Signs, Symptoms and Treatments for Constipation in Dogs

Does your dog seem to be struggling when he poops? Most dogs are fairly regular with a couple stools a day, especially if they follow a regular, consistent diet. If you’ve noticed your pet struggling to do its business, your dog is most likely constipated. Like humans, dogs can suffer with constipation for various reasons. Let’s take a look at what those reasons are and what you can do to help your pet’s pooping situation.

Is My Dog Constipated? How Do I Know If My Dog Is Constipated?

If your dog is straining to poop without producing much stool, it could be constipation. Signs and symptoms of constipation in dogs:

  • Pet hasn’t “gone” at all for a day or more
  • Stools that are hard, pebble like
  • Discomfort
  • Mucus with stools
  • Blood in stools
  • Lack of appetite
  • Depression

Constipation vs obstipation, what is the difference?

Medically speaking, infrequent, difficult, or incomplete defecation is deemed constipation. However, when your pet (or even you) suffer from chronic constipation it becomes obstipation, which can be very painful and difficult to manage and treat. If you have a severely constipated dog, it’s time for a trip to the veterinarian.

Dog Constipation Treatment, Relief, Remedy

While many causes of constipation are preventable, others, like trauma or age-related causes can be prevented or mitigated with routine health care. Refer to our guide to nutritional requirements for dogs, for information on feeding your dog a balanced, nutritious diet.

So, what can you do if your dog can’t poop? When is it ok to treat your dog at home for constipation, and when should you take your dog to the vet? We asked our veterinarian consultant, Dr. Sarah Ochoa from Whitehouse Veterinary Hospital in Texas those questions. She says, “If your dog has not pooped today and is acting normal and eating and drinking, you can try some of the at home remedies.”

‘What can I give my dog for constipation?’

At-home constipated dog treatments should not be taken without at least first calling your veterinarian to get his or her advice. You always want to rule out underlying health issues or more serious conditions that cause your dog to have impacted bowels.

What can you give your dog for constipation? Dr. Ochoa lists these at-home remedies to help your dog move its bowels:

  • Exercise: Ensure your pet gets plenty of physical exercise for their age, body type, size, breed, and overall health.
  • Water: Make sure your dog drinks plenty of water each day (about an ounce per pound of weight per day). However, many factors play a role in how much your dog will drink, so do not limit your dog’s water intake.
  • Soft food: Feed your dog canned dog food to increase the amount of liquid in your pet’s diet.
  • Fiber: Add fiber with canned pumpkin, bran cereal or Metamucil or similar product (consult your veterinarian on how much you should give your dog).
  • OTC medications: Give your pet MiraLAX
    • Small dogs need 1/4 teaspoon
    • Medium dogs 1/2 teaspoon
    • Large dogs 1 teaspoon

Dr. Ochoa notes that “most dogs will eventually poop after a few days, unless they have a major medical issue.”

Why Is My Dog Constipated? Causes of Dog Constipation

Normally, during digestion, the body breaks down foods and liquids into smaller parts and takes what it needs nutritionally. What remains is a liquid waste. The large intestine absorbs water from the waste and changes it into stool, which continues to push through the intestines until it results in a bowel movement. While not exactly dinner talk, understanding a bit about how the digestive system works can help you understand what causes your dog is having trouble pooping. When your pet can’t “go” it’s time to figure out why?

Common causes of constipation in dogs

  • Lifestyle: Poor diet, nutrition, exercise, lack of fiber, dehydration, lack of exercise
  • Behavioral: Swallowing non-food items gravel, plants, too much self-grooming
  • Health: Age, tumors, blockages, renal or anal gland issues, hypothyroidism, history of constipation, enlarged prostate
  • Trauma: Surgery, medications, injury, trauma to areas of the spine or pelvis

Some dogs even opt out of going to the bathroom simply because of the weather. Dogs are known to refuse to poop in the rain and snow until their human provides a suitable patch of grass (aka standing overhead with an umbrella to protect from rain or shoveling snow to clear the way for them).

When to see the veterinarian

The following signs indicate your pet needs to see a veterinarian. See the vet if:

  • Your dog is straining to poop but not constipated
  • Your dog repeatedly tries to poop but nothing comes out
  • Your dog keeps trying to poop after pooping
  • It’s constipated for more than 3 days
  • Your dog is vomiting in addition to not defecating
  • It seems lethargic
  • It’s not eating

Also, if you suspect your dog has eaten non-food items, like a sock, clothing, rocks or inedible objects, that’s more serious and warrants an emergency trip to your vet.

Photo source: ID 103186135