Canine constipation is a common problem for dogs that can have a large number of potential causes. Taking steps to prevent constipation helps prevent intestinal blockages before they start. If your dog regularly experiences difficulties defecating or passes hard, dry stools, consult with a veterinarian to rule out any underlying medical conditions.
Lifestyle for Better Digestion
If you're making lifestyle changes to prevent constipation in your dog, take the same steps you might try for a human. Increase your dog's fiber and water intake while increasing his daily exercise to help him have regular bowel movements. Fiber allows food to absorb water as it travels through your dog's digestive system and also slows the rate of digestion, so fecal bulk has more time to absorb more water. As water is absorbed, the stools soften and become easier for your dog to pass. Fiber also strengthens the contractions of the intestines, which helps move the feces out of the anus. There is more water available for absorption if you increase your dog's water intake. Water works as both a stool softener and a lubricant as it helps fecal matter pass through the digestive system. Exercise gets your dog's blood flowing and helps the food move through the digestive tract.
Since fiber is such an important component for preventing constipation, talk to your dog's veterinarian about a high-fiber dog food. Some veterinarians have foods for a specialized diets in their facility and can help you choose the best food for your dog. Pumpkin is also a great source of fiber. Buy a can of pureed pumpkin and measure the amount given based off your dog's weight. A dog weighing less than 15 pounds gets one to two teaspoons, 15 to 35 pounds gets one to two tablespoons and more than 35 pounds gets two to five tablespoons. Your dog's veterinarian may also recommend an over-the-counter fiber additive, such as Metamucil. Do not give over-the-counter products without first consulting with a vet.
Intestinal blockages can be caused by tumors, toys, hair, bones, gravel and anything else your dog can get in his mouth. It's hard to prevent your dog from eating things he's not supposed to eat, but you can help reduce this problem by monitoring toys and bones. If a toy is losing strings or missing chunks of material, it's time to replace the toy and find something more durable for your dog's playtime. A dog bone becomes an intestinal blockage hazard if it's small enough to swallow, or if pieces of the bone are swallowed while chewing. Keeping a lid on your garbage makes your food waste less intriguing to a dog, so he is less likely to get a hold of objects that can lead to an obstruction. Daily grooming sessions to remove excess hair can help minimize the amount of hair your dog swallows during self-grooming. If a tumor is diagnosed, your dog's veterinarian is likely to do surgery, so the problem of constipation should relieve itself with the disappearance of the tumor.
If your dog is experiencing pain, he may be reluctant to position himself properly for a bowel movement. Arthritis, a fracture, joint dislocation or hip dysplasia are a few orthopedic problems that can make bowel movements painful. If your dog seems to be in pain, a veterinarian may need an x-ray to rule out an acute injury. If your dog suffers from arthritis or hip dysplasia, pain prevention is going to make bowel-movement positioning more comfortable. A non-steroidal anti-inflammatory is often given to relieve pain, but for more severe pain, a veterinarian may prescribe narcotics. Since narcotics can cause constipation, so a laxative may also be prescribed.
Melissa McNamara is a certified personal trainer who holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism and communication studies from the University of Iowa. She writes for various health and fitness publications while working toward a Bachelor of Science in nursing.