Unless you walk your dog, put down new papers every day or clean up piles on the good rug, you may not notice that your dog is constipated. However, keeping track of your dogs toilet habits is an important part of dog ownership, especially as they age, if they are on medication or if they enjoy chewing things they shouldn't.
A dog can develop a minor case of constipation because of changes in diet, lack of exercise, dehydration, digesting real bones (e.g. raw chicken bones) or eating dairy products, particularly cheese. In most cases, constipation is temporary problem, but constipation can also be caused by much more serious problems including intestinal blockages, tumors, digestive problems, megacolon, prostate problems, hernia or pelvic injury.
The typical dog will have one or two bowel movements a day depending on the number of times they eat, of course individual dog's habits vary. You should be concerned if:
- Your dog doesn't defecate for more than 24 to 36 hours.
- Your dog strains and produces no stool, small hard stools or stools with foreign material (cloth or bits of toys, for example).
- The stool is very dark, white and powdery (from digesting bones) or contains blood or mucus.
- Your dog cries, whines and/or circles excessively in their defecating "stance".
- There's a watery discharge, like a thin diarrhea, caused by digestive fluids leaking past the blockage, especially after an extended period of straining.
- If the dog may looses their appetite and/or begins to vomit.
It's important to speak to your veterinarian immediately if your dog is unable to pass a stool for more that 36 hours or if they begin to vomit.
While you're probably sure at this point that your dog IS constipated, it's vital that you consult with your vet as to WHY your dog is constipated - it can be a matter of life or death. A trip to the veterinary clinic is in order - remember to take a fresh stool sample (if you have one).
Your vet may be able to determine the cause of the constipation by physical examination or by examining the stool sample. An X-ray or ultrasound may also be required.
Your vet may use an enema or prescribe laxatives if the constipation is a bit more serious. Although some people advise home remedies, it is wise to talk to your vet first - it's easy to injure a dog if the enema is not administered correctly, or if a laxative is given and the dog has a severe blockage.
If the there's a blockage close to the rectum, an enema or manual evacuation may successfully solve the problem. However, If the constipation is serious, caused by a blockage in the stomach or small intestine, or if there is an injury or tumors, surgery may be required.
If your dog is diagnosed with megacolon, they may require daily enemas.
Supplementing your dog's regular diet with fiber, pumpkin (great for diarrhea too) or vegetables can help prevent constipation. Make sure fresh water is always available, and add a little to their food too.
Taking your dog for a walk once or twice a day will not only help their digestion, it will keep them trim, healthy and happy.
Pet Place: Constipation in Dogs
Symptoms of intestinal blockages in dogs