A constipated puppy feels pretty miserable! Find the remedies for puppy constipation, tips on how to prevent it, and how to tell if his backed-up bowels are a sign of something serious.
If your puppy is constipated, he'll have pretty much the same symptoms as anyone else in that situation.... he's going to have difficulty pooping!
may do a lot of straining/pushing (with or without obvious pain or
distress) but fail to produce any poop at all.
Or he might only manage to pass
some small, hard/dry 'rabbit droppings' now and then.
If your pup hasn't had a bowel movement in 24 hours, then chances are there's something wrong. The exception to this 'rule' is if you've literally only just brought your little one home. For the first day or so, a pup is often stressed and may behave in unusual ways - including peeing less than normal and even refusing to poop!
This phase passes (you can learn more about what to expect during those first few days here... Bringing Home A New Puppy), but it often takes new owners by surprise.
The reasons for his slow bowel function are usually simple ones, such as not drinking enough water, or getting too little exercise.
But occasionally puppy constipation can be caused by something
much more serious such as a bowel obstruction or canine bloat.
If your puppy has eaten or swallowed any 'foreign object' (basically
something that's NOT meant to be ingested!) and shows signs of
constipation, or he seems distressed, in pain, is vomiting or retching
or has a distended belly.... you need to get him veterinary help
immediately. This could be an emergency situation.
The Causes Of Constipation In Dogs & Puppies
There are several different things that can cause puppy constipation, they range from the simple and obvious, to the
unexpected or unusual!
Now, all puppies can get 'backed up' now and then, for one reason or another, but if you have a very small, tiny or toy breed pup, his chances of getting constipated are higher than those of a large or giant breed puppy.
Here are some of the most common causes of constipation in puppies :
If you thought it was just cats that got hairballs - think again. Dogs
who groom/lick themselves a lot, especially if they're long haired, can
swallow a lot of fur (watch out for this if you have a dog with
allergies or skin problems or is
an obsessive 'licker'). This hair can get 'balled up' inside your pup,
and it then causes a blockage or slows down the intestinal tract. The result is a constipated puppy!
Eating odd 'stuff'
Puppies will be puppies, and they tend to want to eat everything that's
not nailed down - and some things that are! However, ingesting
inappropriate items can result in a constipated puppy due to an internal
'slow down' or traffic jam. At worst it can cause a complete blockage
(which requires urgent veterinary attention). Crunchy 'bone
treats', rawhide toys/treats or even natural bones can all cause this
Not surprisingly, so can that plastic grocery sac, the contents
of the bathroom trash can, or your best undies that your dog ate this
morning :o) If your pup or dog eats something he shouldn't, watch
carefully for it to 'come out the other end', within 24 - 36
hours. If it doesn't and your pet shows signs of constipation, pain or
distress (see 'Important Note' at top of this page), get him to your vet
for evaluation immediately.
Some medications that your dog takes to treat other conditions can
sometimes be the cause of dog constipation. Anti-histamines (used to
treat allergies) can have this effect, as can over the counter medications
that are used to treat diarrhea (such as Immodium or PeptoBismol). It's
never a good idea to give your pup ANY kind of medication without
clearing it with your veterinarian first. Adverse (or even unexpected)
reactions can occur and it's always better to be safe than sorry.
Medical Conditions Although puppy constipation is rarely caused by any serious medical issues, it can
happen, and in older dogs it's even more possible. Things such as
kidney disease, prostate problems, tumors, a perineal hernia or even
bacterial infections can sometimes cause dog constipation. Swallowing a foreign object that can't pass through his intestines, or a serious condition called Canine Bloat can also cause your puppy or dog to squat and strain, or retch and dry-heave.
'Mechanical Constipation' or 'Psuedoconstipation'
This is caused by long hair around the dogs' anus/bottom getting
tangled or matted. If it gets bad enough, the hair can prevent bowel
movements, and you have a constipated puppy on your hands.
Surgery Surgery, and the accompanying anesthesia and lack of activity during the recovery period, can cause your pups' digestive system to slow down - this may result in constipation. It's something worth remembering in the days after your pup has been spayed or neutered.
Treating Constipation In Puppies
If, in spite of your best efforts, your pup becomes constipated there are some straightforward remedies that should get his bowels moving fairly quickly.
Adding certain things to their diet can often help a constipated puppy feel better. Here are a few to try -
A simple dog constipation remedy is to add a little canned pumpkin (NOT
the pie filling variety, just good old plain pumpkin) in your pups'
meals can be helpful. Add 1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon depending on his
size. Pureed pumpkin baby food also works.
Add some extra fiber in the form of Bran, Metamucil, Benefiber or
similar products. About 1/2 teaspoon added to your pups meals for a few
days. If your dog weighs over 50lbs you can use 1 tablespoon instead. 1
teaspoon of oat bran, or 2 teaspoons of Grape Nut flakes added to her
food will work the same way.
Adding some extra oil to your pups diet can help to soften the stools
and help his bowels keep moving along nicely. 1/2 tsp of olive oil added
to his meals works. For more difficult cases, try 1 - 2 teaspoons of
Mineral Oil, but don't do this for longer than 3 or 4 days. Mineral oil
removes Vitamin A from your dog's body and it can be harmful if used for
longer than this.
'Special' Dog Foods Some manufacturers
sell dog food that is specifically formulated with extra fiber to help a
constipated dog or puppy move their bowels regularly. Most foods
contain between 2% and 4% fiber, Solid Gold dry dog food has 5%, and
Hills offer two foods - I/D and W/D. These are available from most
Dogs don't digest cows' milk properly, and in normal circumstances it
causes diarrhea. However, if you have a constipated puppy you can add
1/4 to 1/2 cup of milk to their food or water, or just give it to them
to drink. Do this once a day for a couple of days and it should help
loosen the bowels.
Keeping Long Hair Trimmed
If you have a constipated puppy due to long, tangled or matted hair
around his little bottom, carefully trim it away with small scissors. Be
very careful not to cut the skin. Keeping this hair short in the future
should prevent a recurrence. If your pup has been constipated for a
while, just trimming the hair may not be enough to get his bowels
moving. You may need to also use another dog constipation remedy as
OTC Dog Constipation Remedies
There are a few OTC treatments available for a constipated dog or pup.
To prevent, and eliminate, hairballs that are causing your dog's
constipation, try Laxatone .
It has been specifically formulated to prevent and eliminate those
pesky hairballs, and has a laxative effect to help end your dogs'
Smooth BM Gold For Dogs and PetAlive Natural Moves for Pet Constipation and Digestive Health are totally natural products that can help to relieve canine constipation and also maintain healthy bowel function, without causing your puppy any discomfort. Check out the product links in the right hand column to learn more about these natural remedies.
Here are some simple things you can do to help prevent your puppy from getting constipated in the first place....
Just like in people, a diet that contains enough fiber will help the
digestive system to function properly. If your pup or dog is prone to
constipation, choose a dog food with a minimum of 4% fiber, 5% is even
better. Solid Gold Dry Dog Food has 5% fiber, and you can also buy
special 'prescription' or high-fiber foods such as Hills I/D or W/D
which have significantly higher fiber content (between 8 and 16%). Hills
Foods are available from your veterinarian. Giving your puppy snacks of
raw carrots, celery, apples or pears can also be beneficial.
Your puppy needs access to fresh water at all times during the day. Aim
for a daily minimum of about one ounce of water per pound of body
weight, in hot weather, a centrally heated/dry environment or if your
dog is very active he'll need more. If your pup has some issues with
slow moving bowels and you can't seem to get him to drink more, you can
always add some warm water to his dry food at one mealtime each day to
get some more fluids into him.
Plenty of exercise is essential to keep your puppy health and happy. If
you have a constipated puppy (or one who tendency towards it),
increasing his exercise and activity level can help. The benefits are
two-fold; firstly, the physical aspects of the exercise help to keep his
digestive system and bowels 'moving along' preventing the sluggishness
that can lead to constipation.
Secondly, long walks or a vigorous game
of 'fetch' or frisbee keep him outside longer and help to give him
plenty of time to eliminate when he has the chance. If you're housebreaking or crate training,
and your pup doesn't do his business while your out, he may try to
'hold it' for too long, and this can cause the colon to slow down and
the feces to get hard and difficult to pass.
Trimming Long Hair
This may sound odd, but sometimes in long haired breeds, the hair
around the puppy's rear end becomes tangled or matted, and it actually
physically prevents the puppy from having a bowel movement. If you have a
constipated puppy who has long hair around his bottom, keeping it
trimmed short will prevent this sort of 'mechanical constipation'.
The bottom line (pun totally intended!)....
your puppy is constipated and you're worried that he may have an
intestinal blockage, bloat, or be in pain/distress then you need to have
him seen by a vet right away.
If he seems happy and healthy apart from the constipation, but you've tried the tips on this page but your pup still can't pass any bowel movements then you need to consult a vet for advice.
Click here to see a collection of questions asked by other puppy owners dealing with this issue - and the answers that I gave them on this website.