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Constipation in Dogs

Posted by Dr. Roth on November 19, 2021

Medical Advice
Wellness Care
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Regular bowel movements are essential to a dog’s health. Many pet parents might think it’s gross to know details about their dog’s bowel movements. However, bowel movements provide a pet parent with information about their dog’s health. 

Constipation in Dogs

Dogs rarely get constipated, but it can happen. Determining if a dog is constipated first requires the pet parent to know when their dog’s last bowel movement occurred. If the pet parent takes their dog on daily walks, they likely know when their dog usually has a bowel movement. 

It can be harder to know when the dog’s last bowel movement was if the dog has a yard and doesn’t go on regular walks with their pet parent. To help make sure their dog has regular bowel movements, pet parents should check their yard frequently.

Causes

Once a pet parent has determined their dog is constipated, they will need to identify the cause. Most of the time, constipation occurs when the dog’s diet contains a high mineral content. 

High-quality dog food that is balanced and complete will have the proper amount of minerals the dog needs. However, many pet parents give their dogs bones as a treat or chew toy. Bones are high in minerals and can cause constipation.

Additional causes for constipation in dogs include:

  • Spinal problems

  • Abdominal masses

  • Full anal glands

  • Anesthesia from surgery

  • Medications 

Diagnosis

Sometimes pet parents mistake other conditions for constipation. Then urgency caused by diarrhea can make the dog appear to be straining and constipated. 

Knowing when the dog’s last bowel movement was will help determine if the dog is constipated. However, to be sure the dog is constipated, a vet can do an ultrasound on the dog’s abdomen. 

Treatment

Enemas are a fast and easy way to treat constipation in dogs. Some pet stores and feed stores sell over-the-counter enemas for dogs. Once the enema has been administered, it can take up to 12 hours for the dog to have a bowel movement. 

If the dog doesn’t have a bowel movement after 12 hours, the pet parent should contact their vet.

Vets are aware of anesthesia and certain medications can cause constipation in dogs. After a surgical procedure, the vet will often provide the pet parent with post-surgical care information that includes what to do if the dog becomes constipated. Vets should also provide pet parents with instructions about what to do if constipation occurs after the dog is prescribed medications that cause constipation. 

When to Contact the Vet

Most of the time, pet parents can safely give their dog an enema to relieve constipation. However, if the dog shows signs of a more serious problem, the pet parent should forego the enema and immediately contact their vet.

Pet parents should also avoid giving their dog an enema if they notice the following:

  • The dog is bleeding from the rectum.

  • The dog appears to be in pain.

  • The dog is vomiting or lethargic.

  • The dog also hasn’t urinated.

For additional dog health questions, pet parents can contact the Fuzzy Veterinary Team 24/7 to help them determine if their dog’s condition requires veterinary treatment. 

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