I have read many article on internet about constipation in dogs but all of them were seems to be incomplete, missing one or many important things to mention. So decided to write a detailed post about constipation in dogs specifically. I tried my best to cover all the important aspect and make it as brief and informative as possible.
Constipation is actually difficulty in defecating or infrequent defecation due to some physiological and pathological condition. In constipation dogs become unable to defecate due to accumulation of hard and dry faeces in the colon ( last part of intestine ) and this may result into severe problems if not treated properly. But in most of the cases constipation can be easily treated. If not treated if may cause severe pathological problem ( i.e. distension/ballooning of rectum).
Some Common Reason of Constipation in Dogs:
The most important causes of constipation are dry food and parasitic infections and others are:
- Insufficient fiber content in diet
- Lack of exercise
- Ingestion of bones, stones, rock and dirt
- Tumor in anus
- Pain during defecation ( Dogs avoid to defecate due to pain and faeces accumulate and get dried )
- Side affects of medicines
- Dehydration & Electrolyte imbalance
- Enlarged prostate gland
- Blocked or abscessed anal sac
How to Diagnose:
Before diving into the treatment and remedies section, I want to share some diagnostic techniques and tips for proper and timely diagnosis of constipation. Dogs suffering from constipation try to defecate but bowel don’t get out. If you see you dog not defecating from one or two days, make your observations sharp and observe if dog tries. If dog tries, screams, strains and crouches for defecation, your dogs is suffering from this common disease. Recalling the feeding history can also help you in making your diagnosis clear.
I must mention a very important point here that similar strains and crouches are also observable when dogs suffer from urinary obstruction. Make sure that your dog is not suffering from urinary tract problem. If so then you really need to consult your nearest doctor because it may be deadly for your dog.
Some other common symptoms of constipation in dogs are:
- Mall amount of liquid stool with mucus in it – sometimes with blood present, produced after prolonged straining to defecate (known as tenesmus)
- Occasional vomiting
- Lack of appetite
- Large bowel (colon) filled with hard compacted faecal material
- Swelling around the anus
Best Treatment And Remedies For Constipation in Dogs:
Constipation is easily treatable problem in most of the cases. There are many natural, herbal and medicinal remedies for constipation in dogs. I will start with the most easily applicable cures.
Try to take your dog outside and walk for a mile. Some dogs who stay at home become lazy and lack of exercise may cause constipation. So exercise may help your dog emptying his rectum.
Change Your Dog’s Food:
Changing the dog food can be a good remedy for constipation. Increasing the fiber content in food is most advised. Fibers increase the intestinal motility and help in easy defecation. Giving your dog plenty of lukewarm water to drink may also eradicate it’s constipation. Try to give your dogs wet food and easily digestible cooked food.
Pumpkin is a good source of fiber and water. You can either puree fresh pumpkin or use canned pureed pumpkin.
A complete list of food item/supplements to cure constipation is given here.
- Wheat & Oat Bran
Wheat and Oat bran also contain good amount of fibers.
- Mineral Oil
Mineral oil works as a lubricant and soften the faecal bowl. It should be added to the food and should not be injected with syringe because sometime force ingestion may cause lung infection and drenching pneumonia.
- Metamucil, Benefiber, or a similar product
- Aloe Ferox:
Aloe Ferox has a beneficial effect on digestive functioning and acts as a natural system cleanser and remedy.
- Ginger & Chicken Broth
(¼ teaspoon ginger with ½ cup of chicken (or beef) broth)
Use of Laxatives:
Mild constipation can also be treated with the use of suppository laxatives. Anyhow the continuous use of laxatives is not recommended by veterinary experts. Commonly used laxatives are Dioctyl Sodium Sulfosuccinate (DSS; emollient laxative), glycerin (lubricant laxative), and bisacodyl (stimulant laxative). Stimulant laxative, Dulcolax Laxative Suppositories, can be used with the instruction of your veterinarian. Stimulant laxatives increase the intestinal motility and osmotic laxatives brings the water out from the intestinal wall and make the faeces soft.
Mild to moderate constipation may require administration of enemas or manual extraction of impacted faeces, or both. Types of enemas include warm tap water , warm isotonic saline with or without a mild soap to act as an irritant, DSS , mineral oil , or lactulose. Enema shouldn’t be tried at home. I would advise to go to nearest certified veterinary practitioner for enema.
Use of anti-parasitic drug can also be useful against constipation in dogs. Intestinal parasite also worsen the constipation by obstruction the intestinal lumen with the food.
Under certain but very worse conditions, a pelvis-widening procedure might be the correct treatment method of constipation. Other surgical procedures include: colostomy, sub-total colectomy, total colectomy.
The dog will probably spend several days in the hospital and will have to take stool softeners while the surgery site completely heals, until normal function is returned, a process that could take up to six months or more.