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Why is my dog constipated? What should I do?

Dogs of any breed, size, age, or lifestyle can become constipated. Our Hattiesburg and Wiggins vets often see pets afflicted with this common digestive issue. In this article, our veterinarians discuss some causes of constipation in dogs and what to do if your dog is constipated. 

My Dog is Constipated

Has your dog been passing hard, dry stools or mucus when attempting to defecate? Maybe he has not had a bowel movement in 48 hours (two days) or more, and you're worried. If this is the case, he's likely suffering from constipation. 

Constipated dogs often whine, crouch or strain while trying to defecate. You may even notice grass, string, or matted feces around your dog's anal area. 

If your dog displays any of these signs of constipation, see your vet right away.

What should I do if my dog is constipated?

Since constipation can indicate an underlying medical emergency or health problem such as a urinary tract issue, you should seek veterinary care right away if your dog is showing any of the constipation symptoms listed above. 

What causes constipation in dogs?

There is a wide range of potential causes of constipation, including:

  • Insufficient fiber in the diet 
  • Dehydration 
  • Enlarged prostate 
  • Abscessed or blocked anal sacs 
  • Masses, tumors, or matted hair surrounding the anus
  • Insufficient daily exercise 
  • Ingested items such as fabric, toys, grass, or dirt 
  • Ingested hair from excessive self-grooming
  • Pain due to orthopedic issues when attempting to defecate

What can I give my dog for constipation? 

Google "How to help a constipated dog" or "how to treat constipation in dogs" and you'll find a lot of advice, from sources both trustworthy and dubious. 

Never give your dog treatments or medications formulated for humans without first consulting your vet. Many human medications are toxic to dogs. 

The best thing to do is to contact your vet and bring your dog in for an exam. The veterinarian will perform a full physical exam and potentially some diagnostics to determine the root of the ailment. Your vet will recommend medical treatment, or another at-home remedy based on the underlying cause of constipation. 

If your dog has eaten something it shouldn't have, a blockage may be causing the issue. This is a medical emergency that will likely require urgent surgery. 

The veterinarian may prescribe one of the numerous common treatments for constipation in dogs, such as:

  • Dog-specific laxatives
  • Increasing the amount of fiber in your dog's diet (wheat bran, canned pumpkin, or products such as Metamucil)
  • Increasing your dog's daily exercise
  • Medication to increase the strength of the large intestine
  • A small bowl of cow or goat milk 
  • Enema (administered by a professional, not at home, as there may be a risk of injury or toxicity if fone incorrectly) 

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

What Happens When Constipation in Dogs Goes Untreated

If your dog’s constipation goes untreated, they could reach the 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.

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 suspect your dog may be constipated? Contact our Hattiesburg and Wiggins vets today to book an examination.

New Patients Welcome

Holland Veterinary Hospitals in Hattiesburg and Wiggins are accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of all animals. Get in touch today to book an appointment with our experienced vets.

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