How to help a constipated dog

Constipation is a common ailment in dogs but if left untreated can lead to more serious health problems. Here's how you can treat your pet's constipation.

18th November 2016

What is constipation?

Constipation is a common digestive problem where there is an inability to produce frequent bowel movements. This uncomfortable condition can affect every breed and age of the dog.

What causes constipation in dogs?

Dogs can become constipated for the following reasons:

  • Lack of fibre in their diet
  • Dehydration
  • A side effect of medication
  • Enlarged prostate gland
  • Swallowed a foreign object
  • Behavioural unwillingness to defecate when needed
  • Lack of exercise

What are the symptoms of constipation in dogs?

Signs of constipation include dry, hard stools and straining when your dog tries to pass faeces.

You may notice that your dog has not passed a stool for two or more days. They may also whimper or strain when they are trying to defecate as they may be swollen around the back end.

Dogs may also show a loss of appetite, obvious pain when going to the toilet, lethargy or they may start to eat large quantities of grass.

Dog looking uncomfortable

How to help a constipated dog

Constipation usually comes in one-off bouts and your dog’s bowel movements should go back to normal by itself within a few days. For longer spells, you will need to assess your pet’s diet and exercise.

There are several ways to help constipated dogs.

  1. Add more high fibre foods to your dog’s diet to help them pass their stool more easily. You can also feed them more wet food, or soak their dry food in water before serving it to them.
  2. One of the main reasons for constipation is dehydration. Ensure your dog has free access to drinks and that its water bowl is always full.
  3. Dogs tend to eat foreign objects such as toys, bones and hair. These can cause the faecal track to become blocked. Adding fibre such as vegetables to the dog’s diet will help it pass a stool.
  4. Make sure you walk your dog regularly, and if you normally do this you could try extending the amount of time spent on a walk to help get their bowels moving.
  5. You can try giving your dog milk as it can work as an efficient laxative, but it should only be given in small amounts and should not become a regular part of their diet.

Keeping constipation at bay

The condition, which can be painful, can be kept under control with frequent exercise, access to water and a well-balanced diet.

If your dog is male, you can avoid prostate enlargement by having him neutered at an early age.

If you follow the advice in this blog, you’ll be well placed to help your constipated dog. If you’re concerned about your pet’s health, why not visit our dog insurance page to see how we can help protect your furry friend.

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