Just like people, dogs can experience constipation which can make him uncomfortable and even cause him pain. The condition can usually be attributed to a lack of fiber in his diet or not drinking enough water during the day.

Feeding your dog certain types of people food can also contribute to the problem. There are many options for treating constipation, we’ve listed just a few to get you started.

Please keep in mind that you should always consult your vet before making any changes to your dog’s diet or administering medications (and also to be certain that he isn’t exhibiting symptoms of a more serious illness or disorder).

Food For Easy Bowel Movement in Dogs

1. Pumpkin: Feeding your dog a little bit of pumpkin with his food is a great way to prevent and cure constipation. Pumpkin is high in water content and a great source of fiber. You can either puree fresh pumpkin or use canned pureed pumpkin. Take a look at our recipes for Pumpsicles, Pup-kin pie and Howl-o-ween cupcakes.

2. Supplements: There are natural supplements available that will aid in curing a dog’s constipation. They usually contain additives such as acidophilus, folic acid, and vegetable enzymes. Check with your vet for recommendations.

3. Laxatives: If your vet advises it, a mild laxative may do the trick. Of course the amount will depend on the size and weight of your dog.

4. Enema: Your vet will tell you if this is an option he wants to pursue.

5. Milk of Magnesia: A small amount of Milk of Magnesia may be all that he needs but again, check with your vet first!

6. Bran (wheat & oat): Bran works as a preventative (much like pumpkin), when added to your dog’s food regularly. Ask your vet for advice on how much to add. Try our recipe for Digger’s Dream Muffins with oat bran.

7. Powdered psyllium seed: Psyllium seed pull water into the stool and help move it along.

8. Mineral oil: Mineral oil helps lubricate the stool.

9. Aloe Ferox: Aloe Ferox has a beneficial effect on digestive functioning and acts as a natural system cleanser and remedy.

10. Increased exercise: Increased exercise will massage internal organs and increase blood flow in the colon.

Constipation refers to an inability to produce normal stools on a regular schedule, which, for a dog, is generally once or twice per day. Dogs who are suffering from constipation will not “go” at all, strain to defecate, or produce rock-hard stools.

In chronic cases, dogs may retain hard, dry fecal matter in their digestive tracts. This is known as obstipation, in which there is so much fecal matter that it becomes compacted and the dog cannot defecate at all.

What Are the Signs of Dog Constipation?

The signs of constipation are pretty obvious, including:

Lack of defecation for a few days;

Hard, dry stools that feel like pebbles when you pick them up.

Two other signs of discomfort are associated with constipation, including:

Tenesmus, which includes straining to defecate with little or no result, or producing small amounts of liquid fecal matter mixed with blood;

Dyschezia, which is painful or difficult defecation.

What Causes Constipation?

 Most Common Causes:

Veterinary textbooks list scores of underlying causes, some as benign as lack of exercise, others much more serious problems, like cancer. Veterinarians categorize these causes, based upon where the problem occurs along the digestive tract. They use the words:

Interluminal (referring to blockages inside the colon)

Extraluminal (obstructions originating outside the colon, such as tumors or pelvic fractures)

Intrinsic (diseases and nerve injuries)

Some of the most common reasons dogs become constipated include:

Diet—As in humans, a diet lacking in fiber is often the problem. Also, unlike humans, dogs tend to eat things that are not food—like hair, toys, and kitty litter—and these may cause blockages and abnormal fecal transit. Bones, bone meal, and other sources of dietary calcium can contribute to constipation.

Age—Elderly dogs seem more prone to constipation.

Activity level—For reasons unknown, being sedentary often results in slower transit.

Digestive tract tumors

Tumors that narrow the pelvic region

Anal gland issues

Prostate enlargement

Dehydration or electrolyte imbalances

Drugs, including opiates, diuretics, antihistamines, some antacids, certain cancer drugs

Metabolic diseases, like hypothyroidism and renal (kidney) issues

Spinal diseases and injuries

Central nervous system disorders

Stress and psychological problems—Something in the environment that will lead a dog to hold it.

Orthopedic disorders that make it difficult for the dog to squat.

Surgery—Medical procedures, and the drugs administered during these procedures, may result in constipation. Call your vet for advice if you observe this in the post-surgical period.

What To Do If Your Dog Is Constipated

If the problem has just started—no more than a day or two—a few home remedies might get things moving again. Call your veterinarian before adding any supplements and keep in mind that no one strategy works for all dogs. But some of the old-standbys for treating constipation include:

Pumpkin—Weirdly, this dietary fix works in some dogs for either constipation or diarrhea. It is high in both fiber and moisture, and many dogs like the taste, so they’ll happily take this medicine. There are several recipes for tasty pumpkin treats that dogs love, although for regulating the digestive tract it’s probably best to give it straight. Try pure canned pumpkin or a pumpkin powder.

Canned dog food—Elevated moisture content of canned food may help regulate the system.

Powdered fiber supplements

Food and herbs, such as ginger, wheat bran, powdered psyllium seeds, and olive oil, may help. A 2011 study, exploring treatments for constipation in humans, showed that fig paste was effective for treatment of constipation in their research colony of Beagles. Foods that help humans with the problem are likely fine for dogs, but it always is prudent to check with your vet.

Hydration—Make sure your dog has access to fresh water and maybe electrolyte supplements.

Exercise

Most cases will resolve with mild treatments, such as boosting liquids and dietary fiber or getting more exercise. Laxative suppositories and enemas may be helpful, but should only be used with guidance from a veterinarian, especially if they are needed for long periods.

More extreme cases will require such medical interventions as:

Manual removal of impacted feces

Drug to activate normal colon function or to block the production of certain enzymes.

Surgery may be needed in very rare, extreme cases, usually for megacolon. One surgical procedure is known as a colectomy, in which sections of the colon are removed.

For most dogs, constipation will be an infrequent problem, kept under control through a well-balanced diet, access to fresh water, and regular exercise.

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