Like humans, dogs, too, experience constipation. It causes the same discomfort it does for humans and could put your canine friend in pain. While this may not be the situation you wish to find yourself in, you must handle it, so your dog feels better.
To prepare for such cases, there is a need to learn everything there is to know about constipation. Preparation includes learning its causes and signs. It would help if you also familiarise yourself with the steps you can take to manage the symptoms and restore your pet's health.
This guide addresses all the above and also recommends top remedies you can use for your constipated pet.
What is Constipation?
Constipation is the inability to pass stool usually. It is important to note that the term does not necessarily mean there is a hard stool that refuses to come out. Instead, it is the inability to pass stool despite the feeling or need.
Finding your pet's constipation symptoms can be challenging as a fur parent. However, when you are keen, you may notice if your canine displays discomfort when trying to relieve themselves.
Types of Dog Constipation
There are three main types of dog constipation:
- Intraluminal Constipation: Colon blockage that prevents the passing of stool.
- Extraluminal Constipation: Colon blockage as a result of an external source.
- Intrinsic Constipation: Results from neurological conditions ad hormone imbalances in the body.
What Causes Constipation in Dogs?
There are different reasons behind your pet's constipation. Intraluminal constipation is the most common. It could result from your dog swallowing foreign objects or tumors, causing colon blockages from the inside. The cause of constipation may often be simple, such as swallowing a hair or string. This shouldn't worry you, as your pet will eventually pass it out. However, in rare cases, the obstruction may require an enema bag or surgery.
The other common causes of constipation in dogs include:
- Stress and anxiety
- Diet changes
- Neurological conditions
- Matted fur
- Intestinal obstructions
Other causes of constipation (while not so common) in canines include:
- Enlarged prostate glands
- Neurological disorders like spinal problems
- Growth of tumors in the gastrointestinal tract
- Pan in the rear limbs
- Metabolic illnesses that result in dehydration issues
- Side effects from ingesting medications
What Are the Signs of Constipation in Canines?
Constipation signs in dogs are easy to spot. Look out for:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Appetite loss
- Small, hard, and dry stool
- Presence of foreign items in stool, such as hair
- Trouble urinating
- Biting or gnawing at the tail
- Locking the rectal area
Scooting could signify that you need to get your pet to the vet as soon as possible. By massaging your pet's intestines where the hip joints and lower abdomen meet, you can assist ease the strain. If your dog snarls, growls or winces when you touch its lower abdomen, it may be in severe pain and may need an emergency visit to the veterinarian.
When Should Your Pet See the Veterinarian?
If your dog hasn't passed stool in more than two days, you should contact your vet immediately, as this could signify a severe underlying issue.
Before your visit, ensure you're prepared to give information concerning the following:
- The consistency and color of the stool
- Whether you have recently changed your pet's diet
- The last time your dog passed stool normally
- Whether your dog has taken any non-food items recently
- Whether your dog strains when trying to pass stool
- If you have administered any constipation home remedies for your dog
- Whether your dog has had recent injuries
- Whether you have noticed signs like vomiting and lethargy
Most likely, your veterinarian will feel your pet's abdomen for a firm coon and conduct the following tests:
- Barium enema
- Abdominal palpation
- Neurological exam
- Colonoscopy or ultrasound
- Blood count
- Xrays of the abdominal area
Most dog constipation cases can be handled with mild treatments. However, for severe cases, a vet may need to intervene in the following ways:
- Removal of the stool manually
- Administering medications that stimulate normal colon functioning
- Surgery in extreme cases
Top Remedies for Constipated Dogs
For mild constipation, here are some natural remedies to consider for your dog.
Exercise Your Pet
Inactivity is among the significant causes of constipation in dogs. If your pet isn't active enough to play or walk around frequently, their digestive system may suffer. They need regular exercise to enable food processing, digestion, and resultantly proper bowel movements. When dogs stay inactive, they begin storing food in the intestines and stomach instead of converting it to energy. The result is a harder stool which is more difficult to pass than regular stool.
The good news? Vigorous exercise helps break up the impacted fecal matter so your dog can pass it. Furthermore, the outdoors bring out your dog's wild instincts. While out, they are more willing to pass urine and fecal matter.
If exercising doesn't seem to help, this could be an indication that the fecal matter may be too huge to be broken down. If this happens, consider visiting your veterinarian, who may recommend an enema.
Sometimes, your pet could use some help to pass stool. This is where stool softeners come in. The American Kennel Club recommends stool softeners for your furry friend as they have a delicate digestive system. Generally, stool softeners are laxative-based assistants that allow your pet to pass stool effectively.
While stool softeners contain high fiber amounts to help make the passing of waste more bearable, several other substitutes exist. Canned pumpkin, for instance, is known for its ability to promote healthy bowel movement, hydrate, and provide fiber for your dog so it can pass waste matter.
You can combine stool softeners with canned pumpkin, but use small amounts. Although these products will help invigorate your pet's internal system, you should be wary of overusing them. Immediately you've administered dietary aids such as these to your dog, ensure you take them out, or else you'll be in for a rude shock.
Hydrate Your Dog
Dehydration is another major cause of dog constipation. Dehydration in dogs is difficult to notice, but you should always be on the lookout for the following signs:
- Dry nose
- Dry mouth
- Glazed eyes
- Appetite loss
- Foamy drool
If you want to check your pet's dehydration, vets recommend pulling on the extra fold of skin behind their neck. If this skin snaps back swiftly, your dog is hydrated, and the reverse is true.
On its own, water might not be sufficient if dehydration is the only factor causing constipation in your dog. When your pet is dehydrated, think about including Pedialyte and bone broth. You may also need to administer electrolytes to restore your pet's pH.
Just like stool softeners, ensure you use hydrants in small quantities to avoid further stomach upsets. Typically, it will take a day for your dog's bowel movements to go back to normal. If dehydration-triggered constipation becomes a recurring problem, consider getting hydration supplements for your little furry friend.
If there is a correlation between your pet's dietary habits and constipation, constipation could likely be food-triggered. Although it is normal for your dog to experience stomach upsets when changes are made in their diet, constipation could also signify a problem with their diet. It could be that the diet isn't balanced for your pet's dietary needs.
Nutrition is a vital element of your dog's well-being. So, if your dog experiences frequent constipation, you might have to transition to a diet approved by your veterinarian. While you may get different dog food recommendations from other vets, pet dieticians advise that your dog should consume minimal amounts of processed food.
Once you've nursed your friend back to health, they may return to their diet. It is advisable to prepare pet food. Although this could be more expensive and time-consuming than pre-made food, it is the perfect way to ensure the diet suits your dog's needs.
Use CBD Treats
Commonly referred to as CBD, cannabidiol is a popular health supplement that treats constipation and several other health issues in humans and pets. Vets recommend it because it can be used long-term and poses no adverse side effects.
CBD is among the several ingredients in cannabis. Unlike THC, it is non-intoxicating, so you don't have to worry about your dog getting high. The compound doesn't bind to the endocannabinoid system (ECS) receptors.
The ECS is a neurological network that maintains homeostasis in the body. It directs functions such as mood, memory, temperature, and appetite. A properly functioning ECS ensures you function in optimal health, while a compromised ECS could cause imbalances in the body and result in disorders.
CBD interrelates with the ECS and stimulates the production of endocannabinoids. It also inhibits the production of the enzyme that metabolizes these chemicals, thus slowing down their breakdown.
How Does CBD Help With Constipation?
The correlation between CBD and dog constipation is based on the interrelation between CBD and the receptors in the ECS. CB2 receptors are found throughout the body of dogs. As CBD circulates the body, it may engage these receptors, giving anti-inflammatory responses and calming effects in the intestinal muscles.
Put simply, CBD quiets your dog's mind and relieves tension. It also signals the sensory pain nerves and inflammation markers to relax. Furthermore, the compound increases the production of endocannabinoids which control pain responses and inflammation.
CBD relieves constipation in two ways. First, by reducing inflammation and pain in the gut. Second, by promoting healthy gut motility. So, you might want to consider CBD dog treats such as Calm Soft Chews to help manage constipation in your dog.
Constipation in dogs shouldn't be taken lightly. When you identify the condition early, you can easily manage it with home remedies, including CBD oil and treats. Because it promotes healthy bowel movement, CBD oil will come in handy for dogs with diarrhea and constipation. If your dog goes for more than two days without passing stool, you need to take them to the veterinary for examination.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Are the Consequences of Untreated Constipation
Untreated constipation could develop into obstipation. This is a condition where the waste in your dog's colon dries up, making it impossible to be moved. The colon will then pile up with stool your dog cannot pass, resulting in a more severe condition–megacolon.
Your pet's colon grows very large, causing them to become lethargic, bloated, and lose its appetite. These symptoms could cause significant complications, so it is vital to get your vet involved. They'd recommend a de-ostopation procedure to remove the stool manually. In severe cases, surgery would be the way to go.
Can Laxatives Help Relieve Constipation in Dogs?
Yes, laxatives help treat constipation in dogs. However, you can only use them following your vet's recommendation. The dosage is determined by your pet's size and weight. Laxatives are available in several forms, such as tablet and powder forms. The most commonly used laxative is canned pumpkin. You can mix it with dog food, so if your pet is a picky eater, you need not worry.