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Home Remedies for Dog Constipation

Written by Jay
BsC (Hons) Animal Behaviour & Welfare graduate with a passion for advocating for misunderstood animals.
Published on
Monday 25 October 2021
Last updated on
Tuesday 9 May 2023
dog constipation home remedies
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Most dogs suffer from constipation at least once in their lifetime. In most cases, their constipation is self-resolving and comes during times of stress, dehydration, or a lack of exercise. For these dogs, home remedies for dog constipation can help to get their gut back in action!

Dog constipation home remedies include canned pumpkin, wet dog food, and psyllium. These products are high in water content as well as fiber, making them very useful for bulking and softening your dog’s stool. But before you start adding pumpkin to your pet’s food, be sure to take the time to understand the causes and symptoms of dog constipation. And, as always, contact your vet right away if your dog’s constipation does not get better in 48 to 72 hours. Ready to learn more? Read on with us.

Causes of Dog Constipation

Constipation is a common problem for dogs and has many causes. In normal digestive processes, your dog’s waste moves through the intestines due to peristaltic waves, or muscle contractions. As the waste moves along the digestive tract, water is absorbed, finally leaving the remainder as stool. If this process slows down, the colon keeps absorbing water from the stool. This causes the stool to become hard, dry, and compacted.

Some of the most common causes of dog constipation include a lack of exercise, a lack of fiber in the diet, a poor diet, dehydration, and stress. However, many other conditions can lead to constipation. For example, hypothyroidism, renal issues, anal gland problems, spinal injuries, and tumors may contribute to your dog’s constipation issues. In some cases, blockages in the digestive tract will cause severe constipation, which can be life-threatening. Because so many conditions can cause constipation, it’s important that you monitor your dog for any other symptoms of illness.

Some veterinary medicines can cause constipation in dogs. If your dog has been prescribed antihistamines, sucralfate, diuretics, or narcotic pain relievers, speak to your vet about your dog’s side effects. Some dogs suffer from constipation after surgery, too. This is because general anesthesia can temporarily slow down the intestinal tract. If you have any concerns about your dog’s recovery from surgery, always call your vet for advice.

Common Symptoms of Dog Constipation

While the symptoms of constipation might appear obvious, there are some symptoms that go unmissed by pet parents. The most obvious sign is when your dog strains to go to the toilet with little or no result. This might become painful for your dog, causing them to vocalize or appear uncomfortable. Your dog’s stool may be hard and pebble-like, too. In contrast, though, a constipated dog might produce liquid, mucus, or blood along with their stool – not all of the feces of constipated dogs will be hard. You may observe your pup circling a lot, scooting their bottom on the floor, or squatting frequently as if trying to go to the toilet.

In severe cases, your dog might not go to the toilet for more than one day. If your dog goes 48 to 72 hours without any bowel movements, it’s time to call your vet. A serious digestive blockage could be at play, which can be life-threatening for dogs. You should also contact your vet if your dog shows signs of abdominal pain. Your dog might have a tense, painful abdomen, causing them to cry or snap if you press on their back or stomach.

Dogs normally don’t take a long time to pass feces – making constipation in dogs very evident.

Different Home Remedies for Dog Constipation

Mild constipation (less than two days) is often treatable with some dietary changes. For starters, it’s important to avoid dietary indiscretion, give your dog ready access to water, and offer high-fiber treats or food toppers. It is crucial that your dog is well-hydrated before taking any fiber supplements to minimize the risk of fiber impaction in the colon. However, it’s always best to call your vet before giving your pooch any treatment at home. Do not attempt to give your pet any laxatives or other veterinary medicines without the direction of your vet. It is very easy to do more harm than good by overdosing your pet.

It’s also very important to note that high-fiber foods are no longer an option for dogs who have progressed from simple constipation to obstipation. If your dog suffers from chronic constipation or shows signs of obstipation, always talk to your vet first.

Canned Pumpkin

Pumpkins come with numerous health benefits, especially for your dog’s digestive health. Not only is pumpkin rich in fiber, but it’s a low-calorie superstar, too. Just one cup of canned pumpkin contains about seven grams of fiber, which is more than the amount found in two slices of whole-grain bread. This high fiber content helps the digestive tract to soften and bulk up the stool, making it easier to pass. As well as this, pumpkin is nearly 90% water, which helps to keep your pup hydrated. The MSD Vet Manual recommends feeding your dog 1-4 tablespoons of canned pumpkin along with their meal. However, they also recommend making sure that your dog is well-hydrated before giving them pumpkin to minimize the risk of fiber impaction in the colon.

Canned Dog Food

While many pet parents are happy sticking with dry food, wet food can be helpful in your pup’s time of need. Wet food is not only more intense in taste and smell, but it has higher water content, too. Since wet food provides your dog with more liquid, it’s a good option for dogs who don’t drink much during the day. Plus, the boost of water helps to soften your dog’s stool whilst hydrating them further. If you opt to give your pup canned dog food, be sure that you don’t suddenly change their entire diet from one food to another. You can introduce canned food as a topper to their dry food, mix wet food with their dry, or gradually change their food for wet food. Introducing a new food too drastically can cause further digestive problems!

Psyllium & Metamucil

If you haven’t heard of psyllium before, you might know it better as Metamucil. Psyllium is made from the husks of the Plantago ovata plant. It is a bulk-forming laxative as well as a prebiotic, meaning that it soaks up water in the gut and makes bowel movements easier. It can be given as a one-off to ease constipation in dogs. The best way to give your dog psyllium is by mixing 1/4 to 1 teaspoon of seed husks with a cup of water and then mixing it with your pet’s food. To date, there are not many studies that specifically cover psyllium for dogs, but those that exist point to its success as a constipation remedy. Just watch out for side effects like stomach cramps, gas, and impaction, and stop using it if they appear.

fiber helps lessen constipation
There are food that can help with your dog’s constipation.

Dog Constipation DIY Remedies: FAQ

Have any more questions or concerns about home remedies for dog constipation? Feel free to refer to our Frequently Asked Questions section for more details. If in doubt about your dog’s constipation, always ask your vet for advice.

When should I visit the vet?

You should visit your vet if your dog’s constipation has been ongoing for 48 – 72 hours, if they appear to be in severe pain, or if they are experiencing other problems like vomiting and weight loss. All of these signs point to a digestive tract blockage, which can be life-threatening for dogs. Most often, digestive obstructions are the result of your dog eating foreign objects like toys, rocks, and bones. These objects cannot pass through the intestines, leaving them stuck. Here, they cause severe injury to the digestive tract.

You must take your dog to the vet as soon as possible if you catch your dog eating a foreign object, or if they show signs of a blockage. Your vet can give your pet medicine to make them sick if it is safe to do so. Never attempt to make your dog vomit at home as it can cause life-threatening complications.

What happens when it is untreated?

Severe constipation leads to obstipation, which leads to megacolon in dogs. For dogs, obstipation is characterized by chronic constipation and the inability to pass masses of hard, dry feces. This can cause impaction that extends from the rectum to as far back as the ileocolic valve of the small intestine. Once a dog’s constipation reaches this point, simple home remedies are no longer an option. Surgery is often necessary to remove the impaction, and your dog may need aggressive re-hydration. Without treatment, obstipation leads to acquired megacolon. This refers to the permanent distention of the dog’s colon.

Will dog constipation go away on its own?

Mild cases of dog constipation are often self-resolving. This is because day-to-day things can cause constipation, such as stress and dehydration. Once these stressors are dealt with, most dogs return to passing normal feces. However, in cases that are caused by underlying health problems, the resolution isn’t so simple. For dogs with spinal injuries, tumors, or renal issues, the underlying problem must be addressed by a vet if their digestive issues are to go away. If your dog’s constipation goes on for 48 to 72 hours, never wait to see if it will go away on its own.

Does dry food cause constipation in dogs?

The cheapest, lowest-quality dry dog food may contribute to constipation in dogs. This is because it often lacks the fiber and moisture that your pooch needs for their digestive health. Your pup needs a nutritionally complete and balanced diet for their overall health, so be sure to check with your vet for dog food recommendations! By speaking with a professional, you can get the best food for your dog’s age, health, breed, and health conditions. For example, a pregnant dog needs different food from another adult dog, as her dietary needs change a lot. From six weeks of pregnancy, a dog needs food that is highly digestible and higher in energy, protein, and minerals like calcium and phosphorus. Without these changes, a pregnant dog will be unable to support herself and her puppies, leading to issues with constipation.

Can I give my dog oatmeal for constipation?

Oatmeal is high in fiber and can benefit your pup in several ways. it’s also a great alternative source of carbohydrates for dogs who are sensitive to grains and wheat. If you opt to give your dog a serving of oatmeal, make it with water rather than milk. Dogs are sensitive to dairy products, so adding milk can cause your dog more digestive upsets! Your dog’s oatmeal must also be cooked and plain, free from additives like salt or butter. For dogs, just one tablespoon of oatmeal per 20 pounds of body weight is enough. Feeding your dog too much oatmeal can cause diarrhea and gas.

Constipation in dogs is extremely common. It has several causes, ranging from stress to spinal injuries. If your dog suffers from constipation for 48 to 72 hours, always contact your vet right away. And, as always, it’s best to ask your vet before giving your pet any home remedies for dog constipation.

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