Constipation in Dogs: Is this an emergency?

Constipation is a common problem seen by our Simi Valley vets in dogs of all breeds and sizes. In today's post, our vets at Park Animal Hospital offer some tips on what you should do if you think your dog is constipated and explain when emergency care is needed. 

Signs of Constipation in Dogs

If your dog passes dry hard stools or mucus while trying to pass a bowel movement or hasn't had a bowel movement for two or more days, it's likely that they are constipated. Other signs can include straining, crouching, or whining while trying to defecate. In some cases, you may even notice grass, string, or matted feces around your dog's anal area.

What causes constipation in dogs?

There are many reasons why your dog might be constipated. Some of the most common reasons for constipation in dogs include:

  • Dehydration
  • Ingested items such as toys, dirt, grass, or fabric pieces (rugs, clothing, or towels)
  • Pain caused by orthopedic issues when trying to pass a bowel movement 
  • Abscessed or blocked anal sacks
  • Insufficient fiber in diet
  • Tumors, masses, or matted hair around the anus
  • Enlarged prostate
  • Ingested hair from excessive self-grooming
  • Insufficient daily exercise

What To Do If Your Dog is Constipated

If you notice your dog is experiencing any of the signs of constipation mentioned above it is important that you take them to the vet. While constipation is normally a harmless issue that can be easily remedied, it can sometimes indicate a more serious underlying health concern, such as an injected foreign object. It is always best to err on the side of caution — if your dog has been unable to pass a bowel movement for over 48 hours or seems to be in pain or discomfort, it might be an emergency situation. Bring them to the vet right away. 

How to Treat Constipation in Dogs

Treating constipation in dogs depends a lot on the underlying cause of the dog's discomfort. Your veterinarian will examine your pup for indications as to the underlying cause. If the ingestion of a foreign object is suspected X-rays may be recommended so that the object can be located and a treatment plan can be made for your dog. 

After your veterinarian determines the underlying cause of your pup's issue they will recommend the appropriate course of treatment.

Some of the most common treatments for constipation in dogs are; dog-specific laxatives, medication to increase the strength of the large intestine, increasing the amount of fiber in your dog's diet, and increasing your dog's daily exercise. If your dog has ingested a foreign object, life-saving surgery may be required to remove the object and prevent severe blockages and damage to your dog's digestive tract.

Treating Mild Constipation at Home

If your dog has mild, infrequent constipation there are a few things you can try at home. Canned pumpkin, wet dog food, and bran added to their food have been known to help get things moving again. 

Always remember if you're in doubt about your dog's health the best thing to do is head to the vet. 

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.

Does your dog suffer from constipation? Contact us today to book an examination for your pup and help them feel better.