Dog Constipation: Causes, Treatment & Prevention

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Dog pooping in grass (Caption: Dog Constipation)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.

Article Overview

What Causes Dog Constipation?

Dog laying on back (text in image) How To Express Dog's Anal GlandsThere 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 including 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 clipboardIt’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.

What Helps Constipation In Dogs?

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

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 | Other Foods | Dog Laxative | Anxiety Relief

Fiber

Raw Paws 100% Organic Pumpkin PowderLack of fiber is a common culprit for constipation. Adding more fiber in 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).

  • 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.

Other Foods

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

Pfizer Lax'aireAn 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

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.

What symptoms is your dog exhibiting?

About The Author:

Sally holds a BA in English from James Madison University and began her 25-year writing career as a grad student at the UNC-Chapel Hill School of Journalism & Mass Communications. She’s been a pet parent since college years (and spent her whole childhood with pets).

Now as a parent of two teenagers, she’s made sure to raise her daughters to learn how to love and care for pets (and other animals) in the most responsible and loving ways. As a result, she and her daughters now have 5 rescued dogs and cats who essentially rule their home! Sally has also volunteered over the years to help raise funds for various animal nonprofit organizations.

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