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Dog Constipation: Causes, Treatment & Prevention

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Last Updated: November 2, 2023 | 3 min read | Leave a Comment

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Jack Russell Terrier Puppy struggling to poop (Caption: constipation in dogs)

Constipation in dogs is very common just as it is in humans and other animals. In many cases, it’s a mild, temporary irritation for your dog. But dog constipation can indicate a more serious problem. When is it time to consult your vet? And what can you give a dog for constipation? We help answer these questions and more.

What Causes Dog Constipation?

Dog laying on back (Caption: How To Express Dog's Anal Glands)

There are many different reasons dogs can get constipated. Some of the most common causes include:

  • Insufficient fiber in their diet
  • Sudden change in food
  • Ingestion of dirt, grass, bones, or other non-food items
  • Ingestion of excessive hair from grooming
  • Blocked intestinal tract
  • Dehydration
  • Insufficient exercise
  • Blocked or abscessed anal glands
  • Stress or anxiety
  • Medications include antihistamines, some antacids, diuretics, some cancer drugs and opiates
  • Kidney disease
  • Enlarged prostate
  • Hernias
  • Digestive tract tumors
  • Tumors or masses around the anus
  • Metabolic diseases

Symptoms

Dog's vomit in grass (caption: Dog Vomiting Causes, Symptoms and Treatment)

The signs of constipation in dogs are pretty easy to spot.

  • Not defecating for 2 or more days
  • Straining or whimpering while trying to defecate
  • Circling excessively, scooting, or squatting frequently
  • Very small, hard stool that looks like pebbles
  • Only releasing minute amounts of watery feces with or without mucus
  • Decreased appetite
  • Vomiting

When Should I Take My Dog To The Vet?

Vet writing on clipboard

It’s always a good idea to contact your vet if your dog hasn’t pooped in more than 2 days since it could be a sign of a serious condition. Be sure to give your vet information about:

  • The last time your dog had a normal bowel movement
  • Stool color and consistency
  • Non-food items your dog may have ingested
  • Changes in your dog’s diet or routine
  • Any other symptoms you may have noticed like straining, vomiting, or pain
  • Medications your dog has taken
  • Injuries

Your vet likely will feel your dog’s abdomen for a firm colon and may also conduct a rectal examination to rule out tumors, rectal strictures (narrowing in the rectum), tumors, or other abnormalities. Your vet also may perform an abdominal x-ray or ultrasound to check for a foreign body or other obstruction. And blood tests can help determine if an infection, dehydration or disease are contributing factors.

Dog Constipation Remedy: What Helps Constipation In Dogs?

Looking for a dog constipation treatment? Treating dog constipation depends on the underlying cause. However, in most cases, it’s easily treatable and clears up quickly. Your vet may recommend home treatment, or they may have to intervene if it’s more serious.

Home Remedies

What to give a constipated dog if your dog has only been blocked up for a day or two? You can try these home remedies to get things moving again. Your vet may also recommend one or more of these home treatments if they’ve ruled out serious conditions.

Fiber

Lack of fiber is a common culprit for constipation. Adding more fiber to your dog’s diet can help, but be sure to give your dog plenty of water (too much fiber and a lack of hydration can actually cause constipation).

Does Pumpkin Help With Dogs With Constipation?

Canned pumpkin is a great fix because it’s high in fiber and moisture (and tastes good, too). Add a couple of tablespoons to your dog’s food. Add powdered pumpkin, like Raw Paws 100% Organic Pumpkin Powder, to your dog’s food. This digestive supplement can help keep your dog regular and even relieves gas.

Add Fiber For Dogs to your dog’s food. This all-natural supplement contains psyllium seed husk powder and non-GMO dehydrated beetroot powder to help relieve constipation.

What’s A Natural Laxative For Dogs?

Adding ginger, wheat bran, olive oil, or virgin coconut oil to your dog’s food may also help soften his stool. One study of a Beagle group even found that fig paste is also effective in easing constipation.

Dog Laxative

An emollient laxative, like Pfizer Lax’aire, provides relief by lubricating a dog’s intestines and softening the stool. Lax’aire contains liquid petrolatum as a lubricant and cod liver oil as a laxative, as well as essential vitamins, fatty acids, and iron to promote your dog’s overall health.

Anxiety Relief

If you or your vet suspect that stress and anxiety could be causing your dog’s constipation, you may want to consider giving your dog CBD oil or CBD treats. CBD is an all-natural remedy derived from cannabis plants, and many dog owners find it very effective in relieving their dog’s anxiety.

Veterinary Treatment

In more severe cases, your dog’s constipation may require treatment from a vet. These could include:

  • Manual removal of impacted stool
  • Enema
  • Prescription medications such as lactulose or dioctyl sodium sulfosuccinate
  • Surgery in extreme cases

How To Treat Puppy Constipation

You treat a puppy with constipation the same way you would treat a dog. However, be cautious as their nutritional and developmental needs are slightly different as they are still growing. If the problem consists, consult with your vet.

Preventing Constipation

If your dog is prone to bouts of constipation or hardened stool, there are several things you should consider to keep his digestive system regulated and improve his overall health.

Sufficient Water & Exercise

As we mentioned above, dehydration and a lack of exercise can cause constipation. Always make sure your dog’s water bowl is full and that he’s getting enough exercise. These are essential for the overall health of your dog as well.

Pet Probiotics

Adding a daily dog-formulated probiotic to your dog’s diet can be a fantastic way to regulate his digestive health. In addition to staving off constipation, probiotics for dogs also aid with other common digestive issues, such as an upset stomach, diarrhea, vomiting, and gas.

Changing Dog Food

Finally, if your dog battles with bouts of constipation or other digestive problems, you may want to talk to your vet about changing his dog food. Switching to a well-balanced, nutrient-rich dog food could ease your dog’s constipation and boost his overall health. We review several dog food delivery services, some of which offer fresh, all-natural dog food that you can customize based on your pup’s individual health needs.

The information provided through this website should not be used to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease; it is not intended to offer any legal opinion or advice or a substitute for professional safety advice or professional care. Please consult your health care provider, attorney, or product manual for professional advice. Products and services reviewed are provided by third parties; we are not responsible in any way for them, nor do we guarantee their functionality, utility, safety, or reliability. Our content is for educational purposes only.

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