How to Help Your Constipated Dog

Constipation is a common condition in dogs. In fact, it's one of the most common reasons dog lovers visit the veterinarian. If your dog is constipated, they may strain to poop. They may whine and cry while trying to poop or even yelp in pain when they do go. If you see blood in their stool, it's likely that they have an obstruction or blockage in their intestines. 

This can be very dangerous for dogs because it can cause perforations in the intestines that lead to sepsis. Taking care of this situation as soon as possible is critical to your dog's overall health.

It’s important to know the signs of dog constipation, the causes, how to manage the condition, and how to prevent it from occurring in the first place.

Signs of Constipation in Dogs

A healthy dog will have a bowel movement once or twice per day on average, but this varies quite a bit depending on age and diet. 

If your dog is constipated, you may notice the following signs: 

  • Lethargic behavior or low energy levels
  • Small, hard stools
  • Lack of appetite
  • Straining to defecate
  • Irritability
  • Vomiting, regurgitation, or dry heaving
  • Inability to sit normally

Why is My Dog Constipated?

The causes of constipation vary, but include the following:

1) Not Enough Water

If your dog isn't drinking enough water, it can cause constipation. Dogs need to have access to fresh water at all times. They do not sweat like we do, so they rely on drinking plenty of fluids in order to stay hydrated and healthy. 

Most dogs need about 2 cups of water per 10 pounds of body weight each day for normal hydration, but fresh water should be available at all times to ensure your dog remains properly hydrated. 

Signs of dehydration include:

  • A dry nose, mouth and gums
  • Excessive thirst 
  • Decreased elasticity of the skin (pinching the skin on your dog's back leaves a dent)
  • Frequent panting or rapid breathing

If you think your dog isn't getting enough fluid through their food or treats or if he's showing signs of dehydration, talk to the vet about how to get more water into his diet.

2) Insufficient Fiber in Their Diet

Fiber is important for overall health and helps to keep your dog's digestive system working properly. Dogs need fiber in their diet because it helps move food through their digestive tract and helps keep them regular. It also promotes normal bowel function by helping to prevent diarrhea and constipation. If your dog is constipated, consider adding psyllium husk to their diet. 

Most dogs don't need psyllium husk on a daily basis, but it's an effective supplement that can be used when needed to manage constipation or diarrhea. Psyllium husk works by absorbing water from the intestines and forming a gel-like substance that slows down digestion and helps firm up and push out stools.

It’s best to talk with your vet about how much psyllium you should give your dog, as every dog is different and may react differently to this supplement.  Some dogs may have allergies or other health issues that could make this supplement unsafe for them. Your vet will also be able to advise you on how much psyllium you should give your dog based on their size and weight.

3) Lack of Exercise

Inactivity is one of the most common causes of constipation in dogs. Lack of exercise can lead to sluggish bowels, which can be a major cause of constipation. That’s one of the many reasons exercise is so critical to your dog’s health. 

The amount of exercise your dog needs depends on their age, breed and any health issues they may have. But as a general rule, 30 minutes of moderate activity every day is recommended. Smaller dogs may need less exercise than larger dogs.

4) Stress and Anxiety

Stress and anxiety can cause constipation in a number of ways. One is that stress causes the body to produce more adrenaline, which can be hard on the digestive system. Another is that stress can cause an imbalance in bacteria within the gut, leading to an overgrowth of certain types of bacteria and resulting in poor digestion, as well as other symptoms such as gas and bloating.

Stress also makes it harder for your dog's body to absorb nutrients and fluids from food, which can lead to dehydration and constipation. In addition, stress can make it difficult for your dog to relax enough during bowel movements so that your bowels will empty normally.

To help your dog relax, try these simple tips:

  • Make sure your dog gets plenty of exercise. This will also help burn off energy so they sleep better at night.
  • Give them plenty of attention throughout the day and make sure they have plenty of toys to play with.
  • If you have more than one dog, consider getting them each their own bed or crate so they can have some "alone time" when needed.
  • If you're working at home, try leaving a radio on for background noise. Many dogs enjoy listening to music or talk shows while they relax during the day.

How To Treat Dog Constipation

To determine the cause of your dog's constipation, you need to take them to a veterinarian for a thorough examination. The vet will perform tests to rule out any underlying health problems that could be causing constipation in your dog.

Here are some common tests performed by veterinarians:

  • Blood tests: Blood tests help detect any abnormalities in the blood chemistry that could be causing constipation in dogs. Blood tests may also help identify other problems like anemia or liver disease that can cause constipation. Blood tests are usually done when the veterinarian suspects liver disease or kidney failure as the underlying cause of your dog's constipation.
  • X-rays: X-rays can show whether your dog has any problems with his intestines or other organs in his abdominal cavity, such as an obstruction or tumors.
  • Stool sample analysis: Stool samples contain bacteria which reveal if there is any infection present in your dog's intestines that could be causing his constipation problem. Stool samples also help diagnose parasitic infections.

Manage Your Dog’s Constipation With Probiotics

Probiotics may be useful for treating constipation because they help maintain a normal balance of good and bad bacteria in your dog's gut. The digestive tract contains over 400 different species of bacteria, with at least 400 billion bacteria per gram of feces. These bacteria help digest food and synthesize vitamins, hormones and other nutrients that your dog's body needs.

Some dogs have imbalances in their gut microflora, known as dysbiosis, which can lead to digestive problems such as diarrhea or constipation. 

Taking probiotics may help restore balance to your dog's gut flora. In addition, probiotics can increase the production of short-chain fatty acids by colonocytes (cells that line the colon). Short-chain fatty acids play an important role in reducing inflammation and can be used as an energy source by cells in the colon. 

In urgent circumstances, a high concentration of probiotics may be necessary, like that found in FullBucket’s Canine Probiotic Paste. This highly concentrated probiotic paste provides billions of prebiotics, probiotics, and enzymes to improve the health of your dog’s digestive tract. 

Insights into Canine Constipation

Hopefully, this article has given you some insight into the possible causes of constipation in dogs. If your pet is experiencing any of these symptoms, it's important that you consult with a veterinarian as soon as possible. 

The good news is that there are many ways to alleviate constipation in dogs and in most cases can be managed successfully with little or no side effects.

Read More:

Saccharomyces boulardii Probiotic for Pets

Immunobiotics and the Probiotic Evolution

Stimulation of Secretory IgA and Secretory Component of Immunoglobulins in Small Intestine with Saccharomyces boulardii

Photo by Grant Durr on Unsplash

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