If your dog is having difficulty answering nature’s call, chances are he’s not the happiest pup on the block. Just like us, dogs often become bloated, uncomfortable, and sluggish when constipated. Severe cases can be painful and, if left untreated, may even lead to long-term digestive problems.
Luckily, with a little know-how, pet owners can effectively resolve mild cases of dog constipation themselves. To help you get Rover regular once again, we’ve broken down some of best ways to treat constipation in dogs.
Not sure if your dog is constipated? Take a look at this article to learn more about the symptoms and causes of dog constipation.
Remember, it’s always best to consult with a vet first to rule out more serious causes.
1. Ensure That Your Dog is Getting Enough Water and Exercise
Not only is physical activity and adequate hydration essential for your dog’s overall well-being, but these aspects also play a vital role in maintaining digestive health.
Dehydration can lead to stools becoming dry and hard, making them difficult to pass. Giving your dog access to clean, fresh water at all times is a good place to start. Unfortunately, selling him on the benefits of drinking more water is easier said than done. Wet dog foods have a higher moisture content and if Fido refuses to up his water consumption, switching to a quality canned dog food like Natural Balance Ultra Premium Dog Food for a while might be a good idea. Alternatively, you could try adding a little water or low sodium broth to his kibble.
Regular exercise is equally important. Getting your dog up and going can help stimulate intestinal contractions to get things moving along — and we’re willing to bet that an extra walk or game of fetch won’t go unappreciated, either!
2. Assess and Adjust Fiber Intake
Lack of fiber is a common constipation culprit, and many dog owners find that a little extra roughage solves the problem. However, lots of fiber coupled with insufficient hydration can also cause constipation. If your pooch is already getting plenty of fiber, make sure that he’s getting enough water to soften accumulated fibrous bulk. On the other hand, if your dog is producing hard, compact stools, it could be a sign that he needs more. These trusted sources of fiber for dog constipation prove helpful for most:
- Plain canned pumpkin is rich in fiber and also has a high water content for a one-two constipation-busting punch. Mixing a tablespoon or two with your dog’s regular food is a healthy and delicious way to boost fiber intake.
- Psyllium husk powder is another safe and gentle way to alleviate occasional constipation in dogs. A soluble fiber, psyllium works as a bulk-forming laxative by absorbing water to soften stools and expanding within the intestinal tract to help push solid waste out. Generally, ½ a teaspoon added to wet food is sufficient for smaller dogs, with larger dogs requiring between 1 to 2 teaspoons. Because psyllium husk does such a great job of absorbing moisture, it’s crucial that your dog gets enough water to prevent dehydration. If your dog is taking medication, ask your vet about using psyllium husk for constipation as it can reduce absorption of certain medicines.
While pumpkin and psyllium are by far the most popular ways to add fiber to a dog’s diet, they’re certainly not the only options. Brown rice, bran flakes, cooked oats, green beans, and apples are just a handful other of healthy fiber alternatives .
3. Add a Little Oil to His Diet
Sometimes dogs can become so backed up that extra water and fiber may not do the trick entirely. If, after a period of around 3 days, your dog shows little or no improvement from increased water and fiber intake, consider adding some oil to his food. Healthy oils can help lubricate your dog’s digestive tract, allowing for easier passage.
Virgin coconut oil and olive oil are both good options for mild cases of constipation, and can even add a little shine to his coat. For smaller dogs, mix 1 teaspoon of oil per 10 pounds of body weight with her regular food. Larger dogs weighing 50 pounds or more may need up to 1 tablespoon. Oils should always be mixed with your dog’s food and can be added to up to two meals a day.
4. Try a Digestive Supplement, Laxative, or Stool Softener
If you’ve already tried the methods above without success, or simply feel more comfortable with a dog constipation remedy that leaves little room for error when it comes to dosing, an over the counter dietary supplement might be your best bet. Many serve the same purpose as the above-mentioned remedies, but conveniently take the guesswork out of figuring out how much to administer.
- Emollient laxatives like Lax’aire perform a similar action as coconut/olive oil by offering lubrication, but usually rely on a proprietary blend of ingredients to make them more palatable and speed up the process.
- Fiber supplements like Vetasyl are often a capsule form of psyllium husk, but certain varieties like Nature Vet No Scoot add smaller quantities of other potentially helpful ingredients, as well.
- Probiotics like Vetri Mega Probiotic can be used as a daily supplement to help keep your dog’s digestive system in tip-top shape. When it comes to restoring gut health, probiotics can work wonders, and function as both a treatment and a preventative measure for dog constipation.
5. Consider a Change in Diet
Diet impacts just about every aspect of your dog’s health, and dog foods that are crammed with non-nutritive fillers and additives are a recipe for digestive disaster. Switching to a well balanced natural dog food can help, especially if your pooch experiences recurring bouts of constipation that aren’t related to other conditions.
Finally, consider your dog’s age, as this plays an important role in digestive function, as well. This is especially true for older dogs who may struggle with elimination for a variety of reasons, ranging from slower digestion to joint pain. If your loyal companion is getting along in years, he might benefit from a senior dog food, like Wellness Complete Health, Senior Health Recipe, that’s specially formulated for joint and digestive health.
Although no one knows your dog like you do, digestive issues aren’t always clear cut. If you’re uncertain of the cause of your dog’s constipation or if your pup displays symptoms of severe discomfort, taking him to the vet is the best way to give him the care he deserves.