Like humans, dogs should also have a healthy bowel movement. But what if your dog is having a hard time defecating?

Constipation happens when there is difficulty in producing stools regularly, which in dogs, should happen once or twice a day. When a dog is constipated, they may strain while trying to defecate / have rock-solid stools / they may not defecate at all.



With chronic cases of constipation, dogs' digestive tracts may retain feces that are dry and hard. According to research, this is what you call obstipation, a phenomenon where too much feces are retained in the digestive tract, making it compacted. This then results in an inability to defecate. Fortunately, there are various ways to help your dog defecate normally and regularly.

Signs of Dog Constipation

It's hard to miss when a dog is constipated. Among the signs that you may notice include:

  • Decrease / no defecation for a few days already;
  • Dry and hard stools that feel rock solid.

Meanwhile, here are some signs that your dog may be having discomfort due to constipation:

Tenesmus

This happens when your dog is straining to be able to defecate with only a little or no success. It may also come in the form of liquidy feces that contains blood.

Dyschezia

When your dog shows signs of pain and difficulty when it comes to defecating.

What Causes Constipation?

To understand how constipation occurs, let us first discuss how feces moves throughout the body. Normally, it travels the digestive tract until it reaches the colon. In the colon, it absorbs water and electrolytes. This absorption of water is the colon's main function.

The process wherein the feces moves inside the colon is termed "peristaltic waves". If for some reason, the process is slowed down or weakened, the feces will stall inside the colon and will thus become less moist. This dries and hardens fecal matter, which will make it difficult or impossible to excrete. A stool that is rock hard is termed "concretion".

Most Common Causes of Constipation

The underlying causes of constipation may range from something minor such as lacking exercise to something more serious such as cancer. Upon diagnosis, vets classify the causes depending on where the problem happens in your dog's digestive tract. They are classified as either intraluminal or extraluminal.

Intraluminal

This is when there is any blockage inside the colon.

Extraluminal

This happens when there are external obstructions outside of the colon (ex. pelvic fractures, tumors).

Intrinsic

When there are diseases and injuries in the nerves.

Below are some of the most common reasons for constipation in dogs:

  1. Diet - the usual problem is a lack of fiber in the diet. Also, dogs have a tendency to ingest different sorts of things that they encounter such as hair, cat litter, toys, and sources of dietary calcium may lead to constipation.
  2. Level of activity - slower digestion is a usual result of a sedentary lifestyle.
  3. Age - elderly dogs are more likely to get constipated.
  4. Tumors in the digestive tract.
  5. Stress / psychological causes.
  6. Tumors that cause the narrowing of the pelvic area.
  7. Metabolic diseases such as kidney-related disease or hyperthyroidism.
  8. Disorders of the central nervous system.
  9. Spinal injuries or diseases.
  10. Dehydration and imbalances in electrolyte level.
  11. Issues in anal glands.
  12. Certain drugs (ex. diuretics, opiates, antacids, antihistamines, and some drugs used to treat cancer).
  13. Enlarged prostate.
  14. Surgery - certain procedures and medications may lead to constipation. Consult with your vet to seek advice regarding post-surgical care and remedies for constipation.
  15. Orthopedic disorders.

Home Remedies

If constipation just started recently (a day or two ago) there are some home remedies that can help your dog get things going again. Before giving your dog any supplements, call your vet first.

How to make a constipated dog poop quickly?

Note that there's no surefire way to treat dogs because it depends on case to case so consulting with your vet would be best. However, below are some of the home remedies that have helped many dogs with constipation before.

  1. Canned dog food;
  2. Because canned food has a higher moisture content, it may help regulate the system;
  3. Pumpkin;
  4. Being high in fiber as well as moisture, pumpkin can be a good home remedy for dog constipation. Not to mention, many dogs also like its taste;
  5. Hydration;
  6. Keep your dog hydrated by making sure that they have access to fresh, clean water. Electrolyte supplements may also help;
  7. Food & Herbs;
  8. Among the food and herbs that may help your dog "to go" include olive oil, ginger, wheat bran, powdered psyllium seeds, fig paste;
  9. Powdered fiber supplements;
  10. Stool softeners;
  11. Exercise.

As soon as you notice that your dog is constipated, it's best to consult with your vet. Upon the visit, be prepared by taking note of information such as:

  • Color and consistency of your dog's stool;
  • When your dog last had a normal bowel movement;
  • A change in your dog's routine or diet;
  • Any medications they may be taking;
  • If they are straining or in pain while they try to defecate;
  • Non-food items that they may have ingested;
  • Injuries;
  • Other symptoms of discomfort or stress most especially lethargy, vomiting, or bloatedness.

Depending on how long it has been happening and how severe the symptoms are, your vet may suggest the following exams such as:

  • Rectal exam;
  • Abdominal palpation;
  • Barium enema;
  • Radiographs (abdominal area);
  • Colonoscopy;
  • Ultrasound;
  • CBC;
  • Urinalysis;
  • Neurological exam.

Medical Treatment

Most cases of dog constipation usually resolve with the help of mild treatments such as adding more liquids and dietary fiber to your dog's diet, regular exercise, and making sure to provide them with access to clean and fresh water. Some treatments that may help are laxative suppositories or enemas, but these may only be given upon guidance from your vet.

In more extreme cases, medical treatment may be needed such as:

  1. Medication to promote normal function of the colon or to stop the production of particular enzymes.
  2. Removing the impacted feces manually.
  3. In extreme and rare cases, surgery may be needed (ex. Megacolon cases).
  4. Colectomy - a surgical procedure where parts of the colon are removed.

Pet Emergency Fund

When your dog has a health issue like constipation, especially in urgent cases when you would need to bring your dog to the vet, having the assurance that your dog will be given immediate care as well as knowing that their vet bills will be covered would be a big help.

More so, having the right coverage and the essential help needed for you and your dog is key. The best alternative to pet insurance, Petcube's Pet Emergency Fund gives all that and more.

With Pet Emergency Fund, you are assured that ALL your pets are covered whenever they would have to go to the vet, regardless of what age, breed, or medical history they have. Not only that, but you also get access to an online vet service where you can consult with certified vets, anytime and anywhere.

With Pet Emergency Fund, you get peace of mind knowing that you and your pet will be given the help needed in times when your pet has a health issue that needs to be addressed.

Prevention of Dog Constipation

Constipation can be easily prevented for most dogs when they have a well-balanced diet, regular exercise, and access to clean and fresh water. Overall, keeping your dog healthy in all aspects prevents any health issues.

Another way to prevent dog constipation and other health issues in your dog is by keeping track of their health through regular monitoring and keen observation. One good way to do so, especially when you're away during the day is through a quality pet camera such as the Petcube Cam, featuring advanced interactive features that make it easy for you to see, converse, play, and treat your pet.

By being able to monitor and interact with your pet, Petcube cameras will help you know when anything is amiss.

FAQ

Is milk for dog constipation a good remedy?

Contrary to what others may think that milk can help as a laxative for dogs, it can lead to more problems instead of being a remedy.

The fact is that many dogs are actually lactose intolerant so this can lead to stomach and health issues such as diarrhea.

Will coconut oil for dog constipation help?

Because of its ability to smoothen the digestive tract as well as its anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory features, it can be a good remedy for a dog with constipation. However, before giving anything, it is best to consult with your veterinarian.

Peanut butter for dog constipation

With its high fiber and vitamin content, peanut butter may help by acting as a dog constipation remedy. Most peanut butter is safe to eat in moderation with its many health benefits.

The healthiest option that you can opt for is unsalted peanut butter, peanut butter specifically for dogs, and homemade peanut butter that does not contain added sugar and other additives. However, do consult with your veterinarian first before giving it to your dog.