Constipated Dog: What Can I Give My Dog for Constipation?

Constipated Dog: What Can I Give My Dog for Constipation?

Last Updated on February, 2023

Has your dog gone a couple of days without passing feces?

Is your dog straining to pass stools?

Then it is very likely that your dog is constipated. Constipation is a prevalent issue in pets, and constipation is usually not severe, but you should never ignore it. 

As a concerned dog owner, you must have many questions about treating constipation in dogs.

We are here to help you understand your dog’s constipation.

Keep reading to learn all about constipation in dogs and what you can do to help your pup during bad days.

Do Dogs Get Constipated?

a constipated dog on the grass

Constipation is the inability to defecate normally. And yes, dogs experience constipation the same way as humans. 

Constipation can affect any dog regardless of size, breed, or age. However, older dogs are most likely to suffer from constipation.

What are the Signs of Constipation in Dogs?

Here are some dog constipation symptoms. 

Trouble When Pooping: Straining or Whining

If your dog struggles to pass feces, he may be constipated. If your dog whines while passing stools, he may be constipated. The whining may be due to a painful abdomen from another underlying cause, like a urinary tract issue, so it is always better to seek medical advice. 

Straining while trying to pass feces is another common sign of constipation in dogs. If your dog strains excessively or if he crouches down to poop but then walks away instead of pooping, he is very likely constipated.

Holding in Poop

If your dog is constipated, you may not see him pooping for a day or two. You don’t need to panic if your dog skips pooping for a day. Just keep a close watch on your dog. Feed your dog his usual diet and give him enough water.

But he may be constipated if he doesn’t poop for 48 hours straight. 

Related article: How to Naturally Stop Dog From Eating Poop?

Hard/Bloody Stools

Dry stools are signs of a slightly constipated dog. If your dog can poop usually, but the stools are compacted and hard, you don’t have to worry much. Monitor your dog for a few days to see if the situation improves. Consult your vet if you notice hard stools continuously for a week or so.

However, if you notice your dog passing mucus or blood with his stools, take him to the vet immediately. This could mean your dog is constipated or indicate another serious medical reason.

a dog pooping on the street

Decreased Appetite

Loss of appetite is another sign of constipation in dogs. A constipated dog may feel bloated and nauseous, naturally making him skip meals. 

However, there may be other reasons for a decreased appetite, like dental issues, changes in the surroundings, and picky behavior. Because loss of appetite can indicate many problems, it’s essential to monitor your pet’s condition closely. 

a dog and dog meal on the wooden floor

If your dog didn’t pass stools and he has a decreased appetite, the reason is most likely constipation, and you should take him to the vet immediately.

Most dogs can go a couple of days without meals, but it’s better to address the issue as soon as possible.

Weight Loss

Weight loss can be a sign of chronic constipation. Prolonged constipation can cause a loss of appetite, leading to weight loss.

But constipation and weight loss can often indicate serious medical issues like tumors. 

So it’s vital to get your dog medical attention as soon as possible.

What Causes Constipation in Dogs?

Causes of Constipation in Dogs

Insufficient Fiber In The Diet

Insufficient fiber in the diet is one of the most common causes of constipation in dogs. Dietary fiber keeps the gut functioning smoothly, and insufficient fiber restricts bowel movements and your dog constipated. 

Not Drinking Enough Water

Proper hydration is essential for smooth stool movement, and dogs can get dehydrated like humans. Losing water through exercise and other activities and not drinking enough water are the leading causes of dehydration. 

If your dog doesn’t have enough water in his body, the stools can get very compacted, hard, and dry. Hard stools are tough and painful to pass and can restrict bowel movements. A vet will diagnose dehydration through blood tests.

Insufficient Exercise

Insufficient exercise is a leading cause of constipation in dogs.

Daily exercise is crucial for proper bowel movement. Exercise limits the time food takes to move through the intestines, and this reduces the amount of water the intestines absorb from the stools and keeps the stools soft and easier to pass.

Insufficient exercise also causes many other issues like obesity, diabetes, and aggressiveness. 

Eating Non-Food Items Like Grass, Bones Etc

Dogs eat almost anything. Grass, food wrappers, bones, and toys are just a few foreign objects your pup sees as edible. 

Sometimes these objects pass through your dog’s digestive tract without significant issues, and they pass them out with the fecal material, but other times, these objects block your dog’s abdomen and cause havoc.

a dog eating grass

Symptoms of an intestinal obstruction vary and can include constipation, diarrhea, a painful abdomen, lack of appetite, vomiting, and lethargy. 

Intestinal obstruction is a medical emergency. A vet will conduct an abdominal ultrasound to check for blockages. 

Blocked Anal Glands

Your pup may be constipated due to blocked anal glands. It is prevalent for a dog’s anal sacs to get inflamed, and the anal sacs can swell up and distend. 

This is very painful for your dog, and he may try to skip pooping to avoid the pain. This causes constipation in the long run. 

Other signs of blocked anal glands include:

  • Content licking of the anal glands.
  • Rubbing the butt on the floor.
  • An unpleasant odor. 

A rectal examination by a vet will confirm if your pup is suffering from blocked anal glands. This condition can be easily treated with the right medicine. So if you suspect your dog has blocked anal glands, get him medical attention asap.

Underlying Medical Conditions

Constipation can also be due to an underlying cause like digestive problems or even tumors. 

A vet will perform a full physical exam on your dog and determine if there’s a hidden cause for his constipation.

Treating Your Dog’s Constipation

dog's constipation treatment

Change Your Dog’s Diet

The best treatment for mild constipation is a change in your dog’s diet. A diet with more fiber is an easy home remedy for constipation in dogs, and fiber will soften the stools and make defecation easier.

A good high-fiber vegetable is pumpkins. Pumpkin is filled with water and fiber, and it’s naturally sweet, which means your dog will love it. Try topping your dog’s daily meals with boiled, mashed, or canned pumpkin.

A vet will go through your dog’s medical history and may recommend a prescription diet high in fiber. 

Also, encourage your dog to drink water after meals and exercise, and always keep his water bowl full and clean. If your dog doesn’t seem that interested in drinking water, try adding a few ice cubes or a few drops of chicken broth to the water.

Give Your Dog More Exercise

A couple of daily walks may soon reduce your dog’s constipation. You can also keep your dog busy indoors by engaging him with games like fetch and tug-of-war. Anything that keeps your dog active would do.

If you can’t find the time to walk your dog, you can always hire a dog walker.

Get Your Dog Examined By a Vet

If your dog has been constipated for days or if you notice signs like blood in stool, lethargy, or weight loss, you must take him to a vet.

A vet will examine your dog’s medical history and carry out tests and a rectal examination. Your vet may recommend a prescription diet high in fiber, and medication. 

Make sure you follow your vet’s instructions closely and look closely at your dog for changes in his bowel habits.

a veterinarian checking a dog

Use Medications Like Stool Softeners And Enemas

A vet may prescribe a stool softener or an enema. An enema is the introduction of liquid into the rectum, and the liquid softens dry stools and relieves constipation. 

Having an enema is an uncomfortable experience for your dog. Experienced vets do all they can to keep your dog relaxed and calm during the procedure. 

It is essential not to try any DIY enemas to treat your pup’s constipation. Let your vet perform this tricky procedure. 

Worth reading these articles:

What Happens if Your Dog’s Constipation Goes Untreated?

a dog on the bad

Severe untreated constipation causes a condition called obstipation. 

Obstipation makes bowel movement impossible for your dog. If obstipation continues, it causes a worse condition called megacolon. This means the colon muscles no longer function properly.

Obstipation can be life threatening depending on your dog’s age and general health. 


Final Thoughts

Dogs experience constipation, and it is uncomfortable, painful, and scary. The best you can do is to try to relieve his symptoms by changing your dog’s food, adding more fiber to his diet, and giving him plenty of exercise. 

But sometimes you can’t treat constipation at home, and consulting a vet is the best option. A vet will conduct a full physical exam and blood tests to come up with an accurate diagnosis of constipation. 

A vet can also treat a constipated dog with a stool softener and proper dog medications. Always heed the advice provided by your vet. 

The right treatment will soothe your dog’s constipation, and he will be back to normal in no time. 

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Thomas Villalpando is the main author of IPet Guides. He spends his time reading, training, and working with several Dogs' behaviors. You can find more about him here.

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