The Most Common Cause of Constipation in Dogs is Incorrect Diet…

A constipated dog will be visibly straining to go the toilet but nothing will be coming out. They might get a little distressed, licking at their bums, maybe doing some bottom scooting. If a dog does not poo for two days they need to see a vet because one possible cause of constipation is an obstruction in the gut. Nothing beats the advice of a good vet, never be afraid to use them. You never regret going, only ever the opposite For anything else, read on!

A few things can constipation in dogs, most commonly poor diet or medication – particularly morphine-based painkillers in the case of the latter. The more common reason is poor diet though and usually it is raw-fed dogs (dry food usually causes soft poo, if anything). A diet too high in bone matter will cause dry, hard, white poos, hitting the patio with a ping. 

The Ideal Dog Poo…

As our article on anal glands in dogs highlights, the ideal dog poo is not one long, stinking, ice-cream type log typical of a dry fed dog. Instead, it should look something like a collection of nuggets or small pieces. It should have shape and should not stink to high heaven either. It should have enough moisture that it would leave residue on the patio, but not enough that it is soft or sloppy.

The right diet will produce the right poo in a healthy dog. However, the truth is that what is an ideal diet for one dog, might not work well for another. Dogs have different processing abilities, just like humans. Small dogs might not be able to handle what a big dog can.

Also be aware that many dogs new-to-fresh feeding can suffer a temporary digestive hiccup, leading to some constipation that needs addressing. In this case some simple tweaks may be necessary.

constipation in dogs What to do if They are Straining to go to the Toilet

We never want a dog straining to go to the loo. Luckily, there are lots of things that can be done to relieve constipation in dogs. First off make sure they have access to lots of fresh water. Then significantly reduce meal sizes until the issue is sorted. Below are the next steps to consider:

1. If your dog is raw fed address the Bone Content

Too much bone is the number one reason for constipation in dogs. The ideal mince for dogs has around 10% bone content in it. While many dogs can process a lot more than this some struggle.

So first off check the bone content of whatever product they are eating. If there is not 10% bone, or close to it, in their diet then it may be necessary to add some bulker (we recommend sweet potato or vegetable additions) or find a better quality product that suits your dog.

It can also be possible, that the addition of too many meaty bones in their diet, can be the cause of the high bone content. Simply think about the bones being added. For example, duck necks are far bonier than chicken necks (as it’s a flying bird). Feed meat on the bone, pieces like legs rather than meat-less bones. The more meat the better the poo!

How to safely feed a dog raw meaty bones

Are cheap raw dog foods worth the mo

2. Fibre Eases Constipation in Dogs

Fibre will ease constipation in dogs. Fibre is amazing. It can be used to soften or firm up poo depending on what is required (for more on this process please see anal glands in dogs). In this case, we want to add fibre, as fibre here acts like a little sponge, absorbing water into the stool, making it softer, wetter and easier to pass (think of all-bran in the human diet!).

Dogs normally get fibre from the hair, teeth and hide of the animals that they are eating. However, most manufactured raw dog food products exclude these parts (for largely aesthetics reasons) but if they were permitted to include them many would include lots, as it’s cheap. Instead of these bits most fresh-feeders include a little plant additions in the diet for the fibre they contain. So if a dog is constipated, feel free to feed one of the fibre fillers below. Best to make it up and freeze in big ice cubes, use one a day (don’t store ground veg in the fridge, it oxidises and makes dogs sick).

small nettle ice cubes for dogs

  • Steamed and chopped green fibrous veg such as green beans (from frozen)
  • Boiled and mashed sweet potato (skin on) or simply pumpkin from a can.
  • Tablespoon of ground linseed (find in the breakfast section of Aldi)
  • StoolRite (below). It’s a mix of gluten-free fibre, isolated from seaweed. It contains both types of fibre and is highly effective at helping your dog pass a stubborn stool

StoolRite stool former for dogs

3. Other Bits That Will Help Ease Constipation in Dogs…

There are a few more things that can be tried for constipation in dogs. Adding more oils will soften the stool (coconut, olive, sunflower). Many dogs are on Dogs First as they suffer from digestive issues. If you suspect poor digestion might be at fault and not too much bone or too little fibre try a little apple cider vinegar, it’s fantastic for aiding digestion. And remember, the vet has the tools at hand to immediately relieve a dog suffering should the issue persist.

4. More Sinister Causes of Constipation in Dogs

Please note, impacted anal glands in dogs can make them reluctant to defecate and constipation can result. Please read up on this issue and make sure your dog is not suffering this common issue in dogs. Again, with this one, you never regret going to the vet. Please don’t ignore constipation too long. 

 

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A photo of Dr. Conor Brady of Dogs First