Skip to Main Content
Ask About Financing


My dog is constipated! What should I do?

Of all the digestive problems dogs can develop constipation is one of the most common. While you might not think it is serious, constipation could be life-threatening depending on what's causing it. Here, our Fremont vets discuss the causes of constipation in dogs and what to do if your dog is constipated.

Constipation in Dogs

If your dog is having infrequent bowel movements, they're difficult for your pup to pass, or completely absent, your pup is probably experiencing constipation. 

It's critical for dog owners to know that it's a veterinary emergency when a dog is unable to pass feces or is experiencing pain associated with passing feces. If this sounds like your dog they require immediate care!

There are a number of signs that indicate your dog needs to be examined by a veterinarian as soon as possible. These signs include your dog straining when attempting to pass a stool and/or producing stools that are hard and dry.

When dogs are attempting to defecate, they may squat frequently, scoot around the ground, circle excessively, or discharge mucous. However, they may not defecate. Should you apply pressure to your puppy's lower back or stomach, it is possible that he or she will develop a rigid and uncomfortable abdomen, which will result in the puppy howling or growling.

Causes of Dog Constipation

There are a variety of reasons why a dog can become constipated, a few of the most common are:

  • Excessive or insufficient fiber in their diet
  • A side effect of medication
  • Lack of exercise
  • Excessive or insufficient fiber in his diet
  • Blocked or abscessed anal sacs
  • Other illnesses leading to dehydration
  • Excessive self-grooming (excessive amounts of hair to collect in the stool)
  • Ingested pieces of toys, gravel, plants, dirt, or bones caught in the intestinal tract
  • Sudden change in diet or sampling new foods
  • Trauma to pelvis
  • Neurological disorder
  • An orthopedic issue that's causing pain when a dog positions himself to defecate
  • Enlarged prostate gland
  • Matted hair surrounding the anus (caused by obesity or lack of grooming)
  • Obstruction caused by tumors or masses on the anus, or within the rectum

Senior pets might experience constipation more frequently. Although, any dog that's facing one or more of the scenarios listed above could suffer from constipation.

Common Constipation Symptoms in Dogs

When attempting to defecate, patients who are suffering from constipation may experience symptoms such as straining, crying, or crouching. Additionally, you should visit your veterinarian as soon as possible if it has been more than two days since they have had a bowel movement.

Keep in mind that these symptoms may be similar to those that may point to a problem with the urinary tract; therefore, it is essential that your veterinarian perform a comprehensive physical exam in order to determine the cause of the problem.

What can I give my dog for constipation?

Google 'How to help a constipated dog' and you’ll find wide-ranging advice, from sources both trustworthy and dubious.

Never give your dog medications or treatments formulated for humans without consulting your vet first. Many human medications are toxic to dogs.

It's important to reach out to your veterinarian and schedule an examination for your dog. The underlying cause of your pup's condition will determine the treatment for your dog's constipation.

There might be a blockage causing the issue if your dog has ingested something they shouldn't have. Urgent surgery is necessary for this medical emergency.

Blood tests can determine if your dog is dehydrated or has an infection. When you take your dog to the veterinarian, they will inquire about your dog's medical history, conduct a rectal examination to eliminate other potential issues, and potentially suggest one or more of the following treatments:

  • More exercise
  • A stool softener or another laxative
  • A prescription diet high in fiber
  • Enema (administered by a professional, not at home, as there could be a risk of injury or toxicity if done incorrectly)
  • Medication to increase large intestine’s contractile strength
  • A small bowl of goat or cow milk
  • Adding more fiber to your dog’s diet (wheat bran, canned pumpkin, or products such as Metamucil)

Carefully follow your vet’s instructions because trying too many of these or the wrong combination could cause the opposite problem - diarrhea. You don’t want to swap one digestive issue for another.

What Happens When Constipation in Dogs Goes Untreated

Untreated constipation in dogs can lead to an inability to empty their colon independently, which is referred to as obstipation. A large amount of excrement clogs the colon, causing fatigue, ineffective straining, loss of appetite, and sometimes vomiting.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Contact our vets in Fremont today to schedule an appointment if you believe your dog is constipated.

New Patients Welcome

Ace Animal Hospital is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Fremont companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

Contact Us

(510) 790-2525 Contact

Open Modal