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Elderly Pet Care, Vet Minute

How to Help Dog Constipation

August 11, 2022

Vet Minute: How to Help Dog Constipation

Last updated: July 6, 2022

In this Vet Minute, Revival’s Director of Veterinary Services, Dr. Marty Greer, shares tips on how to relieve constipation in dogs.
If you need help, call us at 800.786.4751.

How to Help Dog Constipation

Owners sometimes think their dogs are constipated because they’ve been straining to have a stool. Sometimes those dogs actually have diarrhea, not constipation, and the diarrhea has caused their intestinal tracts to be irritated enough that they continue to strain. The most important thing is to make sure we’re treating the right thing, because if we treat a dog for constipation when diarrhea is the actual problem, we potentially could make it worse.

What to Give a Dog for Constipation

When it comes to how to help a constipated dog naturally and how to treat dog constipation at home, fiber is the best bet for you to manage a dog with either constipation or diarrhea. That’s the good news. In case you’re unsure, fiber won’t hurt for either condition. A lot of people use canned pumpkin or wheat germ as a fiber source. They may also use unflavored fiber supplements like Metamucil or K9Power Digest Forte, which is an Icelandic kelp-based natural product that increases the fiber in the diet. By increasing fiber, regardless of whether the dog is constipated or has diarrhea, we’re going to help regulate the way the GI tract is moving.

Is There a Laxative for Dogs?

We don’t recommend over-the-counter human laxatives because they are stimulants, and those can be pretty rough on the dog. We also try to avoid dog enemas, as well as those for cats. I know we’re talking dogs, but sometimes people translate that information into cats. Fleet enemas have too much phosphorous, that can cause an electrolyte imbalance in the cat. So we have to be very careful that we’re not using those. It’s best to stick to fiber and seek veterinary care if you’re not getting a solution.

When to Take Dog to Vet for Constipation?

If you’re wondering when to see a vet for dog constipation, first, make sure to check the dog’s rear end before you go to your vet. We’ve actually had a few dogs over the years with a long coat and the diarrhea gets caught in the coat and creates an obstruction because the hair and that fecal material all mat together. So first, check your dog’s rear for an obstruction. If the dog does have that matted area, put the dog in a tub of warm water to soften that up and get that moved away. If the dog isn’t eating, if the dog is vomiting, if the dog’s constipation or diarrhea symptoms don’t resolve, then you do need to seek veterinary care.

Marty Greer, Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, has 35+ years’ experience in veterinary medicine, with special interests in canine reproduction and pediatrics. She received her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from Iowa State University in 1981. She’s served as Revival’s Director of Veterinary Services since 2019.

If you need help, call us at 800.786.4751.