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Constipation in Dogs: What to Do When Your Dog Can't Go

Constipation is a common problem seen by our Cordova vets in dogs of all breeds and sizes. In today's post, our vets at Memphis Veterinary Specialists offer some tips on what you should do if you think your dog is constipated.

Signs of Constipation in Dogs

If your dog passes dry hard stools or mucus while trying to pass a bowel movement there's a good chance your pup is constipated.  Not having a bowel movement for two or more days can be another clear sign that your pet is constipated, as can straining, crouching, or whining while trying to defecate. In some cases, you may even notice grass, string, or matted feces around your dog's anal area.

What causes constipation in dogs?

There are many reasons why your dog might be constipated. Some of the most common reasons for constipation in dogs include:

  • Dehydration
  • Ingested items such as toys, dirt, grass, or fabric pieces (rugs, clothing, or towels)
  • Pain caused by orthopedic issues when trying to pass a bowel movement 
  • Abscessed or blocked anal sacks
  • Insufficient fiber in diet
  • Tumors, masses, or matted hair around the anus
  • Enlarged prostate
  • Ingested hair from excessive self-grooming
  • Insufficient daily exercise

What To Do If Your Dog is Constipated

If you notice your dog is experiencing any of the signs of constipation mentioned above it is important that you take them to the vet. While constipation is normally a harmless issue that can be easily remedied, it can sometimes indicate a more serious underlying health concern, such as an injected foreign object. It is always best to err on the side of caution — if your dog has been unable to pass a bowel movement for over 48 hours or seems to be in pain or discomfort, it might be an emergency situation. Bring them to the vet right away. 

How to Treat Constipation in Dogs

Treating constipation in dogs depends a lot on the underlying cause of the dog's discomfort. Your veterinarian will examine your pup for indications as to the underlying cause. If the ingestion of a foreign object is suspected X-rays may be recommended so that the object can be located and a treatment plan can be made for your dog. 

Once the underlying cause of your dog's constipation has been determined your veterinarian will recommend the best treatment for your dog's specific case.

Some of the most common treatments for constipation in dogs are; dog-specific laxatives, medication to increase the strength of the large intestine, increasing the amount of fiber in your dog's diet, and increasing your dog's daily exercise. In cases of ingestion, life-saving surgery may be required to remove the object and prevent severe blockages and damage to your dog's digestive tract.

Some other common at-home remedies to relieve non-emergency constipation in dogs are canned pumpkin, wet dog food, or a bit of bran added to their food. Always consult with your vet before trying any at-home treatments. 

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.

If you think your pet may have ingested a foreign item or you are concerned about your dog's constipation, please contact us and then bring your dog to Memphis Veterinary Specialists for 24/7 emergency care.

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