It's easy to dismiss constipation in dogs as no big deal, but constipation can be a sign of a serious medical emergency! Today our Greensboro vets discuss some causes of constipation in dogs and why a visit to the vet is essential.
What are the signs of constipation in dogs?
Are your dog's bowel movements infrequent, difficult for them to pass or absent altogether? If so, your pet is likely suffering from constipation.
Straining when attempting to pass a stool and/or is producing hard, dry stools, are also considered signs that your dog should be examined by a vet as soon as possible.
Constipated dogs may pass mucus when trying to defecate, circle excessively, scoot along the ground, or squat frequently without defecating. If you press on their stomach or lower back, they may have a tense, painful abdomen that causes them to growl or cry out.
If your dog is experiencing pain while trying to pass feces or is unable to pass feces at all, it is important to get your dog to the vet as soon as possible. Constipation in dogs can be a sign of a serious veterinary emergency. Contact your vet right away.
What causes constipation in dogs?
As with people, there are a number of possible causes of constipation in dogs. Some of the most common causes of dog constipation include:
- Ingested pieces of toys, gravel, plants, dirt and bones caught in the intestinal tract
- Lack of exercise
- Excessive or insufficient fiber in his diet
- Other illnesses leading to dehydration
- Blocked or abscessed anal sacs
- Excessive self-grooming (excessive amounts of hair collected in the stool)
- A side effect of medication
- An orthopedic issue causing pain when a dog positions himself to defecate
- Enlarged prostate gland
- Sudden change in diet or sampling new foods
- Matted hair surrounding anus (caused by obesity or lack of grooming)
- Neurological disorder
- Obstruction caused by tumors or masses on the anus, or within the rectum
- Trauma to the pelvis
Senior dogs are more prone to bouts of constipation. Nonetheless, any dog that experiences one or more of the scenarios above could develop constipation.
How can I help to relieve my dog's constipation?
“What can I give my dog for constipation?” is a common search on the web, and the answers provided come from trustworthy and dubious sources.
The first thing that you should know is to never give your dog medications or treatments formulated for humans without consulting your vet first. Many human medications are toxic to dogs.
If your dog is showing signs of constipation, the best thing you can do for your pet is to contact your vet to book an urgent examination. The treatment for your dog's constipation will depend upon the underlying cause of your pup's condition.
If your pup has eaten something they shouldn't have there is a chance that there is a blockage causing the issue. This is a medical emergency that will likely require urgent surgery.
Blood tests may be recommended to help determine whether your pup has an infection or is suffering from dehydration. The vet will likely take a medical history, conduct a rectal examination to rule out other causes or abnormalities, and may recommend one or a combination of these treatments:
- Prescription diet high in fiber
- Stool softener or another laxative
- More exercise
- Enema (administered by a professional, not at home!)
- Adding more fiber to your dog’s diet (wheat bran, canned pumpkin or products such as Metamucil)
- Small bowl of goat or cow milk
- Medication to increase the large intestines' contractile strength
Follow your vet’s instructions closely, as trying too many of these or the wrong combination may bring on the opposite problem - diarrhea. You don’t want to trade one digestive problem for another.
Why do I need to treat my dog's constipation?
Treating constipation in dogs is important for your pup's long term health. If constipation is left untreated, it is possible that your dog's issue could become severe and reach the point where your pup is no longer able to empty their colon on their own (obstipation). The colon then becomes packed with an uncomfortably large amount of feces, causing lethargy, unproductive straining, loss of appetite and potentially vomiting.
It is also important to note that intestinal blockages caused by the ingestion of foreign objects such as toys or fabrics can quickly become fatal if not diagnosed and treated by a vet.
When it comes to your dog's health and safety err on the side of caution, contact your vet if your pet is constipated. Or visit your nearest animal emergency clinic if you know that your dog has eaten something they shouldn't have.Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.