Worried your dog is constipated? Our head vet Patrick von Heimendahl has this advice

February 7, 2023

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It may not be the most appealing topic, but constipation is not uncommon and is both uncomfortable for the dog and stressful for the owner. Our vet Patrick offers some simple advice to help you understand, treat, and prevent constipation in your canine companion.

Patrick’s advice focusses on the 3 main elements to consider in terms of cause, treatment, and preventative measures;

  1. Water and hydration
  2. Exercise and movement
  3. Diet (including accidental ingestion)

What are the most common causes of constipation in dogs?

If we’ve ruled out a foreign object potentially blocking the digestive tract, Patrick recommends looking to the common causes of constipation:

  1. Dehydration – Does your dog have easy access to fresh, clean water? If your pet is not drinking water on their own, try adding some to their food bowl. This will encourage your dog become better hydrated and should help to soften the stool.
  2. Exercise – Is your dog getting enough exercise? If they are not walked regularly and given plenty of chances to poo, you may want to review their routine.
  3. Diet – Is your dog getting a diet with an adequate amount of fibre in it? As with humans, a lack of fibre in the diet will make pooing more difficult.

How can I treat my constipated dog?

Patrick advises that you should make sure your dog drinks a good amount of water and goes for some long walks. If you don’t do this already, try adding a small amount of wet dog food to their next meal for added hydration. If your dog eats only dry food it may be worth introducing a small amount of wet food to the diet to increase fluid uptake. Any changes to the diet should be done gradually, over the course of several days.

If you bring your dog into our vet surgery in Cambridge for a check-up, we may suggest that you add a probiotic to their diet. These help to maintain a healthy balance of good bacteria in the gut. You could try giving your pup a warm bath to help relax their muscles – this can help to relieve the pain and discomfort associated with constipation.

Please do not give an enema, milk, or any laxatives unless prescribed by a vet.

How can I prevent my dog from becoming constipated?

Constipation can affect all types of dogs, but it can usually be avoided by focussing on the elements mentioned above. Make sure your dog has: plenty of water, regular exercise, and a balanced and appropriate diet. Then, if the problem persists, contact our vets. We may suggest additional treatments, medications, or supplements, to help relieve your pup’s condition. In the meantime, if you are worried and you think your dog is constipated, please
contact us for help.

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