It’s just as important to pay attention to what comes out of your pet as to what goes into your pet.
The Seriousness of Dog Constipation
Dogs have sensitive digestive systems. Any gastrointestinal problems can be a sign of an issue needing help. Most people worry about diarrhea. You also need to notice when your dog isn’t pooping on their regular schedule.
If you notice your dog is having a hard time pooping or hasn’t pooped for prolonged periods of time, it could be constipation. There are several ways you can help.
It’s good to know the signs of doggie constipation because a dog showing severe symptoms of constipation needs vet attention. Dogs who are severely constipated become sick, and they risk having permanent damage to their gastrointestinal tract.
Symptoms of Mildly Constipated Dogs
If dogs are mildly constipated, typical signs are that they strain to defecate, take longer than normal to defecate, seem a little uncomfortable and produce smaller amounts of feces that are harder.
If the symptoms show they are mildly constipated, but they seem fine otherwise, it’s reasonable to try home treatment. However, if the dog does not begin to defecate normally within a day of starting home treatment, or constipation becomes a recurring problem, call the vet.
Symptoms of Severely Constipated Dogs
There are certain signs you can look for to make sure your dog is not suffering severe constipation and you’ll want to call the vet immediately. A dog showing discomfort, vomiting, not eating, hasn’t pooped for more than 3 days, seems lethargic or weak, has a distended belly or has blood in their stool are all signs of possible severe constipation.
If your dog shows any of these signs, at-home remedies cannot really help and you need to go to the veterinarian immediately.
Check Your Dog’s Bottom
Check your dog’s bottom – sometimes the problem is obvious. Dogs with long hair are at risk for developing mats of fur, sometimes with feces, which makes defecation impossible because the anus is covered. You can try to remove these mats with electric clippers (not scissors), but if you can’t do it or are uncomfortable, do not think twice about calling your veterinarian or a good groomer.
If there are any other abnormalities like foreign material protruding from the anus, also head to the vet.
Dehydration and Dog Constipation
Dehydration causes constipation in dogs because their body responds by reabsorbing as much water as possible from the poop, making it hard and difficult to pass through. Always make sure your dog has constant, easy access to freshwater. This is especially vital for dogs who have trouble getting around due to arthritis or other issues of mobility. They might not feel like making the effort to visit the water bowl regularly…
If you feed your dog canned food and even mix in a small amount of extra water, it’s another simple way to make sure your dog gets enough to drink throughout the day.
Using Exercise to Eliminate Constipation
Exercise helps normal movement within the GI tract. If your dog is a little blocked up, take them for an extra walk in the afternoon or morning. Make sure they are well hydrated first. Exercise, in addition to the smells of other dogs that have used the area previously, may do the trick for your constipated dog.
Fiber/Laxative Usage for Constipation
Giving your dog fiber is great, although this can be tricky because, in some cases of constipation, fiber makes it worse. Because of this, the best thing is to start with a small amount and watch how your dog responds. A safe option for getting your dog extra fiber is using canned pumpkin. Small dogs should get 1 teaspoon pumpkin mixed with each meal, and larger dogs should get 1 tablespoon mixed with each meal. Do not use pumpkin pie filling. Another fiber option would be psyllium. Give 1/2 teaspoon per 10 lb. of body weight and mix it once a day with their meal.
If natural laxatives are not working, ask your vet about other options. Do not give your dog a laxative without talking to the vet first. Many purchased laxatives are not safe for dogs, especially if used in the wrong situations.
If your veterinarian is comfortable with the laxatives, they might recommend you try giving your dog a gentle one at home before making an appointment. Lubricants that are petroleum-based are a good option.
And never give dogs liquid mineral oil to try and help with constipation. It causes severe pneumonia if inhaled.
Awareness is the first key. Keep an eye on your dog and follow the tips above.