Safe Treatments for Your Dog’s Constipation
If your dog is passing small, hard stools, or is posturing to defecate but no stool is coming out, he may be suffering from constipation. Constipation can be uncomfortable for your dog, and downright scary for you as an owner. Keep reading to learn how to help your constipated dog and know when it’s time to call the vet.
This article was written by a FirstVet vet
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Below are a few at-home remedies that you can try to help alleviate your dog’s constipation. It’s important to note that if your dog has been constipated for two days or more, it’s time to seek veterinary help. Chronic constipation can quickly escalate into an emergency.
1. Manually remove hair
Dogs who have long hair or who shed a lot may have matted hair blocking the rectum and not allowing for the passage of feces. If this is the case for your dog, you can bathe him to soften any stool that may be caught in the hair around his rectum. Also, you can use electric clippers to remove the matted hair.
Please avoid using scissors to cut your dog’s hair in this area, as a cut in the wrong place can require emergency surgery to repair. Veterinarians or dog groomers can help you with constipation due to matted hair if you’re not comfortable doing this at home.
2. Exercise and support
A lack of exercise can be a big contributing cause of constipation in dogs because exercise is required for intestinal movement and digestion. Take your dog for long and/or frequent walks in his favorite places to poop. It may take several attempts, but the more you increase his physical activity, the more you will increase his intestinal activity.
Additionally, if your dog is getting older, it might be difficult for him to support himself in the proper defecting stance. Try using a special harness to help hold up some of his body weight when he begins to posture.
3. Increase water intake
Dehydration is also a major cause of constipation. You can tell that your dog is dehydrated by touching their gums or the inside of their lips. If this feels dry, you should encourage your dog to drink water. Another good way to assess hydration is to pick up the excess skin on the top of his neck (the scruff). If this skin doesn’t quickly snap back into place, your dog may be dehydrated.
Try using different bowls or offering the water at different temperatures to see if this helps entice your dog to drink. Some dogs may show an interest in chewing small ice cubes, although make sure to monitor your dog closely if this is your first time feeding him ice, so he doesn’t try to swallow too large of a piece. Also, a small treat or piece of kibble can be dropped into the water to see if your dog might show some interest in “treat-flavored” water.
4. Add canned pumpkin
Canned pumpkin is a great source of fiber and can be safely added to your dog’s food to help with constipation. The Merck Veterinary Manual recommends adding 1-4 tablespoons of pumpkin per meal to help ease mild constipation.
The amount of pumpkin that you add should be based on the size of your dog: 1 tablespoon for small and toy breeds, up to 4 tablespoons for large and giant breeds. It’s important to use either plain canned pumpkin or pumpkin that you have boiled yourself, not pumpkin pie filling/mix.
Should I take my dog to the vet if he’s constipated?
Remember, if your dog hasn’t had a bowel movement in over two days, or if he is significantly straining/crying out when attempting to defecate, you should see your vet right away. Home remedies are a great first step, but there is a point where professional medical help becomes necessary.
Also, NEVER give a dog human laxatives. They are far too strong for dogs and can cause emergency complications. There are over the counter medications that can be used to help with constipation, but always consult your vet before giving these. Many can be dangerous or fatal if not properly administered.
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