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Constipation in Dogs

Constipation is a rather common health symptom in dogs. It can be caused by an improper diet, age of the dog, and more. Read on to find out more about dog constipation symptoms, causes, and treatment.

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Depending on the type of diet, a healthy dog usually has one to two bowel movements a day. Occasionally, a dog may go without stools for one day or even two. This is no cause for worry provided that when the dog does pass stool, he is not straining and the stools are firm and normal in size.

Constipation in dogs refers to infrequent, absent, or difficult defecation.

Constipated dogs usually pass hard or dry feces.

Dog Constipation Symptoms

Constipated dogs show the following symptoms:
  • Straining to defecate, may be painful
  • Passing only a small amount of feces or none at all
  • Feces are hard and dry
  • Frequency of defecation is less than normal and irregular
In severe cases, a constipated dog will become restless and depressed. He may also vomit and show a lack of appetite.

Causes of Constipation in Dogs

There are quite a few possible causes of dog constipation. Here are the most common ones:
  • Ingestion of Indigestible Objects

    One of the most common causes of dog constipation is the ingestion of something that is indigestible, such as hair, grass, paper, bone chips, and sticks. The indigestible object mixes with feces to form hard, rock-like masses in the colon, causing constipation.
  • Diet

    As in humans, dogs whose diets are low in fiber tend to develop constipation. Insufficient water intake also predisposes a dog to constipation.
  • Age

    Constipation is also a common problem among older dogs, who tend to drink less water resulting in hard, dry stools that are difficult to pass. In addition, older dogs tend to exercise less, and have weaker muscles of the abdominal wall. Older male dogs may also have prostate problems.
  • Medications

    Many drugs cause constipation in dogs as a side effect. Some of these drugs include antacids, antihistamines, iron supplements, and diuretics.
  • Environmental Factors

    Some dogs may inhibit the urge to defecate when left alone in the house and have no access to the outside to release themselves. Other dogs may be unwilling to empty their bowels when they are in an unfamiliar environment, e.g. in a hospital, a kennel, etc.
  • Diseases

    Some canine illnesses cause constipation in dogs. For example, hypothyroidism is an occasional cause of chronic constipation. Fecal impaction, which is a mass of hard stool that has got stuck in the rectum and colon, can also cause constipation despite forceful straining. Older male dogs suffering from benign prostatic hyperplasia (prostate enlargement) or prostate cancer also tend to have constipation. Constipation can also be a symptom of cancer of the gastrointestinal tract.

When To See A Vet

  • The dog does not have a bowel movement for over two days.
  • The dog strains to defecate.
  • The dog shows pain during defecation.
  • There is blood or mucus in the stools.

Treatment of Constipation in Dogs

Treatment of canine constipation involves the identification, and elimination or control of the underlying cause, while at the same time, relieving the symptoms.

Symptomatic treatments may include:
  • Bulking Agents

    For mild cases of constipation, bulking agents such as methylcellulose, bran, or pumpkin can be added to the dog's diet.
  • Frequent Exercise and Water Intake

    Regular exercise and sufficient intake of water can promote regular bowel movements.
  • Use of Laxatives

    Products that contain lactulose may be prescribed by your vet and are safe to use on dogs. Milk is sometimes added to diets to give a mild laxative effect. Milk of magnesia is also used as a mild laxative. Stronger stimulant laxatives (e.g. Dulcolax) are effective in treating constipation but should only be used under veterinary supervision and as a last resort, since repeated use can interfere with the proper functioning of the colon.

If your dog suffers from the occasional constipation, consider using the natural product:

Smooth BM Gold - Dog Constipation Support

It contains natural herbs and is effective in promoting and supporting regular bowel movements.

Finally, if a dog is suffering from a more serious case of constipation, enemas may be given at a veterinary clinic.
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