7 Things You Need to Do When Your Dog is Constipated

Do you suspect that your dog has some problems when trying to take a poo? The chances are that your dog is constipated.

what to do when your dog is constipated?

If your dog is suffering from some intestinal blockage, it can be an uncomfortable experience for both of you. If you’re wondering what to do when your dog is constipated, you’ve definitely come to the right place.

Unfortunately, this problem is quite frequent, and no dog is happy when it occurs. But luckily, someone is researching this to help them!

I’m here today to give you a quick breakdown of what can be done about it and how to do it to relieve the discomfort for both of you.

 Last Updated: August 1, 2020

But First… Make Sure It Is Constipation

dog is constipated - what to do?

This pupper looks like he’s constipated ☹️

Before you take the necessary steps to help your little pal, you need to get acquainted with the signs of a constipated dog.

Symptoms of constipation include:

#1 - Discomfort

The easiest way to tell your dog is constipated is if they seem to be straining while they’re trying to poop. The medical term for this is dyschezia.

Keep in mind that they may still produce a small amount of stool in some cases.

Here is what I mean by this:

It can be a bit harder to make sure it’s constipation with a female dog since the position will be similar to this one if they’re straining to pee. The thing is, dogs show strain when they are experiencing a urinary tract problem too, so that’s why it’s harder to tell for female dogs what of the two problems it is.

Consequently, this means you’ll have to pay closer attention to what they’re doing. Don’t worry, though; it won’t get weird unless you make eye-contact.

#2 - Lack of Defecation

Okay, this is an obvious one.

If your dog hasn’t done number two for more than 2-3 days, they are suffering from constipation (which, again, can be a sign of something else).

Since all the dog owners simply have to go and pick up after their dog, I’m sure you won’t be having trouble identifying this symptom.

#3 - Pebble-like Feces

Hard, abnormally small lumps of poop are a sign of constipation, too.

They are a sign that the feces have sat in your dog’s bowels for too long, but even more importantly - they are painful to deal with. While this is not a sign that confirms constipation 100%, it is definitely the sign that your dog needs a change in their diet that will be described later.

#4 - Lethargy

In addition to all the previous symptoms, your dog may be uninterested in the activities they usually enjoy and seem sluggish all the time.

While lethargy is not a sign of constipation on its own, paired with one or two of the previous ones, the probability that this is the case is higher.

If you believe your dog is constipated after reading the symptoms, take a look at the list of possible causes.

What Causes Constipation?

I.. .Just… Want...To... Poo.

Constipation can be caused by a wide variety of things, including:

  • Eating something indigestible (a toy, bone fragment, something from the streets)
  • A diet lacking in fiber
  • A sudden change in diet (food intolerance, allergies)
  • Dehydration
  • Obesity
  • Lack of exercise 
  • Age (older dogs experience this problem more often)
  • It can also be a symptom of more severe matters, like tumors, hypothyroidism, intestinal diseases, or neurologic disorders

What Will You Need for These Methods?

You’ll need to buy a few different things for the various home remedies available to treat canine constipation.

This is just so that you can get a little insight into what might be required. So, throughout this guide, you’ll probably need to acquire the following:

Successful Solutions for your Dog’s Constipation

happy doggo

Soon enough, your doggo will be happy again!

1. See The Vet

If you don’t already have a good vet available, you may need one. 

It’s always best to have a vet whom you can trust. I’d recommend asking pet-owners you’re friends with, as opposed to picking one at random out of the phonebook or off of Google Maps.

Taking your dog to the vet after noticing they’re constipated is strongly recommended, particularly if the problem persists despite more gentle efforts at taking care of it. 

If your dog is experiencing other symptoms, such as vomiting, do not hesitate, as that can be indicative of something life-threatening. 

Your vet will be able to tell you if it’s a severe issue immediately, and if that’s the case, you’re going to have to follow their instructions. 

Some issues might need to be handled with strong medications, while others might even involve surgery, unfortunately. Taking this step can be a bit expensive, but it’s the best way to make sure your dog isn’t in serious trouble.

However, if your vet has confirmed that your dog is suffering from constipation, most probably, they will recommend some of the following remedies.

Medication is rarely used on animals, unless it’s absolutely necessary, as this is a problem that can usually be easily solved.

2. Make Sure They’re Getting Enough Water

Particularly with puppies, dehydration can be a pretty common cause of constipation. 

You’ll need to ensure that your dog is drinking enough water to regulate their bowel movements properly.

One of the best ways to do this is to ensure that your dog has 100% free access to fresh water at all times. 

If you’re away for extended periods at work, you might find that a gravity-fed water bowl or pet water station is one of the best options. It’s a small investment, and it’s vital for your dog’s continued good health.

Or you can make a DIY gravity-fed water bowl on your own. Your dog will appreciate the effort!

3. Add Wet Food To Their Diet

Since one of the leading causes of constipation in dogs can be dehydration, and a diet that is high in grains like a lot of cheaper pet foods, the addition of wet food to your dog’s diet may solve the issue. 

Try to find something high-quality and grain-free, as this will loosen things up significantly better than a generic brand that doesn’t have a lot of nutrition.

You really should be mixing in a portion of wet food at all times anyway, even when your dog is no longer a puppy. The extra moisture will help them quite a bit, and you’ll find that your dog is a lot happier around mealtimes.

Pro tip: This doesn’t have to be expensive, and it can prevent problems if you just add a couple of spoonfuls to dry food each time you feed your dog.

4. Feed Canned Pumpkin

Canned pumpkin is super high in fiber and can help things get moving along quite well in your canine’s digestive tract. 

You’ll want to feed about one teaspoon per pound of your dog’s weight, once or twice daily. If you feed your dog more often than twice a day, omit the pumpkin in the second meal.

Thankfully, canned pumpkin is generally cheap. However, you want to make sure that it’s 100% pumpkin, as cheaper imitation products won’t have the same laxative effect.

It’s quite simple to use, and most dogs will eat it without having to be coerced. 

If things don’t clear up in a couple of days, see a vet, as it means there’s some issue other than a lack of fiber.

By the way, the canned pumpkin can be replaced with nearly any high-fiber food that’s safe for dogs. 

Some of the recommendations for alternatives are coconut fiber and dark, leafy greens like spinach. You’ll be feeding them in the same ratio as the canned pumpkin. You can also use psyllium husk fiber, which you’ll want to add to your dog’s food in about half of the amount. 

5. Up Their Activity Levels

walk your dog

If you’re not walking and playing with your dog regularly, the lack of exercise can cause a lot of problems, including constipation. 

While you’re modifying their diet to ensure the smoothness of future bowel movements, you should also be helping your dog to exercise more.

Take an extra five minutes on your walk, go jogging with them, or do any kind of activity which keeps your dog moving. It will help move blood to their internal organs and “massage” their internal organs, which will then improve the performance of their intestines.

Pro tip: If you’re too exhausted after work to walk your dog, fifteen minutes of playing fetch is a good alternative.

It’s still best to walk your dog if at all possible, but there are other ways to make sure they get the right amount of activity.

6. Organic Apple Cider Vinegar

If all else fails, apple cider vinegar is worth giving a shot. 

You’ll want to give your dog about ¼ of a tablespoon per 10 pounds of bodyweight. It might be a bit tough to convince your dog to eat it, though.

The best idea is to mix it in with wet food, where the taste of the food will overpower most of the vinegar. You’ll want to be using raw, unfiltered apple vinegar to get the most benefit for your pet. You can find it in most grocery stores nowadays.

Pro tip: A more palatable, but more expensive alternative to apple cider vinegar is to use aloe juice. Not the topical ointment, but the juice itself. Use it in the same amounts and in the same way as you would the vinegar, and your dog should find it much easier to eat.

7. Give Your Dog Some Milk

This one might seem counterintuitive since dairy products are often bowel blockers in humans, but milk may be one of the quickest and most effective remedies around for clearing out your dog’s bowels. 

Just give them a dish of milk, and you’re good to go.

This is mainly an effective remedy for recently-weaned puppies who may be having trouble drinking enough water since they’re used to milk. Milk higher in fats is better in this case, and soon your dog will be right back at leaving his mess in the grass outback.

But be careful! Don’t overuse this remedy. Excessive milk intake can add a bunch of weight to your dog due to its nutrient density, besides not being healthy for regular consumption.

To Wind It Up…

I hope that I’ve helped you to relieve yourself of the burden of a dog that can’t relieve itself.

As long as it’s not a serious problem causing it, you’ll find that it’s quite easy to take care of if you follow my list about what you need to do when your dog is constipated. 

Remember, though, that if the problem persists for more than a few days or if your dog is acting lethargic or vomiting, it’s definitely time to see an expert.

Don’t worry - you’ll be back at picking up poo-poo very soon!

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I'm a devoted pet parent to two lovely creatures – Charlie the Cat and Jimmy the Dog – a full-time deputy pet store manager, and an animal shelter volunteer. I've gathered knowledge about pets for almost a decade, and it all started in a small store called Jack's Pets.

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