We all know that constipation can be very uncomfortable. Not being able to fully evacuate can be a source of worry and anxiety, and your dog can feel the same way. Let’s take a look at treating dog constipation. Our furry friends can get backed up too, and when that happens, there are some things we can do to help them feel better.
Signs of Dog Constipation
Constipation is the inability to have a normal bowel movement. Most people have probably had this sensation at one time or another. Anyone who has known this feeling can attest to the discomfort. Your dog can feel just as uncomfortable if they are constipated. But how do you know if your dog is constipated?
The signs of constipation in dogs are pretty obvious. If your dog hasn’t had a bowel movement in a few days, they are constipated. They may also be constipated if they are producing bowel movements, but the quality of their stools is hard and rock-like. Another sign that your dog is constipated is if they hunch over when they try to eliminate but never produce any evidence. If you send your dog out to go potty and they try for a few minutes but don’t produce, they are likely constipated.
What Causes Dog Constipation
You likely know how the digestive system works. Food goes in the mouth, and… is eventually passed. When a dog or a human becomes constipated, the natural process of digestion becomes interrupted. As food moves through the intestines, it is broken down and nutrition is absorbed. Once the food is fully digested, it is stored in the colon until it is passed. While in the colon, water and electrolytes are reabsorbed. The waste is then passed.
Constipation occurs when the fecal material in the colon has trouble being evacuated. This becomes doubly bad because the colon will continue to absorb moisture and eventually this material becomes rock hard and almost impossible to pass.
Some reasons for constipation include:
- Diet – Dogs who do not get enough fiber may become constipated.
- Age – Older dogs seem to have more problems with constipation.
- Activity level – Inactive dogs also seem more prone to constipation.
- Tumors – Tumors or other medical complications may be a cause of constipation.
- Dehydration – A dehydrated dog will have a harder time passing stool.
- Drugs – Any drug your dog may be prescribed can affect the quality of their stool.
- Stress – Stressed dogs may choose to hold their stool.
- Surgery – Surgical procedures and the drugs that may be prescribed after can be constipating your dog.
Once you figure out the root cause of your dog’s constipation, it will be much easier to help them overcome the issue. Take a look below at how you can help your dog work through their constipation.
How to Treat Dog Constipation
Hopefully you’ve caught your dog’s constipation within a day or two. If you have, here are some simple things to try to help them get back to regular.
Pumpkin is a great food to try if you suspect your dog is having bowel issues. Actually, it’s often given to dogs who are either constipated or have diarrhea. For some reason, pumpkin seems to have just the right moisture content and vitamins to help get your dog back on track. You can cook some pumpkin at home and throw it into their food, or you can buy premade pumpkin for dogs at any pet shop.
If your dog is used to eating dry dog food, try giving them some canned dog food instead. The moisture in canned dog food can help them pass more effectively. You can also try using herbs to regulate their system. Ginger, wheat bran, powdered psyllium seeds and even olive oil in their food can help them to become more regular.
Lastly, make certain that your dog is adequately hydrated. Be sure that plenty of fresh water is around for them. You might even consider adding electrolytes to their water. Though, make sure it’s meant for pets. Most human electrolytes have sugar added and you wouldn’t want your dog drinking that.
When Should You Go to the Vet?
If these home remedies are not successful, it might be time to head to the vet. Again, constipation may be caused by a behavior – like not wanting to go outside to potty in a thunderstorm. But then again, it may be a sign of a serious problem.
However, if your dog hasn’t passed stool in the last two days or more, you should call your vet. Or if your dog is having constant bouts of constipation that seem to go away and then return, you may consider calling your vet. When you talk to your vet, be sure to have a lot of information on hand. You should know when your dog’s last bowel movement was, its color and consistency, any drugs your dog is on and if your dog has eaten anything outside their normal diet.
Your vet will ultimately decide if it is necessary to bring your dog into the office. They’ll likely run a few tests on your dog to figure out the root cause of their constipation. Once the cause is found, your vet will be able to suggest ways to help your dog.