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Vet Minute: How to Help a Constipated Puppy
April 7, 2021
What are puppy constipation symptoms? How to relieve puppy constipation? Dr. Marty Greer, Revival’s Director of Veterinary Services, offers advice on how to make a puppy poop when constipated.
Is My Puppy Constipated?
Puppies rarely need enemas to relieve constipation. The most common concern we have in newborn puppies is diarrhea. Before you move forward with giving your puppy an enema, we need to be certain the problem is constipation. Both newborn puppy constipation and diarrhea can cause them to strain to defecate, seem uncomfortable, and not eat well. Vomiting is rare in very young puppies but one potential cause is constipation.
One simple way to differentiate between diarrhea and constipation is to place a well-lubricated thermometer in your puppy’s rectum. When you remove the thermometer, the stool on the tip will help indicate if the stool is hard or soft, and what the color is. A white stool may indicate over eating. A green stool may mean bacterial overgrowth and a red or bloody stool may mean sepsis. Sometimes, the mere act of using the thermometer may stimulate the puppy to pass stool, giving you an indication of the stool character.
How to Relieve Puppy Constipation
When it comes to what helps a newborn constipated puppy, you’ll want to start with hydrating the puppy. This can be done with offering the puppy electrolytes in a baby bottle, medi-nurser or a Miracle Nipple set up. If the puppy won’t take the bottle, you can tube feed the electrolyte solution, a solution like Breeder’s Edge Puppy Lyte. You can also administer fluids subcutaneously, with a needle and syringe or from a bag of Lactated Ringers or normal saline attached to a venoset. Your veterinary professionals can help you with this or you can learn how to do this own your own. Administer Karo syrup, Eagle Brand Sweetened Condensed Milk or honey orally to very young puppies. The high sugar content of these three products will help pull fluid into the puppy’s intestinal tract, making their stools softer. Lactulose is a prescription drug available from your veterinary clinic and can have the same effect. Petroleum based cat hairball laxatives can also help soften the stool.
Older puppies over four weeks of age can have canned pumpkin, squash, or Metamucil mixed with electrolytes given orally. These will all help hold fluid in the intestinal tract, slowly making the stools softer and easier for the puppy to pass. Enemas are then an option, but only if you have verified that the puppy is constipated.
If you have any questions on puppy constipation, call a Pet Care Pro at 800.786.4751.
How to Give a Puppy Enema
If your puppy is constipated, Dr. Greer shows how to give a newborn puppy an enema to help with newborn puppy constipation.
How to Help Dog Constipation
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Written by: Marty Greer, DVM
Director of Veterinary Services
Marty Greer, Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, has 40+ 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. In 2023, Dr. Greer was named the Westminster Kennel Club Veterinarian of the Year.