What Are the Symptoms of a Dog Being Constipated?

by Lisa McQuerrey
    Ideally, your dog should have two bowel movements a day.

    Ideally, your dog should have two bowel movements a day.

    Goodshoot/Goodshoot/Getty Images

    Canine constipation develops from various factors; it can be caused by a simple dietary issue or a serious health condition. While occasional and mild changes in bowel habits are likely nothing to be concerned about, consult your vet immediately for diagnosis and treatment if your dog suddenly exhibits unusual bathroom behaviors or has other changes in health, behavior or temperament.

    A common sign of constipation is your dog straining or shaking when having a bowel movement. He may scoot, drag his hind quarters or have fecal material appear to be stuck to or protruding from his anal region. He may whimper or cry when trying to pass stool, and you may find him attempting to eliminate more frequently than normal but producing no results.

    If the consistency of your dog’s bowel movement is dry, thin or hard, it's a sign of constipation. Blood or mucus is on the outside of the feces could also indicate severe straining. You may notice a back-and-forth switch between loose and hard stools. Save a sample to take to your vet for evaluation.

    Severe constipation is characterized by an inability to have a bowel movement. Your dog may simultaneously experience bloating, distended abdomen and a general sense of discomfort. These are signs of bowel obstruction or impaction that requires prompt medical attention.

    If your dog is not getting enough fiber or water in his diet, he can become constipated. Other underlying health conditions can present with limited bowel movements. Your pup may have eaten nonfood items like toys or rocks, which can lead to constipation and obstruction. A vet visit can rule out any serious medical ailments and get your dog back on a regular elimination schedule.

    Your vet may recommend a fiber supplement or changes to your dog's diet, such as adding canned pumpkin puree. Older dogs and overweight dogs can be more prone to constipation, so the vet may suggest an appropriate exercise regimen. While you can buy over-the-counter treatments, check with your vet first to ensure you are giving your dog the most appropriate supplements based on his age, weight and health condition.

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    About the Author

    Lisa McQuerrey has been a business writer since 1987. In 1994, she launched a full-service marketing and communications firm. McQuerrey's work has garnered awards from the U.S. Small Business Administration, the International Association of Business Communicators and the Associated Press. She is also the author of several nonfiction trade publications, and, in 2012, had her first young-adult novel published by Glass Page Books.

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