How to Help Your Constipated Dog
Is your fur baby having trouble with constipation? Do you know the signs and symptoms of constipation to watch for in your dog? If you have questions about this bodily function, then you’ve come the right place. Dogs can have occasional trouble with constipation, just like us. And similar to us, if a dog’s having trouble passing stool, then he may not feel very well. In this article, we’re going to take a look at signs and symptoms of constipation, what to do to help your pup if he’s not able to go and review a few OTC & home remedies that can help your pup poop.
How Often Does Your Dog Defecate?
Do you know the answer to this question? If not, then you’ll want to start paying attention. This isn’t the most pleasant conversation to have and it’s not fun to have to pay attention to your dog’s urination and defecating habits. However, as a pet parent, your fur baby’s health is your responsibility. This means monitoring all aspects of his health, including his elimination habits.
Your dog’s urine and pooh can be good indicators when there’s a change in his health. This includes constipation. Paying attention to the poo’s normal shape, color, and consistency are ways to watch his health. And paying attention to how often your canine companion poops is a good habit to develop. Then you’ll be aware of changes that may need to be checked by the vet.
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Constipation is the problem that develops when a dog is unable to empty their large intestine. It can be caused by numerous issues, and sometimes it can develop into a serious medical problem that requires immediate attention by a vet. When it comes to your dog, he should poop more or less a similar amount every day. It could be 3-4 times a day, which is about average for dogs in general. But if you notice he’s not going as much or as often, then he could have a problem with constipation.
If your fur baby develops constipation, you may notice these signs or symptoms:
- Frequency of pooing goes down—not as often as normal (maybe going 2 days or so without a bowel movement)
- Hard, dry poo (they may feel rough, like pebbles when picked up)
- Straining to defecate (which may result in little or no poo)
- Pain when trying to go
- Whining or whimpering (from the pain not being able to go)
- Loss of appetite
- Bloating/painful abdomen
- Poo may be expelled with mucous or streaks of blood
When your pup’s going like normal, his digestive tract is moving fecal matter along to the colon. Here, the colon works to absorb water and electrolytes from the material. However, if the process is somehow slowed down or not working correctly, the fecal material stalls in the colon. Here, it will continue to lose moisture as the colon continues to remove water from the material. This makes the fecal matter hard and dry, which is very difficult or impossible to pass. This then leads to constipation.
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- Eating foreign objects (bones, plastic, garbage, rocks, plants, etc.)
- Tumors in the digestive tract
- Spinal or neuromuscular problems
- Orthopedic issues (involving the spine or back legs)
- Medications (narcotics, antihistamines, antacids, etc.)
- Anxiety or fear
- Electrolyte issues
- Blockage of anal opening (matted fur, problems with anal sacs, etc.)
- Intestinal inflammation
- Problems with the pelvis (broken pelvis or arthritis)
- Hernias (yes, dogs can get these, too)
- Lack of exercise
- Enlarged prostate
- Metabolic diseases (such as hypothyroidism)
- Surgery (medical procedures and drugs used for the procedures)
What to Do If Your Dog’s Constipated
Dogs will develop occasional constipation—this is normal. If your fur baby hasn’t gone for a day, then you might try some home remedies, as long as he’s not showing any other symptoms. This is considered a mile issue. On the other hand, if your dog hasn’t gone for 2-3 days and is showing other signs and symptoms listed above, then it’s best to call vet and seek their advice. And if your dog has recently had a medical procedure or has started taking medications, then a call to the vet is also warranted. The constipation could be caused by these issues.
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There are some home remedies for dog constipation you can try to help your fur baby. These are safe to use one day after your dog hasn’t gone. These home remedies can help to get your dog’s digestive tract moving again. You may need to try more than one remedy, but don’t use more than one at a time or your pup may end up with the opposite problem–diarrhea.
Here are some things you can try to treat simple constipation in your dog:
1). Canned dog food: this can be especially helpful if your dog is on a dry kibble diet. Canned dog food contains more moisture, which could be helpful to add enough water to help ease the constipation. You can also just add water to his regular kibble, as this added moisture will definitely help.
2). Exercise: if your fur baby has become more a couch potato, getting him out on regular walks could also be a great way to get his system moving. But if he’s not exercised in a while, is older or has other health issues, be sure to check with the vet to see if exercise is safe for your dog, and how much exercise will be OK. Generally, short walks, even for cough potato pups, can be helpful to ease constipation.
3). Water: if your fur baby’s dehydrated, this could cause constipation. So, be sure your dog always has access to fresh, clean water. If you notice his bowl’s empty, be sure to refill it right away.
4). Canned pumpkin: this may seem like a strange home remedy for constipation in dogs. However, it’s one that’s common recommended by vets and it’s also used to relieve diarrhea. Most dogs seem to love the taste of pumpkin! It’s filled with lots of fiber and moisture, both things that can ease constipation. Your fur baby may enjoy dogs treats made with pumpkin; however, just adding pumpkin directly to his regular food is probably the best. Make sure to buy canned pumpkin and not pumpkin pie filling—there’s a huge difference. The can should have only canned pumpkin and no other ingredients. Here’s one you can try: Nummy Tum-Tum 100% Organic Pumpkin for Pets.
5). Add fiber: you can try adding some fiber to your dog’s diet. In fact, you can mix the fiber in with his regular dog food. You can try psyllium, such as unflavored Metamucil; give your fur baby about ½ teaspoon per 10 pounds of body weight mixed with his food once a day, at first. If you increase your pup’s fiber, then make sure he drinks enough water throughout the day, otherwise, his constipation could become worse.
6). Doggie laxative products: there are several OTC products you can also safely give your dog if he has mild constipation. These include:
Bernie’s Perfect Poop Digestion & General Health Supplement for Dogs: this product contains fiber, prebiotics, probiotics and enzymes to help soothe your canine companion’s digestive tract, while getting it moving again. Its all-natural ingredients are gluten free, grain free, non-GMO and made in the USA.
NaturVet Stool Ease: these soft chews for dogs are made to help keep your pup regular. They include fiber and taste great, so your dog thinks he’s getting a treat! If you choose these soft chews, the company recommends ensuring your dog drinks plenty of water to stay hydrated due to the high fiber in the chews. If your fur baby doesn’t drink enough water, the extra fiber may only make his constipation worse.
Lax’aire: this is a gentle laxative and lubricant dog stool softener. It’s formulated to taste good, so dogs (and cats) will want to eat it! While the ingredients don’t sound that good, they do help with constipation. Ingredients include petroleum, cod liver oil, soybean oil and peptonized iron. For dogs, give ½” to 2” ribbon or Lax’aire 2-3 times a week.
7). Milk for dog constipation: this may sound like a strange way to treat a dog’s constipation, but a small bowl of goat or cow milk can act as a laxative and get your dog’s system back on track.
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In addition to the home remedies listed above, you can also try these methods to help ease your constipated fur baby:
Find a quiet place: some dogs, just like humans, prefer privacy when doing their business. So, look for a quiet place, away from other dogs and animals, busy streets, etc. Then let your pup sniff around until he finds just the right spot. He may then feel comfortable enough to poop.
Tummy rub: dogs love tummy rubs, and this is another way you could help his gut to get things moving again. Just give your canine companion a soft, gently belly rub using clockwise motions. This may stimulate the bowel and also help relieve any stress your dog may be feeling.
What Not to Do If Your Dog’s Constipated
We’ve looked at some home remedies that can help with mild constipation. Now, let’s take a look at what not to do if your pup is constipated.
These remedies are not recommended for constipated dogs:
- Don’t give laxatives meant for humans: these are usually safe; however, if you give your dog the wrong amount, he could develop severe cramping and diarrhea. If your vet recommends using a human laxative, then be sure to follow their directions on how much to give your fur baby.
- Don’t use high fiber laxatives meant for humans: these may contain too much fiber and make the constipation worse.
- Mineral oil: this is not an effective relief for dogs. Even worse, it can be inhaled into the lungs, and cause permanent damage. So, never give your pup mineral oil.
- Home enemas: you may see there are enemas to give dogs at home; however, these are not recommended, unless directed to do so by your vet and if the vet has shown you how to properly administer the enema. One more note—enemas made for human use are also not to be use don your dog, because of these contain ingredients that can be toxic to canines. Otherwise, avoid this remedy to ease your dog’s constipation.
When to Take a Constipated Dog to the Vet
If this is your first episode of dealing with constipation in your dog, it’s a good to call the vet and see their advice.
Another reason to call the vet is if your dog has been constipated 1-2 days and home remedies have not helped. Or if your dog is showing signs of pain, lethargy, bloating, etc. with the constipation. In these cases, the cause of your pup’s constipation could be a serious underlying health issue, which needs to be checked by the vet.
We hope this guide helps you to know what to watch for in case your dog develops constipation. The home remedies mentioned earlier are quite safe and often work quickly. However, be sure to call the vet if you’re concerned about anything. They’ll have the best advice on how to help ease your dog’s constipation issues.