Your dog probably knows to relieve herself as soon as you take her outside and should do so on a regular basis. However, if your dog won't poop, she may be constipated and will need some help to get things moving again. Dogs don't deal with constipation too often, but you can help your dog to feel better by using a number of techniques to get her some relief.
Signs of constipation
You may notice a few signs indicating constipation in your dog. The American Kennel Club notes that if your dog won't poop for a few days, or if he produces hard, dry stool that feels like pebbles, then he is likely constipated. You may see your dog attempt to defecate a number of times while outside before giving up. This can also be a symptom of a urinary tract infection, though, so keep a close eye on things to determine what is really going on with your dog.
A constipated dog may strain to defecate without any result or may produce small bits of liquid stool that is mixed with blood. Watch your dog for signs that he is uncomfortable while defecating. You may also notice mucus in or around your dog's stool.
If you notice that your dog is constipated, then start to pay attention to when he is able to relieve himself as well as the amount and consistency of his stool. Be sure to accompany your dog outside whenever he goes to relieve himself so you can monitor whether he poops, strains, or is unable to go.
Causes of constipation
There are many potential causes behind your dog's constipation. According to WebMD, dogs can become constipated when they have too much or too little fiber in their diet or when they do not get enough regular exercise. Sometimes, excessive grooming can cause large amounts of hair to back up in your dog's stool, making it difficult for your dog to relieve himself. If your dog is obese, it is difficult for him to groom himself, and this can lead to matted hair around his anus.
There are some other concerning causes of constipation. If your dog has ingested gravel, bones, dirt, pieces of toys, or other foreign bodies, they can become lodged in the intestinal tract, contributing to constipation. Masses or tumors in your dog's rectum or a trauma to the pelvis can also make it difficult for your dog to relieve himself. If your dog has another illness, he may be dehydrated, which leads to hard stool.
Some medications can also have side effects that include constipation. Constipation may occur after a surgery, and stressful events can also contribute to a dog's constipation. A dog who becomes constipated may have a neurologic disorder. In some cases, dogs who have orthopedic problems may have difficulty getting into a position to defecate, and this can contribute to constipation.
Home remedies for dog constipation
There are a number of home remedies for dog constipation that you may already have on hand in your kitchen. You can try one of these home remedies at a time. According to AvoDerm, using more than one of these remedies at once can lead to diarrhea and dehydration. Be sure to monitor your dog carefully since he may experience loose stool or mild diarrhea as these remedies start to work.
Canned pumpkin is high in fiber and water, but make sure to avoid using a pie filling or a puree that has added sugar. Healthy Pets states that you can feed 1 teaspoon of pumpkin per 10 pounds of your dog's body weight. Offer the pumpkin once or twice per day on your dog's food. Alternatively, feed your dog 1 teaspoon of coconut oil per 10 pounds of your dog's body weight once to twice daily to help lubricate his stool.
Ground, dark, and leafy vegetables are high in fiber, which can help to stimulate your dog's bowel movements. You can feed 1 teaspoon of these vegetables per 10 pounds of your dog's body weight once or twice a day. Ginger is another helpful home remedy, according to AvoDerm. Add ¼ teaspoon of ginger to ½ cup of chicken or beef broth and feed it to your dog.
Remedies to avoid
While you will certainly want to do anything you can to help ease your dog's discomfort, there are some remedies that you should not try. Healthy Pets explains that you should never give your dog a human laxative or stool softener unless your vet has given you specific instructions to do so. There are dog laxatives specially formulated for dogs, but again, use these only under your vet's guidance.
High-fiber grains like cereals are meant for humans, not dogs. These grains are not a part of your dog's natural diet, and they could make his constipation worse. Along those same lines, you might think that mineral oil would help your dog, but it is not effective in easing constipation. Instead, your dog could inhale it into his lungs and suffer from permanent damage.
Lastly, never try to give your dog an enema or a suppository. Some enemas are toxic to pets, and you might harm your dog in the process. If your dog's constipation is so bad that you are considering these methods, then it is time to call your vet.
According to Healthy Pets, dehydration is one of the most common causes of constipation in dogs. You will need to carefully monitor your dog's water intake and remember that a very active dog needs to ingest more water. Your dog's water intake should also increase during hot weather. You may need to measure your dog's water out into her bowl to track how much she's actually drinking in a day.
Your dog's diet will also play a role in how much water she drinks. Your dog will get some of the moisture she needs through her meals, such as a raw food or canned food. If your dog eats a diet that is mostly or all dry kibble, then she will need to drink more water to make up for what she does not get through her food. Increasing the amount of canned food you feed your dog can improve her hydration.
Exercise is also key to preventing constipation in dogs. Your dog's body needs physical activity and movement in order to keep the stool moving through the colon, so try increasing your dog's exercise and make sure that she gets exercise on a daily basis. If your dog has a medical condition that is causing constipation, then prevention strategies may differ a bit. Always consult your vet for strategies that are specific to your dog.
Important information to note
You may be able to relieve your dog's constipation at home, but in some cases, you may need to seek veterinary treatment if your dog's problem does not resolve. If you do have to seek veterinary help, then the more information with which you can provide your vet, the better your vet will be able to treat your dog.
While treating your dog at home, the American Kennel Club recommends that you write down important details, such as when your dog last had a normal bowel movement, the current color and consistency of his stool, any changes to his diet or routine, and any nonfood items that your dog may have been able to access and eat. You should also make a list of symptoms your dog is showing, such as if he is straining, vomiting, lethargic, or appears bloated. Write down any recent medications your dog has taken as well as any recent injuries.
Even if you do not think that your dog will need to go to the vet, write this information down throughout your dog's treatment anyway so you can monitor the progress and so you do not forget any important details. If other people are caring for your dog, share the information with them, teach them what to look for, and ask that they add in information so that you have accurate records of your dog's progress.
According to the American Kennel Club, constipation can be a sign of some serious conditions, so it is a good idea to at least communicate with your vet if your dog is constipated. If your dog's constipation is chronic or severe or if you are unable to relieve it at home, then it is time for an appointment with your vet.
If you have administered a home remedy and your dog has loose stool or diarrhea, she could become dehydrated because of the amount of fluid that she loses in her stool. If you can't get her digestive system regulated, it is time to call your vet.
For a dog who is still constipated, a vet may administer fluids or a laxative. If your dog's constipation is extreme, then your vet may prescribe a medication to activate her colon function, or your vet may even manually remove impacted stool.
Treating severe constipation
Constipation might appear minor, but if left untreated or unresolved, it can become a serious issue for your dog. Healthy Pets states that chronic constipation, known as obstipation, requires veterinary treatment. A dog with obstipation becomes unable to relieve himself, and his colon will swell because of the amount of stool it contains. The dog will lose his appetite, become lethargic, and start to vomit.
If your dog's constipation does not resolve within a day or two, then it is time to go to the vet. The same is true if your dog's constipation resolves but then returns after a few days. Obstipation can be life threatening, and constipation can indicate a variety of health issues, so be sure to get your dog veterinary help. If you notice other symptoms, such as lethargy, loss of appetite, vomiting, or fever, then your dog needs to be seen by a vet right away.
In extreme situations, your dog may need surgery. This is usually done when constipation is caused by an injury to the bowel or an issue in the bowel. During surgery, part of the bowel may be corrected or removed to relieve the constipation, though most of the time, constipation in dogs is pretty infrequent and can be resolved with a diet containing plenty of water and with frequent exercise. If you ever have any doubts about your dog's health, though, do not hesitate to call your vet.