Constipation in dogs – we don’t like to see it. When they have to strain hard to relieve themselves, it hurts us as well. Straining can take place when they don’t have one or two bowel movements a day.
Fortunately there are things we can do about it. In this article I will cover the following:
• Causes of dog constipation
• How constipation can affect a dog’s health
• How to overcome dog constipation
• Constipation in older dogs
Dog constipation can be caused by a number of things.
Some dogs may have a weak rectum. With this weakness, the stool, though partly expelled, slips back in again. Dogs can have trouble getting the whole bowel movement out.
When the rectum is weak, signs include chronic constipation with straining and stools that are sticky and messy rather than hard. Even though the stool is soft, weak rectal muscles make passage difficult.
Obstructions can happen when a dog swallows items that it isn't able to digest, including bones and hair. These mix in with fecal matter and can cause problems.
Longer term constipation can be caused by something on the outside of the bowels pressing against them, by an obstruction in the intestines, or because nerves that regulate the muscles of the colon have been damaged.
A reluctance to have regular bowel movements may be caused by pain experienced during defecation or from stress caused by the dog's environment. These can contribute to dry, hard feces.
By being observant, it is fairly easy to figure out when the problem of constipation in dogs exists.
A dog with repeated but ineffectual straining may show irritability, pain and a tendency to hide or a desire to just be left alone. Straining can cause balloons to develop in the colon wall. Feces tends to lodge in these balloons, which then becomes a breeding ground for infection and disease.
Constipation may develop further into chronic constipation. This causes toxins that were supposed to be eliminated to be reabsorbed into the blood system, resulting in a less healthy dog.
Constipation that is a continuing problem can result in a dog has no desire to have a bowel movement or very little concern about it. As you can see, it is important to find a solution for constipation in dogs.
In most instances, constipation in dogs is easily corrected. You may be able to eliminate milder dog constipation simply by:
For the ongoing prevention or relief of constipation, add a mineral supplement rich in magnesium to your dog’s drinking water. We give this to our cats in a daily bowl of milk, and it works like a charm. It is great for people, too! Magnesium has numerous health benefits.
Constipation may be more severe in a dog that is sick. When it takes feces longer to pass through the colon, it gives the colon more time to extract moisture, resulting in stool that is dry and hard, making defecation difficult and even painful.
When an animal's constipation doesn't respond well to treatment, it is called obstipation. Giving your dog a daily magnesium supplement may take care of this, but it may take many days to restore their colon to normal operation. Just add to their drinking water 1 drop for every two pounds of body weight each day.
If constipation is really bad, your vet can put your dog under, and then manually extract compacted stool. Or your vet may give your dog an enema to flush out stool. It may take your vet a number of tries before he is able to completely clean out the impacted stool.
A Veterinarian should be able to press on the abdomen and do a rectal exam to confirm that your dog has impacted stool in his colon. He may also choose to x-ray the dog's abdomen to confirm compacted stool and to tell whether it contains bones or other foreign matter.
Let your vet know if your dog tends to eat indigestible items, including garbage and bones.
An older dog may try to urinate with little or no success, or may not bother trying to have a bowel movement for days on end. Both conditions are potentially serious. The dog who strains to urinate needs to see a vet right away. Such blockages may result from stones blocking the urinary tract. This condition could be fatal if left untreated.
Your dog's failure to have a bowel movement may be the result of dietary imbalance, such as inadequate water intake or not the right kind of fiber.
Too little exercise and too many pounds are common problems among older dogs. It is also a common occurrence for older dogs to have a slow down in their stool production . Getting an older dog up, perhaps taking a walk, can often help get things moving again.
Lady, our large female collie, was a perfect example of having a hard time with bowel movements and straining to go. It seemed that she drank a lot and every day we took her on long walks, but sometimes things she would find things to eat in our back yard that she wasn't supposed to eat. This seemed to hinder her bowel movements.
Our vet prescribed that we give her chicken and rice. This turned out to be perfect for her stomach, and boy did she love eating that with her other food! It helped her situation and put her back on tract with normal bowel movements again. That made her a very "happy" collie.
Then, after having a normal bowel movement, she would kick her hind legs high in the air as she brushed the grass beneath her, and then run like lightning around the back yard. She truly enjoyed being a healthy dog again.
It could be that an older dog may be suffering from one of the following conditions:
It is important to see your vet right away, so they can diagnose the problem and treat it.
Feeding an older dog more often can help relieve simple constipation. When food enters your dog’s stomach, it’s gastro-colic reflex kicks into action, stimulating the reflex to poop. The more often a dog gets a meal, the more the stimulation reflex, and the more urges to go.
Of course, the suggestion above about using a magnesium supplement can work wonders for older dogs as well. Magnesium helps draw more water into the colon. This moistens the stool, and helps to produce an urge to go.