My Dog is Constipated! How Can I Help?

Our vets often see constipation in dogs at Madison Park Veterinary Hospital. It's crucial to treat it since leaving it untreated can lead to serious consequences. Our Seattle vets will explain the causes and treatment options.

Constipation in Dogs

As a dog owner, it's important to recognize signs of constipation in your furry friend. If your dog is having trouble pooping or not pooping at all, it's likely they are constipated and should see a vet immediately.

Other signs to watch out for include straining, producing hard and dry stools, passing mucus, excessive circling or scooting, frequent squatting without defecating, and a tense and painful abdomen that causes crying or growling when pressed. Don't delay seeking veterinary help if you notice any of these symptoms in your dog.

The Causes of Constipation in Dogs

There are a handful of possible causes for your dog's constipation, a few of the most common ones are:

  • Lack of exercise
  • Ingested pieces of toys, gravel, plants, dirt, and bones caught in the intestinal tract
  • Excessive or insufficient fiber in his diet
  • A side effect of medication
  • Blocked or abscessed anal sacs
  • Excessive self-grooming (excessive amounts of hair collected in the stool)
  • Other illnesses leading to dehydration
  • Sudden change in diet or sampling new foods
  • Trauma to pelvis
  • Matted hair surrounding the anus (caused by obesity or lack of grooming)
  • An orthopedic issue that's causing pain when a dog positions himself to defecate
  • Neurological disorder
  • Enlarged prostate gland
  • Obstruction caused by tumors or masses on the anus, or within the rectum

Senior pets could suffer from constipation more frequently than younger dogs. Although, any dog that encounters one or more of the scenarios above could suffer from constipation.

The Symptoms of Dog Constipation

As a pet owner, it's important to be aware of the signs of constipation in your pup. These signs may include your pup straining, crying, or crouching when trying to poop. If your pup hasn't had a bowel movement in over two days, it's important to take them to the vet right away. 

It's important to note that these symptoms can also indicate a urinary tract problem, so it's essential to have your vet conduct a thorough physical exam to accurately diagnose the root cause of the issue. Don't hesitate to seek professional help to ensure your pup's health and well-being.

How Constipation in Dogs is Treated

Looking for advice on what to give your constipated dog? Google like  “What can I give my dog for constipation” and you’ll find wide-ranging advice, from sources both trustworthy and dubious.

However, it's important to note that human medications and treatments are not safe for dogs and can be toxic. Always consult with your veterinarian before giving your dog any medication or treatment.

The best course of action is to take your dog to the vet for an examination. The treatment for your dog's constipation will depend on the underlying cause. If your dog has eaten something that is causing a blockage, it could be a pet medical emergency that requires surgery.

Your vet may perform blood tests to check for infections or dehydration. They will also review your dog's medical history and perform a rectal examination to rule out any other causes or abnormalities. Your vet may suggest a combination of treatments to alleviate your dog's constipation by following these treatments:

  • A prescription diet high in fiber
  • More exercise
  • A stool softener or another laxative
  • Enema (administered by a professional, not at home, as there could be a risk of injury or toxicity if done incorrectly)
  • Medication to increase the large intestine’s contractile strength
  • A small bowl of goat or cow milk
  • Adding more fiber to your dog’s diet (wheat bran, canned pumpkin, or products such as Metamucil)

Carefully follow your vet’s instructions because too many of these or the wrong combination could bring on the opposite issue - diarrhea. You don’t want to trade one digestive problem for another.

What Could Happen if Your Dog’s Constipation Goes Untreated

If your dog is constipated and you don't take action, they may develop a serious condition called obstipation. This means that they will be unable to clear their colon naturally, causing a buildup of feces that can lead to discomfort, unproductive straining, lethargy, loss of appetite, and even vomiting. It is important to address constipation in your dog to avoid these complications. 

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.

Is your dog struggling with constipation? Don't worry! Contact our Seattle veterinary experts located in Madison Park Veterinary Hospital and schedule an appointment for your furry friend today. They will provide your dog with the best care possible.