Constipation in Dogs

Sometimes your dog may suffer from digestive troubles. One of the most uncomfortable digestive issues they may experience is constipation. Our vets in Doraville talk about the signs of constipation in dogs and its causes.

What is constipation in dogs?

Sometimes you may find that your dog's bowel movements are infrequent, difficult or even absent altogether. If this is the case then they may be experiencing one of the most frequently diagnosed and uncomfortable conditions seen in pets’ digestive systems - constipation.

What causes constipation in dogs?

Some of the possible causes for constipation in dogs are:

  • Lack of exercise
  • Excessive or insufficient fiber in his diet
  • Dehydration
  • Excessive self-grooming
  • Neurological disorder
  • Medication side effects
  • Enlarged prostate gland
  • Sudden change in diet 
  • Matted hair surrounding anus (caused by obesity or lack of grooming)
  • Blockage due to a foreign object
  • Tumors or masses on the anus, or within the rectum
  • Trauma to pelvis

While dogs of all ages can experience constipation it is most common in senior pets.

What are the symptoms of constipation?

If your dog is constipated you may notice that they are passing hard dry stools or mucus or possibly hasn't had a bowel movement for a day or two. When your dog is constipated it may attempt to pass stools but might be straining, crouching, or crying while trying to defecate. In some cases, you may even notice grass, string or matted feces around your dog's anal area. If it has been two or more days since your dog's last bowel movement then it is cause for concern and you should contact your vet immediately. 

The symptoms of constipation can also align with symptoms of other conditions such as a urinary tract infection so an examination by your vet is always the best course of action.

How is constipation in dogs treated?

The first step if you are concerned that your dog may be constipated is to have your vet perform a physical exam as well as any diagnostic testing such as blood tests that may help reveal infection or dehydration. The vet will likely take a medical history, conduct a rectal examination to rule out other causes or abnormalities. Once diagnosed your vet may recommend treatment such as:

  • Prescription diet high in fiber
  • Stool softener or other laxatives
  • More exercise
  • Adding more fiber to your dog’s diet (wheat bran, canned pumpkin or products such as Metamucil)
  • Medication to increase large intestine’s contractile strength
  • Increasing water intake

It is important with any treatment to follow your vet's instructions carefully in order to avoid creating any new issues. 

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

If constipation in your dog is left untreated, they will be unable to empty his colon on his own (a condition called obstipation). The colon then becomes packed with a dangerously large amount of feces, causing lethargy, unproductive straining, loss of appetite and potentially vomiting and is a serious condition that must be treated immediately.

Are you concerned that your dog may be constipated? Contact our Doraville vets to schedule your dog for an exam as soon as possible.