Constipation In Dogs
It’s hard to watch our dogs strain, which is why it’s right to be concerned when you see your dog experiencing constipation. Regular bowel movements are a hallmark of good health. It lets us know our pups are digesting their food normally and that business in their gut is humming along as usual.
So what do you do if your dog is constipated? What are the signs? And what are the solutions?
Make Sure It’s Constipation
Constipation is characterized by hard, pebble-like stool — frequently paired with crouching and straining during defecation attempts, blood in the stool, and a day or two without bowel movements. However, while straining may be due to constipation, it could also be a sign of urinary tract issues or other internal complications.
Above all, see your vet if your dog is having difficulty going to the bathroom in any capacity.
The range of potential issues is too serious to leave up to adages like “time heals all,” even if your dog isn’t experiencing any additional symptoms to the untrained eye. Call the trained eyes.
Causes of Constipation In Dogs
In short, constipation results when too much water gets absorbed from the colon, leaving a stiff, dry hard-to-pass stool behind. There are any number of reasons your dog could be experiencing constipation. Some more serious, some less so. Listed below are a few of the most common:
- Poor diet. Dogs that lack significant fiber in their diet can quickly become constipated, and eating non-food objects could potentially create blockages.
- Dehydration. With limited water intake, the majority of H2O molecules get absorbed during digestion, resulting in hardened stools.
- Age. Constipation can become a fact of life for older dogs, often due to the reasons listed above and below.
- Disease. Constipation is often a symptom of colon diseases, hormonal diseases or even neurological issues.
- Stress. Sudden changes in environment or circumstances can be stressful on dogs accustomed to routine, which can in turn lead to physical symptoms like indigestion and constipation.
- Medications. Some medications may result in constipation as a not-so-fun side effect.
- Immobility. Lack of exercise and movement may slow down intestinal transit time and leave dogs constipated.
Treating Constipation In Dogs
Thankfully, many instances of constipation can be treated through easily administered home remedies and simple-to-find digestive aids. For starters, make sure your dog is drinking lots of water — and most importantly, allow your vet to take the lead.
Pumpkin may also be one home-remedy worth trying given it’s natural fiber and moisture content, and can often be found right in the back of your pantry. Plus, dogs love the taste. Other higher-fiber, dog-safe foods can also do the trick.
In some chronic cases of constipation, your vet may prescribe medications like the laxative lactulose. Pain meds or antibiotics may also be given depending on the situation. If your vet recommends medication, follow their guidance, and be sure to share your dog’s current prescriptions to ensure no drug interactions. For more serious cases, the vet may have to personally remove the blockage (true heros), and in rare but very extreme instances this may involve surgery.
As with most things, the best medicine for constipation is prevention. Balanced diets rich in fiber can serve to keep digestion healthy by encouraging regular bowel movements and improving stool quality, preventing both constipation and diarrhea.
A probiotic supplement can help as well, boosting their gut health by enriching friendly bacteria that support proper digestion and a healthier pup overall. Nom Nom’s R&D team has even found that our probiotics can prevent future diarrhea episodes in dogs.
At the end of the day, a healthy diet, regular exercise and plenty of water is typically enough to stave off constipation for a dog that’s already at its best. But, if they still experience constipation in spite of a healthy lifestyle, then it’s time to see the vet.