If you have a canine companion, dog constipation can become an issue you have to deal with at some point. Most dogs will experience constipation at some point. But you may not know it if you’re not paying attention.
For a dog, normal bowel routines include having one or two bowel movements each day. On occasion your dog may skip a day or even two, but that’s not usually cause for alarm. However, there are situations where you should be concerned that your dog is constipated.
Even if your dog misses a bowel movement, you can feel pretty secure if the next bowel movement seems to be the normal size and your dog can pass it easily. If you find that the stools become dry, hard, or that your dog is straining to have a bowel movement it could signal constipation.
Causes of Dog Constipation
How does constipation happen in dogs? It’s actually pretty common as dogs age.
Not enough water
Usually it’s because they don’t drink enough water. It’s important to make sure your dog has access to water at all times. When your dog doesn’t drink plenty of water he can become dehydrated.
Just like in humans, when your dog gets dehydrated the body tries to hold onto as much water as possible. The organ responsible for that process is the large intestine. It will remove too much water from the solid waste and that can cause it to be hard and difficult to pass.
Holding it for too long
If you’re gone a lot and your canine companion has to hold in her bowel movements for long periods of time, this can also lead to constipation. It’s important to make sure that you provide the opportunity for your dog to go outside several times a day to prevent this from happening.
And if you have a change in schedule such as traveling or boarding your dog, you can expect that he might have some problems with regularity – just like humans.
Eating the wrong stuff
Your dog may also develop constipation by eating something he shouldn’t. Dogs are notorious for getting into the trash or finding inedible objects to chew on. When this happens, the material can get stuck as it mixes with the normal waste.
And often medications used to treat other health problems in dogs can cause constipation as a side effect. In rare cases, constipation may be a sign of something more serious such as a thyroid problem or cancer.
Treating Your Constipated Dog
If you notice that your dog has missed bowel movements and seems to be straining, you can do several things at home.
Drink water and eat right
First, encourage your dog to drink water and give your dog appropriate chew toys to eliminate the need to chew on inappropriate items.
Encourage your dog to poop
If your dog has been stuck inside and unable to go out to defecate, make sure to schedule regular breaks for him to go. You can also add some home remedies to your dog’s diet that may help her to go.
For example, giving your dog a spoon of canned pumpkin can help to add fiber to the colon and allow your dog to have a bowel movement. Incidentally, pumpkin can also treat constipation. It’s a great item to keep in your pantry.
You can also give your dog Metamucil in appropriate doses for his size. You should check with your vet to determine how much is the proper amount. These laxatives can be used to help your dog have more regular bowel movements and you can even make them a permanent addition to your dog’s diet if she suffers from chronic constipation.
In addition, you can also give your dog mineral oil occasionally to help lubricate the digestive system and make passing stools easier. However you shouldn’t do this often and you need to make sure it won’t interfere with other medications your dog is taking.
Speak to a vet
It’s important to consult your vet if you’re concerned about your dog’s constipation. Missing a few bowel movements isn’t a big deal. But if your dog seems like he’s in pain, is straining, or has the added symptom of vomiting it’s important not to let constipation go untreated.
A veterinarian can check to make sure there’s not a bowel obstruction and that there’s no underlying medical problem causing the dog’s constipation. Pets are often beloved members of the family and it’s important to look after their health needs.