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Are you out for a walk with your dog and notice that your furry friend has trouble loosening its feces? Check out this guide article on what you need to know about dog constipation, how to help your dog resolve the problem, and when it’s necessary to see the vet.

Constipation (dog): disease profile

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Symptoms: The dog finds it difficult to defecate or even has pain when defecation
Course: Acute
The severity of the disease: Usually unproblematic
Frequency: Uncommon
Occurrence: In all dogs
Diagnosis: constipation
Treatment: rectal enemas, feed additive lactulose
Prognosis: Non-painful, soft lump under the skin
Risk of infection: rectal enemas, feed additive lactulose
Specialty: Gastroenterology

Your dog is constipated – what does that mean?

Dogs are said to be constipated when they have difficulty passing feces or, worse, have not been able to defecate for days. Constipation in dogs often goes away on its own after a day or two if the intestinal tract has been able to heal itself. If constipation or difficulty in passing feces lasts longer than two days, the dog must urgently be presented to a veterinary practice!

How do I know if my dog is constipated?

The dog finds it difficult to defecate or even has pain when defecating. In the worst case, it may not come off at all.

Symptoms & Signs of Constipation in Dogs

If you notice your dog repeatedly trying to defecate but having very difficult or no defecating, these are signs of constipation. If the dog manages to get rid of constipation, small, hard balls of feces will leave the intestine one by one. This usually happens with pain, which he does not always indicate.

Signs of constipation, which is medically called “constipation”, can also be that the feces excreted with symptoms are covered with blood and mucus. So-called pseudo diarrhea can also be an indication of constipation. In this case, the dog’s blocked intestinal tract forces blood and mucus past the hardened balls of feces.

How long can a dog go without a bowel movement?

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Typically, a dog will defecate two to three times a day. Two days without a bowel movement is already constipation.

Causes of constipation

The causes of constipation in dogs can be very different. However, it is always the case that the feed that has already been digested is not transported further as mashed food in the intestine. As a result, more and more water is withdrawn from the pap, thickens it, and ultimately gets stuck in the dog’s intestines. The most common reasons for this are feeding errors or animal husbandry that is not appropriate to the species, i.e. lack of exercise, but also stress.

The most common non-medical causes are:

  • feeding too many bones
  • too little liquid intake when feeding with dry food
  • high fluid loss in febrile diseases
  • swallowing foreign bodies such as Lego bricks or the like
  • insufficient exercise or lack of opportunity to defecate
  • too low-fiber or too high-fiber diet

But medical reasons can also be the cause of constipation in dogs. For example:

  • inflammation of the anal sacs at the anus
  • weak intestinal wall
  • broken bones in the dog’s pelvic area
  • pain in general
  • tumors
  • prostate diseases
  • as a side effect of medication
  • hypothyroidism or other metabolic diseases

When is constipation dangerous?

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At the latest after two days without a bowel movement, the veterinary practice must be visited.

Your dog is constipated – diagnosis and treatment by the veterinarian

The diagnosis of constipation is usually made by the owner himself. The description of the dog’s difficulty or difficulty in defecation suggests that it is a matter of an intestinal blockage. If possible nutritional errors or a possible lack of exercise do not provide any conclusions about the causes of constipation, further research must be carried out and medical examinations carried out.

The large and small intestine, pelvis, and spine are usually X-rayed or examined with ultrasound first. A rectal examination using a colonoscopy can also be carried out if a tumor or a foreign body in the intestine is suspected. A blood test and subsequent laboratory test of the blood will provide information as to whether the cause of constipation may be related to metabolic disease in the dog.

Depending on what the diagnosis reveals about the cause of constipation, the vet will use the appropriate treatment method in consultation with you.

What should I feed my dog if it’s constipated?

A high-fiber diet mixed with milk or yogurt is best, which softens the hardened feces and stimulates intestinal activity again.

The dog is constipated – treatment

With constipation, a distinction is made between a rather harmless, short-lasting constipation and severe, recurring, or longer-lasting cases of constipation.

In the case of a rather harmless, short-lasting constipation, rectal enemas can make the hardened feces in the dog’s intestine slippery again so that it can be passed out. But the feed additive lactulose is also often prescribed to get the intestines going again.

In acute and severe cases, the constipated dog is first given an infusion for a stable and sufficient fluid balance. Usually, the stubborn feces are removed from the dog’s rectum under anesthesia using a special enema and an intestinal massage.

These home remedies help against acute constipation in dogs

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If you find that your dog is having a hard time loosening its feces, you can try a few natural home remedies to get the intestines going again. The focus is on increasing the liquid in the intestines so that the feces become soft again. But also to stimulate the intestines to work again. These home remedies can help if you administer them with the feed or pure:

  • Water, milk, kefir, or yogurt
  • Soaked flaxseed or psyllium husk with plenty of liquid

You can also massage his stomach and intestines very carefully and thus stimulate the intestines to work again. Give yourself plenty of time for the walk so your dog doesn’t feel stressed.

Dry food should be completely avoided in the event of constipation.

What should I NOT feed my dog if it is constipated?

Definitely not dry food, as it removes even more water from the intestines. And no bones either.

Prophylaxis and prevention – you can do that

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In most cases, bowel problems and constipation are related to poor diet and/or lack of exercise. A high-quality, balanced diet with fiber supports the maintenance of healthy intestinal flora and protects against constipation. Water-soluble fiber attracts water, causing it to swell. They stimulate the intestinal bacteria to produce a healthy intestinal flora.

Water-soluble fiber includes:

  • Pectin, found in apples and carrots, for example
  • Inulin contained for example in Jerusalem artichoke and artichoke
  • Oligofructose contained in bananas and strawberries, for example

Water-insoluble fiber stimulates intestinal movements and thus promotes regular bowel movements in dogs.

Water-insoluble fiber includes:

  • Oat flakes or bran and psyllium husks
  • Various other cereal grains

But not only a balanced, species-appropriate, and healthy diet can prevent constipation, but also sufficient exercise for the dog. As in humans, the dog’s gut is the center of health and well-being. So pay close attention to what you give your dog to eat and it will thank you with a zest for life and resilience.