Dog Constipation: Causes, Diagnosis, and Treatment (How to help a constipated dog)

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Dog Constipation: Causes, Diagnosis, and Treatment

Illustration of a dog with a concerned expression, symbolizing dog constipation.

What Is Constipation?

Constipation in dogs refers to difficulty or infrequent bowel movements, resulting in hard, dry stools. It can be caused by various factors such as diet, dehydration, lack of exercise, or underlying health conditions. Signs include straining, small stools, infrequent bowel movements, and loss of appetite. Treatment may involve dietary changes, increased fiber intake, hydration, exercise, and veterinary intervention.


Have you ever had a time when you just couldn’t go to the bathroom? Maybe you felt bloated, uncomfortable, and just generally unwell. This is similar to what our furry friends can experience, and it’s called constipation. It’s a common digestive problem that affects dogs and cats alike, and it’s something that pet owners should be aware of. In fact, studies show that up to 25% of dogs suffer from this issue at some point in their lives. So, whether your pet is a senior with a slowed metabolism or a young pup with a curious nature, it’s important to know what constipation is, what causes it, and how to prevent it. So let’s dive in and explore this topic in more detail.

What Is Constipation?

Constipation can be a big problem for your pet’s digestion, causing them to have trouble pooping or not poop at all. Telltale signs, such as dry, hard stools and straining when trying to defecate, can also be an indicator of other disorders, including hypothyroidism. Another symptom of this disorder is the passage of mucus when a dog attempts to defecate.

What Causes Constipation?

There are various reasons a dog may be constipated:

  • Not enough fiber in his diet
  • Lack of exercise
  • Blocked or abscessed anal sacs
  • Enlarged prostate gland
  • Excessive self-grooming can also cause large amounts of hair to collect in the stool
  • If your dog eats things like gravel, stones, bones, dirt, plants, or pieces of toys, these can get stuck in its digestive system and cause trouble.
  • Matted hair or a tumor causing an obstruction
  • A side effect of medication
  • Hernia
  • The orthopedic problem that causes pain when a dog positions himself to defecate
  • Neurologic disorder
  • Dehydration due to other illnesses

How Can I Tell if My Dog Is Constipated?

If you’ve noticed that your furry friend hasn’t pooped for more than two days and they seem to be in pain or distress when trying to do so, it’s time to visit the vet. Don’t wait! Get your pup checked out so they can feel better.

Note: These signs may also be symptoms of a urinary tract problem, so it’s important that you see your vet to determine the cause.

Which Dogs Are Susceptible to Constipation?

Sometimes, dogs can have trouble having bowel movements. That might be because they’re not eating enough fiber, they’re not getting enough exercise, or they have another issue causing constipation. Elderly dogs are more likely to experience this, but it can happen to any dog.

How Can I Treat My Dog’s Constipation?

Depending on what’s causing your dog’s constipation, your vet may recommend one or several of the following treatments:

  • A stool softener or other laxative agent
  • Medication to increase the contractile strength of the large intestine
  • Adding fiber to your dog’s diet with canned pumpkin, wheat bran or a product such as Metamucil
  • A veterinarian-prescribed, high-fiber diet
  • An increase in exercise
  • An enema (administered by a professional, not at home, please)

What Can Happen If Constipation Goes Untreated?

If your dog’s constipation is not alleviated, constipation, the inability to empty his colon on his own—can occur. If you notice that your dog is having trouble going to the bathroom, it might have something called an “impacted colon.” That means that their colon is packed with too much poop and it’s making them uncomfortable. You might notice that they’re straining to go, feeling tired, not eating, or even throwing up.


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Frequently Asked Questions

What can I give my dog for constipation?

You can try giving your dog fiber-rich foods like canned pumpkin or adding a small amount of olive oil to their meals.

How long can a dog go without pooping?

Generally, dogs should have a bowel movement at least once a day. If your dog hasn’t pooped in 2-3 days, it’s time to take action.

What happens if a dog gets too constipated?

If a dog becomes severely constipated, it can lead to discomfort, pain, loss of appetite, lethargy, and even intestinal blockage if left untreated.

How to tell if my dog is constipated or has a blockage?

Signs of constipation in dogs include straining during bowel movements, dry or hard stools, reduced appetite, and abdominal discomfort. If you suspect a blockage, seek immediate veterinary attention.

My dog hasn’t pooped in 4 days, what should I do?

If your dog hasn’t pooped in 4 days, consult your veterinarian for guidance. They can recommend appropriate measures or conduct a thorough examination if necessary.

How to help a constipated dog naturally?

Natural remedies for constipation in dogs include increasing fiber intake, ensuring proper hydration, regular exercise, and avoiding low-quality diets. Consult your vet for specific recommendations.

Does gabapentin cause constipation in dogs?


Yes, gabapentin can cause constipation in dogs as a potential side effect. If your dog is on gabapentin and is experiencing constipation, consult your veterinarian for possible solutions.

What can I give my dog for constipation besides pumpkin?

You can try other fiber sources like psyllium husk, canned green beans, or adding small amounts of plain, unsweetened yogurt to their diet.

Can milk help dogs with constipation?

While small amounts of milk may have a mild laxative effect, it’s not recommended as a primary solution for constipation. Consult your vet for appropriate remedies.

Treating constipation in dogs.

Treatment options for constipation in dogs include dietary changes, increasing fiber intake, ensuring proper hydration, exercise, and, if necessary, medication prescribed by a veterinarian.

Pumpkin puree for dogs.

Pumpkin puree is often used as a natural remedy for dog constipation due to its high fiber content. However, consult your vet for proper dosage and usage instructions.

Canned pumpkin for dogs.

Canned pumpkin, specifically plain, unsweetened pumpkin puree, can help alleviate constipation in dogs. It’s important to use pure pumpkin without added spices or sugars.

Home remedies for constipation in dogs.

Home remedies for constipation in dogs include adding fiber to their diet, ensuring hydration, and incorporating regular exercise. However, consult your vet for guidance.

How to make a constipated dog poop quickly?

While you should avoid forcing a dog to poop quickly, you can encourage bowel movements by increasing exercise, offering water, and providing a fiber-rich diet. Consult your vet for advice.

Small dog constipation symptoms.

Symptoms of constipation in small dogs are similar to those in larger breeds and may include straining during bowel movements, dry or hard stools, decreased appetite, and discomfort.

Does gabapentin cause constipation?

Yes, gabapentin can cause constipation as a potential side effect in both humans and dogs. Monitor your dog’s bowel movements and consult your vet if constipation occurs.

Stool softener for dogs.

Stool softeners for dogs may include medications prescribed by a veterinarian. It’s important to consult with a professional for proper diagnosis and suitable treatment options.

My dog keeps trying to poop but nothing comes out.

This could indicate constipation or a potential blockage. Contact your veterinarian immediately for guidance and to rule out any serious conditions.

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