Dogs usually have one or two stools every day, but it can vary based on diet and the individual dog, according to Dog Owner's Home Veterinary Handbook. One or two days without bowel movements is not a cause of concern if the dog can pass normal-sized feces without straining. If the feces are retained longer, they tend to get dry and this leads to straining. Constipation is common in older and middle-aged dogs due to dehydration, but dogs of all ages can suffer from it.
Stool softeners for dogs help to soften the stools and prevent straining. There are some softeners that need a veterinarian's prescription while others are home remedies. However, if the constipation occurs for more than 48 hours, stop using home remedies and take your dog to the vet.
Make sure that the dog has access to clean, fresh water throughout the day. Water helps to keep the body hydrated and prevents resorption of water from the feces, which leads to hardening of stools.
Most dogs love to eat canned pumpkin. It is rich in fiber and helps to soften the stool. Feed the pumpkin on its own or mix it in with your dog's meal. One tsp. to 1/2 cup of pumpkin is sufficient. Vary the amount based on the size of the dog.
The lactose in the milk tends to attract moisture into the colon and helps to increase the movement of intestines. This causes bowel movement. Feed your dog two to three oz. of milk twice a day to soften stools and eliminate constipation. Continue giving the milk until your dog has a smooth bowel movement.
Dogs that are fed on kibbles may suffer from constipation due to lack of fiber in their diets. Use psyllium seed husks to add fiber to your dog's diet. One to five tsp. of psyllium seed husks is sufficient to ease constipation. Even oat bran is a good source of fiber. Give the dog one tsp. initially and slowly increase the quantity to two tsp. or until the dog has a smooth bowel movement without straining.
Prescription Stool Softeners
Consult your vet to prescribe a stool softener for your dog. Products containing lactulose help to draw water into the intestines and soften the stools. Another stool softener is DSS capsules, which also need prescription from a vet. Follow the vet's instructions carefully to prevent overdosing your dog.
At times, dogs tend to suppress the urge to defecate. This can cause the stools to harden as it is retained in the colon. Take your dog out for walks more frequently to prevent this from occurring. Lack of exercise can cause the bowels to become sluggish. Running and playing will help to prevent constipation and hardening of stools.
Avoid giving your dog too many bone treats, such as raw bones and biscuit bones. Eating too many of these treats can lead to constipation. Refrain from giving the treats if your dog is constipated.