Constipation is not uncommon at some time in a dog's life. In many circumstances it is self-limiting, lasting only a day or two. Causes include the following.
- Eating grass or plant material, hair, rubbish and other undigestible materials
- Not drinking enough fluids
- Changes in routine such as a home change or hospitalisation
- Unusual inactivity
- Lack of an acceptable toileting site
- Injury to the hips, pelvis or spine
- Wounds or infections around the anus
- Impacted or infected anal sacs
- Perineal hernia
- Foreign bodies
- Enlarged prostate in males
- Pelvic fractures
- Spinal cord diseases
- Pelvic nerve damage
- Associated with any fluid or electrolyte imbalance
- Narcotics (eg Pethidine)
- Antihistamines (eg Chlorpheniramime)
- Antacids (eg Aluminum hydroxide)
- Diuretics (eg Frusemide)
- Chemotherapy drugs (eg Vincristine)
- Kaolin-pectin (eg Kaopectate)
A constipated dog either passes small amounts of faeces, tries but is unsuccessful or does not even try. The condition is diagnosed by physical examination. A full colon can be felt through the abdominal wall. Alternatively a rectal examination by finger meets the hard mass of stool. Treatments vary according to the cause of constipation. Known causes are eliminated. Blockages are broken down with the assistance of laxatives and enemas.
Prevention Of Age-Related Constipation
- Provide routine exercise a digestible diet and plenty of water.
- Consider a supermarket diet commercially prepared for older pets. These contain added fibre.
- Feed a high fibre veterinary diet available through your veterinarian.
- Alternatively add bulk laxatives such as unprocessed wheat bran or Metamucil to your pet's food (One to five teaspoons daily).
- Liquid paraffin (mineral oil) is an effective preventative but can be dangerous. Never give liquid paraffin directly by mouth. Because it is tasteless there is a risk it may get in the windpipe.
Specific Treatments For Age-Related Constipation
- Prevent your pet eating undigestible material such as grass.
- Soak dry food in equal parts of water and leave 20 minutes for it to be fully absorbed. This increases fluid consumption.
- Let your pet out frequently, increasing opportunities to defecate.
- Add a little cows milk to the diet. It may act as a natural laxative.
- Use an osmotic laxative such as lactulose, instructed by your veterinarian.
- Use a stimulant laxative such as senna, instructed by your veterinarian.
- Use a safe enema, administered by your veterinarian. Do not give your pet an enema yourself. Common phosphate (Fleet) enemas may be toxic to a small pet's kidneys.