Dog constipation is one of the most common digestion related health issues in dogs. Pooping is important. It’s just as much a sign of life as breathing. When our dogs are having trouble popping out their chocolate eclairs in a regular, effortless way, that’s a problem!
Nobody knows about your dog’s bowel movements as well as you do! So, it should be easy notice that they have constipation. Maybe it looks like they are working really hard to get a poop out. Perhaps it looks painful and they are wincing in the process. Or perhaps, despite the pain and their best efforts, there is no poop. It just stays tucked away.
Although constipation is common in dogs, it’s not something to take lightly. In most cases, your dog’s system will sort itself out. But when your dog is unable to launch an astronaut and it’s been over two days, you’ll need to do something about it. Leaving your dog’s constipation untreated for too many days can have devastating results.
What is Dog Constipation?
Constipation is what dogs experience when they have difficulty pooping, when they aren’t pooping regularly, or when they don’t poop at all. When they do manage to poop, they have a dry, and hard stool. It’s essentially the opposite of diarrhea.
It can happen to any dog. But it’s generally more common in older dogs and young puppies who are being weaned onto solid food.
So, your dog eats the scrumptious meal that you have so lovingly provided for them. It then makes its way from their tummy into the digestive tract, and into their colon. The colon’s job is to extract water and electrolytes from the fecal matter. So, the longer it stays in there, the drier and more solid it gets. Ouch!
When you leave constipation untreated, it can lead to obstipation. That’s more severe than constipation because it means a dog can’t empty its colon at all. Obstipation, in turn, can lead to a Megacolon, which means that your dog’s large intestine becomes distended. Sadly, once that happens, the damage to your dog’s digestive tract is irreversible. That is why it’s so important to be vigilant when it comes to monitoring your pup’s poop. That is pup parenting in all its glory!
Possible Causes of Canine Constipation
Constipation in dogs can be caused by a long list of things, ranging from not at all serious, to potentially life threating.
The causes of constipation in dogs fall into three categories:
Intraluminal is just a medical lingo for blockages that occur within your dog’s colon such as:
- Obstruction by a foreign object (think rawhide, socks, gravel or bones)
- Parasites (think worms)
- Too much or too little fiber in their diet
- Not enough exercise
- Excessive grooming (This happens especially with long-haired dogs. They swallow a lot of their own hair and it causes a blockage in their digestive tract.)
Things outside of the digestive tract cause Extraluminal constipation.
Here are a few examples:
- Anal gland problems
- An enlarged prostate
- A lack of grooming – Obesity or matted hair around your dog’s bum can cause this.
- Tumors or other masses on your dog’s derrière
- Arthritis or bone trauma that makes crouching for a poop painful
Intrinsic constipation is either a symptom of another illness or a neurological disorder.
- Kidney Disease
- Stress or other psychological disorders
- Central Nervous System (CNS) Disorders
- Urinary Tract Infections
Constipated Dog Symptoms
Pet parents who know the potty routine of their dogs will be able to pick up the early signs of constipation. When their dogs don’t “go” like clockwork, it’s a problem.
Here are the most common symptoms of constipation in dogs:
Some dogs are in so much pain when they try to poop that they wince or cry out in pain.
Sometimes constipated dogs get danglers. Scooting might help them get the dangler out. But if they don’t manage, you’ll have to grab some paper towels and help them out.
This becomes even more obvious when you can see that they have been trying repeatedly to have a poop, without success. In a healthy dog, pooping should not be a difficult thing to achieve.
If your dog shows any of the following symptoms, take them to the vet immediately:
- Lack of appetite
- Lack of energy (i.e. lethargy)
My Dog is Constipated. What Now?
Did your pup swallow a sock? Or, maybe you gave your dog a piece of rawhide to chew on which of course, they went on to swallow whole? If you notice that your dog is (or may well soon become) constipated, there are quite a few things you can do!
What Can I Give My Dog or Constipation?
Here are some of the best things to give a constipated dog:
- Canned food – Canned food has a lot more moisture than kibble and can help ease things along the path to freedom.
- Medication – You vet might prescribe laxatives or a stool softener to soften your dog’s stool. Another type of medication is often prescribed to help stimulate your dog’s intestinal contractions to move things along.
- Enema – This is something that your vet should do. Or, at the very least make sure your vet talks you through it. There have been horror stories of people thinking they can use enema kits meant for humans.
- Metamucil – This is a popular fiber supplement prescribed for treating constipation. You should always add it, along with some water, to wet food. There are quite a few Metamucil products on the market containing Xylitol. Do not feed those to your dog!
- High-fiber dog food (prescribed by your vet) – This is especially good for dogs that are on a raw diet and aren’t quite getting the fiber they need from it.
- Manual removal of the poop – Please do not do this yourself. If you stick your finger up your dog’s already blocked backside, there is a chance you could cause tearing and toxicity.
- Surgery – In the worst-case scenario, your dog may need surgery to remove the blockage. Hopefully, that will teach you not to give your dog bones. Or it teaches your dog to lay off the socks.
Natural Dog Constipation Remedy
Mother nature is also armed and ready with natural remedies for treating constipation.
- Water – Keep your dog hydrated. Try to coax them to drink more fresh water. You can also add some water to their food. If your dog eats kibble, soak it in some warm water before feeding it to them. Make sure it’s cooled down enough before serving.
- Olive oil – Drizzle some olive oil over your dog’s kibble. Olive oil is not only healthy, but it’s a great lubricant for, well, you know what.
- Coconut oil – Coconut oil is so healthy for dogs, and as an oil, it will lubricate your dog’s fecal impactions enough to fix the problem.
- Increase exercise – This is an especially useful trick to get puppies to poop. When young puppies starteating big dog food, it can take their little tummies some time to adjust. Having a little run and a play might be all that is needed to launch a little astronaut.
- High-fiber diet – You could add small amounts of wheat bran or flaxseed flour to their food. These are both very high in dietary fiber.
- Bone Broth – Bone broth is a nutritious way to get all systems running. Especially for dogs on raw or wet food diets.
- Pumpkin – Pumpkin. Where to begin with this miracle squash? Pumpkin is your dog’s best friend. It helps with diarrhea. It helps with constipation. It’s natural. It’s amazing. Whether you give your dog plain cooked pumpkin or canned pumpkin, it’s sure to make them feel better. Check the label if you’re giving them canned pumpkin. It should be plain and not have addedingredients such as sugar or salt.
How Much Pumpkin to Give a Dog
Pumpkin is very high in moisture and dietary fiber. The perfect thing for constipation.
You should start your dog on a small amount and then increase it gradually. Start with a 1-2 teaspoons for toy breeds and small dogs. You can start larger dogs on a heaped tablespoon and gradually increase
that amount. If you are at all unsure, ask your veterinarian for guidance!
Pooping is important, and when our pups don’t poop it’s up to us to make sure they get all the help they need. A pooping pupper is a happy pupper!