Dog Constipation - The Ultimate Guide
Dog constipation can have many causes. It is a symptom that you should not underestimate as it can have serious long term health consequences if left untreated. There can be varied underlying drivers of constipation including inappropriate food or serious illness. Proper feeding and some home remedies can help relieve or prevent the condition. Please make sure you visit a vet if you have the suspicion of an underlying disease.
Symptoms of Dog Constipation
The consistency of your dog's poop is not always the same. This is the same as for us humans and mainly depends on the food we and our fur babies have. Depending on whether you offer dry or wet food, how much your dog drinks, and which chews they get, the texture of poop can vary. Within certain limits, this is normal and tolerable. However, if diarrhea or constipation does occur, you must take action. Constipation can affect every dog, regardless of whether your dog is young or old. Caring dog owners like you should pay attention to the following symptoms.
While diarrhea is clearly visible, if your dog is constipated you need to watch out for other symptoms. Typical signs of constipation are, for example, repeated attempts to defecate while walking. Sometimes nothing comes, sometimes relatively small amounts, hard balls of manure. It might also be covered with blood or mucus. When defecating, your dog might show their pain, screaming, or making other painful sounds. If the cause of constipation is a general febrile illness, your dog may also experience signs of fatigue, listlessness, loss of appetite, or occasional vomiting. This also applies to "sledding", when your dog keeps sliding over the floor with their rear end. Also, pay attention to whether your dog has increased gas or bulging pain and loss of appetite. All these could be signs that your dog is suffering from constipation.
For vets, diagnosing constipation in dogs is not difficult. However, it is much more complicated to find the cause of the symptoms. Your vet will likely start with a detailed discussion with you, the dog owner. They then often take an X-ray of the abdominal region with the large intestine, rectum, pelvis, and parts of the spine. Changes in soft tissue structures, such as tumors or the prostate, can also be visualized using ultrasound. It is also possible to take a tissue sample (biopsy) to determine any tumorous changes. They usually perform a colonoscopy to for a full overview. Medicine makes a distinction between acute and chronic constipation.
Acute constipation occurs suddenly and can go away just as quickly. The causes are varied, but the process is always very similar. They digest the food and process it for their organism, but the intestine becomes blocked. The food pulp cannot move through the bowel. The body then withdraws more and more water to help accelerate digestion, which makes the problem even worse. This can have fatal consequences for your dog.
If constipation occurs regularly and over a longer period of time it is chronic constipation. In this case, the colon may overstretch, which is irreparable. This means that your dog may have had problems and pain their entire life. In order to avoid regular constipation, you should consult your veterinarian. They will be able to conduct the relevant tests and help to relieve your fur baby from the pain.
Causes of Dog Constipation
The causes of constipation in dogs are many, but some of the main causes are:
- Improper feeding and / or handling
- Administration of certain medications
- Pain in the rectum
- Orthopedic problems resulting in insufficient movement
- Tumors (neoplasms)
- Pelvic fractures (fractures)
- Prostate disorders
- Metabolism problems or hormonal balance
- Febrile general illnesses
Excessive feeding of bones can cause constipation in dogs. When you feed according to the "barfing" method, then this is a common problem. This is a feeding method in which dogs are fed a lot of raw meat with bones. The so-called "bone excrement" is very hard, yellowish and causes great difficulties for the dog in defecating.
Further causes of constipation due to feeding or general care for you dog are:
- Insufficient water intake or no easy access to fresh water
- Eating indigestible material such as paper or hair
- Insufficient exercise
- Insufficient opportunity to defecate
Other reasons for constipation
After an operation, it may happen that your dog does not defecate at first. They often have to be sober before commencing the operation. It can therefore take a while until they have digested their new food. The anxiety of both owner and fur baby any operation or medical procedure can cause, add to this. It should be a temporary condition, but you should continue to monitor your dog.
If your dog just had diarrhea, then constipation can be a natural overreaction of the body trying to counter the condition. Diarrhea often causes damage to the dog's digestive tract and it can take some time for it to regenerate and for your dog to get back into balance.
If the cause of your dog's constipation is a fracture of the pelvis, for example, your dog must first be operated to treat the fracture. This should help resolve the health problems.
An enlarged prostate can also lead to constipation, especially in older males. Surgical intervention is also necessary to remove the problem. In other cases, where tumors are the cause then your vet will advice on a special treatment plan. They usually start with clarifying whether the tumor is benign or malignant and what the best treatment methods are.
What to do if a dog is constipated
In milder, more acute cases, a temporary switch to soft, soupy food can resolve the condition. Simple home remedies such as giving milk or psyllium as an additive to soupy dog food can also help alleviate constipation as stool softeners. The stool and bowel movements should start to improve within 24 hours. Please visit your vet, if you do not see any improvement at all. You can switch back to normal dog food once their discharge rhythm fully normalizes.
Another natural solution is bone broth for dogs. Bone broth is praised for its nutritional value. It contains minerals and essential vitamins that are important for a happy and healthy fur baby. It stimulates your dog's digestive system and because it is easy to digest increases appetite and helps bowel movement. You can sprinkle it over your fur baby's food. Fast and easy. Ideally you use a natural bone broth for dogs for a healthier option.
What Helps with Chronic Constipation in Dogs?
You should always take dogs with chronic or severe constipation to your veterinarian who can clarify the cause and provide appropriate help. Waiting too long to visit the vet can have serious consequences for your dog, such as injuries or even ruptures of the bowel. This intestine of your dog strains. The vet usually tries to regulate the fluid balance and starts with an infusion of an electrolyte solution. Once stable, they try to remove the fecal matter stuck in your dog's intestines using laxatives and plenty of lubricant to pass feces. This is an unpleasant but necessary treatment. It is clearly best, if you try to prevent the condition in the first place.
Preventing Constipation in Dogs
The best you can do to avoid constipation is feed your dog appropriately. That means avoiding 'human food' from the table and adding nutritious, high quality dog food to their bowl. It is also a good idea to add natural dog vitamins to their food to ensure they get all the essential vitamins they need. You should start the feeding regime already when they are a puppy, there are special formulas to support their growth and development.
These four tips can help prevent constipation in dogs:
- Avoid indigestible objects: You need to have a look out to ensure your fur baby does not ingest any indigestible waste or objects.
- Add dietary fiber: If you feed your dog low-fiber, for example with a lot of rice or potatoes, you could add flea seeds, flax seed or milk. A high fiber diet is an important source of nutrients.
- Discontinue medicines: Medicines that lead to constipation in the dog should be discontinued if possible after consultation with the supervising veterinarian and replaced with alternatives.
- Stay active: you should ensure that your dog is active and regularly exercises. This generally promotes the dog's health and prevents constipation.
- Time to discharge: Offers the dog sufficient opportunities to discharge. Even when traveling, you should make sure to take enough breaks to give your fur baby the opportunity to release themselves.
- Stay hydrated: Ensure your fur baby always has fresh and plenty of water available