By Debbie Brookham C.P.N.
Identifying Constipation in Dogs
Constipation in dogs is one of the most common (and crappiest) reasons to go to a Veterinarian. You may notice your dog having difficulty producing waste--or not having any bowel movements at all. If you notice hard stools and your dog straining to defecate, he is typically having a constipation issue. If your dog whines or seems uncomfortable during his elimination time, it may be your cue for a trip to the Vet.
Who Gives A Crap (Or Who Doesn't)
Dogs of all ages can become constipated. Senior dogs can become constipated as their systems find it harder to digest foods. Just like humans, dogs may not be able to eat like they did when they were younger. You might want to consider adding digestive enzymes to your fur-baby’s diet. Digestive enzymes break down the dog’s food for better absorption in the digestive system.
Puppies are a whole other subject when it comes to constipation. There are some puppies that will try to eat just about anything they come into contact with, or anything they can get into their mouths. Beware of socks, stuffed toys (especially the stuffing), rocks, and just about anything a rambunctious puppy might choose to eat. Eating non-digestible items can become a medical emergency and require surgery if the item will not pass safely through his system.
An obstructive bowel is a real consideration when it comes to cotton items (like socks and stuffed toys). A Veterinarian can assist finding out the real problem by taking x-rays to see what is really in Rover’s tummy. Through careful observation and diagnosis, your vet can determine if the item will pass through the intestines, or if there will be a need for surgical intervention.
Just like with babies, we want to make sure objects are put up and out of the reach of an inquisitive puppy. Puppies lose their teeth around four months, and it’s during this time they will choose to chew on everything! Make sure to keep a sharp eye on your dog when giving him a new chew or toy. Things can happen quickly when it comes to puppies or an aggressive chewer.
Constipation can also occur when there is not enough moisture in your dog’s diet. Make sure you have fresh water out for your dog at all times. One way to add moisture into the diet is by adding warm water, or bone broth to kibble. If you do add a liquid to the kibble, make sure it is eaten in a timely manner, and not left at room temperature for more than an hour, as it can start to create bacteria in the food. If you question how long the food has been out, just throw it away. It’s not worth having a sick dog.
It’s also important for your dog to drink plenty of water, as water assists with defecation. Adding fresh foods that have moisture in them can also assist in keeping your dog’s system moving along properly. You can add fruits and veggies like melons, bananas, apples, carrots, and green vegetables as a topper to meals. But make sure the food is either fresh or frozen. Don’t use canned human foods, as they typically have too much salt and preservatives in them to be healthy for your furry friend.
The Case For Fiber
Fiber (or a lack thereof) is one of the main reasons for constipation. If your veterinarian says Rover needs more fiber, try adding it in the form of organic pumpkin. Pumpkin is one of nature’s superfoods and can really help with constipation. If you are lucky enough to buy fresh, organic pumpkin at your local farmer’s market, just remember to boil it first. If you purchase canned pumpkin through your local pet store (or grocery store) make sure it is labeled pumpkin-only.
Most commercial canned pumpkin for humans comes with unwanted spices, sweeteners, or salts. You don’t want to give Rover something harmful when you add pumpkin to the diet. One fun way to add pumpkin is to make it into ice cubes. Simply put the pumpkin into an ice-cube tray, freeze it for an hour, and watch your pup have fun devouring a fun, frozen treat. For a longer-lasting treat, try freezing one of his stuffed treat toys with pumpkin.
Constipation comes in many forms. Some natural, some caused by non-edible items. But other, more serious causes of constipation include blocked or abscesses in the anal glands, tumors, neuromuscular disorders, stressful situations, or lack of exercise. If your dog exhibits symptoms of constipation and quick home remedies aren’t helping, it’s time to head to the Vet.
Remember, a watchful eye and accompanying your dog outside will be a good idea to observe his bowel health. So, take a walk and watch your dog during elimination. Make sure Rover doesn’t show any of the constipation signs like straining, not going at all, or hard stools. If he does show signs, make that call to your local Veterinarian.
And remember: a healthy digestive system leads to a happy, healthy pet!