Dogs Constipation Symptoms – You Can Provide Quick Relief If You Know the Signs
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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 your dogs constipation symptoms, how can you tell if it’s something that can be easily treated at home, or if it is an emergency?
There are many different things that can cause constipation in dogs. More so than in humans. Some of these things are easily remedied, but sometimes there are underlying issues that can cause it. With that said, let’s take a look at some signs that your dog is constipated, and how you can help them.
Dogs 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.
- Eating very little, or not eating at all.
- Lethargy (Your dog won’t want to move, eat or drink. If this happens, call your vet as soon as possible!)
Dangerous Illnesses That Can Seem Like Constipation
Even though your dog is probably suffering with mild constipation, you should be aware of these other medical conditions. I have added them to let you know that there are things that only a vet can diagnose and treat safely and effectively.
- Colitis – You will see many small stools, and probably blood and mucus.
- Obstructed bladder – Kidney stones, or enlarged prostate (male dogs), are only two of the few reasons for an obstruction.
- Bowel Obstructions – Never, ever pull something out of your dog’s rectum! Something as small as a string can cause damage to your dog’s intestines, and pulling will only make things worse!
- Mega colon – This is a condition when the rectum stretches with hard fecal mass and damages the nerves and muscles. There are different ways to treat this, but only by a vet.
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.
- Blocked or abscessed anal glands.
- Dehydration, from heat or illness. This is also common in older dogs.
- Tumors in the digestive tract.
- A piece of a toy, a string or piece of cloth, bone, or another hard object that got swallowed. This can cause a blockage, and you need to get to the vet as soon as you can.
- Medicines for other health conditions, including antibiotics.
- Long-haired dogs can get what is called ‘mechanical constipation’. This is when their hair gets matted under their tail, around the anus. It can get so bad that stool can’t pass through it.
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 the situation.
How To Treat Constipation In Your Dog
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.
- If caused by matted fur, trim hair carefully under tail and around anus. Use warm washcloth to gently soften and clean skin. **I would highly suggest that you let a vet do this, but you can do it at home. Of course, your dog won’t like this at all, so you should have 2 people. One to hold the dog steady, and one to do the cutting and cleaning. (The proper way to hold a dog, to keep everybody safe from injury, is to hold one arm around the neck, and the other arm around his or her chest, gently hugging them against you.)
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. **
When Should You Call the Vet About Your Dogs Constipation Symptoms?
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.
If you see black tarry stools, or bright red blood, it means that there is bleeding somewhere inside their body. Only a vet can diagnose and fix this, and it needs immediate attention!
Another critical things to be aware of is fecal impaction. This is a mass of hard stool in rectum and colon. Symptoms are much like the other dogs constipation symptoms – passing very little stool, or none at all. Your dog can become lethargic quickly. Severe vomiting and a swollen belly are also symptoms, as well as your dog looking like their back is hunched-up.
This is another thing that only a vet can diagnose and treat He or she will do a rectal exam, which will show a large tube-like mass.
In mild cases, a vet can treat this with a small enema and/or laxative. You should never try to give an enema to your dog at home! It may seem like it can be done easily, but you can perforate the rectum very easily. It is dangerous, and in my personal opinion, should never be done except by a trained professional.
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.
When you can catch your dogs constipation symptoms early, you will be able to provide quick relief for your fur-baby.
I wish you the very best, and hope your pup feels better fast!