As a doting Dog Owner, you have probably become all too familiar with what comes out of your dog’s rear end, but what should you do if your furry friend is suffering from dog constipation? Should you take them to the vet right away? Or are there some home treatments that can do the trick?
In this article, we’ll offer some advice about how to help a constipated dog so that your pup can go back to their regular potty routine in no time.
How to identify constipation in dogs
As you probably guessed, the easiest way to tell that your dog is constipated is that they have stopped pooping. But, there are a few other symptoms that you’ll want to watch out for, including:
- Lack of appetite
- A hard belly that is sensitive to touch
- Constant squatting or scooting on the ground
- When your dog is able to defecate, they produce hard, pellet-like poop
- Signs of distress or restlessness
Does your constipated dog need to see the vet?
There are certain scenarios in which it’s time to stop searching “dog can’t poop and won’t eat” online and get your dog to the vet clinic. That’s because over time, constipation can worsen into a condition called obstipation, which can lead to long-term damage in the digestive system or even, eventually, death. So, it’s key that you get your dog examined by a vet as soon as possible if they:
- Have gone more than two days without toileting
- Are vomiting
- Have stopped eating completely
- Are showing signs of extreme discomfort, including panting, pacing, and a fixation on their belly
- Have blood in their stool or in mucus produced from the anus
If your dog is exhibiting any of the previous symptoms, your vet will conduct a few exams to rule out any other medical conditions. They will also ask you a number of questions about your dog to try to find out the cause of the constipation. From there, they will put together a treatment plan, which may include medication, enemas, or in extreme cases, surgery.
Is puppy constipation different from adult dog constipation?
Constipation is typically not as common in puppies as it is in older dogs, but it does happen from time to time. And while adult dog constipation doesn’t differ much from puppy constipation in terms of causes and treatments, it’s important to keep in mind that puppies are in a crucial developmental stage. As such, digestive problems that could affect their nutrition should be taken very seriously.
How to help a constipated dog at home
If your dog’s constipation is mild or in the early stages, you may be able to treat it at home. Here are a few DIY remedies and digestive health products that can encourage your dog to pass stool normally:
- Give them some stomach-soothing ingredients. Fibre-rich ingredients such as pureed pumpkin, sweet potato, or carrots can help to counter constipation. Or, if your dog can’t poop and won’t eat veggies, they may be more open to a tasty wet food, which will give them the extra hydration they need to pass stool.
- Make sure they hydrate. A constipated dog should have easy access to fresh water at all times. Your vet may also recommend a rehydration liquid with electrolytes to improve digestion.
- Start them on a probiotic. Probiotics are a great way to improve gut health and encourage normal digestion. And, they can be especially helpful in times of digestive upset. Probiotics from Pet Chemist come in capsule, sachet, or paste form so that you can choose a method based on your lifestyle and your dog’s preferences.
- Introduce some gentle exercise. Your dog may not be up for their normal exercise routine, but some gentle movement could encourage them to pass stool. This might involve longer walks or some slow agility course training.
Even if you are ready to try a dog constipation cure at home, we would still recommend that you have a vet sign off on it first. Give them a call so that you can discuss symptoms and see if your home remedies are a good place to start.
How to prevent dog constipation in the future
In order to prevent dog constipation from coming back, you’ll want to learn more about what causes it in the first place. Here are some common reasons why dogs develop constipation and how you can avoid them:
- Improper diet. Switching your dog food from generic brands to nutrient-rich, fresh dog food can go a long way towards better digestive health.
- Sudden changes in food. If you are going to upgrade your dog’s diet, make sure to do so slowly. Sudden changes in food can trigger diarrhoea and constipation.
- Lack of exercise. Once your doggo is back to normal after constipation, you can recommit to regular exercise! How much exercise your dog needs will depend on their age, breed, and medical history, but in general, they should have daily opportunities for about an hour of medium to rigorous play.
- Metabolic diseases, tumors and other medical conditions. Constipation can sometimes be associated with other medical conditions such as hypothyroidism, tumors, kidney disease and more. If your dog struggles with constipation regularly and you notice other symptoms such as changes in weight and energy levels, make sure to take your dog to the vet.
- Internal injuries or obstructions. You, of course, want your dog to live life to the fullest. But, if they tend to play hard and chew through everything in sight, they could be at risk for internal injuries. It may be helpful to give a high-energy dog plenty of forms of safe mental stimulation such as durable chew toys and dog sports such as dock diving or obstacle course training. And, you’ll want to limit their access to hazardous household items that could end up in their gut.
- Age. As dogs get older, they tend to be more prone to digestive issues such as constipation. Talk with your vet about medications or dietary changes that may help keep them regular in the senior years.
- Stress. Even as doting Dog Owners, we sometimes fail to recognise that we ask a lot of our dogs when it comes to toilet training. Not all dogs will feel comfortable pooping on busy sidewalks or be able to do their business on command. They may also be hesitant to go to the toilet if they’re around other dogs or experiencing some other kind of stress. If you think your dog’s constipation is the result of their environment, try to give them a quiet place to potty, and consider giving them a tasty treat after they’ve done their business.
- Hair balls. While less common than other causes of constipation, a build-up of fur in the digestive tract can lead to blockages. This may be more likely with particularly fluffy breeds like Pomeranians or Samoyeds. All dogs, and especially furry ones, can benefit from regular at-home grooming.
Your constipated dog is on the path to recovery!
Knowing how to help a constipated dog can be a process of finding a treatment plan that works for your unique doggo. But now that you know what to give a dog for constipation, when to go to the vet, and how to prevent it in the future, your pupper is on the way towards better digestive health!