By Dr. Ritu Krishnatreye, BHMS
Like humans, dogs can also become constipated.
Occasional dog constipation is usually nothing to be worried about and the treatment involves extra fiber and water to your dog’s diet. However, just like in humans, a lack of physical activity and poor nutrition can cause chronic constipation that can be troublesome.
Constipation in dogs occurs when stools are dry and difficult to pass.
You can tell a dog is constipated when it strains to do its business or strains without passing stool, or if it has not passed anything for quite a few days. Stools may be accompanied by mucus or blood.
In severe chronic cases, a dog may lose its appetite and become weak.
There are several causes of constipation in dogs.
This is a major cause of constipation. When your dog doesn’t drink enough water and becomes dehydrated, its body tends to absorbs moisture from feces in the colon, causing it to become dry and hard, hence the onset of constipation.
Just like humans, dogs need fiber in their diet to keep bowels moving.
A diet low in fiber and high in protein can result in dry hard stools that are difficult to pass. Poor quality dog foods are known for lacking in fiber.
If your dog cannot seem to poo, there are chances that it may have eaten something indigestible. For example, a stick, grass, a toy or a bone.
Some dogs even swallow sand and mud from the yard. These indigestible items can clog things up. In a worse case scenario, it may even cause a total blockage of the colon.
This is life threatening, and a vet should be consulted immediately.
Fur may become matted around a dog’s anus and hinder defecation, especially in long-haired dogs. An easy remedy is to keep fur clipped short around that area.
A lack of exercise can contribute to constipation in dogs. This is especially problematic for older dogs and dogs that are confined to a small space.
Some medications have irregularity as a side effect. If your dog is on a medication and is constipated, then check to see of that medication is known to cause constipation.
Hypothyroidism or a neurological disorder can result in constipation.
Worm infestations, prostrate disorders in unneutered dogs and psychological stress are some other reasons a dog might be showing the symptoms of constipation.
For mild to moderate symptoms of constipation, various home remedies are safe and effective. First of all, mix a source of fiber to your dog’s kibble.
Fiber is like a sponge and holds moisture in the stool to help make it softer and easier to pass. However, too much fiber can cause diarrhea, so keep the fiber intake at around 2.5 to 4.5 percent of their diet.
Hopefully you will only have to use this remedy briefly, till you can find a food source that contains a decent amount of fiber.
Don’t give your dog any other human laxatives without first talking to your vet. Depending on the situation, he may prescribe a canine laxative to get your dog’s bowels moving.
Adequate hydration is another way to provide long term relief for a dogs constipation.
Make sure your dog has plenty of fresh, clean drinking water. If your dog just is not drinking enough water, then look for other fluids to add to his diet that he will take in.
Dogs with a sedentary lifestyle are more susceptible to constipation. Exercise is important to a dog’s health, and is needed to keep the bowels functioning correctly.
Exercise improves digestion and promotes expulsion of waste matter from the body. Playing with your dog not only helps to keep him healthy, it helps to keep his bowels moving properly.
Here’s a great way to resolve a constipation problem. A lack of magnesium can lead to constipation, and extra magnesium may help to resolve it.
Magnesium pulls extra water into the colon. This helps make stool moist and soft. The extra water can have a propelling action that pushes waste along.
If the above mentioned things are not doing the trick, it may be time to ask your vet to look for an underlying medical condition. If your dog is on any medication that can cause constipation, see if your vet can change it to a medication that doesn’t have that side effect.
Dogs constipation can be a troublesome problem. However, just modifying their diet may take care of the problem. A dog that stays active is less likely to become constipated.
If constipation is a problem, try the above mentioned natural remedies. If it persists, ask your vet to see if there are any underlying medical conditions.