Being a dog owner means you’re guaranteed to be greeted with a wagging tail when you walk through the door – because a healthy dog is a happy dog. But sometimes it’s hard to tell when your pooch isn’t feeling so hot. As much as you wish your dog could talk to you and tell you what’s wrong, it’s up to you as a dog owner to monitor them and ensure they’re healthy as can be. One common condition you must monitor is constipation in dogs.
Signs of a Constipated Dog
You’ll notice something isn’t right if your pup whimpers, crouches, or strains during elimination. Other signs of constipation in dogs include lack of appetite, vomiting, or if he passes dry nugget-sized stool, mucus, or fecal matter.
You’ll have to get up close and personal with your dog’s rear end to see if anything looks abnormal. Don’t be shy! Your dog’s health depends on you. If the anal area has a bulge or looks red, inflamed, asymmetric, or has anything protruding from the area – such as string, grass, matted feces or blood — tell your vet before trying to handle the situation yourself.
Considering the circumstances, your pup will (understandably) seem a little depressed and lethargic.
It’s important to note that straining is also associated with diarrhea and bladder problems in dogs. So, tell your vet immediately if you notice your dog has diarrhea and is straining without eliminating, or isn’t urinating the regular sized puddles (more like dribbles or abnormal peeing).
What Causes Constipation in Dogs?
Like humans, constipation is more common in elderly dogs, but can occur in dogs of any breed, size, and age. The most common cause of constipation is when a dog eats something that they shouldn’t have — such as a chew toy, a chunk of a bone, or your iPhone. Any object that is irritable or indigestible will cause a blockage in your pup’s systems.
Another common cause of constipation in dogs is dehydration or an electrolyte imbalance. It’s very important to make sure your dog is getting enough water — especially during the hotter months of the year. Dehydration causes your dog’s stool to harden, making it extremely difficult to pass.
Avoid giving your dog poor-quality commercial foods. Not only are they full of questionable ingredients, but they lack the nutrients that your dog needs to maintain a healthy gut. A diet that’s high in fiber, including fresh vegetables is the best way to ensure he has a soft, bulky, easy-to-pass stool.
If you don’t think that any of these are the cause of your dog’s constipation, ask yourself if he’s getting enough exercise. Taking your dog for a long walk or out for a game of fetch helps with digestion.
Chronic constipation (lasting longer than a few days) is usually a sign that something more serious is going on. Such as:
- Disease of the colon
- Anal gland issues
- Metabolic disease
- Worm infestation
- Psychological issues (fear, anxiety, or stress in dogs)
- Prostate disease
- Enlarged colon or prostate
- Digestive tract tumors
- Spinal injuries
- Tumors or masses in the colon or rectum
- Perineal hernias
- Kidney disease
- Side effects from a medication
How to Treat Your Dog’s Constipation
If you’re concerned that your dog is constipated, you should contact your vet immediately. Your vet can give a physical exam and get down to the root of the problem to properly treat it. Avoid giving your dog laxatives without your vet’s guidance.
When you start to notice your dog showing signs of constipation, there are some home remedies to help move things along. Such as:
- Pumpkin: The addition of pumpkin to your dog’s diet can help with both constipation and diarrhea. It’s high in fiber and moisture, and most dogs love the taste.
- Powdered Fiber Supplements: If your dog isn’t crazy about pumpkin, try this alternative to get some fiber in. But be careful not to give him too much fiber, because it could make the problem worse.
- High-Quality Canned Dog Food: The moisture helps regulate their system.
Constipation is fairly common digestive issue found in older dogs, but a thorough vet examination and proper treatment will have your pooch back to normal in no time. To avoid seeing your dog suffer from constipation in the future, make sure they’re getting a high-nutrient, well-balanced diet along with plenty of exercise and water.