Dog Constipation Causes and Treatment
Constipation is a common health problem in dogs and refers to the inability to pass a normal stool on a regular basis.
This can happen for different reasons and usually can be easily fixed, but some dogs may experience chronic constipation. This can lead to obstipation where the stool becomes drier, harder, and compacted and the dog can’t defecate at all.
Causes of Canine Constipation
In normal digestion, waste is full of water and electrolytes as it is pushed through the intestines to the colon by an automatic muscular motion called peristaltic waves. The water is absorbed in the colon and the waste is moved out as a stool.
If this process becomes slow or impaired, the colon will keep absorbing water and the stool will become harder, drier, and possibly compacted.
Some of the most common causes of constipation in dogs include:
Lack of exercise
Not enough fiber
Blockages from eating non-food items like garbage, bones, gravel, or plants
Too much self-grooming that leads to hair collecting in the stool
Anal gland problems
Trauma to the pelvis
Symptoms of Dog Constipation
Symptoms of dog constipation include:
Lack of defecation for a few days
Hard, pebble-like stool
Straining without producing much stool
Mucus with stool
Treatment for Canine Constipation
Most of the time occasional constipation can easily be treated at home with lifestyle adjustments. You may be able to help your dog’s constipation with a home remedy, but make sure to talk to your vet. Constipation can be a sign of other more serious conditions.
Simple dog constipation treatments often include:
Metamucil, Siblin, or a similar product
Canned dog food to increase moisture
For chronic or persistent constipation, your vet may recommend some changes or other treatments. These may include:
Manual removal if the colon is impacted
Enemas. Enemas can be uncomfortable for your dog. Most dogs do not tolerate this procedure and it should not be forced on your dog. Additionally, enema solutions can be toxic to dogs and cause injury if they’re done wrong. It’s important to leave these procedures to your vet to perform if needed.
Read also: Allergies in dogs
Laxatives. You should speak to your vet before giving a laxative solution to your dog. Long-term use and other conditions like dehydration can make laxative solutions unsafe.
Low-residue diet. A low-residue diet is often a better long-term solution for persistent constipation. This kind of diet means your dog may digest more nutrients and have less waste to pass into the colon.
This might be better than a long-term high-fiber diet. Fiber absorbs water from the colon and can aggravate constipation over time. This kind of diet is usually only available through your veterinarian.
To keep your dog’s colon healthy, make sure to get them regular exercise, feed them a healthy, well-balanced diet, and give them access to clean fresh water.
Complications of Untreated Constipation
If your dog’s constipation goes untreated, it can develop into obstipation. This happens when the waste in the colon becomes so dry and hard that it can’t be moved. The colon then becomes packed with stool and your dog is unable to pass it. This leads to a condition called megacolon.
The colon becomes uncomfortably large and your dog may become bloated and lethargic, lose their appetite, strain while defecating, and vomit. These can lead to more serious complications and may require medical interventions like surgery, or a manual stool removal called de-obstipation.
It may be difficult to manually remove all the stool, which can lead to multiple procedures and a high cost. Given that the process involves anesthesia, this can lead to a greater risk to your dog’s health
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