Constipation in Dogs
Know signs of canine constipation so that you can diagnose and treat your dog appropriately.
An alarming tidbit: at some point in its life, every single dog will experience constipation. Before panicking, it is important to note that canine constipation is normal and natural; it can be dealt with normally and naturally. Some of the more obvious causes of dog constipation include excessive hair-licking, consumption of hard foreign objects and dehydration. Constipation in dogs can be dealt with in a number of ways and, in most cases, will not require expensive treatments from the vet. Keep in mind that constipation is an isolated incident. Chronic or extreme dog constipation is known as obstipation and will require veterinary expertise.
What To Look For
One obvious thing to keep an eye on would be if your dog strains to defecate, but only produces marginal amounts compared to normal. Notice also whether the dog's stool is normal or comparatively dry. For any owner of a dog, your animal's fecal habits should be down to a routine (time of day and amounts). If that routine begins to deviate dramatically, your dog may have a constipation problem. Ultimately, prolonged constipation with your dog can lead to a lack of appetite, lack of enthusiasm and occasional vomiting. If your dog is experiencing any of these symptoms, constipation might be the reason why.
Causes of Constipation in Dogs
In order to address your dog's specific problem, it is important to understand the most common causes: Excessive licking of fur can lead to blockages in your dog's colon, which creates a constipation problem. Consumption of foreign objects can lead to hard stool. Depending on the size of your dog, this might require more drastic measures. Being on medicines can cause a biochemical reaction within the dog that triggers a constipation episode. Dehydration in the form of electrolyte imbalance can lead to chronic and extreme constipation in your dog. In older male dogs, prostate enlargement can lead to constipation and obstipation.
Preventing Constipation In Your Dog
Part of treatment is also prevention: Figure out what the root cause of any excessive hair licking might be and treat that as needed. Pay close attention to what your dog is playing with and chewing on, as this may lead to issues down the road. Make sure to always follow the dosage instruction to the letter whenever giving your dog medicines of any kind. Mix wet and dry foods to help maintain a stool that isn't too hard for your dog to pass. Always make sure your dog has plenty of water. This goes double for summer time, since outdoor activities increase thirst.
It is possible to treat your dog for constipation without an expensive trip to the vet. However, if these problems persist or get worse, then the veterinary clinic is absolutely where you need to go. Pumpkin, for example, when added to food, can increase your dogs fiber and fluid intake, making it easier for bowel movements. A stool softener, such as Laxatone, can be bought at pet stores and used to help your dog. Be sure to follow the instructions for dosage. Mineral oil, when added to food, can act as a lubricant that makes the act of passing hard stool easier for your dog. Changing your dog's diet by adding fiber can go a long way to helping immediately and in the long term. Bran cereals help tremendously.
Constipation or Obstipation?
Any chronic or extreme constipation may be referred to as obstipation. Obstipation has a number of sources and causes, but the long and short of it is that a dog cannot empty its colon by itself anymore. One of the most important things anyone can do for their dog in this state of health would be to provide intravenous (IV) solutions for hydration. The dog may also require some form of enema to help clean out its colon and remove any hard matter that cannot be passed naturally. This is best left up to the vet, but can be conducted by the owner. It would be wise to at least have a vet supervise the procedure the first time to ensure that things all go accordingly.
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