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My dog is constipated! How to help a constipated dog

Has it been a while since your dog went to the toilet?

Do they seem restless?

They could be suffering from constipation.

What exactly is constipation?

Constipation is a condition where dogs experience difficulty with their bowel movements. In some cases, they may pass small, hard and dry stools (and it’ll take a fair amount of straining!); in others, they may not pass a stool at all for 1-2 days.

Constipation commonly affects older dogs but is known to affect dogs of any age, depending on their lifestyle or circumstances.

Causes of canine constipation

Constipation can be caused by underlying health problems, as well as lifestyle patterns and one-off occurrences, including:

  • Lack of exercise and/or fibre
  • Dehydration
  • A blockage or abscess of the anal glands
  • Canine kidney disease or intestinal problems
  • An enlarged prostate
  • Hernia
  • Ingesting something they shouldn’t have (pebbles, dirt, bones, plants, toys etc.)
  • Conditions that make it difficult for them to physically go to the toilet (such as canine arthritis)

Signs of constipation in dogs

The most obvious sign is that your dog will struggle to pass faeces. They may attempt it and strain a lot, or they simply may not pass faeces at all for 1-2 days.

If your dog makes the bodily position they usually make while pooing, but they’re unsuccessful, this is likely a sign of constipation.

beagle facing grey stone path

Further signs of constipation in dogs include redness, mucus or liquid around the anus. They may also seem generally restless.  

My dog is constipated – what should I do?

You may be able to spot the cause of your dog’s constipation yourself – if there’s dry/matted faeces surrounding the anus or a blade of grass sticking out – but it’s best to contact your vet, especially if your dog’s temperature is abnormally high.

Once you get to the vets, they’ll perform a thorough examination and will be able to prescribe an appropriate form of treatment.

Note: when checking your dog’s behind, always wear gloves… and wash your hands afterwards.

Treatment: what can I give my dog for constipation?

Your vet’s recommendation will depend on the cause of your dog’s symptoms – and how serious they are. In the case of blockages or underlying health problems, surgery may be needed.

In mild cases, or cases caused by lifestyle factors, you’ll likely use a combination of short-term solutions (laxatives and other medication) and long-term solutions, such as increasing your dog’s exercise levels, as well as their water and fibre intake.

Need more info?

For more help and advice on constipation in dogs, your dog’s water and fibre intake or any other aspect of their health and wellbeing, have a chat with your local vet.

Find your nearest vet using our Find a Vet page, or speak to a vet online using Online Vets.