Constipation In Dogs – Are You Aware of These Signs and Symptoms?

constipation in dogs

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Unfortunately, it’s inevitable. At one time or another, every living being suffers with it. When you ‘have to go’, but can’t, it’s just a terrible feeling. I honestly don’t know what’s worse – having diarrhea or being constipated. They are both hard to deal with, and they are both miserable. But when it comes to constipation in dogs, signs and symptoms can be tricky.

There are many different things that can cause constipation in dogs. More so than in humans. With that said, let’s take a look at some signs that your dog is constipated, and how you can help them.

Canine Constipation Symptoms

Have you ever looked outside and have seen your pup wonder around aimlessly, circling here and there, seemingly looking for somewhere to poop? Chances are good that they’re not LOOKING – they’re TRYING. Here are some other ways that your dog may be trying to tell you that something’s wrong:

  • Dragging or scooting their rear-end around the yard (or floor).
  • Squatting, but nothing comes out. Sometimes they may even whine or cry.
  • Passing tiny, dry stool.
  • Passing what may look like diarrhea, but is actually a dark, mucusy liquid that is probably tinged with blood.

What Could Be Causing Your Dog’s Constipation?

There are a few different things that can cause constipation in dogs, but here are a few of the most common ones.

  • Little to no exercise.
  • Not enough, or too much, fiber in their diet.
  • A sudden change in their diet.
  • Excessive self-grooming (licking themselves clean, digesting too much hair).
  • Pain medications, especially from a surgery.
  • Stress, anxiety or depression.
  • Matted hair around the anus.
  • Blocked or abscessed anal glands.
  • Dehydration (from heat or illness)
  • Tumors in the digestive tract.
  • A piece of a toy, a string or piece of cloth, bone, or another hard object that got swallowed.

While this might seem like an impressive list, there are many more things that can be causing the problem. Old age often brings joint pain, (arthritis and other similar conditions) and can make it very uncomfortable for your dog to squat, therefore making them hold it in for as long as they can, trying to avoid the pain. Of course, the longer they hold it in, the more dangerous it is becoming.

When Should You Call the Vet?

While a ‘normal’ bout of constipation can last 24 – 48 hours, you should not let it go past that amount of time. If your dog hasn’t had a bowel movement for 2 days, it’s time to call your vet. They may suggest you try something at home, or, depending on your dog’s health history, it may be best to take him in for a visit. 

What’s Good for Dog Constipation in Dogs?

Fortunately, there are a few things that you can do at home when you first notice that your dog can’t go.

  • If you don’t already, you can take them for a walk, or play a bit more, making him (or her) run around a bit more. This will stir up energy in the body, making the blood pump faster, and hopefully give the digestive system a boost.
  • Add some fiber to their diet. Pumpkin is a great source of fiber, and you can use it from a can, or use a ‘real’ pumpkin, but boil it to make it soft. If buying it canned, please make sure that you buy PURE pumpkin – not pumpkin pie filling. It’s pretty easy to grab the wrong can, but *usually*, the pure pumpkin comes in the smaller can.
  • Canned dog food will give extra oils and water, and can soften up the stool so that it can pass. There are many different types of canned food, so you may have to try one or two types to see what your dog prefers.

I had a situation once where my Mom’s dog (11 years old) was passing very dark, mucusy stools that were tinged with blood. Of course, our immediate thought was that she was bleeding internally. After a quick call to the vet, we found out that she may have been constipated, and to try the canned food and extra liquid. *Of course, the vet told us that if Mia started acting lethargic, or not eating or drinking, we were to take her in asap!*

I started scouring the internet and found something interesting – coconut oil. Virgin coconut oil, or virgin olive oil, when given in SMALL amounts, is very beneficial – for both dogs and humans alike. I thought it was weird, but I went out and bought a coconut, and a jar of coconut oil. Let me tell you – opening a coconut is NOT an easy thing to do! But a few you-tube searches and a bit of work later, I finally did get it open. I gave her a little piece at a time. As it turns out, she hated the coconut water itself, but loved the coconut fruit!

I gave her a small piece of that, plus a half a teaspoon of coconut oil. I gave her the same amount that evening. She was eating, drinking and playing, so there was no immediate worry. The next day, I gave her some oil in the morning, and a piece of fruit in the afternoon. That evening, she was able to poop with no problem.

**This is our own personal experience. Thankfully, it worked. I would not have done this if she started to act lethargic, or if she were not drinking anything. If you are unsure of this, or are hesitant to try anything else, PLEASE get your pup to a vet. **

What’s a Good Dog Constipation Treatment?

There are other things that can be done to help your sick dog, and some things are best to be done by a veterinarian. They will palpitate the dog’s abdomen, if the dog will let them. Sometimes constipation hurts, especially if it is caused by a blockage.

After doing a thorough exam, and nothing is found, the vet may want to take a x-ray or do an ultrasound. Sometimes this will show if there is a chunk of hair, a piece of toy, or even if a rock or something has been swallowed, and is now causing a blockage.

If that is the case, then there are different options. One would be an enema of some kind. In very extreme cases, surgery may be required. That’s why it’s important to not let constipation last for more than 2 days, at most. You just never know what is going on in your dog’s tummy.

In conclusion, constipation is something that happens to just about every living creature. It sucks, and it can hurt. But when you are able to spot the signs early, and take steps to treat it, your dog will feel better fast.

As I will always say at the end of each and every one of my posts – if you are leery of trying something, or if you feel that something is very wrong, PLEASE do not hesitate to call your vet! I know they can be very expensive, so if you’re afraid of the expense, ask about options. Sometimes they will work with you.

Compared to different digestive issues, constipation in dogs can be one of the easiest to treat. Much like everything else, the sooner you notice it, the easier it will be.

I wish you the best, and hope your pup feels better fast!constipation in dogs


  • Sophie

    Hello there! Thank you very much for sharing this article on constipation in dogs. This is a very detailed article and really educative, it’s helpful to me as it would help me in recognizing when my dog is in pain. I feel like a bad owner because I never knew when my dog wanders in such manner, it’s trying to poop. Some of these causes listed out should be my fault because I’m the one not paying attention to things. I know better now, I’ll not suddenly change her food or not take it out on exercise. When it’s beyond my expertise, I’ll definitely see a vet. Thank you 

  • philebur

    Hello there, thanks a lot for sharing this wonderful piece of information with us. I must say I really did enjoy going through your article as it contains valuable information’s to look out for in their dogs. My dog was showing these signs last month, took her to the vet who diagnosed it could be constipation and was treated. This article is really an eye opener 

    • Haze

      I’m glad that you’ve found some tips that you could use, Constipation in dogs, just like humans, is never a good thing. Thankfully there was no underlying problem with your dog!

  • Abel

    These symptoms have opened my eyes. Thanks for mentioning them. I recognize that my dog is not getting much exercise during this quarantine.

    I have also been giving him a lot of fiber. I thought I was doing something good. But it appears it’s too much fiber.

    Thanks for giving us some tips about what could be good for our dog. I’ll implement them.

    • Haze

      Not very many people realize that too much fiber can be harmful. I never knew, myself.

      During quarantine, maybe just play with him (or her) a little bit more around the house? Walks are great for both of you, but spending quality time just playing means a lot as well!

  • Nuttanee

    I have to say that I never thought that my Shiro can get constipated like us. I mean I see him go all the time and he seems ok. Who knows that they are more prone to it than us. Oh boy, I really thought that Shiro is just looking for a good spot to do his business. I have to pay more attention to him from now on. Thanks for sharing such an informative post and your experience with us. 

    • Haze

      Thank you! I greatly appreciate your comment! When it comes to constipation in dogs, we don’t really notice it until it becomes blatantly obvious.

  • meenaf1

    Hello there,

    Thank you for sharing your website.

    I found your website very cute and engaging. Lovely dog pictures and very nice collections. Good tips for raising a healthy dog. I am sure all the dog owners will love it and will surely find it very useful. This shows me how lucky your dog is to have an owner like yourself who can take care of it just like a parent.

    Good luck!

  • Jackie

    It is very nice to see you talk about this this issue. I think that many pet owners do not know that their dogs can actually come down with having constipation. I have learnt a great deal and I am a new dog owner. I would definitely be keeping an eye on my dog for those symptoms.

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