Skip to Main Content

My dog is constipated! What should I do?

Constipation is one of the most common digestive issues our Davidson County vets see in dogs. While it may not seem serious, constipation can be life threatening to your dog depending on the cause. Here's why... 


What is constipation in dogs?

If your pup's bowel movements are infrequent, difficult for them to pass or absent, your pet is likely suffering from constipation.

It's important for pet parents to know that the inability to pass feces or pain associated with passing feces is considered a veterinary medical emergency and requires immediate care!

If your dog is straining when attempting to pass a stool and/or is producing hard, dry stools, these are also considered signs that your dog should be examined by a vet as soon as possible.

In some cases, dogs may pass mucus when trying to defecate, circle excessively, scoot along the ground, or squat frequently without defecating. If you press on their stomach or lower back, they may have a tense, painful abdomen that causes them to growl or cry.

What causes constipation in dogs?

There are a number of possible causes of constipation in dogs, some of the most common include:

  • Ingested pieces of toys, gravel, plants, dirt and bones caught in the intestinal tract
  • Lack of exercise
  • Excessive or insufficient fiber in his diet
  • Other illnesses leading to dehydration
  • Blocked or abscessed anal sacs
  • Excessive self-grooming (excessive amounts of hair to collect in the stool)
  • A side effect of medication
  • An orthopedic issue causing pain when a dog positions himself to defecate
  • Enlarged prostate gland
  • Sudden change in diet or sampling new foods
  • Matted hair surrounding anus (caused by obesity or lack of grooming)
  • Neurological disorder
  • Obstruction caused by tumors or masses on the anus, or within the rectum
  • Trauma to pelvis

Elderly pets may experience constipation more often. However, any dog that faces one or more of the scenarios above can suffer from constipation.

What are common dog constipation symptoms?

Signs of constipation include straining, crying or crouching when attempting to defecate. Also, if it’s been more than two days since he has had a bowel movement, you should see your vet immediately.

Keep in mind that these symptoms may be similar to those that could point to a urinary tract issue, so it’s important that your vet perform a full physical exam to diagnose the cause.

What can I give my dog for constipation?

Google “How to treat constipation in dogs” and you’ll find wide-ranging advice, from sources both trustworthy and dubious.

Never give your dog medications or treatments formulated for humans without consulting your vet first. Many human medications are toxic to dogs.

The best thing to do is contact your veterinarian and bring your dog in for an exam. The treatment for your dog's constipation will depend upon the underlying cause of your pup's condition.

If your pooch has eaten something they shouldn't have there is a chance that there is a blockage causing the issue. This is a medical emergency that will likely require urgent surgery.

Blood tests may help reveal that your pup has an infection or is suffering from dehydration. The vet will likely take a medical history, conduct a rectal examination to rule out other causes or abnormalities, and may recommend one or a combination of these treatments:

  • Prescription diet high with fiber
  • Stool softener or another laxative
  • More exercise
  • Enema (administered by a professional, not at home, as there could be risk of injury or toxicity if done incorrectly)
  • Adding more fiber to your dog’s diet (wheat bran, canned pumpkin or products such as Metamucil)
  • Small bowl of goat or cow milk
  • Medication to increase large intestine’s contractile strength

Follow your vet’s instructions closely, as trying too many of these or the wrong combination may bring on the opposite problem - diarrhea. You don’t want to trade one digestive problem for another.

What can happen if my dog’s constipation is not treated?

If your dog’s constipation goes untreated, they could reach the point where they become unable to empty their colon on their own (a condition called obstipation). The colon then becomes packed with an uncomfortably large amount of feces, causing lethargy, unproductive straining, loss of appetite and potentially vomiting.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Is your dog constipated? Contact our Davidson County vets today to book a consultation for your canine companion.

Constipated dog, Thomasville Vet

Looking for a vet in the Thomasville area?

We're always accepting new patients, so contact our veterinary hospital today to book your pet's first appointment.

Contact Us

Related Articles View All

Tips On How To Avoid Dog Bites When Grooming

Attempting to groom an aggressive dog can be a real challenge not to mention scary. Today, our Davidson County vets explain why some dogs become aggressive at grooming time and share tips to help make grooming sessions less stressful for you and your pooch.

How long can I leave my dog alone?

At some point, every pet parent will need to leave their dog alone while they head out to run errands, earn a living or spend time with friends. But how long can you safely leave your dog alone? Our Davidson County vets explain.

Food For Dogs with Heart Disease

If your dog has been diagnosed with heart disease, our Davidson County vets can recommend ways of managing the condition - in part through modified nutrition.  Here are a few tips on how and why to feed your dog a low-sodium diet to help treat heart disease.

Causes of Dog Bad Breath & How to Get Rid of It

Does your pup's bad breath make it hard to spend quality time together? Bad breath is a common problem in dogs but many pet parents don't realize that it could be a sign of a serious health issue. Our Davidson County vets explain some common causes of stinky dog breath and what you can do.

The True Cost of Owning a Dog for Life

Dogs can certainly steal our hearts away and become treasured members of our family, but that love and loyalty comes at a very real price. Before taking on the responsibility of making a dog part of your family, be sure to consider these points from our Davidson County vets.

New patients always welcome!

Whether you need urgent care for your pet or you're looking for a vet in Davidson County, we welcome you to our family at Thomasville Veterinary Hospital Urgent Care + Surgery.

Referrals may be required for some specialty services. Please contact us to learn more.

Book An Appointment

(336) 475-9119 Contact