Everyone has those days where you just don't feel "regular." Canines do, too. Canine constipation is a condition that, while not usually life-threatening, can be immobilizing, uncomfortable, and painful. Here is how to recognize the symptoms and what you can do to help alleviate, and better yet, prevent, canine constipation.
- Symptoms. Your dog may have constipation if she has any of the following conditions: Straining to have a bowel movement without any "results," stiff stools, prolonged periods of time between movements but frequent attempts to defecate, bloating, yelping or signs of discomfort during bowel movements, and/or loss of appetite.
- Breeds/ages affected. All breeds and any age of dog can have a bout with constipation, however, older dogs are more prone to the condition. Younger pups who eat things they should not be eating also are apt to have defecating problems, as well as any dog that is fed certain types of "people food" from the table. Foods that contain flour, excess sugar, rice, dairy, and foods high in protein are leaders in the constipation competition. Thus, feeding Fido meat, cookies, ice cream, and leftover Chinese food is not a good idea. Additionally, make sure your pet does not have access to objects that may block the colon or bowels. Notorious blockers are coins, buttons, keys, and anything a puppy might decide to munch on.
- Common causes:
- Lack of fiber. Most dogs that suffer from constipation do not have enough fiber in their diets. A simple solution to this is to give them food high in fiber or to supplement their meals.
- Dehydration. Dogs, like humans, need liquid to jump-start their bodies. If your pooch does not have enough water during the day, she may become constipated. Solve this by always having her water dish full of fresh water. Try adding water directly to her food as well.
- Dog supplements: Supplements are available specifically for canines with a constipation problem. You can find companies like The Natural Canine that specialize in holistic solutions to constipation and other ailments. These supplements have additives such as acidophilus, folic acid, and vegetable enzymes, all which can be cures. Again, seek a vet's guidance before you change your dog's diet.
- Dog laxatives. Giving your dog a mild laxative, if advised by your vet, can solve the problem. Smaller dogs, obviously, will require smaller amounts of laxative than larger dogs, so make sure you get the correct dosage from a professional.
- Enema. Although it is not a pleasant thought, your dog might need an enema. Have your vet explore this option.
- Milk of Magnesia. A small dose of Milk of Magnesia milk might do the trick for Fido. Ask your vet, however, before administering anything to your dog.
- Canned pumpkin. If you don't want to give your pup laxatives, this treatment is a home remedy that may be the perfect solution. Adding canned pumpkin to your dog's meal might produce a successful movement. A small dose of 1/8 a teaspoon might do the trick for a Bichon Frise, while a larger portion will be needed for a German Shepherd. Ask your vet about this solution.
- Wheat bran. Adding wheat bran to every meal can regulate your dog's system.
- Megaproblem: Megacolon. Megacolon is a condition in which the dog (or any animal) cannot discharge waste successfully. An animal with a megacolon has an inflamed colon that cannot operate normally. This can be a serious condition, so if you sense your dog has more than just a simple bout of constipation, seek a vet's guidance.
As you can see, there are many treatment options for a constipated dog. The above remedies might provide relief to your pooch; however, the best solution is prevention. Even if you have a "regular" dog, you should practice proper health practices and keep your best friend free from constipation by giving her regular exercise, plenty of water, and a diet full of fiber. Even though she is your best friend, avoid giving her table scraps. Ice cream, cookies, bread and excess meat will may make her happy in the present, but will cause her discomfort in the near future.