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Dog Constipation: Causes, Symptoms + Effective Treatments

Whether for a human or dog, constipation can be a pretty uncomfortable and surprisingly common problem. Check for these signs if you suspect your pup is constipated and treat the issue at home to provide your dog some needed relief!

One of the dirtiest jobs as a pet owner is keeping track of our pets' bowel movements. 

'Scooping the poop' comes with the territory of dog ownership, and over time we become pretty familiar with how much our dogs usually defecate, what their poop looks like, and how many times it usually happens daily. 

Although they can't tell us directly, a few out-of-the-ordinary poops, or lack thereof, can raise the alarms to let us know that something is off with our canines' digestion. 

Learn more about doggie constipation signs and symptoms, common causes, how to treat it at home naturally, and when it's severe enough to see a vet for some help. 

What is Constipation?

Pups seem just as prone to occasional or chronic constipation issues as humans, but what is it, exactly? 

Dog constipation can range in severity, but in a nutshell, it means a dog is having issues passing stool or feces. They may struggle and be in pain while they pass poop or, in the worst cases, they may not be able to pass stool at all. 

Symptoms + Signs of Constipation in Dogs

These are the main symptoms and signs to look for if you suspect your dog is constipated. If your dog hasn't passed any feces within 24 hours, it's time to take them to the vet before you proceed with at-home treatment. 

Mild Constipation Symptoms

Here are some signs of a more mild case of constipation in dogs:

  • Hasn't passed feces within 24 hours
  • Circling and frequent squatting without producing a stool
  • Dragging their bum along the floor
  • Passing mucus or liquid stool after straining to defecate
  • Straining and pushing hard to defecate
  • Taking longer than the usual time to defecate
  • Pain and discomfort signs while defecating, including whining and whimpering
  • Producing small, rock-hard, or very firm stool that may resemble pebbles

Severe Constipation Symptoms

These are the major signs that your dog is constipated more severely:

  • Showing even more intense symptoms of discomfort during defecation and generally
  • Lowered appetite or loss of hunger altogether
  • Vomiting after eating
  • Loss of strength and lower than usual energy levels; lethargy
  • Hasn't passed stool in more than three days
  • Bloody, hard stool
  • Has a bloated or distended abdomen/belly

What Causes Constipation Pain in Dogs?

While pups have a pretty heavy-duty digestive system compared to ours, they're not entirely invincible.

The most common reason a dog may develop constipation issues is by eating something they shouldn't, and any dog owner knows that is one of a pup's favorite pastimes!

  • If your pup eats a piece of a toy, dirt, gravel, or inedible fabric, it can't be adequately digested and may start to back things up in their intestines and cause a dog's constipation. Even too much fur ingested during grooming can 'clog up the pipes.'
  • Some medications can cause constipation as an unwanted side effect, so check with your vet to see if your pup's prescription may be causing their trouble going #2. 
  • Another cause of constipation in dogs can be dehydration. Pups are easily distracted in the big excitement of their day (Toys! Treats! People!), so ensure your doggo has plenty of fresh water placed in highly-traveled areas, so they remember to lap up some H2O regularly. 
  • Lack of exercise can lead to an underactive digestive system - one more good reason to take your dog out for long walks and lots of play. 
  • diet that lacks fiber will make it more difficult for a dog to digest food regularly, leading to slow-moving feces. Fiber cleans out the intestines and aids digestion as it moves things along, which is why both humans and dogs should be eating a lot of it. 
  • Old age can be a factor in a dog's constipation, too. 

Some health issues may cause constipation that will require a vet visit. Take your canine to the clinic if you suspect any of the following problems:

  • Enlarged prostate
  • Abscessed or blocked anal sacks
  • Hernias 
  • Kidney disease
  • Tumors around the anus and colon
  • Metabolic, endocrine, or neurologic disorders
  • Orthopedic disorders that make getting into the defecation crouch difficult

Dog Constipation Treatment At Home: How To Relieve Constipation

Now that you know the signs and symptoms of dog constipation, let's get into what to give a dog for constipation relief. 

Firstly, take your pup to the vet if they haven't pooped in the last 24 hours to get a professional exam. 

For mild cases and post-vet dog constipation relief, try the at-home remedies below.

Fiber

Fiber is the ultimate stool-mover in a pup's intestines, so make sure you're feeding your dog enough fiber daily. 

First, ask the vet for recommendations on a good-quality food containing ample fiber and supplement with some extra fibrous foods that your pup will love, like pumpkin puree, wheat bran, or other fiber supplements. 

Exercise

Exercise helps our dogs stay healthy, physically strong, and emotionally well-adjusted; it also helps a pup's poop move through their intestines and activates the colon. 

Ensure you're taking your dog on 1-2 walks per day at a minimum of 30 minutes, depending on size and breed.

Pepper fun playtime throughout the day, too, to get them hopping, jumping, and running their way to good colon health. 

Laxatives, Enemas, and Stool Softener

In some cases, you may need some medical intervention to get your doggo's constipation under control. 

Always get your vet's permission before feeding your pet a laxative medication or performing an enema at home to ensure you're following the procedures safely. 

And never feed your dog mineral oil - although humans are generally safe to use this laxative solution, it can give your pup severe pneumonia if they accidentally inhale it. 

Hydration 

Keeping your pup hydrated is a crucial constipation remedy and future prevention tool.

If your dog isn't drinking enough, their body will reabsorb water from their stool back into their system, making it hard, dry, and difficult to pass. 

  • Place a few fresh water bowls in easy-to-access areas of your home and refill them often.
  • If you spend a lot of time outdoors, bring a travel bottle that you can use to feed your dog water. 
  • If your pup is old and has mobility issues, it's even more crucial to ensure they're getting enough water. Place ramps around the home like this bed ramp for dogs, and keep water bowls in almost every room - make it as easy as possible for your pup to access water 24/7. 

Final Notes: What Can Happen if Constipation Goes Untreated?

As you can imagine, constipation is quite painful for a dog and, when left untreated, can lead to an intestinal blockage that will make a dog very ill and require a medical "unblocking."

Luckily, you should notice the signs of constipation in your pup quite early and treat the minor issue before it becomes a bigger one. 

We wish your pup many happy poops ahead!

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