema bag. Lubricate the tip of the catheter and insert it 1 to 2
inches (2.5 to 5 cm) into the rectum. Administer the enema. After the enema has
been expelled, administer 10 to 20 ml mineral oil (5 to 10 ml for a small dog)
into the rectum through the catheter to facilitate passage of the remaining
Packaged saline laxative enemas that contain sodium phosphate (such as
Fleet) also are effective for treating constipation and fecal impactions.
Phosphate, however, has the potential to cause toxicity in small dogs and dogs
with kidney disease, and should not be used in these individuals. Fleet enemas
are safe to use in midsize and large dogs with normal kidney function. The
recommended dose is one-half unit of a Fleet enema, or one unit of a Fleet
Children’s enema. Do not repeat. There are special enemas made for pets that
are quite safe. Enemas come in plastic bottles equipped with nozzles. Always
lubricate the tip of the nozzle before attempting to insert it into your dog’s
rectum. Insert it far enough into the anal canal to retain the fluid. Squeeze
the bottle to administer the enema. Make sure you have help to restrain the dog
in case he resists. Most dogs will defecate within a few minutes of receiving
WebMD Veterinary Reference from "Dog Owner's Home Veterinary Handbook"