Constipation is the inability to produce normal stools on a regular schedule, which, for a dog, is generally once or twice a day. In chronic cases, dogs can retain dry, hard stool in their digestive tracts. That is, we speak of constipation when there is so much fecal matter that it is compacted and the dog cannot defecate at all.
In this article we will tell you more about the causes and solutions of constipation in dogs so that you can prevent any problem of this type in your dog.
What are the causes of constipation?
There are several reasons why a dog may suffer from constipation:
- Too much or too little fiber in your diet.
- Lack of exercise.
- Anal sacs blocked or abscessed.
- Enlarged prostate gland.
- Excessive grooming can cause large amounts of hair to collect in the stool.
- Hair matted around the anus due to lack of cleanliness or obesity.
- Ingested gravel, stones, bones, dirt, plants or toy pieces, etc. trapped in the intestinal tract.
- Masses or tumors in the anus or inside the rectum, which eventually cause an obstruction.
- Side effect of medication you may be taking.
- Trauma to the pelvis.
- An orthopedic problem that causes pain when a dog is positioned to defecate.
- Neurological disorder
- Dehydration from another illness.
How can I tell if my dog is constipated?
If your dog has not defecated in more than two days, or if he exerts himself too much, crouches, or screams when he tries to defecate, you should see a vet immediately.
Symptoms can be similar to those seen with a urinary tract problem, so it’s important to see your vet to determine the cause.
What dogs are susceptible to constipation?
Older pets may have infrequent or difficult bowel movements more often. However, the condition can occur in any dog that has one or more of the causes of constipation mentioned above.
What to do if your dog is constipated
If the problem has just started, no more than a day or two, there are some remedies that can get things moving around in there again. Keep in mind that no one strategy works for all dogs. But some of the methods for treating constipation include:
- Canned food for dogs: in a state of constipation, humidity is key, that is why canned food can help regulate the system and promote the expulsion of feces.
- Hydration: make sure your dog has access to fresh water all day.
- Exercise: physical activity can help bowel movement, and therefore, favor the intestinal tract responsible for expelling stool.
When to take a constipated dog to the vet
It’s a good idea to call your vet as soon as you realize the problem, since in case you don’t already know, constipation can be a sign of some very serious illnesses.
Long-term or chronic constipation can lead to a buildup of dry stool that gets stuck in the colon, known as constipation. But in the long term, this can contribute to another condition marked by the inability to defecate normally: megacolon. In this disease, the colon becomes distended and loses its ability to move stool. Chronic constipation contributes to and is a sign of this disorder.
When you visit the vet, be sure to come armed with as much information as possible, which may include:
- The last time your dog had a normal bowel movement.
- Stool color and consistency.
- Possible changes in the dog’s diet or routine.
- Non-food items the dog may have eaten (this can include anything from bones to a household item).
- Straining or pain when trying to defecate.
- Drug treatments you take for other conditions.
- Other signs of distress or discomfort, especially vomiting, lethargy, or a bloated appearance.
Depending on the duration and severity of symptoms, the veterinary examination may consist of:
- Abdominal palpation.
- Rectal exam.
- X-rays of the abdominal area.
- Barium enema.
- Ultrasound or colonoscopy.
- Complete blood count.
- Urine analysis.
- Neurological examination.
Treatment and solutions against constipation in dogs
Most cases will resolve with gentle treatments, such as increasing fluids and dietary fiber, incorporating a bland diet, or exercising more. Laxative suppositories and enemas can be helpful, but should only be used under the direction of a veterinarian, especially if needed for long periods.
The most extreme cases will require medical interventions such as:
- Manual removal of feces.
- A drug to activate normal colon function or to block the production of certain enzymes.
- Surgery may be necessary in very rare extreme cases, usually for megacolon. The surgical procedure is known as a colectomy, in which sections of the colon are removed.
For most dogs, constipation will be a rare problem, kept under control by a well-balanced diet, access to fresh water, and regular exercise.
How can I prevent my dog from becoming constipated?
Depending on the exact cause of your dog’s constipation, your vet may recommend that you give him a therapeutic diet, add supplements or medications to the food, or return for additional tests or treatments. For most dogs, constipation is directly related to the ingestion of an unfamiliar food or object and no additional medical intervention is necessary. Other dogs may require lifelong treatment to help maintain normal bowel movements. In any case, sufficient hydration, combining their diet with moist food, exercise, and keeping our dogs guarded against the possible ingestion of objects, is the best way to prevent them from suffering from constipation problems.