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My Dog is Constipated - What Should I Do?

While constipation may seem like a minor health concern for your dog, this common digestive issue can point to a serious underlying health problem. Our Englewood vets list some causes of constipation in dogs and how it can be treated.

Constipation in Dogs

Have you noticed that your dog is passing hard, dry stools or mucus when attempting to defecate? Perhaps he has not had a bowel movement in 48 hours or more. If either of these is true for your pup, he's likely suffering from constipation. 

Constipated dogs often strain, wine or crouch while trying to defecate, or they may scoot along the ground, circle excessively, or squat frequently without defecating. You may also notice grass, string, or matted feces around your dog's anal area. 

If you press on their stomach or lower back, they may have a tense, painful abdomen that causes them to growl or cry.

If your dog displays any of these signs of constipation, see your vet in Englewood right away. These symptoms may also indicate a urinary tract issue, so a full physical examination must be done to diagnose the cause of your dog's issues.

We can perform an examination to discover the cause of your dog's symptoms, and develop a treatment plan to help them feel better. 

What Causes Constipation in Dogs?

A wide range of issues can cause constipation in dogs, some of which include:

  • Dehydration 
  • Excessive or insufficient fiber in the diet
  • Sudden change in diet or sampling new foods
  • Abscessed or blocked anal sacks
  • Enlarged prostate
  • Neurological disorder
  • Ingested foreign items such as grass, fabric, dirt, or toys 
  • Ingested hair due to excessive self-grooming
  • Masses, tumors, or matted hair surrounding the anus 
  • Insufficient daily exercise
  • Trauma to pelvis
  • Side effects from medication 
  • Pain due to orthopedic problems when attempting to defecate

What Should I Do If My Dog is Constipated?

Many a concerned pet owner has called us for advice on how to help a constipated dog. We always recommend seeking veterinary care as soon as possible, since constipation can point to underlying health issues or a medical emergency

What Can I Give My Dog for Constipation?

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

The best thing to do is contact your veterinarian and bring your dog in for an exam. We can examine your pooch, identify the underlying cause of the condition, and provide guidance on what to do if your dog is constipated.

If your pup has eaten something they shouldn't have there is a chance that there is a blockage causing the issue. Intestinal obstructions are a medical emergency requiring life-saving emergency!

Blood tests may help reveal that your pup has an infection or is suffering from dehydration. The vet will likely take a medical history, conduct a rectal examination to rule out other causes or abnormalities, and may recommend one or a combination of these treatments:

  • Prescription diet high with fiber
  • Stool softener or another laxative
  • More exercise
  • Enema (administered by a professional, not at home, as there could be a risk of injury or toxicity if done incorrectly)
  • Adding more fiber to your dog’s diet (wheat bran, canned pumpkin or products such as Metamucil)
  • Small bowl of goat or cow milk
  • Medication to increase large intestine’s contractile strength

Follow your veterinarian's instructions closely, as trying too many of these or the wrong combination may bring on the opposite problem - diarrhea. You don’t want to trade one digestive problem for another.

What Can Happen If My Dog's Constipation is Left Untreated?

If your dog's constipation is not treated, they may 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 unproductive straining, loss of appetite, lethargy, and potentially vomiting.

Is your dog constipated? Contact our Englewood veterinarians right away to book an exam for your dog. 

New Patients Welcome

VRCC Veterinary Specialty & Emergency Hospital in Englewood is always accepting new patients! Our board-certified specialists and emergency veterinarians are passionate about restoring good health to Denver Metro area pets.

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