Constipation in Pets: Why It Happens


Dogs and cats can get constipated just like humans, but it’s not something you can easily tell unless your pet starts acting abnormally or begins vomiting as a result of the problem.

If you’re worried about your pet’s stool consistency, consult with your veterinarian to determine if constipation is at play and what you can do about it to get your pet back on track.

Here’s what you need to know about constipation in pets and how to help relieve it when it occurs.


What Constipation Is

Constipation is when the bowels move too slowly or don’t move at all. Bowel movement is important because fecal matter stays in the body for up to seven days before it goes out of the body.

During this time, bacteria will grow, which can lead to a number of issues, including discomfort or infection. The following are some common causes of constipation in pets:

(1) Lack of exercise;

(2) Decreased fiber intake;

(3) Being fed primarily one type of food with no change from day to day;

(4) Changes in water intake habits.

Causes of constipation in pets include lack of exercise, decreased fiber intake, being fed primarily one type of food with no change from day to day, and changes in water intake habits.

When a pet suffers from chronic or severe constipation, surgery may be necessary. In these cases, the vet will insert a tube through the animal’s anus and remove large amounts of impacted feces that are preventing natural bowel movements. 

Fiber helps promote normal bowel movements by bulking the stool and stimulating peristalsis. Fiber sources should vary to avoid causing allergies, diarrhea, or other gastrointestinal problems.

A veterinarian should always examine pets suffering from constipation before administering any treatment if there is any chance that medication has caused an obstruction.


Causes of Constipation in Dogs

Some of the most common causes of constipation are poor diet, not drinking enough water, overeating, or eating food with low fiber content.

Dogs with chronic constipation may have an underlying illness such as inflammatory bowel disease or intestinal obstruction. There are also a few less common causes that can lead to this condition.

These include cancer, anal sac impaction, megaesophagus (a disorder where food is not pushed all the way down into the stomach), and behavioral issues such as separation anxiety or stress from other pets in the home. 

The main thing you should do if your pet is experiencing this problem is to increase their water intake. One way you can do this is by adding ice cubes to their water bowl and allowing them access to fresh cold water at all times throughout the day.

If they are not drinking much on their own, try warming up the water for them so it tastes more appealing.

If you notice that they seem to be straining when going to the bathroom then it’s time for a vet visit because there might be something obstructing their passage like stones or tumors.


How to Treat Pet Constipation

Your vet may recommend one of the following treatment options to help with constipation in pets.

1) Adding wet food to the pet’s diet can soften stools and lead to easier passage.

2) If you are not feeding wet food, adding a little bit of water or pumpkin purée to dry food can soften stools.

3) A fiber supplement such as psyllium husks, guar gum, or Metamucil can also be given once per day.

4) There are also over-the-counter stool softeners available at any pharmacy that work by binding water to stool for easier passage.

5) Regular exercise can also help reduce constipation, especially if it has been caused by a lack of activity.

6) Medications might be prescribed if other methods don’t work and are appropriate for your pet’s condition.

7) Follow-up visits with your veterinarian will usually be necessary to monitor progress during treatment.

8) Constipation is uncomfortable for both humans and animals alike.

9) Managing this condition requires patience on behalf of both parties involved.

10) Eating lots of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, dairy products, and beans are helpful in managing this condition.

11) Be sure to give your animal plenty of opportunities to relieve themselves outside throughout the day, whether they’re inside or out.

12) Give them some time each evening before bedtime to walk around and do their business – this is often when they’ll get the urge!


Signs That Your Pet Has a Stomach Ache

If your pet is experiencing stomach aches, look for the following signs on your pets:

-Gagging or choking while eating or drinking.

-Staring at their food or water bowl but not eating.

-Licking their lips a lot but not drinking any liquids.

-Rubbing the stomach while they walk or sit down.

-Holding their stomach and crying when they try to go to the bathroom.

-Crying loudly when going to the bathroom (which may be tinged with blood).

Signs That Your Pet Has Constipation: If your pet has constipation, there are some specific symptoms that indicate it might be happening: Your pet isn’t going to the bathroom regularly. They’re lethargic and seem uncomfortable.

They strain themselves when trying to poop and have an urge to poop every day but nothing comes out of them. They don’t eat as much as usual because they’re dealing with abdominal pain.

The smell coming from their bottom will often make you gag if you get too close. Lastly, if you see something like balls of feces or hard lumps in the litter box, this could be a sign that your pet is suffering from constipation.


Possible Complications

Some of the other potential complications that can occur with constipation are a distended abdomen (potbelly), accumulation of fecal material within the colon, anal sac impaction, and bloating.

If your pets suffer from any of these symptoms as well, call your veterinarian immediately to make sure nothing else is wrong.

A common reason for constipation is if there’s something wrong with the animal’s diet. Dry food is high in carbohydrates, which aren’t easily digestible.

High-fiber diets may also contribute to this problem because they take longer to digest than other foods do. One way you can tell if your pet has a fiber deficiency is by checking their stools; feces should be brownish or dark green, not black and hard like coal dust.

They should have an even consistency, and there shouldn’t be a lot of fun mixed in with them. If all these things sound about right, then it’s likely your dog needs more fiber in his diet.

You can start by adding more fresh vegetables to his current meal plan. He might need medication from the vet if he continues to have problems or if the issues are severe enough.

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