Dog Tips

Constipation in Dogs

Ever sat in the toilet for hours just hoping for the stomach to somehow get cleared? So much so that you were willing to drill a hole in your stomach just to get everything out? Your dog may feel the same sometimes. 

Not being able to pass stool regularly can be categorised as constipation in dogs. Normally, the stool is full of water and electrolytes and is pushed through the intestines to the colon by an automatic muscular motion called peristaltic waves. The water gets absorbed in the colon and the stool is let out. In case this process is hampered, the colon absorbs more water making the stool drier and harder and hence difficult to pass. 

This may be a temporary condition but sometimes can be a lasting issue. The dog may end up retaining the hard and dry stool in the digestive tract itself. This is called as obstipation and is a chronic problem. The dog will not be able to defecate at all in such a case. This can lead to multiple other problems and sometimes even severe. Hence, it is important to know what causes constipation in dogs, how to identify it and how can it be prevented. Learn more from Spot Pet Insurance below!

Causes of Constipation in Dogs

The causes for your dog to not be able to pass stool properly range from lack of exercise to cancer. They include – 

  • Lack of fiber – This reason common for both dogs and humans. Apart from that, Bones, bone meal, and other sources of dietary calcium can also contribute to constipation.

  • Lifestyle – A sedentary lifestyle with a lack of exercise often causes slow movement of stool.

  • Dehydration – Electrolyte imbalances in the blood can cause hardening of the stool.

  • Medications - Opiates, diuretics, antihistamines, some antacids, etc. can cause constipation.

  • Diseases – Hypothyroidism or kidney diseases can also cause improper functioning of the digestive tract.

  • Stress – This one again is common to humans and dogs. Psychological problems, stress, anxiety, etc. can lead to constipation. 

  • Excessive grooming – Too much self-grooming can sometimes lead to hair collecting in the stool, making it difficult to pass.

  • Non-food items – Eating stuff like garbage, bones, gravel, etc. can cause blockages in the tract.

Apart from these common causes, some serious ones are – 

  • Anal gland issues or prostate enlargement

  • Spinal diseases – Injuries or diseases of the spinal cord can cause constipation

  • Orthopedic disorders

  • Surgery – Medical procedures and drugs like anesthesia can also cause constipation at times.

  • Digestive tract tumors

  • Central nervous system disorders

You would know if you have constipation when your stomach feels heavy and bloated and you’ve not used the washroom for a while (or have been sitting in the washroom for hours). But how would you know if your dog has constipation? 

Signs of Constipation in Dogs

The most common and obvious sign is your dog not pooping for days or an irregular pooping schedule. Other signs that you can look for are – 

  • Hard, pebble-like stool

  • Your dog trying to strain but not being able to poop

  • Blood in the stool

  • Mucus with stool

Even these are obvious signs that something is wrong with your dog’s digestive tract. All you need to do is pay attention and identify them. And if you see any of the above signs, there are multiple ways in which you can help your dog get some relief. 

My Dog is Constipated, What Do I Do?

It is important to identify the signs at an early stage. If not, the condition can develop into obstipation where your dog won’t be able to poop at all. Your dog may develop a megacolon which can lead to lethargy, bloating, loss of appetite and even vomiting. 

To cure constipation for your dog at an early stage, there are several options you can choose from. Some of the home remedies include – 

  • Water – The elixir for life, water, works best here as well. While it may not alone be sufficient to cure constipation, increased water intake can help your doggy’s stool to soften.

  • Exercise – Physical movements can stimulate bowel movements and promote overall digestive health for your buddy. A walk or a game of fetch can help. 

  • Pumpkin Puree – High in fiber and moisture, Pumpkin Puree can help regulate their digestive system.

  • Wet food – Switching to wet dog food from dry food can also help here. The higher moisture content in canned foods can help soften the stool.

  • Fiber supplements – There are some dog-friendly fiber supplements also available that can help here regulate bowel movements for your dog.

However, these treatments can only work for minor constipation cases. In case of chronic constipation, we recommend visiting a vet. The vet may administer enemas or laxatives to cure it. 

My Chihuahua is Constipated

Constipation should ideally be cured within 48 hours if adequate water and exercise are provided to your Chihuahua. If it doesn’t, a vet visit is recommended. 

Blood tests, X-rays, ultrasounds, etc. may be needed at times to determine abnormalities like tumours, foreign objects, or a distended colon in the dog. If needed, the vet may even resort to surgery to cure chronic constipation or obstipation. 

More About Spot Pet Insurance

Constipation may not sound like a major disease. And it isn’t till the cause of it is minor like dehydration. However, in some cases, constipation can be a symptom of a major underlying medical condition like a digestive tract tumor or central nervous system problems. Stress or anxiety-induced constipation can also be a cause of worry as it can lead to many other illnesses for your dog. High-quality prescription diets, therapies, and sometimes surgery may be needed to cure the underlying condition. Pet insurance can help save up to 90% of the costs attached to them. 

With an accident and illness plan from Spot, you can visit any vet in Canada or the U.S. and receive reimbursement for veterinary services involved with the diagnosis, treatment, or management of eligible conditions. Spot plans can help cover a variety of accidents, illnesses, and behavioral conditions including; broken bones, bite wounds, anxiety, cancer, allergies, and more. For an additional fee, Wellness Riders can be added to an accident and illness plan, helping cover the eligible costs of wellness exams, vaccines, dental cleanings, and more. Learn more about what pet insurance covers or get a free quote today!

Sources

  1. WebMD Editorial Contributors. (2023, January 23). Dog constipation causes and treatment. WebMD. https://www.webmd.com/pets/dogs/dog-constipation-causes-treatment

  2. My dog is constipated! What should I do?  | Sharpsburg Vet. (2021, December 15). https://www.eastcowetavet.com/site/blog/2021/12/15/constipated-dog

Follow us on Instagram

Follow us everywhere else: