Constipation in Dogs

Constipation in Dogs - Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, Recovery, Management, Cost
Constipation in Dogs - Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, Recovery, Management, Cost

What is Constipation?

Constipation refers to difficulty in moving bowels and includes infrequent bowel movements or a complete lack of bowel movements for 1-2 days. Normal healthy dogs defecate 1-2 times per day. Older dogs are more susceptible to bouts of constipation though constipation happens in all breeds and at any age. Difficulty moving bowels should not be ignored as it can be a sign of a current health problem and can lead to health problems. Constipation—difficult, infrequent or absent bowel movements—is one of the most common health problems associated with a pet’s digestive system. Constipation in dogs should not be ignored, as extended periods of distress can cause serious, and sometimes grave, health concerns.

Constipation Average Cost

From 53 quotes ranging from $1,200 - $5,000

Average Cost

$2,200

Symptoms of Constipation in Dogs

Symptoms that your dog is constipated include:

  • Difficult bowel movements
  • No bowel movement in 1-2 days
  • Scooting
  • Pacing or circling
  • Straining to defecate
  • Vocalizing/crying when straining
  • Dry hard stool production
  • Passing mucous
  • Diarrhea in small amounts
  • Passing small feces
  • Weight loss
  • Lethargy
  • Abdominal bloating
  • Abdominal pain
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
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Causes of Constipation in Dogs

Constipation can be caused by a number of factors including:

  • Dehydration
  • Aging
  • Arthritis
  • Obesity
  • Ingesting a foreign object
  • Colitis
  • Drugs (decrease intestinal peristalsis)
  • Enlarged prostate
  • Kidney disease
  • Too little dietary fiber
  • Lack of exercise
  • Anal gland abscess/blockage
  • Matted hair around anus
  • Tumor
  • Pelvic trauma
  • Back pain
  • Spinal trauma
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Diagnosis of Constipation in Dogs

If you suspect symptoms that your pet is constipated, you should contact a veterinarian.

At home, you can examine your pet for matted hair or feces around the anus which can often be a cause of blockage. If you do not see any sign of matting, take your pet to the veterinarian. It is important to diagnose the cause of the constipation to avoid further health issues and treat any serious underlying causes.

The veterinarian will want to know how long your pet has gone without a bowel movement, how long you have been observing signs of straining or other symptoms, your pet’s current diet, and whether your pet has been injured or has eaten any foreign materials. The vet will do a full physical examination to check for abdominal pain and swelling and any back or neck pain. She will also look for matting of fur around the anus and examine the anal glands for normal expression.

A complete blood profile, urinalysis and fecal analysis may be ordered depending on what the vet discovers in the exam. Radiographs and/or ultrasound can be helpful in visualizing the extent of the constipation and any foreign objects, tumors, fractures or other abnormalities that may be causing the constipation.

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Treatment of Constipation in Dogs

If you do notice a mat of fur around the anus, you can treat the pet at home by soaking the mat with a warm washcloth and then shaving the mat carefully away with electric clippers. Never use scissors when removing mats as it is easy to cut the skin. You can apply a mineral oil or non-toxic lubricant to the anus to soothe any irritation. If this does not solve the problem, take your pet to the veterinarian as soon as possible.

It is a good idea to take your pet to the veterinarian anytime you suspect your pet is constipated. The veterinarian will determine the cause of the constipation and then treat both the constipation and the underlying cause. The veterinarian may prescribe a home treatment or may treat the pet in the clinic. Treatment options for constipation include:

  • Stool softeners
  • Laxatives
  • Increased exercise
  • High-fiber diet
  • Medication to increase peristalsis
  • Enema

If the constipation is severe, your pet may need hospitalization. The veterinarian may perform an enema, and/or administer subcutaneous or intravenous fluids to re-hydrate the pet and aid in bowel movement. Enemas can be dangerous in certain cases and should only be performed by the veterinarian.

If a tumor, foreign object or prostate problem is the cause of constipation, immediate surgery may be required. Surgery will remove the obstruction and recovery may include 2-3 days of hospitalization.

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Worried about the cost of Constipation treatment?

Pet Insurance covers the cost of many common pet health conditions. Prepare for the unexpected by getting a quote from top pet insurance providers.

Recovery of Constipation in Dogs

Recovery after treatment for constipation is good and pets usually recover completely when the underlying cause is addressed and treated. Follow the veterinarian’s instructions on diet and medications closely. For post-operative care, your pet will require rest and quiet. Follow up appointments to evaluate healing may be required. Always monitor your pet for normal bowel movements, vomiting, blood in stool, and appetite when and after treating for constipation. Report any abnormalities to the veterinarian.

Older dogs may have recurrent constipation. Supplements can be added to your pet’s daily diet to relieve these symptoms. Monitor what your pet eats and try to give synthetic bones rather than natural bones. Do not let your dog eat cloth, string, rocks or other foreign materials. Always provide fresh water. Provide plenty of fiber in your pet’s diet. Maintain a healthy weight for your pet. Your veterinarian can provide recommendations on diet, dietary supplements and weight loss protocols. Regular exercise can be important in preventing constipation in pets.

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Constipation Average Cost

From 53 quotes ranging from $1,200 - $5,000

Average Cost

$2,200

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Constipation Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

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dog-breed-icon

Mastiff

dog-age-icon

Seven Years

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0 found helpful

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0 found helpful

Has Symptoms

Pain When Lifting Himself Up From Laying Down

Pooped hard poop Crying in pain Arched back

July 31, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. It sounds like your dog may have injured his neck or back, and it would probably be best to have him seen by a veterinarian as soon as possible. He may need some medications to help relax the muscles in his back and neck, and your veterinarian will be able to examine him and see what is going on. I hope that he is okay.

July 31, 2020

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dog-name-icon

dog-breed-icon

Mastiff

dog-age-icon

Six Years

thumbs-up-icon

1 found helpful

thumbs-up-icon

1 found helpful

Has Symptoms

Pain When Lifting Upper Body

My dog pooped out hard poop this morning and is helping in pain when lifting himself from a laying position

July 31, 2020

Owner

answer-icon

Dr. Michele K. DVM

recommendation-ribbon

1 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. It sounds like your dog may have injured his neck or back, and it would probably be best to have him seen by a veterinarian as soon as possible. He may need some medications to help relax the muscles in his back and neck, and your veterinarian will be able to examine him and see what is going on. I hope that he is okay.

July 31, 2020

Was this experience helpful?

Constipation Average Cost

From 53 quotes ranging from $1,200 - $5,000

Average Cost

$2,200

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