Constipation In Dogs: How To Help Your Pooch

corgi sitting on the sofa
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Dog of any age can develop constipation. Often it is just a one-off that is caused by eating something unusual, or by dehydration, but occasionally it is caused by an underlying health condition. Dogs with constipation should always be checked by a veterinarian. 

Severity:

Mild to Moderate, occasionally Severe.

Table of Content

Key points

  • Requires diagnosis by a veterinarian
  • May pass by itself, or may require treatment by a veterinarian.
  • Not usually caused by a transmissible illness, but dogs who eat the same food may all be affected
  • Usually resolves within days to weeks; occasionally requires long-term management
  • Usually resolves within days to weeks; occasionally requires long-term management
  • Diagnosis of constipation requires a physical examination by a veterinarian, and sometimes x-rays. Diagnosing an underlying cause may require further testing.

Common in:

Symptoms and types:

Mild cases of constipation will normally clear by themselves

Understanding the diagnostics

Learning about the causes

1. Diet

2. Dehydration

Safe treatments to try at home include offering extra fluids (water or doggy-safe broths) and gentle exercise. 

3. Underlying Illness

Best treatment options

Home remedies and their effectiveness

You can find many home remedies for constipation on the internet, but most of them are unproven and some can be dangerous.

Mild cases of constipation will normally clear by themselves, which can make these “home remedies” appear effective when sadly they’re not.  

In particular, you should never attempt to give your dog an enema at home. There is a serious risk of damage to the bowel if this is done incorrectly, which in severe cases can lead to perforation, sepsis, and death. 

Safe treatments to try at home include offering extra fluids (by adding water to their food, or by offering doggy-safe broths) and gentle exercise. 

Human laxatives can be dangerous if given incorrectly, and adding extra fiber to the diet will not soften the stool that has already built up in your dog’s bowel. If extra fluid and light exercise is not enough, you should consult your veterinarian. 

When to see a vet

FAQ

Ruth graduated from Cambridge in 2014 and has worked as a small animal GP vet ever since. She is particularly interested in internal medicine, as it combines her love of problem-solving and her somewhat geeky love of knowledge, and has completed her certificate in Small Animal Medicine. She loves animals of all species but is particularly fond of cats.

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