One of the most commonly seen issues at Olympia Pet Emergency is constipation. Our Lacey vets discuss why constipation happens in dogs and what you can do about it.
Signs of Constipation in Dogs
If your dog passes dry hard stools or mucus while trying to pass a bowel movement there's a good chance your pup is constipated. Not having a bowel movement for two or more days can be another clear sign that your pet is constipated, as can straining, crouching, or whining while trying to defecate. In some cases, you may even notice grass, string, or matted feces around your dog's anal area.
If your dog is suffering from constipation then there's a chance that it might have been days since its last bowel movement. Other signs that your dog is constipated might be that it is passing dry hard stools or mucus, straining, crouching, or even whining during bathroom breaks. Sometimes you might even be able to see the blockage around your dog's anal area although that's not always the case.
What causes constipation in dogs?
There are an abundance of reasons why your dog could suddenly become constipated but some of the most common are:
- Ingestion of items such as toys, dirt, grass, or fabric pieces (rugs, clothing, or towels)
- Orthopedic pain while trying to pass a bowel movement
- Abscessed or blocked anal sacks
- Insufficient fiber in their diet
- Tumors, masses, or matted hair around the anus
- Enlarged prostate
- Ingested hair from excessive self-grooming
- Insufficient daily exercise
What To Do If Your Dog is Constipated
If you notice your dog is experiencing any of the signs of constipation mentioned above it is important that you take them to the vet. While constipation is normally a harmless issue that can be easily remedied, it can sometimes indicate a more serious underlying health concern, such as an injected foreign object. It is always best to err on the side of caution — if your dog has been unable to pass a bowel movement for over 48 hours or seems to be in pain or discomfort, it might be an emergency situation. Bring them to the vet right away.
The main thing to do if your dog is experiencing the symptoms of constipation is to bring them in to see your vet. Most often your dog can be easily and quickly relieved but there are rare occasions which constipation might be caused by a more serious issue. It is always best not to take any unnecessary risk, especially if it has been more than 48 hours since your dog's last bowel movement or you notice that your dog is in distress as it could be an emergency.
How to Treat Constipation in Dogs
In order to appropriately treat constipation in your dog, your vet will need to determine the underlying cause. When you bring your dog in, our veterinarian will perform a thorough examination of your pup to pinpoint the cause. In many cases, it may be suspected that your dog has swallowed an object, in which case X-rays may be required in order to locate the object and apply a suitable treatment method for your dog.
Depending on the cause of your dog's constipation there could be many possible treatments. Some of the most common treatments for constipation in dogs are; dog-specific laxatives, medication to increase the strength of the large intestine, increasing the amount of fiber in your dog's diet, and increasing your dog's daily exercise. In cases where the dog has ingested an item, life-saving surgery may be required to remove the object and prevent severe blockages and damage to your dog's digestive tract.
In mild cases of constipation, it may be possible to assist your dog in the comfort of your home using common at-home remedies such as canned pumpkin, wet dog food, or a bit of bran added to their food. Be sure to consult with your vet before trying any at-home treatments.
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.