Dogs get constipated for many different reasons. You might see your dog hunched up and straining and producing either nothing at all or small hard stools. If the constipation doesn't resolve itself in a couple of days, your dog needs to go to the vet because it can be a symptom of something serious. In the meantime, there are several things you can do to help.
Reasons Dogs Get Constipated
If your dog has long hair, first check the fur around his anus. Unpleasant though it sounds, the fur there can sometimes become so matted with hardened feces that the poop simply won't come out. If this is the case, cleaning and possibly clipping the fur will allow everything to come out normally.
Older dogs can get constipated. The reason might be as simple as the whole system slowing down, but it can also indicate kidney or prostate problems. When a dog becomes chronically or frequently constipated, it's called obstipation. Depending on the reason, there are several medications your vet can prescribe, including Bisacodyl and Cisapride.
Dogs eat unsuitable things that can cause a bowel obstruction. The resulting blockage may make him unable to poop, or it's so painful he is unwilling to defecate.
Some congenital problems such as megacolon or scarring from pelvic injuries can also cause constipation.
What to Give Your Dog
Simple dehydration can cause a dog to become constipated. Encourage your dog to drink plenty of water. Mix a little low-sodium meat broth into the water to tempt her.
While a spoonful of mineral oil is a standard suggestion, some vets caution against it. According to the staff at Mar Vista Veterinary Hospital, mineral oil is stored forever in the body and can cause inflammatory granulomas or inhalant pneumonia if inhaled into the lungs. A better choice is several teaspoons of cooking or olive oil added to her food. Most dogs don't mind the taste of oil at all. If yours balks at it, mix in a little canned dog food to make it more palatable.
Canned or cooked pumpkin is very high in fiber and can be given to your dog to help push things through. Mix it with canned dog food if she won't eat it otherwise. Other common household foods that may help include yogurt (make sure not to give your dog anything containing the sweetener xylitol, which can be poisonous to dogs), cooked vegetables, or bran cereal.
Human products such as Metamucil are generally safe for dogs. However, as with any medication, ask your vet for the proper dosage for your dog.
Sometimes the solution is as simple as taking your dog for a run or vigorous walk. Exercise is a great way to stimulate a dog's urge to poop, and chronically under-exercised dogs are often constipated. Put her leash on and head out for a brisk walk. Don't forget to take a poop-bag with you.