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When your dog can’t poop or hasn’t pooped on a regular basis it’s natural to be concerned or worried.
While constipation is a common occurrence amongst dogs and humans, there are many who are unsure about how to handle the situation.
First of all – don’t freak out.
In most cases, constipation in dogs is not a serious concern; however, in some cases, it could indicate potential health issues.
If you’re concerned about why your dog can’t poop, learn how to address the situation in our comprehensive guide.
Here’s what you’ll learn in this guide:
What is Dog Constipation?
In general, most dogs poop once or twice per day. When a dog is unable to produce normal stools on a regular schedule or strains to produce fecal matter, the condition is known as dog constipation.
Dog constipation is one of the most common digestive issues for pets and is often characterized by the inability to defecate or small, hard stools that are often dark in color.
Common Signs of Constipation in Dogs
When a dog is constipated, there are several obvious signs to look out for:
- Dog Can’t Poop: Your dog has not pooped for more than 48 hours
- Pebble-Like Poop: Your dog’s poop appears pebble-like and is small, dark, and hard
- Tenesmus: Your dog strains to defecate, but is unable to do so, or produces sludgy or liquid-like fecal matter
- Dyshezia: Your dog seems to experience pain when defecating
What Causes Dog Constipation?
Defecation, or pooping, is the discharge of fecal matter from the body.
When fecal matter travels through the digestive tract, it maintains a liquid-like form until it reaches the colon.
In the colon, water and electrolytes are absorbed from the matter, which solidifies its form and allows the matter to properly discharge from the body.
This is a crucial function of the digestive system, and if it is interrupted, obstructed, or impaired, it will make it difficult or impossible for the body to discharge fecal matter.
There is a wide range of causes of constipation in dogs. While some, such as diet or lack of exercise, are rather minor, others, like enlarged prostate or tumors, can be much more serious.
Here are several causes of dog constipation that are most commonly reported by veterinarians:
- Dehydration and/or Electrolyte Imbalance
- Fiber Deficiency
- Lack of Exercise or Activity
- Reaction to Medication
- Anal Gland Issues
- Stress or Anxiety
- Metabolic Disorders
- Intraluminal: Blockages within the colon (such as fecal matter or ingested items)
- Extraluminal: Blockages outside the colon (such as tumors or enlarged prostate)
- Intrinsic Blockages: Blockages developed from disease
What to Do If Your Dog Can’t Poop
If your dog is constipated and it’s been less than three days, the best course of action is to address the most common sources of the problem: diet, hydration, and exercise (If your dog appears to be in the type of pain or discomfort, or is an older dog, regardless of how many days it has been, you should contact your vet right away).
Give Your Dog Pumpkin
If your dog has an insufficient fiber intake in his/her diet, this may be the source of the problem. Try feeding your dog pumpkin puree or a pumpkin dog treat. Pumpkin is a rich source of fiber that has shown to help alleviate constipation and diarrhea in humans and dogs. Plus, it’s delicious and most dogs love the flavor.
Change Your Dog’s Diet
If constipation is a regular occurrence for your dog, it may indicate an issue with your dog’s nutrition and diet. Consider including high-moisture canned dog food and fiber-rich supplements and/or treats within the diet. In order to determine a safe and healthy diet that is suitable for your pet, it is highly recommended to consult with your veterinarian.
Make Sure to Keep Your Dog Hydrated
When the body is dehydrated (whether a dog or a human), it can become difficult to pass feces. If your dog’s water bowl is low or empty, fill it up and make sure your dog always has easy access to fresh, clean water. In addition, consult with your vet about the possibility of incorporating electrolyte supplements into your dog’s diet.
Exercise with Your Dog Daily
This is perhaps the most enjoyable of the three methods. As the saying goes, a body in motion stays in motion.
When the body is physically active, the motion can help lead to improved bowel movements, which can help make it easier for your dog to do his business (again, make sure to keep your dog hydrated, especially while exercising).
Should You Take a Constipated Dog to the Vet?
In most cases, constipation is a minor issue that can easily be treated; however, if it goes untreated, constipation can lead to serious health problems.
If your dog is constipated over a prolonged period of time, the fecal matter will begin to build up in the colon. When this occurs, the colon will become enlarged and the build of feces can obstruct bowel movement, which will make it even more difficult for your dog’s body to pass feces.
This condition is known as megacolon. It is a serious, life-threatening emergency that often requires surgery to empty the colon and alleviate the situation.
Regardless of what caused your dog to become constipated, you should never ignore it.
When it comes to your dog’s health, it’s important to stay ahead of the problem so that you can prevent the issue rather than cure it.
With that being said, if your dog can’t poop, it’s best to contact your vet as soon as you’re aware of the problem.
Thank you so much for joining us today. We hope that this guide helped to provide insights and guidance for this concerning subject. If you have any questions, comments, or recommendations, please feel free to engage with us in the comments.