What to do if Your Dog is Constipated

Constipation is a common digestive issue seen by our Austell vets. But constipation can be fatal to your dog depending on the cause.


What is constipation in dogs?

Constipation is a condition in which your dog's bowel movements are infrequent, difficult to pass, or non-existent.

Pet owners should be aware that an inability to pass feces or pain associated with passing feces is a veterinary medical emergency that necessitates immediate attention!

If your dog is sZZZZZ to pass a stool and/or has hard, dry stools, these are also signs that your dog should be examined by a veterinarian as soon as possible.

When dogs try to defecate, they may pass mucus, circle excessively, scoot along the ground, or squat frequently without defecating. They may have a tense, painful abdomen if you press on their stomach or lower back, causing them to growl or cry.

What causes constipation in dogs?

Constipation in dogs can be caused by a variety of factors, the most common of which are:

  • Ingested pieces of toys, gravel, plants, dirt, and bones caught in the intestinal tract
  • Lack of exercise
  • Excessive or insufficient fiber in his diet
  • Other illnesses leading to dehydration
  • Blocked or abscessed anal sacs
  • Excessive self-grooming (excessive amounts of hair to collect in the stool)
  • A side effect of medication
  • An orthopedic issue causes pain when a dog positions himself to defecate
  • Enlarged prostate gland
  • Sudden change in diet or sampling new foods
  • Matted hair surrounding the anus (caused by obesity or lack of grooming)
  • Neurological disorder
  • Obstruction caused by tumors or masses on the anus, or within the rectum
  • Trauma to pelvis

Constipation may occur more frequently in elderly pets. However, any dog that is exposed to one or more of the scenarios described above may develop constipation.

What are common dog constipation symptoms?

Constipation is characterized by sZZZZZ, crying, or crouching when attempting to urinate. Also, if he hasn't pooped in two days, call your vet immediately.

Because these symptoms are similar to those of urinary tract issues, your vet must perform a full physical exam to determine the cause.

What can I give my dog for constipation?

If you Google "how to treat constipation in dogs," you'll find a wealth of information from both reliable and questionable sources.

Never give your dog human medications or treatments without first consulting your veterinarian. Dogs are toxic to a lot of human medications.

The best thing you can do is call your veterinarian and schedule an appointment for your dog to be examined. The treatment for constipation in your dog will be determined by the underlying cause of the problem.

If your dog ate something they shouldn't have, there's a chance a blockage is causing the problem. This is a medical emergency that will almost certainly necessitate immediate surgery.

Blood tests may reveal whether or not your dog has an infection or is dehydrated. The veterinarian will likely take a medical history, perform a rectal examination to rule out other causes or abnormalities, and prescribe one or more of the following treatments:

  • A prescription diet high in fiber
  • A stool softener or another laxative
  • More exercise
  • Enema (administered by a professional, not at home, as there could be a risk of injury or toxicity if done incorrectly)
  • Adding more fiber to your dog’s diet (wheat bran, canned pumpkin, or products such as Metamucil)
  • A small bowl of goat or cow milk
  • Medication to increase large intestine’s contractile strength

Follow your veterinarian's instructions carefully, as using too many of these or the wrong combination may result in diarrhea. You don't want to exchange one digestive issue for another.

What can happen if my dog’s constipation is not treated?

If your dog's constipation is not treated, they may develop the inability to empty their colon on their own (a condition called obstipation). The colon becomes overcrowded with an uncomfortably large amount of feces, resulting in lethargy, ineffective sZZZZZ, loss of appetite, and possibly vomiting.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Is your dog constipated? Contact our Austell vets today to book a consultation for your canine companion.