Constipation in dogsDogs normally pass faeces several times a day. If your dog is constipated, then the frequency with which they pass faeces will decrease or stop altogether. Constipation has many causes and, particularly in older pets, is something to monitor carefully. If your dog has been constipated for two days or more, it’s time to seek advice.This article was written by a FirstVet vetDid you know that FirstVet offers video calls with experienced, UK registered vets? You can get a consultation within 30 minutes by downloading the FirstVet app for free from the Apple App Store or Google Play.✓ Included free as part of many pet insurance policies✓ Help, treatment and if you need it, a referral to your local vet✓ Open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year Rating: 4.9 - more than 1600 reviewsRating: 4.9 - more than 1300 reviewsRating: 4.9 - more than 1600 reviews BOOK Clinical signs of constipationInfrequent or lack of stoolsUnproductive straining or posturing to pass stoolsQuiet, loss of appetite and lethargyPassing small, dry and possibly hard stoolsBlood on the stoolSwelling around the anusTense abdomenInappetent or off foodVomiting- impaction of poo in the lower gut can cause sicknessCauses of constipationJust like humans, there are many reasons that dogs can become constipated. Some of the most common are:DehydrationNot drinking enough waterLack of fibre in the dietLack of exercise or a sedentary lifestyleNot having sufficient time on a walk to toilet or adverse weatherTrauma or pain associated with passing faeces e.g. anal gland impactionAn intestinal obstruction or intestinal diseaseNeurological or musculoskeletal diseasePain associated with posturing, for example, arthritis of the hind limbsDietary indiscretion e.g. eating bones, stones, pieces of carpet and the other myriad objects that dogs sometimes eat.Enlarged prostate in male dogsMedications that slow down gut transit timeHow to prevent constipation in your dog?Spot the problem early: monitor the frequency and consistency of stools.Ensure your dog has regular exercise: this will help the muscles of the intestine and rectum to work properlyFeed a complete dog food: this will meet all of your dog’s nutritional requirementsLow residue diets: these diets reduce faecal bulk in the colonWhat to give a constipated dog?You must be very careful in treating your dog for constipation without the advice of a vet, as other illnesses may present in the same way. It is common for owners to mix up straining for diarrhoea with straining due to constipation, which have totally different treatments. It is always best to have a consultation with a vet to confirm the diagnosis before treatment.Some of the things you can do at home:Increase dietary fibre: add bran, methylcellulose or psyllium to your pet’s diet. There are over the counter veterinary products such as protexin pro-fibre that may be beneficial.Laxatives: your vet may prescribe laxatives for your pet, which are typically administered with food. Laxatives are stool softeners which will help your dog pass faeces, particularly when they have become dry and hard. Never give your dog human laxatives.Access to fresh water to keep hydrated and providing the opportunity pass faeces such as taking your dog out for a walk 2-3 times daily.Treatment of constipation in dogsIf your dog has constipation, then an examination by your vet will help to identify the possible causes and provide the correct treatment. Blood tests and a urinalysis will be done to identify any underlying diseases. In most mild cases, supportive medications such as pain relief or laxatives may be all that is needed.In some more severe cases imaging such as X-rays, an ultrasound scan or a colonoscopy may be performed to identify more specific causes and the extent of build up of faeces.If the build up of faeces is severe, hospitalisation for intravenous fluid therapy, an enema and/or manual removal of faeces under general anaesthetic may be necessary to clear the constipation.If the constipation has been caused by a prescription medication, your vet will advise on whether to discontinue or change the treatment. There are unusual cases where surgical intervention is required, for example, if a foreign body becomes lodged in the intestines or there is a damaged part of the bowl. Your vet will be able to provide further information on a case by case basis.When to see your vetIf your dog has been constipated for more than 48 hoursIf your dog often strains to pass stools that are hard and dryDiarrhoea, which can quickly lead to dehydrationFurther readingConstipation in cats Diarrhoea in dogsDiarrhoea in catsStill worried?Book a video appointment to have a chat with one of our vets.