Dog constipation isn’t fun for anyone. What are the common causes for dog’s constipation?
Bones aside, the common causes of constipation are divided into dietary issues, medical problems and pain-related.
Dogs need fiber. Fiber is good on so many levels, primarily because it produces a soft, bulky stool that is easier to pass.
Dogs lacking fiber are more likely to be constipated as well as suffering from secondary problems, such as blocked anal sacs.
Health issues not directly related to the bowel can have a knock-on effect that results in constipation.
For example, the sluggishness associated with underactive thyroid glands can extend to the bowel.
Other causes include:
- Enlarged prostate glands — which press on the rectum, causing it to narrow
- Perineal hernia — a pocket or “blind alley” beside the rectum, into which feces get diverted and trapped
To stop the constipation from recurring, it’s best to correct underlying health issues. This means putting an arthritic dog on painkillers — or, in Oscar’s case, banning bones.
Conditions such as arthritis or hip dysplasia make it painful for a dog to squat.
Therefore, the dog is more likely to hold on, which means the feces spend longer in the rectum and become harder and drier as a result — which then makes them difficult to pass.
How to Know if Your Dog Is Constipated
What signs should you be alert for?
This is a good question because the main symptom — straining — might not necessarily be the result of constipation. Straining is also associated with bladder problems and diarrhea.
So if you see the dog straining, take a closer look:
- Is the dog passing good-sized puddles of urine? Or is the urine coming out in dribbles or not at all? If this happens, contact your veterinarian immediately because urinary problems can be life-threatening.
- What is the dog passing from their bowel? If it’s hard, dry nuggets after a good deal of straining, chances are the dog is constipated. But be aware that dogs with diarrhea may strain and not produce anything — this is because the inflammation in their bowel gives them a feeling of urgency. In this case, have a patrol around the yard and be on the alert for telltale puddles of liquid feces.
Constipated dogs are often uncomfortable and not interested in food.
Indeed, some dogs will vomit and seem depressed. Also, some dogs will smell of feces and have soiling around the rear end.
How to Help Your Dog
A severely constipated dog needs more immediate relief than that. So rather than let your dog keep straining, contact your veterinarian about an enema.
Enemas are lubricants, such as liquid paraffin or warm soapy water, that are gently introduced into the dog’s rectum with the aim of softening and lubricating the hard stool. If the problem is mild, this can be done in the conscious dog, but in severe cases an anesthetic is necessary.
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