What can I give my dog for constipation?

What can I give my dog for constipation?

Constipation in dogs is a gastrointestinal condition characterised by infrequent or difficult bowel movements, resulting in the passage of hard, dry stools or the inability to defecate (poo) altogether. It occurs when the digestive system struggles to move waste material through the intestines effectively, leading to a build-up of faeces in the colon. This can cause discomfort and strain during bowel movements, often accompanied by symptoms such as abdominal pain, bloating, and decreased appetite. 

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How do I know if my dog is constipated?

Recognising constipation in dogs involves observing their behaviour, bowel movements, and overall health. There are 7 common signs that may indicate your dog is constipated: 

  1. Infrequent or Difficulty Passing Stools: If your dog is having trouble or takes longer than usual to defecate, it could be a sign of constipation. Straining or showing discomfort during bowel movements is also common.
  2. Dry, Hard Stools: Constipated dogs often pass dry, firm stools that can be smaller than usual. These stools can sometimes be accompanied by mucus or blood. (Do not confuse raw fed poos with constipaton - raw fed poos are usually small, dry and virtually odourless)
  3. Decreased or Loss of Appetite: Constipation can cause your dog to lose interest in food or eat less than usual due to discomfort in the abdomen.
  4. Abdominal Discomfort: Your dog may display signs of abdominal pain, such as restlessness, pacing, or sensitivity when their abdomen is touched.
  5. Lethargy and Discomfort: Constipated dogs may appear lethargic, uncomfortable, or restless due to the discomfort associated with constipation.
  6. Straining: Excessive straining during attempts to poo, often with little or no success in passing stools, is a clear indicator of constipation.
  7. Changes in Behaviour: Watch for any changes in your dog's behaviour, such as increased agitation, restlessness, or seeking privacy when attempting to defecate.

How do I avoid my dog getting constipated?

Preventing constipation in dogs involves adopting a holistic approach to their care, focusing on diet, hydration, exercise, and overall health. There are many ways to help prevent constipation in your dog.

Provide a Balanced Diet: Feed your dog a high-quality, balanced diet that is rich in fibre. Fibre helps promote regular bowel movements by adding bulk to the stool and aiding in digestion.

Include Extra Fibre: Regardless of whether you dry or raw feed your dog, include healthy vegetables such as broccoli, carrots, butternut squash, lightly steamed to keep the bowels moving. Natural treats with fur on also help add fibre and help keep regulate bowel movements.

Use a Supplement: Psyllium Husk is a natural, holistic way to approach digestive health, including prevention of constipation. Use Dorwest Herbs Keepers Mix for a healthy bowel and digestion - excellent for improving the digestion of both raw and commercial dog food.

Ensure Adequate Hydration: Make sure your dog has access to fresh, clean water at all times. Proper hydration is essential for maintaining healthy bowel function and preventing constipation.

Regular Exercise: Regular physical activity helps stimulate the digestive system and promotes healthy bowel movements. Take your dog for daily walks, play interactive games, or engage in activities that encourage movement and exercise.

Monitor Treats and Table Scraps: Limit the intake of treats and table scraps, as excessive consumption of rich or fatty foods can disrupt your dog's digestive system and contribute to constipation.

Gradual Diet Changes: When transitioning your dog to a new dry food, do so gradually to avoid digestive upset and potential constipation. Gradually mix the new dry food with the old food over a period of several days to allow your dog's digestive system to adjust. If you are moving onto raw food from dry food, make a straight switch to avoid upsetting the system caused by mixing dry and raw food in the same meal.

Provide Mental Stimulation: Mental stimulation and enrichment activities can help reduce stress and anxiety, which may contribute to digestive issues in some dogs. Offer puzzle toys, interactive games, or training sessions to keep your dog mentally engaged and relaxed.

What can I give my dog for constipation?

If your dog is experiencing constipation, there are several safe and effective remedies you can try to help alleviate their discomfort and promote regular bowel movements.

Increase Water Intake: Ensure that your dog has access to fresh, clean water at all times. Adequate hydration is essential for maintaining healthy bowel function and softening stools.

Add Fibre: Include some steamed sweet potato, butternut squash or pumpkin to your dog’s food, these add some fibre which helps to get the digestive system moving.

Plain, Natural Yoghurt: You can also consider adding a small amount of plain, unsweetened yogurt to your dog's diet, as it contains probiotics that can help support digestive health and help get things moving.

Olive Oil or Coconut Oil: Adding a small amount of olive oil or coconut oil to your dog's food can help lubricate the digestive tract and facilitate bowel movements. Start with a teaspoon per day for small dogs and gradually increase the dosage for larger dogs, as excessive oil intake can cause diarrhoea.

Exercise: Regular physical activity can help stimulate the digestive system and promote healthy bowel movements. Take your dog for daily walks or engage in interactive play sessions to encourage movement and exercise.

Veterinary Intervention: In severe cases of constipation or if your dog fails to respond to home remedies, your veterinarian may need to intervene with prescription medications or enemas to help relieve the obstruction and restore normal bowel function.

Are certain dog breeds more prone to constipation than others?

Yes, certain dog breeds are more prone to constipation due to various factors, including their size, anatomy, and genetic predispositions.

Small Breeds: Small dog breeds, such as Chihuahuas, Yorkshire Terriers, and Toy Poodles, may be more susceptible to constipation due to their smaller digestive tracts and potential dietary sensitivities.

Brachycephalic Breeds: Brachycephalic breeds, including Bulldogs, Pugs, and Shih Tzus, have flat faces and compressed airways, which can sometimes lead to swallowing more air during eating. This increased air intake may contribute to digestive issues like constipation.

Long-Haired Breeds: Breeds with long hair or thick coats, such as Siberian Huskies, Collies, and Bernese Mountain Dogs, may ingest more hair during grooming, which can accumulate in the digestive tract and contribute to constipation, especially if not properly managed.

Senior Dogs: Aging dogs, regardless of breed, may experience decreased gastrointestinal motility and muscle tone, making them more prone to constipation as they get older.

Giant Breeds: Large and giant dog breeds, such as Great Danes, Saint Bernards, and Mastiffs, may have slower digestive transit times due to their size, which can increase the risk of constipation if not adequately addressed through diet and exercise. 

While these breed tendencies can increase the likelihood of constipation, it's essential to note that individual factors such as diet, exercise, hydration, and overall health also play significant roles. 

Can stress or anxiety lead to constipation in dogs?

Yes, stress or anxiety can indeed lead to constipation in dogs. Dogs, like humans, can experience stress and anxiety due to various factors such as changes in routine, loud noises, separation from their owners, unfamiliar environments, or interactions with other animals.

When a dog is stressed or anxious, it can affect their gastrointestinal system and lead to digestive issues, including constipation. Stress triggers the release of hormones like adrenaline and cortisol, which can have a direct impact on digestion by slowing down the movement of food through the intestines. This slowdown can result in decreased bowel movements and the formation of hard, dry stools, contributing to constipation.

Additionally, stressed or anxious dogs may exhibit changes in behaviour or appetite, which can further disrupt their digestive patterns. They may eat less, drink less water, or become more sedentary, all of which can exacerbate constipation. 

It's essential for pet owners to be mindful of their dog's stress levels and take steps to minimise stressors whenever possible. Providing a safe, calm environment, maintaining consistent routines, incorporating regular exercise and mental stimulation, and offering reassurance and positive reinforcement can help alleviate stress and promote digestive health in dogs.

What are the potential complications of untreated constipation in dogs?

Untreated constipation in dogs can lead to several potential complications, some of which can be serious and adversely affect the dog's health. These complications may include:

  • Impaction: If constipation is left untreated, faecal matter can accumulate and become impacted in the colon, making it difficult or impossible for the dog to pass stools. Impaction can cause severe discomfort, pain, and abdominal distension.
  • Rectal Prolapse: Chronic constipation can increase the risk of rectal prolapse, where the rectal lining protrudes through the anus. This condition is painful and requires veterinary intervention to correct.
  • Megacolon: Prolonged constipation can lead to the dilation and enlargement of the colon, a condition known as megacolon. Megacolon can impair the normal functioning of the colon, leading to chronic constipation, faecal impaction, and severe discomfort.
  • Obstruction: In severe cases, constipation may progress to a complete obstruction of the intestines, preventing the passage of faecal matter altogether. Intestinal obstruction is a medical emergency that requires immediate veterinary attention and may necessitate surgical intervention.
  • Rectal Tears or Injuries: Straining to pass hardened stools can cause tears or injuries in the delicate tissues of the rectum, leading to bleeding, pain, and discomfort.
  • Secondary Health Issues: Untreated constipation can exacerbate underlying health conditions, such as anal gland impaction, urinary tract infections, or pelvic floor disorders. These secondary health issues can further complicate the dog's condition and require additional treatment.
  • Decreased Appetite and Weight Loss: Chronic constipation can cause discomfort and reduce the dog's appetite, leading to weight loss and nutritional deficiencies if left untreated.
  • Behavioural Changes: Dogs experiencing chronic constipation may exhibit changes in behaviour, such as irritability, restlessness, or lethargy, as they cope with discomfort and pain. 

Overall, maintaining good digestive health through preventive measures and prompt intervention can help ensure the well-being of our canine companions and minimise the impact of constipation on their health and quality of life.

With wags and woofs,

Laura, Dolly & Reggie

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