Constipation in Dogs: The Essential Guide
Constipation is quite common among all creatures, both humans and animals. It is a digestive problem which brings difficulty in defecating; though it is not a disease, constipation can come as a sign or symptom of more serious health issues. Over the years, the condition has been observed to be quite common among the canine population as they continually experience difficulty as well as the inability to pass accumulated poop down to the anus. What this means, in essence, is that bowel movement is impaired.
Just like in every other animal, dog constipation can occur at any age, despite the breed or lifestyle, and if it is ignored, the condition can give rise to cases like vomiting, lethargy, as well as the loss of appetite. This kind of situation will only engender further health complications. Under normal circumstances, you will expect your dog to poop once a day, and some hounds can even go twice. However, if you observe that your pooch’s stool has not come after a couple of days, it is very likely that the dog is experiencing constipation. Fortunately, mild cases can be treated at home, but the extreme ones will call for the attention of the vet. But then, there is a chronic case of dog constipation called obstipation – in this situation, the hound’s colon will be so compacted that defecating is completely impaired. Read on to get all the necessary details on dog constipation, including the possible treatment.
What Happens in Constipation?
The definition of constipation from experts is rather lose since it is impossible for any two dogs to display the same pattern in their bowel elimination. Generally, the dog will experience a considerable decline in the regularity of bowel movement, and there will be a noticeable change in the consistency of the poop. If diarrhea is known to produce stool that comes more frequently and is soft and loose, then constipation is just the diametrical opposite of it. In that case, the poop usually comes out fully-formed as well as very hard. You may even be thinking that they look dehydrated or appear more in the form of stiff cylindrical blocks that have come from your pooch’s rectum and anus.
Because of the solid and hard nature of the poop, it takes very much longer in its movement down your dog’s gut as well as the colon. The interpretation for this kind of condition is that the hound is having a less than the regular passage of stool. It is important that you know why poop can become so hard that it may be almost impossible to move it down the colon without help.
You should be rest assured that constipation is not any form of ailment or disease; rather, it might come as a symptom of an undiagnosed health condition. What actually transpires is that the normal bowel movement which sees the passage of poop through the canine’s colon is affected in some way by several factors like medication, diet, or even the processes of disease.
All the food particles that did not digest, including the byproduct of digestion, are all passed down to the colon via the dog’s gut, and this comes in the form of poop. What normally transpires at this stage is that any water present in the stool will be reabsorbed or drawn into the animal’s blood vessels which line the large intestines or colon. When a dog is experiencing constipation, a greater amount of water is usually drawn out of the poop: and this turns it into a real solid mass.
When the stool is in the process of passing through the colon, the smooth muscles that are found inside the colon facilitates the movement through some rhythmic contraction. This is medically referred to as peristaltic movement, and it functions to divide the stool, which is realized in a long mass into segments or sections. The poop will finally come out in the form of a chain of sausages-like shape tied to each other. As the stool is in the process of movement in the colon, it is somewhat lubricated by the amount of water still present in it. But if the poop is very hard, it gets more difficult for the dog to move it down the colon.
In several cases, the muscles of the colon might not be contracting as effectively as they should. What this means is that the poop will be totally left to move without help and will completely depend on the bulk it got from food to push it down the rectum. While the poop is still in the process of waiting for the right push, more and more water will still be siphoned out of it. This will further aggravate the difficulty of poop passage.
Things to do When a Dog is Constipated?
- Put on rubber gloves
- Check your pooch’s temperature and see the vet if it is high, or if you notice blood on the thermometer, or the dog resisted the insertion of the thermometer.
- If a string or thread is present in the dog’s anus, avoid pulling it out so as not to cause internal damage.
- Gently ease out any grass you see in the anus.
- If the anus is matted with poop, carefully trim it with scissors and wash with soapy warm Any inflamed area should be treated by applying a calming, water-soluble jelly.
- In extreme cases, your dog’s bottom may need to be soaked in warm water before you commence trimming.
Why Do Dogs Become Constipated?
When your dog is experiencing constipation, you may notice that it is straining it itself in order to facilitate a bowel movement. Below are some dog constipation symptoms which may indicate that your canine friend is having constipation.
- No bowel movement within two days or more.
- Inability to pass urine/difficulty in passing urine, as well as straining when it wants to urinate
- Distress or pain, like emitting a cry when it is defecating, or it might stand with a hunched posture.
- Bloody poop or passing just blood without defecating.
- Signs like lethargy, vomiting, and lack of appetite.
Below are the things that can cause constipation in dogs;
- Foreign bodies like grass, rocks, hair, and pieces of toys or cloth obstructing their digestive tract.
- Obstruction may result from some unusual tissue growth like; polyp, tumor, or congenital malformation.
- Disorder from gastrointestinal motility.
- Side effects of medication.
- Neurological or orthopedic issues.
- Matted hair blocking anus
- Excess sedentary lifestyle or immobility.
When the talk is about animal health, just remember that the best source of information can only be the vet. However, when you observe that your pooch is suffering from a mild case of constipation, you can go ahead and try a few things at home in the form of first aid and maybe, it will do the trick. You may be able to get your pooch to start stooling normally again through the following processes.
Try going the hydration way: Many constipation cases have been resolved by moisturizing a dog’s body. On several occasions, including low-sodium chicken broth or ordinary water can also be effective. Conversely, if the affected dog is the type that eats a lot of dry food, try to change it to high-quality canned food. If the canned version of the hound’s present diet can be found, it will be the best option. If that is not possible, you can make do with any good canned food, so long as your pooch is not sensitive or allergic to it. In the absence of canned food, many dog parents have added ingredients like; sweet potatoes, green beans, or a tablespoon of good canned pumpkin to a hound’s kibble in addition to broth or even ordinary water.
Body movement can help: On several occasions, some dogs only needed to be active to get their bowel movement back on the right track. If the affected hound is healthy enough to withstand vigorous exercise, you can take it for a long walk; alternatively, another type of exercise can be provided. Like the moderate to vigorous type. Remember that dogs that are advanced in age, or the ones that have the propensity to get backed up, need regular exercise in order to prevent constipation.
Skip the enema: Unless you are acting under instructions from your vet, you should not try to give a hound an enema at home.
If the dog eventually defecates, the initial bowel movement is likely to have some dry hard stool. It is not strange for your canine friend to produce soft stools for one or two days after that. However, if you observe that it has developed some conditions like watery diarrhea or a similar condition, the vet’s attention is required.
Visit the vet: After you have tried all the tricks listed above and your pooch’s condition still remains the same, it is an indication that it may be serious, hence the urgent need to see the vet. The first step the veterinarian would take is to access a detailed history, and then proceed to conduct a physical examination on the hound which will include other things like abdominal palpation which is the way to have a feel of the stool in the dog’s colon.
Depending on his observations, the vet’s recommendations may include X-rays, which will show exactly what the problem is. If it is truly constipation, the radiographs will determine the seriousness of the condition. Any excess stool in the colon is always visible on radiographs, even if it is a case of obstruction, the x-rays will also reveal it. It is still possible that the vet may recommend some lab test in order to ascertain the hound’s organ function, as well as other things like blood cell counts, electrolyte balance, and many more, but this is all dependent on the affected dog’s age, and also the result of the texts.
If the vet finds out your dog is really suffering from constipation, they may likely recommend an enema which will work at getting rid of the backed up poop. A dog that needs hydration may require some subcutaneous fluids which will be recommended by the vet. In addition to all these medications, the vet may also add another one, such as lactulose which aids the hound with bowel movement.
Admitting your dog into a vet’s clinic may not be necessary, the treatments for constipation do not usually exceed a couple of hours after which you can take your pooch home. On the other hand, if the vet finds out that the hound is really dehydrated or perhaps has more serious health complications, they might prescribe intravenous fluids in addition to other treatment which is likely to necessitate hospitalization.
If constipation comes in repeated and continual bouts, then the vet will focus on getting to the root cause and prescribe the best treatment. There are still cases that call for the attention of a veterinary specialist who will give a second opinion in addition to advanced diagnostics as well as specialized forms of treatments.
How to go About Preventing Constipation in the Canine Population
If your pooch happens to be generally healthy, you can go ahead and take the following steps to prevent incidents of constipation.
- Hydration is vital to the digestive health of a dog – Always make sure that your canine companion has access to fresh and clean water, especially after an exercise session or when the weather is hot.
- A dog’s digestive health needs to be maintained with a high-fiber diet – always scrutinize the ingredient list of any dog food you want to purchase for the fiber content, and also consult the vet to ensure that the dog has adequate fiber.
- The entire canine population is known to need exercise on a regular basis, but there are breeds that need more than the rest. Cold days may make you decide to settle for short walks, but this can affect your dog’s digestion negatively.
- Giving your dog some natural bones to chew has been known to lead to constipation, and if you notice that your pooch is susceptible to such condition, you may consider replacing bones with a nylon chew toy.
Hounds that are predisposed to constipation should be closely watched, and you should make sure to evaluate their stool on a regular basis so as to know when there is a change.