Constipation in Dogs: Causes & Treatments

Constipation is one of the most common digestive issues seen in dogs. This gastrointestinal condition can happen to any dog, regardless of breed, age, or size. Here, our Boulder and Northside Emergency Pet Clinics vets explain possible causes and treatments of constipation in dogs.

My Dog is Constipated

When a dog is constipated, it means they are unable to pass a healthy stool or to defecate at all. As this is a common issue in dogs that could be caused by a variety of things, constipation will usually go away on its own. However, sometimes the it is caused by an internal blockage or other serious internal issues and that could require emergency care. 

Some dogs experience chronic constipation and may need additional support from your vet to get their bowels back in shape. 

Left untreated, constipation can become a painful problem for your dog and can lead to lethargy, a loss of appetite, vomiting, or weight loss.

Dog Constipation Symptoms

Common symptoms of dog constipation owners can look out for include:

  • Being unable to pass a stool for 2+ days 
  • Straining or apparent discomfort while defecating
  • Hard, dry stools
  • Blood or mucus in the stool

Causes of Constipation in Dogs

It's hard to know whether or not your dog's constipation is something to be concerned about. In general, we always recommend taking your pup to the vet to rule out any serious health issues.

Some common causes of constipation in dogs that owners should be aware of 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

How To Help A Constipated Dog

Constipation is always the result of something else, so the root cause of constipation will change what the treatment is. Your veterinarian will examine your dog to determine the underlying cause. If the ingestion of a foreign object is suspected x-rays may be recommended so that the object can be located. 

Once the root cause has been diagnosed, your vet will move on with medicated or at-home treatment. Some of the most common treatments for constipation in dogs include:

  • Dog-specific laxatives
  • Medication to increase the strength of the large intestine
  • Increasing the amount of fiber in your dog's diet
  • Increasing your dog's daily exercise

In some more severe cases, surgery may be required, which is why it's important to eliminate any risks by just taking your dog to the vet if they have been constipated for a long period of time.

What Can I Give My Dog For Constipation? 

If you're wondering what to do if your dog is constipated, you're not alone. In many situations, mild constipation can be treated quite easily at home, but it is always best to talk to a vet before attempting any home treatments. Common home remedies to help a constipated dog are:

  • Canned Pumpkin
  • Extra Water
  • Bran
  • Exercise 
  • Canned Dog Food to Increase Moisture

Please remember that if your dog's constipation does not resolve itself within 48 hours, take them to the vet!

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.

Is your dog constipated? Is it not passing on its own? Contact our Boulder and Westminster vets today to book an appointment and get your dog treated!