Learn about the causes of constipation in dogs and how to diagnose it
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Dogs usually defecate once or twice per week. However, sometimes dogs are unable to produce normal stools on a regular schedule. The infrequent, difficult, or absent bowel movements indicate a common health issue known as constipation. Here are some of the common causes of constipation in dogs.
Causes Of Constipation In Dogs
Several factors are responsible for causing constipation in dogs, these include:
- Lack of adequate activity and exercise
- Improper fiber intake
- Blockage in the anal sacs
- Neurological disorder
- Side effects of medications
- Abnormal prostate gland
- Changes in diet
- Obstruction in the intestinal tract
- Presence of tumor or masses in the anus or rectum
- Trauma that has affected the pelvis
- Orthopedic issues that make it difficult for dogs to position themselves for defecation
Symptoms Of Constipation In Dogs
The obvious signs of constipation are:
- Inability to defecate for a few days
- Dry and hard stool that resembles pebbles
- Straining to defecate
- Producing fecal matter mixed with blood
- Painful defecation
- Crouching when attempting to defecate
The symptoms of urinary tract issues can be easily confused with constipation. Therefore, it is important to visit a vet for a full examination and diagnosis.
Treatment Of Constipation In Dogs
- If you observe the above-mentioned signs, the best thing to do is take your dog to a vet for a detailed examination. Blood tests are usually conducted to reveal infection or dehydration. In addition, medical history is taken and a rectal exam is performed to rule out other abnormalities.
The vet may recommend any of the following treatments:
- Prescription of a high-fiber diet
- Laxatives or stool softeners
- Regular physical exercise
- Professionally administered enema. It is advisable not to administer an enema at home to avoid the risk of toxicities.
- Add fiber-containing foods such as wheat bran or pumpkin to your dog’s diet
- The vet may prescribe medications that increase the contractile strength of the large intestine.
It is essential to follow the vet’s instructions carefully. Trying the wrong combination of treatments can lead to diarrhea.
Be Prepared Before Going For The Exam
Keep the following points in mind before taking your dog to a vet:
- The time when the dog defecated last
- Consistency and color of stool
- Any changes in dog’s diet
- Changes in dog’s routine
- Bone, pebbles, or any non-food items that the dog may have eaten.
- Drug treatments or surgical history
- Past trauma or injuries
- Signs of distress or discomfort include vomiting, fatigue, or bloating.
It depends on the severity and duration of the treatment. But generally, it consists of:
- Rectal exam
- Enema colonoscopy
- Abdominal palpation
- CBC (Complete Blood Count)
- Neurological exam
Complications of Constipation In Dogs
- It is important to treat constipation as soon as possible. Failure to address the issue can cause a buildup of fecal matter that later gets stuck in the colon. This condition is known as obstipation. Over time, obstipation leads to a condition called megacolon. In megacolon, the distended colon loses its ability to move feces. But most cases of constipation resolve with the proper treatment.
Boosting the intake of liquids and dietary fiber along with regular exercise is good for treating constipation. In severe cases laxative suppositories and enemas are helpful. However, these should only be used after consulting with a vet, especially, when they are needed for long periods. In extreme cases, the veterinarian manually removes the impacted feces. Moreover, drugs are given to restore normal colon functions.
If your dog is showing signs of constipation, consult a veterinarian immediately. At Autumn Trails and Veterinary Center, we provide the best treatment to your pets. We have the experience and technology to handle all types of healthcare needs of your pets. We are located in Charlottesville, VA. Appointments are conveniently available. Call us at 434-971-9800.