Constipation means difficult, infrequent or absent bowel movements, is one of the most common health problems associated with a pet’s digestive system. Most common signs of constipation in dogs include dry, hard stools and straining when trying to defecate. Some dogs may also pass mucus when attempting to defecate.
Constipation refers to an inability to produce normal stools on a regular schedule, which, for a dog, is generally once or twice per day. Dogs who are suffering from constipation will not “go” at all, strain to defecate, or produce rock-hard stools.
In chronic cases, dogs may retain hard, dry fecal matter in their digestive tracts. This is known as obstipation, in which there is so much fecal matter that it becomes compacted and the dog cannot defecate at all.
Causes Of Constipation in dogs
Signs and symptoms of constipation in dogs:
- Diet—As in humans, a diet lacking in fiber is often the problem. Also, unlike humans, dogs tend to eat things that are not food—like hair, toys, and kitty litter—and these may cause blockages and abnormal fecal transit. Bones, bone meal, and other sources of dietary calcium can contribute to constipation.
- Age—Elderly dogs seem more prone to constipation.
- Activity level—For reasons unknown, being sedentary often results in slower transit.
- Digestive tract tumors
- Tumors that narrow the pelvic region
- Anal gland issues
- Prostate enlargement
- Dehydration or electrolyte imbalances
- Drugs, including opiates, diuretics, antihistamines, some antacids, certain cancer drugs
- Metabolic diseases, like hypothyroidism
- Spinal diseases and injuries
- Stress and psychological problems—Something in the environment that will lead a dog to hold it. Central nervous system disorders
- Orthopedic disorders that make it difficult for the dog to squat.
Investigations for constipation in dogs
- Tenesmus, which includes straining to defecate with little or no result, or producing small amounts of liquid fecal matter mixed with blood.
- Dyschezia, which is painful or difficult defecation.
Depending upon the duration and severity of the symptoms, the veterinary exam may consist of:
Management & Treatment of constipation in dogs
- Abdominal palpation
- Rectal exam
- Radiographs of the abdominal area
- Barium enema
- Ultrasound or colonoscopy
- Complete Blood Count
- Neurological examination
Most cases will resolve with mild treatments, such as boosting liquids and dietary fiber or getting more exercise. Laxative suppositories and enemas may be helpful, but should only be used with guidance from a veterinarian, especially if they are needed for long periods.
More extreme cases will require such medical interventions as:
Homoeopathic Treatment for constipation in dogs
- Manual removal of impacted feces
- Drug to activate normal colon function or to block the production of certain enzymes.
- Surgery may be needed in very rare, extreme cases, usually for megacolon. One surgical procedure is known as a colonectomy, in which sections of the colon are removed.