Have you noticed, over the past couple of walks together, that your dog did not relieve themselves? Is your dog giving you a sad look, as if they are in distress? You might be dealing with a constipated dog.
Although an uncommon sight, constipation is a reality all dog parents have to deal with at some point in their lives. Also known as an infrequent bowel movement, constipation translates into a hard time defecating, with dry stools resulting from the process. Dog constipation can easily make your furry friend's life miserable, which is why it's helpful to have a few at-home remedies available for when infrequent bowel movements occur. After reading this article, you'll be adequately equipped with an arsenal of DIY remedies to help your dog say goodbye to their constipation!
Telling the Difference Between a Constipated Dog and Picking a Cozy Bathroom Spot
First off, it's essential to tell the difference between dog constipation and a dog picking their cozy spot. Some dogs refrain from relieving themselves in unknown spots, while others, especially while traveling, might be too stressed to go potty. In both situations, however, one thing is certain: you're not dealing with constipated dogs but with circumstances that impede dogs from doing their business, circumstances that call for remedies unrelated to constipation.
Dog Constipation Causes
The most common reason dogs get constipated is that they ate something they shouldn't have. This can include stones, pieces of toys, or something they found in a bush during their walk. If big enough, these items can cause bowel obstructions, which can be life-threatening if they aren't dealt with.
Too much or too little fiber in your dog's diet may cause constipation. Your dog may also find it difficult to pass stools if they have too much calcium (usually from bones) or fat in their diet.
If the constipation is due to too much bone in your dog's diet, your dog's stool will look dry, chalky, and crumbly. Constipation from bone is also common in dogs who are switching to raw.
If your dog doesn't drink enough water, their intestines can't add enough water to their stool before it enters the colon. This can lead to hard, dry stools and constipation.
As dogs age, their systems start to slow down. It's common for older dogs to have problems with constipation.
Your dog's brain and digestive tract are constantly communicating with each other. This helps regulate bodily functions. But that also means stress and anxiety can affect your dog's digestive tract. The most common digestive issues related to stress are diarrhea, stomach pain, and constipation.
If there's inflammation in your dog's intestines or rectum, it can cause constipation and many other digestive issues. It can also lead to inflammatory bowel disease.
Certain diseases can cause constipation. Dogs with hypothyroidism, an enlarged prostate gland, or organ problems can experience constipation. Tumors in the digestive and eliminatory organs can also cause obstructions and constipation.
If your dog has a spinal, hip, or pelvic injury, it can make defecating more painful. This can eventually lead to constipation if your dog isn't pooping often enough.
Couch Potatoes are More Likely to Get Constipated
When was the last time your dog got a good workout? Lack of exercise is often cited as the hidden culprit behind constipation, which is why, when your dog is constipated, take them out for a walk or a jog. And we're not talking about a quick stroll around the block; a dog suffering from constipation needs something more consistent. Maybe go explore areas of the neighborhood you haven't visited in a while. Not only will the added exercise get the bowels moving, but it will also be a treat for your curious friend!
Maybe It's That New Medicine You've Put Your Dog On!
Has your dog been prescribed a medical treatment recently? If so, there might be a correlation between medications and constipation in dogs. We know that medicine will make your dog better, but not without consequences. And constipation is one of them.
Therefore, take a closer look at the medication's label and check for side effects such as constipation. Research has shown that antihistamines, antacids, diuretics, and iron supplements have a tendency to cause constipation in dogs. If that's the case for your dog as well, bring it to the attention of your veterinarian. They might propose an alternative medication that doesn't include messing with your dog's bowel movements.
Not Everything Your Dog Eats is Supposed to Be Eaten
Does your dog only eat what they find in their food bowl? You might be surprised to hear this, but some dogs indulge in a rather unorthodox habit: eating non-food items! Objects like rocks, carpets, socks, and diapers sometimes make it on a dog's menu in an eating disorder called pica.
Obviously, such objects have no place inside your dog's digestive system, as they can cause severe instructions in their intestinal tract. Regardless of the ingested object, don't expect your dog to pass it by themselves; instead, see a vet immediately. The ingestion of objects can turn into a medical emergency, so it's best to allow a professional to eliminate the threat from your dog's tummy!
Your Dog's Anal Glands Might Be Swollen
Sometimes, infrequent bowel movements are not caused by a lack of will but by the pain involved in passing feces. At least one in ten dogs deals with impacted anal glands, which swell up to a point where relieving oneself becomes too painful. You've probably seen dogs scooting on the floor or trying to lick their anuses; that's how they attempt to relieve the pain!
Your dog will need extra care in order to pass a normal stool. Adding fiber and wheat bran to their diet will make it easier to pass stools, whereas homeopathic options will help relieve the inflammation. However, be sure to call your vet in case the impacted anal glands do not show signs of receding.
Dog Constipation Signs You Should Look Out For
Constipation in dogs is not hard to identify, as long as you notice the right signs.
Your Dog Does Not Pass Feces Anymore
The first and most apparent constipation sign is a lack of pooping. A dog with no daily bowel movement is a rare sight, so be sure to contact a veterinarian if 48 hours have passed without your dog going potty.
Excessive Straining When Trying to Poop
Going to the bathroom when constipated is a painful business for dogs, and they will make it obvious. Therefore, a constipated dog will strain as much as possible to make the stool come out, although to no avail.
Constipated Dogs Vocalize Their Ordeal in a Strange Manner
When constipated, dogs will make sure that their discomfort does not fall on deaf ears, so they vocalize it in an uncharacteristically whiny fashion. At that point, you will know that your pooch is in need of help.
When Does Your Dog's Constipation Call for a Visit to the Vet?
Most experts agree that constipation in dogs should resolve on its own after 48 hours of proper hydration, exercise, and a rebalanced diet. However, dog parents can never be sure about the reason behind their dogs' constipation. Once the 48-hour threshold has been crossed, we strongly urge you to contact your veterinarian and have tests (e.g., physical exam, X-rays, blood tests) run on your dog to get to the bottom of the situation. Hopefully, it's only a case of mild constipation your dog is dealing with, but more severe medical issues, such as digestive tract tumors, a distended colon, or, as mentioned earlier, the presence of inedible objects in the digestive tract, might call for medical interventions.
What is the Best Remedy for Dog Constipation?
Let's say your dog is dealing with a mild constipation case; how do you relieve the discomfort they're currently experiencing? Fortunately, there are quite a few home remedies to choose from in your battle against dog constipation!
Hydration, Hydration, Hydration!
First, we have to make sure that your dog is adequately hydrated. We've mentioned earlier how a poor intake of water is a common culprit behind constipation, so ensure that your dog enjoys unhindered access to a source of fresh water at all times. Aside from fresh water, switching to natural mineral water, electrolyte treats, and choosing a food focused on proper hydration, such as the Volhard Natural Diet Foundation, will keep your dog adequately hydrated! Looking for more ways to make water more enticing for your pup? Add a bit of chicken or bone broth to it!
Is Your Pup's Gut Health at Stake? Probiotics!
Second, any disturbance in the digestive system can often be traced to a gut microbiome in disarray. So, what your dog needs is adequate means to fight off the harmful bacteria with the help of probiotics (i.e., the helpful bacteria in charge of powering the immune system). Luckily, numerous probiotic-rich foods, such as yogurt and kefir, are favorites among the canine population, so add an extra Greek yogurt to your next grocery list!
How About Some Canned Pumpkin?
If you want to add some flavor to the hydration process, why don't you try some 100% canned pumpkin? First of all, it's effective against both constipation and diarrhea, and second, dogs love it! One teaspoon per 10 pounds of body weight should be enough to do the trick. However, be careful not to purchase pumpkin pie filling or a mix that's riddled with sugars, spices, and other unhealthy additives for canines!
Can't Go Wrong With Coconut Oil!
From skin blemishes to stomach distresses, coconut oil helps cure all sorts of medical issues in dogs. In this case, coconut oil acts as a trustworthy stool softener that your dog is sure to enjoy. A spoonful of oil mixed in the food or fed directly to a dog is sure to do the trick!
If you're looking for a healthy, non-GMO source of coconut oil, look no further than the Volhard Coconut Oil (c)! Our cold pressed-unrefined, non-bleached, and hexane-free option is a quick and easy way to ward off digestive complications, boost the immune system and even help prevent bacterial, fungal, or yeast infections. Be sure to start feeding oil slowly using 1/4 of the total dose amount and build up over time slowly. Your dog will love it!
Olive Oil Will Do the Trick, Too!
If you don't have any coconut oil at your disposal, olive oil can be just as effective against constipation in dogs! It's all about how much of it you feed to your dog. Of course, the amount of sufficient olive oil against canine constipation depends on the dog's size: the bigger they are, the more olive oil they will need. However, be sure to start low and stick with a precise amount once no side effects become apparent; the worst that can happen is diarrhea, which sits at the other end of the spectrum.
The Wonders of Aloe Vera
Another all-natural remedy for an upset digestive system is aloe vera. This common succulent does not only make for an aesthetically-pleasing plant; it also acts as a natural laxative to relieve any obstruction of the digestive tract. Also, it's lighter on the stomach than artificial laxatives and soothes any inflammation that might accompany constipation. 20 to 60 juice drops twice a day are the recommended dosage for a 20-pound dog. Inner Leaf Aloe is the best version to use.
Some Dietary Fiber Will Help Things Move Along
A few of our canine companions run a higher risk for constipation, so they need assistance to maintain their digestive system. That's where fiber, with its benefits to digestion, comes in helpful, especially if your furry friend is a senior who needs a helping hand with their digestion.
Some of the handiest fiber sources (natural, of course!) you might add to your grocery list are bananas and pumpkin, but if you really want to make a difference fast, psyllium husk supplements will definitely do the trick! This all-natural remedy will help bring balance to your dog's digestive tract in no time! Just be sure to consult a veterinarian in order to ascertain the optimal dosage for your dog.
Give Your Dog a Drop of Apple Cider Vinegar!
Last, but not least, let's throw in a kitchen staple into the equation: apple cider vinegar. If you have childhood memories of your parents treating a sore throat with a spoonful of vinegar, they were not wrong. Apple cider vinegar boasts numerous health remedies, both for us and our canines!
From alleviating pharyngitis to lowering blood sugar and insulin control, this superfood will help your pooch bring their digestive system in order in the blink of an eye! Just a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar should be enough to relieve your dog's constipation symptoms. However, we strongly urge against mixing vinegar with water; we've seen instances of dogs refusing to drink water because of the foreign taste! Instead, mix it directly with their food for safety.
Is Your Dog Constipated? Not for Long!
Whether for a dog or a human, constipation is an unwelcome occurrence. While we can quickly find a remedy for ourselves, oftentimes, dogs suffer in silence; for that reason, we hope that today's blog has equipped you with all the necessary weapons to identify and respond to canine constipation before your pooch experiences any needless discomfort. With our natural remedies, your dog will make a comeback in no time! For more advice on dog nutrition, health, and training, make sure that you contact us and check out our blog!
Volhard Dog Nutrition and its expert nutritionists are now offering online consultations to help more dog parents discover why, what, and how to feed their dogs the healthiest of foods! Speaking to a Volhard nutritionist will help you understand the inseparable relationship between healthy food, a healthy body, and a healthy mind. If you're interested in contacting one of our Volhard nutritionists, don't hesitate to access our consultation page!