If you have a canine friend, you might find yourself occasionally having to deal with dog constipation. Just as with humans, a constipated dog can be very unhappy and exhibit a number of physical symptoms. Fortunately, you can give your pal some help in this area and get things moving freely again.
Recognizing Constipation Symptoms
The symptoms generally isn’t too difficult to recognize, though they can easily be confused with other digestive problems. For example, a pooch that strains when having a bowel movement (or that produces a stool covered in blood or mucus) may actually be suffering from an infection rather than constipation. Biological causes for this behavior can be salmonella, E. Coli, parasites, bacteria, or a virus. Feeding your dog spicy or fatty foods, changing its diet, and stress can also cause symptoms to appear. Even if one of these other factors is at work, your dog can actually become constipated at the same time, as a completely separate issue! True constipation for a dog is generally characterized by the presence of hard, dry stools or inability to relieve itself properly.
Causes of Dog Constipation
The cause of dog constipation is not always the same, and specific factors may affect pets in different ways since there are so many breeds and variations within individual animals. One of the most common contributors is eating inedible objects such as chew toys, sticks, or even bits of trash. Eating bones can sometimes lead to constipation because they are not really digestible. As a result, pieces of bone can cause a blockage in the dog’s digestive tract. Male dogs that have not been neutered may also become constipated from the onset of prostate disease, as can dogs infested with worms.
A pooch maintaining an unhealthy diet or does not get enough regular exercise may also become constipated. As with people, including fiber in your pet’s diet can help keep him or her regular. Therefore, be sure to include fiber in your dog’s diet.
Side Effects of Dog Constipation
Constipation can lead to a variety of health issues for your pet. This is largely because the accumulated waste can cause toxins to build up in your pet’s body. As a result, your dog may experience bloating, abdominal discomfort, or a loss of appetite. Your pet may also strain for a bowel movement but fail to produce a stool. As such, your pet may go for long periods without having a bowel movement. When your dog eventually has a bowel movement, the stool may be hard and impacted.
While playing outside, you should also make an effort to avoid exposing your dog to herbicides and pesticides. Common, over the counter flea powder, flea collars, and insecticides can lead to constipation. Exposure to second-hand smoke can also lead to problems with your pet’s digestive health just as with yours. So, to ensure its optimum health, avoid exposing your pet to any of these toxins.
Treatment and Prevention
Changing the pet’s diet is the most common form of treatment for dog constipation. Try feeding your pet only high-quality dog food that has not been processed. This level of benefit in nutrition should help relieve the constipation while keeping your pet regular in the long term. You might also try changing your pet’s eating habits. For example, do not keep food available throughout the day, give it excessive snacks, or feed it table scraps as it may tend to overeat. By forcing periods of natural fasting throughout the day, your pet’s body can more effectively digest food and detoxify its body naturally. In addition, make sure your pet always has plenty of fresh drinking water. Constipation is more likely to occur if your pooch becomes dehydrated.
As mentioned previously, an increase in your pet’s fiber consumption can aid in fighting constipation. To increase the amount of fiber your pet eats, you can try sprinkling a little oat bran on top of its normal food. Generally, anywhere from ½ teaspoon to 2 tablespoons is enough depending on the size of your pet. You can also feed it a couple teaspoons of Grape-Nuts Flakes® or a tablespoon or two of canned pumpkin every day. A 1/8 cup to a ½ cup of milk per day can also be be of benefit in relieving the symptoms because milk helps to lubricate the colon.
If changing dietary intake is unsuccessful in reversing dog constipation, it may be necessary to treat the condition with a mild laxative. You an also try feeding your pet a tablespoon of mineral oil to help make his or her bowel movements more regular. In more severe cases, it may be necessary to perform an enema on your pet to remove the hardened stool.
There are also dietary supplements and herbal remedies available specifically created for treating constipation in animals. Ingredients commonly found in these supplements include psyllium husk, avena sativa, aloe ferox, and natrium mariaticum. These ingredients are also commonly found in natural products aimed at assisting humans with constipation, but these may not be the best choice for the human digestive system as these are two somewhat related but unique conditions.
While providing your pet with an improved diet or trying supplements, you should also increase the amount of exercise your pet receives. Regular, stimulating exercise helps keep the bowels moving. Engaging your pet in exercise is an excellent method for helping to prevent dog constipation; it will also keep your dog healthy, fit, and happy overall while it gets to spend additional time with you.
Remember to recognize signs of constipation by your pet’s behavior–note any sudden lethargy, changes in eliminatory frequency, straining while trying to poop, or especially a reluctance to eat its normal amount of food. Be aware of the signs of a possible parasite infestation in your dog such as tenderness in the stomach, blood in the stool, and even pieces of the organisms in its waste. Provide your pet with a healthy, fiber-rich diet of a high quality, nutritious, dry food and plenty of fresh water. And some good advice for you as well as your pet–implement as much exercise as possible into your weekly routine. You can follow these recommendations as a guideline, but it’s probably more important to utilize common sense and just observe your pet every day so you can help keep it from experiencing any awful constipation.