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Constipation in Dogs

Constipation can afflict dogs of any breed, age, size, or lifestyle. Today, our Leighton vets explore one of the most common digestive issues we see in pets and discuss some causes of constipation in dogs, along with treatment options.

How do I know if my dog is constipated?

Have you noticed hard, dry stools or mucus when picking up your dog's poop? Perhaps your pup has not had a bowel movement in 48 hours or more. Either of these circumstances indicates your pooch is likely suffering from constipation. 

Dogs suffering from constipation may display a variety of symptoms. They often crouch, wine, or strain white trying to defecate. You might even notice grass, string, or matted feces around your dog's anal area. 

Today, we will discuss how to assist a dog that is experiencing constipation, as well as list some of the most common causes of constipation in dogs, as well as the signs that accompany it.

What causes constipation in dogs? 

Constipation in dogs can be caused by a wide variety of potential contributing factors, and there is a wide range of these factors. Among these are the following:

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

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

What to Do if Your Dog is Constipated 

If your dog exhibits any of the symptoms of constipation listed above, arrange an urgent care appointment with your vet right away. 

If your four-legged friend has eaten something they shouldn't have, there is a chance that a blockage causing the problem. This is a medical emergency that will likely require surgery

Treatment will depend on the underlying cause of your dog's condition. 

How is constipation in dogs treated? 

When you bring your dog to our animal hospital in Leighton 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. 

According to the results of blood tests, your veterinarian may be able to determine whether or not your dog is suffering from dehydration or an infection.

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, since 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. For example, it's a common misconception that milk is a good laxative for dogs. In truth, milk is not recommended as a laxative for dogs with constipation, as many dogs are lactose intolerant and may experience digestive upset. Again, it is always best to consult with a veterinarian for safe and effective treatment options for constipated dogs. 

Severe Conditions Resulting From Untreated 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.

It is best to err on the side of caution when it comes to the health and safety of your pet, and if your pet is experiencing constipation, you should contact your veterinarian.

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.

Do you think your dog may be constipated? Contact our Leighton vets today. We are passionate about providing your pet with quality care.

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Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Leighton animals. We currently only take pets by walk-in, so bring your pet to us today and let us help ensure their well-being.

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