Just like us, our fur babies can also benefit from the effect of a dog laxative. This happens when they experience upset stomach and constipation which can cause discomfort or even pain. Constipation if often associated with the minimal or lack of fiber in the diet, as well as poor hydration by not drinking enough fluids during the day. Aside from these factors, there are also some types of human food that can lead to constipation or can aggravate an already existing digestive problem.
Humans resort to laxatives to relieve stomach upsets and digestive problems. It is an easy solution that can provide relief that usually takes effect after a few hours. In dogs, this can also be a solution to relieve digestive problems.
However, with any kind of option that you are looking as remedy for constipation in dogs, you should always consult the symptoms with a veterinarian first. The consultation is extremely vital when the concern is about diet or giving medications because constipation in dogs can present itself as a single and easily treatable symptom, or a part of a larger and more complicated health condition.
It is essential to distinguish if your dog is trying to pass stool or is trying to pass urine. Because the signs are quite the same, diagnosis and proper management can be quite tricky or challenging. If a dog is constipated, it will look as if the dog is trying to pass stool due to straining or the body position as if it is trying to defecate.
Causes of constipation in dogs
The causes of constipation in dogs branches out in a wide variety of signs and symptoms from varying sources which include the following:
- Blocked or Abscessed Anal Sacs — Caused by infection or accumulation of indigestible materials inside the intestines can lead to discomfort due to ongoing infection or accumulation of fluids and gas.
- Dehydration — When a dog takes less water than recommended, the digestive process malfunctions because the fluid that aids digestion is insufficient. Dehydration can also be a part of several symptoms coming from an underlying illness.
- Enlarged prostate — Dogs with enlarged prostate are significantly more prone to developing indigestion and stomach upsets.
- Hernias — Sharing the same effect with prostate enlargement, hernias can also impede circulation and normal passing of gas and waste.
- Ingested grass, dirt, or debris — These indigestible materials often stay inside the digestive system and cause buildup.
- Ingested hair from excessive grooming — As hair is not digested when it is eaten or swallowed due to licking, hairballs can impede digestion that can lead to episodic stomach upsets.
- Insufficient exercise — Just like humans, a dog that lacks physical activity (and this also applies to dog breeds that have low exercise requirement) is more prone to indigestion due to sluggish digestive system.
- Insufficient fiber in diet — Lack of fiber in your dog’s diet inhibits the cleaning process that fiber can provide if regularly incorporated in the diet.
- Kidney disease — Kidney disease is often associated with indigestion or stomach upsets due to malfunction, insufficient excretion, or other underlying problems such as malignancy or renal failure.
- Side effects from medication — There are some medications that have side effects which include indigestion or stomach upsets. These symptoms are transient, and often go away once the treatment is completed.
- Tumors or masses around the anus — Sharing the same consequence as enlarged prostate or hernias, tumors can impede the normal digestive process.
Symptoms of dog constipation
When a dog has not passed stool for more than two days, this is a sign that the dog is suffering from constipation. You will observe actions such as straining, whimpering or crouching due to the struggle of passing stools because of the gas-filled stomach.
Matted or feces that have stayed too long inside the intestine due to varying reasons are just some of the few reasons behind the discomfort.
What should I do if my dog is constipated?
If you were able to confirm that your dog is indeed constipated, there are some things that you should do to avoid aggravating the situation before doing additional intervention aside from giving laxatives for your dogs.
- If there are some foreign material found around the anus such as threads, hair, or filaments, do not attempt to pull it because this can lead to internal damage and may rupture some blood vessels.
- Always wear rubber gloves when attending to fecal or anal related problems.
- When there is a grass blade or piece, you can gently pull it out.
- Matted fecal material around the anal area can be carefully trimmed with clean scissors. The trimmed anal region can be cleaned with warm and soapy water followed by KY jelly or any other water-soluble lubricant to soothe the inflamed area. Matted fecal matter around the anal area is particularly irritating to toy dogs like the Yorkshire Terrier, which often leads to distress and obvious discomfort. Heavily matted cases may require soaking in warm water to make the trimming easier and with less agitation and discomfort to the dog.
- Check you pup’s temperature. If the temperature is significantly higher than normal, or there is blood seen on the thermometer, or a resistance is felt when inserting the thermometer, immediately seek veterinary help.
Natural laxatives and veterinarian-assisted methods
Here are some of the remedies that can be natural and generally safe laxatives for dogs. By utilizing ingredients and management that are easily obtainable with easily to follow routine and dosing.
Your veterinarian may recommend natural supplements such as folic acid, acidophilus, and vegetable enzymes.
These supplements promote improved digestion and passing of gas that will provide relief.
Pumpkin can be incorporated with your dog’s diet if the episodes of constipation are getting more and more frequent. Pumpkin is a very good source of fiber and is also high in water content. Pet parents can blend fresh pumpkin into a puree or they can also use canned pureed variants. Another good alternative is to add the puree to your baked goodies that your dogs will surely love.
Psyllium often comes in powdered preparation.
It has the ability to pull the water into the stool which encourages normal passing of waste, thus promoting proper digestion and decreases the occurrence of indigestion.
Mineral oil is often given to help loosen hard stools and lubricates the lower intestines.
Aloe Ferox is often given to dogs to serve as a natural remedy and cleanser at the same time.
Just like pumpkin, bran works as a preventive measure for constipation when these are added to your dog’s daily diet.
The ideal serving size can be discussed with your veterinarian to ensure that the serving size is within the healthy limits. Bran can come as wheat or oat bran.
Enema is almost always done only in the veterinary clinic and is performed by the veterinarian especially during the first few sessions. Enemas are administered as one of the last options if the constipation is not improving and an immediate relief is required.
Laxatives for humans
Mild commercial human laxatives can be given to dogs.
However, the frequency and dosage should be confirmed with the veterinarian first before giving a dose to your constipated dog.
Milk of Magnesia
Sharing the same precaution as laxatives, the Milk of Magnesia can be given to the dog but the dose and frequency must be confirmed with the veterinarian.
Constipation in dogs may require veterinary intervention if the frequency is becoming too often or the symptoms are progressive. If your dog has not passed feces after two days, make sure that the dog is assessed by your veterinarian.
The veterinarian may perform numerous diagnostic imaging procedures to identify the cause. These include x-rays and ultrasounds. In addition, blood tests can also be done as part of the assessment to determine the underlying cause of constipation. Treatment may involve admission for observation and medical management including hydration or administration of enemas.
Further procedures might be performed post-discharge to ensure the well-being of your fur baby. These include diet modification, lifestyle changes such as increase in play time and activity, and even castration for dogs with intact prostate.
Routine activities to reduce constipation and indigestion
There are numerous methods that can help our fur babies to experience indigestion or constipation. These activities are easy to follow, or might be something you’ve been missing to do for quite some time already.
When a dog is properly hydrated, it ensures proper digestion because the food that undergoes the digestive process is broken down properly.
It allows the passage of masticated food pieces, as well as softer stools that inhibits buildup of gas and a bloated feeling.
If your dog is experiencing indigestion or constipation for quite some time now, you may want to review the nutrition facts and ingredients of its dog food. While mainstream dog food brands and preparation works well with the general canine population, there is still a chance that a particular dog food is not compatible with your dog.
You may want to have a re-evaluation of the current dog food with your veterinarian and he will provide you better dog food alternatives that can provide good nutritional value and decreases the frequency of constipation.
By keeping your dog active, you also encourage improved circulation and proper digestion. Exercise allows the digestive system to be more active, which allows timely elimination of waste in form of urine and stool. Keeping them on a daily routine of about one hour of activity is already good enough to reduce the possibility of having indigestion by as much as 50%.
As you can see, if you want to make sure Fido is happy and safe, you will have to keep a close watch on his/her state of health. In case of problems, there are natural laxatives to try, but when nothing works, it’s time to visit the doctor.