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Constipation in dogs

Simple Need-To-Know Guide on Constipation in Dogs

Several pet owners have fairly good knowledge of their pet’s bowel habits. If you scoop your pet’s poop, then it is obvious that you know when your furry companion is off their regular routine. Constipation in dogs is something that you will have to face at some point in your life.

The condition is not as common as you think. Sometimes it is mild and can resolve quickly on its own. Other times, the condition can be quite serious and may be linked to underlying medical conditions.  

Constipation is an uncomfortable experience regardless of who is experiencing it. The condition wherein your dog is unable to pass regular stool can be both confusing and painful for them. If a dog is constipated, it must be feeling sick or would refuse to have food. Having a better understanding of the condition, how it occurs, and taking preventative measures will help you tackle it better and spot the signs at an early stage. 

What is constipation?

What is constipation?

Constipation refers to the condition where your pet is experiencing the insufficient passage of stool. It is more of a sensation or an urge to pass stools but unable to do so. You will notice that your pet is uncomfortable during the process and this is the first sign that you need to monitor them further. 

There are three distinct kinds of canine constipation. 

  • Intrinsic

This condition is characterized by hormonal imbalances or neurological disorders thereby resulting in constipation.  

  • Intraluminal 

This condition results due to a blockage in the colon that obstructs the passage of stool. 

  • Extraluminal

This condition results because of the blockage of the colon due to an exterior source.  

How did my dog become constipated?

How did my dog become constipated?

Although there are several causes of constipation, intraluminal is the most common kind you will observe in your canine companion. A majority of dogs experience intraluminal constipation where a foreign object such as a tumor or any other swallowed object by them is obstructing the colon from inside.

If you leave your dog to venture out on their own for a walk, then you need to make sure that they do not end up eating objects that they are not supposed to. Giving their appropriate training will ensure that they do not consume something that becomes lodged in their colon.

More often, the blockage in your dog’s digestive system could be due to hair, string, grass, or any other small object that they might have consumed while venturing out. In extremely rare scenarios, the obstruction will have to be removed either through an enema or through surgery.

Intrinsic constipation is a rare occurrence. It has generally been noted as a side effect of any medication being taken by your pet. Intrinsic constipation is also considered to be an outcome of any medical procedure that your dog has undergone.

If your dog is constipated and straining to have a bowel movement then their stool will likely be dry and hard. Their appetite may either decrease or may begin vomiting. If you have noticed a sudden decrease in the regularity of your dog’s bowel movements, then it could be a sign of constipation. 

Here are the most common causes of constipation experienced in dogs. 

  • Changes in diet 
  • Lack of exercise
  • Neurological disease
  • Internal obstructions 
  • Colon related issues
  • Stress and anxiety
  • Physical ailments and arthritis
  • Dehydration
  • Matted fur 
  • Damage to the anal cavity 
  • Side effects of supplements and medicine 

Dog constipation symptoms


The most common symptom that dog owners can look for in their pets is the absence of stools for two or more days. If you are noticing any symptoms, you need to check out other causes or get a vet consultation right away. 

Here are the additional signs that can help you recognize the condition. 

  • Crying, signs of pain, or crouching while trying to pass stools 
  • Dry and hard stools that feel like stone 
  • Straining while trying to defecate
  • Passing loose stools mixed with mucus or blood 
  • String, grass particles, or other objects around the anus
  • Loss of appetite 
  • Vomiting 
  • Lethargy
  • Dragging bottom along the floor 

Constipation can be a sign of any serious condition such as urinary tract infection, colitis, anorectal obstruction, or an obstructed bladder. Hence, it is best to consult a vet and begin a proper course of treatment at the right time.

Also, make sure to check for evidence if your dog has chewed splintery bones or any other sharp objects that can result in internal obstructions or perforations. It can prove to be hazardous and your vet may have to take any emergency measures.    

Constipation treatment 

Treatment for Constipation in dogs

It is best to always seek advice from a vet to treat constipation in dogs. Instead of opting for home remedies, you need to stick to the course of action prescribed by your vet. They will decide a suitable course of action for treating the condition after studying your dog’s medical condition and eating habits thoroughly.  

Usually, the simplest cases of constipation are quite easy to treat. Here are some of the effective treatments recommended by a vet.  

  • Hydration

You need to make sure that your dog has access to fresh water at all times. The symptoms can be alleviated if your pooch gets hydrated. You can also try feeding your dog wet food instead of dry food to prevent the condition altogether.  

  • Changes in diet 

Include more fiber in your dog’s diet. Avoid giving chew toys and dog bones to your pet that can result in obstructions.

  • Have a fixed feeding schedule 

You are responsible for setting your dog’s eating schedule. This will help them regulate their stools. A regular feeding frequency of two to three meals in a day can help. Make sure to include liquid food in their diet as well.

  • Use stool softeners (after consulting your vet)

Your vet would study your dog’s eating habits and medical condition to determine the cause of constipation and then suggest a suitable treatment for them.

  • Increased physical activity

Making your pet move around will ensure that your dog’s intestines are active too. You do not have to institute a boring routine of just walking them up and down the street to ensure that they get enough exercise. There are a lot of activities that your dog will find fun.

In extreme cases, your vet may consider manual removal of impacted fecal matter or rely on any medication for activating your colon to produce certain kinds of enzymes that can assist in the process. In extremely rare cases, your vet may prescribe surgery for the condition referred to as megacolon.    

Most dogs will experience constipation at some or other point in their lives. The steps to prevent the condition are straightforward. Maintaining a balanced diet and regular exercise can avoid the condition.   

Food selection for constipated dogs

Food selection for constipated dogs

The kind of food and nutrient profile can have a tremendous impact in managing constipation in dogs. Most importantly, the level of fiber in your pet’s diet matters a lot.  Consuming too little or too much fiber can worsen the situation.

Hence, you need to speak to your vet as they will be able to provide proper dietary advice. Maintaining a balanced diet is one of the most crucial strategies in maintaining the condition.   

Veterinary treatment for dogs

Veterinary treatment for dogs

If you feel that your dog is exhibiting symptoms of constipation, then providing them appropriate treatment can help them get back to their normal self sooner. Your vet will usually perform a physical examination to identify the severity of the condition.

Additional tests may be required in a few cases. In such cases, laboratory analyses, x-rays, and endoscopy would be suggested by your vet.   

Once your pet has been assessed thoroughly, your vet will decide the right course of action. This may include adding more additives and making alterations to the diet. They may also provide you with stool softeners, laxatives, or probiotics for use at home.

What do you need to avoid when your dog is constipated? 

What to avoid when your dog is constipated?

The first and foremost thing to do is to talk to your vet before administering any remedy to your dog.  


Enemas have to be administered only by a qualified vet and should not be done at home. The risk of injury and even toxicity is quite high when you are trying to administer an enema on your own to your pet. It is better to leave this task to the professionals. They will execute it as per the standard procedures and can prevent any risks in the process. 


You would be surprised to learn that many dogs are lactose intolerant. However, some people claim that milk is a great home remedy for treating constipation in dogs. They claim that it functions as a laxative which is not true. It is not advised to follow this remedy as it may result in diarrhea and further worsen the condition. 


Stool softeners or laxatives have to be prescribed by a vet. You should never try to give them laxatives on your own. Also, do not attempt to give them human laxatives as it can be quite strong for them and may result in complications. 

In summary 

Constipation can affect any dog just like humans. The condition can make them uncomfortable and may also cause them pain. Usually the condition results due to lack of fiber in the diet or by not drinking enough water during the day.

Feeding your dog dry food all the time or certain kinds of food can also contribute to the condition. The condition can be easily managed if you follow appropriate measures and the recommendations given by a qualified vet.  

There are several options available for treating the condition. You need to remember that you should always consult a vet before making any changes or before administering any medication. Constipation is a common digestive issue and the condition can be prevented altogether if you follow appropriate measures. 



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  2. Cornell University. Constipation. Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine. 
  3. Taylor M., (2018). 6 Things Your Dog’s Poop Can Tell You About Its Health. Good Housekeeping.
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  6. Deccan Chronicle. (2019). Dog constipation? Worry no more.
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