Constipation — difficult, infrequent or absent bowel movements — is one of the most common health problems associated with a pet’s digestive system. Telltale signs include dry, hard stools and straining when trying to defecate. Some dogs may also pass mucus when attempting to defecate.
What Causes Constipation ?
There are various reasons why a dog may be constipated :
– Too much or too little fiber in his diet
– Lack of exercise
– Blocked or abscessed anal sacs
– Enlarged prostate gland
– Excessive self-grooming can cause large amounts of hair to collect in the stool
– Matted hair around the anus from lack of grooming or from obesity
– Ingested gravel, stones, bones, dirt, plants or pieces of toys, etc. caught in the intestinal tract
– Masses or tumors on the anus or within the rectum, causing an obstruction
– Side effect of medication
– Trauma to the pelvis
– Orthopedic problem that causes pain when a dog positions himself to defecate
– Neurologic disorder
– Dehydration due to other illness
How Can I Treat My Dog’s Constipation ?
Depending on what’s causing your dog’s constipation, your vet may recommend one or several of the following treatments:
– A stool softener or other laxative agent
– Medication to increase the contractile strength of the large intestine
– Adding fiber to your dog’s diet with canned pumpkin, wheat bran or a product such as Metamucil
– A veterinarian-prescribed, high-fiber diet
– An increase in exercise
– An enema (administered by a professional, not at home, as there could be risks for toxicity or injury if done inappropriately)
What Can Happen If Constipation Goes Untreated ?
If your dog’s constipation is not alleviated, obstipation-the inability to empty his colon on his own-can occur. In this state, the colon is packed with an uncomfortably large amount of feces, causing unproductive straining, lethargy, appetite loss and possibly even vomiting.