Normal digestion is the key to good health. So pay attention to how often your pet poops. A healthy adult dog does this 1-2 times a day. Puppies do this up to 5 times a day. If a pet began to do this less often, it means that he suffers from constipation. Sometimes it also can be a sign of serious health problems.
So, what can be the reasons for such a problem and how to help a dog get well as soon as possible? Read on and get to know everything about constipation in dogs.
Reasons for Constipation in Dogs
Most often, this problem is caused by the wrong lifestyle:
- improper feeding (lack of cellulose, iron deficiency);
- not drinking enough water;
- lack of physical activity;
- side effects of some medications (for example, antibiotics can provoke constipation).
But sometimes problems with the bowel appear as a result of different diseases. There are plenty of illnesses that can provoke constipation in dogs. Here are some examples:
- Worm infestation. Helminths interfere with the normal passage of contents through the intestines.
- Problems with the musculoskeletal system (arthritis, injuries, etc). It’s difficult for a dog to take the position needed for defecation because of pain in the joints or muscles.
- Nervous system diseases or spinal cord injury. In this case, the innervation of the bowel may be disrupted, which leads to a deterioration in its work.
- Perineal hernia, enlargement or neoplasm of the prostate, tumors in intestines. Such problems create mechanical obstacles to normal bowel movements.
- Foreign bodies in the bowel (dogs often swallow their own fur, toys, bones, rocks, and even just random things). Sometimes they safely pass through the entire intestine and go outside, but sometimes they get stuck and provoke problems in bowel functioning.
Constipation or Bowel Obstruction: How to Discern Them?
Constipation in a dog should be distinguished from a bowel obstruction. This is a disease when intestinal motility is disrupted or completely stopped. This is a serious problem that can lead to the death of a pet. In case of bowel obstruction, urgent vet’s help is needed. Self-treatment will harm the health of the animal.
This disease may be provoked by the same reasons as constipation: tumors in the intestines and foreign bodies in the bowel.
How to distinguish constipation from bowel obstruction? First of all, the frequency of pooping is even more seldom than in the case of constipation. In the advanced stages of a disease, a dog doesn’t poop at all. Also, additional symptoms appear:
- refusal to eat;
- weakness and passivity: a pet always lies and doesn’t want to walk or play;
- yelping because the dog’s belly hurts.
If you notice these symptoms in your pet, go to a vet immediately. Bowel obstruction can be cured only surgically. This disease is very dangerous and leads to death if not treated.
What Dogs are Prone to Constipation?
Predisposing factors include:
- old age;
- excess weight.
The breeds that are prone to obesity often begin to suffer from constipation frequently as their body weight increases. The following dogs have a higher risk to gain excess weight that can cause bowel problems: pug, dachshund, English bulldog, beagle, basset hound, retriever.
There is also a higher risk of constipation in breeds that are prone to joint problems. When the joints of their hind legs begin to hurt, it becomes more difficult for them to take the right position for defecation. Mainly, large breeds (like Labradors, shepherds, rottweilers, Newfoundland, St. Bernard, and others) are prone to arthritis.
Signs of Constipation in Dogs
This problem is very easy to recognize. Here is the list of signs:
- A pet poops once in 2-3 days or even less often (for a young puppy, even once a day is seldom, 4-5 times a day is normal);
- A dog takes a position typical for defecation and makes efforts, but there is no result.
- A dog wants to go outside more often than usual, as it has the urge to defecate, which doesn’t bring results.
- Feces are dry and hard. They are excreted in small quantities.
In the advanced forms of the illness additional symptoms appear:
- Bloating and flatulence.
- Decreased activity.
- Low appetite.
What to Do if You Have Noticed Constipation in a Pet
We advise you to bring your dog to a vet for detecting the exact reasons for bowel dysfunctions. Depending on the causes, a doctor will give recommendations. Sometimes changing the diet or lifestyle is enough. In other cases, it will be necessary to cure the main disease that has led to constipation.
But anyway, first aid is needed for relieving the dog of symptoms. For the pet to poop well, he is given professional medications. In mild cases, folk remedies can also help. Below, we will tell you more about what remedies are used to relieve symptoms of constipation in dogs.
Medications for Constipation in Dogs
Usually, vets prescribe the following remedies to solve this problem:
- Milk of Magnesia. This is an effective but soft laxative for pets. It liquefies feces due to drawing water to the intestines and makes them easier to be removed from the body.
- Mucofalk. This is a plant-based laxative. It is effective and completely safe for dogs as it’s natural and doesn’t contain aggressive chemical agents.
- Docusate sodium, docusate calcium. These drugs draw water into the intestines. It permeates the feces and makes them softer. Thus, it becomes easier for a dog to defecate.
- Ranitidine, nizatidine. These medications stimulate bowel peristaltic.
Folk Remedies for Constipation in Dogs
One of these solutions can be effective for a mild form of this problem:
- Kefir. Give it to a dog before going to sleep. For small breeds, 2-3 tablespoons are enough. For large dogs, a glass of this drink is needed.
- Carrots and beets. These vegetables have a laxative effect. If your pet eats them regularly he will not suffer from constipation.
- Prunes. Few dogs like this dried fruit, but still keep in mind that it helps with constipation.
- Infusion of pumpkin seeds. Pour 2 tablespoons of seeds with a glass of boiling water, wait for it to cool off, and make your dog drink the remedy (the dosage varies from 2-3 tablespoons for miniature breeds up to a whole glass for large pets).
What is Forbidden to Do in Case of Constipation in Dogs
Some popular self-medication methods that often come to the mind of owners are rather dangerous. Here is what is forbidden to do if your pet suffers from constipation:
- Don’t give laxatives intended for humans. They can contain substances that are toxic to canines. Also, they may never have an expected effect or cause the opposite problem (diarrhea).
- Don’t use human rectal suppositories. They are not intended for dogs and can make the situation worse.
- Don’t do an enema without consulting a vet. This is a good method of bowel cleansing. But it is good only in the case when the causes of constipation are precisely known and a doctor is sure that the use of an enema will not harm the fluffy patient. Also, in order to get the needed effect and don’t harm a pet, you must carry out the procedure correctly. If you don’t know how to do it in the right way, then a vet should show it to you. And only then you will be able to carry out the procedure yourself at home according to all the doctor’s instructions.
Prophylaxis of Constipation in Dogs
Pay special attention to preventive measures if your dog is at risk or has already suffered from such a problem. Here is the list of rules to stick to if you don’t want your pet to face bowel dysfunctions:
- Choose the right diet. If your pet is fed on a natural diet, add vegetables and other foods that contain more cellulose. Eliminate gas-forming foods (legumes, cabbage, apples, corn, potatoes). Don’t give tubular bones. If your pet is fed on feeds, then consult a vet to choose the most suitable option taking into account age, breed, level of activity, health status, and other peculiarities. Don’t mix dry and natural food.
- Don’t give too much food to your pet. This leads to obesity. And this is a common reason for constipation.
- Don’t feed your dog right before a walk. Physical activity immediately after eating interferes with high-quality digestion.
- Walk your pet more often and do it more actively. The lack of physical activity provokes stagnant processes in the body, and intestinal peristalsis deteriorates.
- Always fill the bowl with water on time. Dehydration interferes with normal digestion and makes feces harder, so it becomes more difficult for a dog to defecate.
- Take care of worm prevention. They severely disrupt the normal functioning of the digestive system. So, make sure to use dog dewormers 1-2 times a year for reliable prophylaxis of parasites.
- Make sure that a dog receives enough iron. This micronutrient is very important for normal bowel functioning. If there is not enough iron-containing food in the diet, buy dog vitamins with this micronutrient.
If your pet is prone to constipation make sure to add laxative to a dog first aid kit. Thus, you will be able to help a pet immediately when a problem appears again.