Constipation In Dogs

Constipation in dogs - A solvable problem.

Constipation is also known as irregularity or costiveness. It is a digestive system condition in which it is difficult to pass stool due to their hardness. It occurs when too much water is absorbed from the food by the colon. This can happen if the food is moving too slowly through the digestive tract. The removal of water causes the stool to become very hard. Hard stool is painful to expel. This problem can lead to obstipation and blockages.

Although this issue can present itself at any stage of the life cycle, an old dog tends to suffer more than a young one. There are various causes of constipation in dogs. A main cause in dogs is diet. A low fibre diet is a big factor as is not drinking enough water.

Constipation in dogs is more common in the old dog and this has definitely been the case with my dog Pippa. Their digestive tract slows down and they need a food with more fiber and moisture. I have found this to be very true with Pippa in that she can no longer have a 'complete' dry dog food on its own anymore. Not even a best quality senior dry dog food followed with plenty of water from her bowl helps keep her regular. I now have to always mix in some of her favorite tinned dog food which contains 80% moisture, otherwise she really struggles to go. I have found that the dry dog food on its own is too much for her digestive tract to cope with and the additional moisture in the tinned food to be a big help.

Dogs often ingest items that are not meant to be eaten. Hair, sand, dirt and sticks moving through the system can form masses that are very difficult to pass. Lack of exercise is another cause. Exercise helps every bodily function work better. Dogs also need to have many opportunities to defecate throughout the day. Holding their faeces can lead to difficulty in eliminating them.

Diagnosing constipation involves the veterinarian taking a medical history of the dog. Important elements of the history include eating habits and information about their environment. A physical examination will also be performed including a digital rectal exam. Blood tests will be run to discover any abscesses or infection. A biochemical profile will evaluate blood sugar, proteins, electrolytes and other organ functions. A urinalysis will be run to evaluate the level of hydration. X rays and scopes may need to be done. All of these tests will help give the doctor an idea of what is at the root of the problem.

Treatments and remedies for constipation come in a range of options. Ideally, treatment should include professional and home care. If an underlying condition has been detected, the course of treatment will be to address that.

The dog’s diet will likely be altered to include bulking agents such as bran. A couple of teaspoons of wheat bran added to their food is very beneficial. Stool softeners may be prescribed to make eliminations easier. Exercise should be increased and water should be available at all times. Frequency and consistency of eliminations should be monitored to be sure improvement is being made. It is normal for dogs to have occasional incidences of constipation but recurring problems can and should be treated.

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