When a dog is constipated, he is not able to poop as he should. Older dogs become constipated more often than younger dogs, but it can occur at any age and with any breed. It is important to address the problem when your dog is constipated in order to help avoid additional health problems.

How Can I Tell If My Dog Is Constipated?

Your dog is probably constipated if he has a hard time pooping, especially if he evacuates on a regular daily basis. A dog that is constipated may have a bloated belly and appear to be in pain with moans or even shivers, especially when unsuccessfully trying to poop. You may notice objects such as string, grass or matted feces near or in his anus.

If your dog can poop at all, the color of it may be darker than usual, or look different in some other way. It may also contain blood or mucus.

You can also learn how to recognize constipation in a dog by watching the video below:

What Can Happen If Constipation Goes Untreated?

If his constipation is not treated, your dog may become unable to use the bathroom without assistance, which is a condition known as obstipation. When this happens, your dog may become very uncomfortable and lethargic. He may lose his appetite, strain unproductively, and maybe even vomit, all due to a buildup of feces in the colon.

Why Is My Dog Getting Constipated?

There are a number of reasons why a dog may become constipated, many of which are easily avoidable. Not getting enough exercise, dietary fiber or water can cause dogs to have trouble using the bathroom. Dogs can also become stressed when they experience a routine change or are introduced to new surroundings, which can lead to constipation. If a dog swallows a rock, hair, a bone, or any other foreign object, he can have a hard time passing stool.

Other causes of constipation in dogs include medical conditions, such as an enlarged prostate gland, blocked or abscessed anal sacs, or an anal or rectal obstruction caused by a mass or tumor. Neurological problems, side effects of medication, dehydration due to an illness, or pain when trying to poop as a result of an orthopedic issue can also cause constipation.

Dogs may ingest an excessive amount of hair because of self grooming, or because of a lot of matted hair near the anus, being overweight or not grooming properly. If your dog swallows a foreign object, it can cause constipation related to a bowel obstruction.

How Can I Treat My Constipated Dog?

Treatment for constipation depends on the cause. Here are some treatments that may be suggested by your vet.

Immediate Care

  • Be sure to wear rubber gloves when providing these care techniques.

  • If you are able to see grass in your dog’s anus, you can carefully pull it out. If you notice a foreign object such as string or thread, do not pull it as it can cause damage to the intestine.

  • If there is matted hair imbedded with poop around your dog’s anus, you can use scissors to carefully cut it out. If your dog has long hair, you may need to soak your dog’s backside in warm water first, especially if your dog is a smaller breed. Long-haired dogs tend to be very sensitive when this area becomes matted or when having this area trimmed.

  • To ease your dog’s discomfort, wash the area around the anus with warm, soapy water. A water soluble gel, like K-Y, can be applied for added comfort.

  • Be sure to check your dog's temperature. If you notice blood on the thermometer, encounter resistance when inserting it, or if your dog’s temperature is very high, contact your vet right away.


Home Care

  • Prepare your dog a balanced diet with additional fiber

The most common reason for occasional constipation in dogs is dietary indiscretion, which is when your dog eats things like kitty litter, rocks, sticks, or your socks. Processed dry kibble food is another cause of constipation because it isn’t natural. The best foods that you can give your dog are those you prepare yourself that are well balanced and include the right ingredients for your breed of dog. Not only will this type of meal help your dog’s digestion, it will help keep your dog healthy.

Your dog’s meal should include dietary fiber. Pet dogs can get additional fiber by being fed canned milk, gravy and milk.

Psyllium husk powder, coconut fiber, dark leafy vegetables, and canned 100% pumpkin are also excellent sources of dietary fiber. They should be given to your dog with food 1 to 2 times/day. The guideline amount to give is 1 tsp/10 lbs of body weight, except for psyllium husk powder, which should be ½ tsp/10 lbs of body weight.

  • Give your dog some supplements

Supplements, such as probiotics and digestive enzymes, assist with the relief of maldigestion, which can cause intestinal issues like constipation and diarrhea. Check with your vet regarding dosages and supplement types as these are based on your dog’s unique needs.

  • Give your dog plenty of exercise and fresh drinking water

In order to help prevent constipation and get or keep things moving, dogs, like other animals, need to drink a lot of fresh water and take part in plenty of physical activity.

  • Chiropractic, acupuncture/pressure and massage

Natural treatments such as massage, chiropractic therapy and acupuncture/pressure have been known to help prevent and treat dogs with chronic constipation.

  • Use apple cider vinegar and aloe juice

Aloe juice can be given to dogs 1 to 2 times/day with food (not the topical gel), with the suggested serving being ¼ tsp/10 lbs of body weight. Before giving aloe juice to your dog, it is recommended to check with your vet.

Apple cider vinegar (organic) has been proven to help relieve and treat many issues in dogs, other pets, and people. ACV helps get rid of constipation as well as improve overall digestion. It can be added to your dog’s food 1 to 2 times/day based on ¼ tsp/10 lbs of body weight.


Veterinary Care

Common tests performed by vets to diagnose the cause of constipation may include blood work, abdominal ultrasound and X-rays.

If the results show an obstruction in the anus, your dog may be admitted to hospital and given treatment, such as enemas, to pass or remove the obstruction. Your vet may also administer fluids under your dog’s skin to help increase hydration to his intestines. In more extreme cases, your dog may be given fluids by IV. If tests suggest that the prostate is the underlying cause of constipation, your vet will recommend castration.

How Can I Prevent My Dog from Getting Constipated?

To help keep your dog from becoming constipated, try to limit the amount of grass your dog eats. Try giving your dog a nylon chew toy instead of a bone to limit the chances of obstruction. Make sure that your dog is given lots of water to drink, and if your dog becomes constipated, give him purpose-made laxative to make the stool softer and easier to pass. By neutering your dog when he is young, you can avoid constipation caused by prostate issues later on.


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