Why is My Dog Constipated & What to Do

If you’re a dog owner, you’ve likely encountered various health concerns with your furry friend. One common issue that can cause distress for both you and your dog is constipation. Just like humans, dogs can experience constipation, and it’s essential to understand why it happens and what you can do to alleviate it. In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the world of canine constipation, covering its causes, symptoms, home remedies, and when to seek veterinary help.

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Understanding Canine Constipation

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What is Constipation in Dogs?

Constipation in dogs refers to infrequent or difficult bowel movements. It occurs when the stool becomes too dry and hard, making it challenging for the dog to pass. This condition can be uncomfortable and even painful for your furry companion.

How Does the Digestive System Work in Dogs?

Dogs have a unique digestive system designed for processing animal-based diets. Understanding how their digestive system works can help you identify the causes of constipation.

Causes of Dog Constipation

Dietary Factors

The food your dog consumes plays a significant role in their digestive health. A lack of dietary fibre can lead to constipation. Low-quality or inappropriate dog food may not provide the necessary nutrients for healthy digestion.


Inadequate water intake can result in dry, hard stools. Ensure your dog always has access to fresh water to prevent dehydration-related constipation.

Lack of Exercise

Physical activity is crucial for promoting proper digestion in dogs. A sedentary lifestyle can slow down the digestive process, contributing to constipation.

Foreign Objects

Dogs are notorious for ingesting things they shouldn’t. Swallowing foreign objects like toys or bones can obstruct the digestive tract, causing constipation.

Medication Side Effects

Certain medications may have constipation as a side effect. If your dog is on medication, consult your veterinarian for guidance on managing this issue.

Signs and Symptoms of Constipation

Vomiting in Dogs

Straining During Bowel Movements

If your dog appears to be straining excessively while trying to defecate, it’s a sign of constipation. They may also cry or whimper due to the discomfort.

Dry or Hard Stools

Inspect your dog’s stool. If it’s dry, hard, and difficult to pass, constipation is likely the culprit.

Reduced Appetite

Constipated dogs often lose their appetite. They may avoid food due to the discomfort in their digestive system.


Constipation can make dogs feel sluggish and lethargic. They may lack their usual energy and enthusiasm.

Abdominal Discomfort

You might notice your dog displaying signs of discomfort or pain in the abdominal area. They may arch their back or avoid being touched around their belly.

Home Remedies for Dog Constipation

Increasing Water Intake

Encourage your dog to drink more water. You can also add a small amount of low-sodium chicken or beef broth to their water to entice them to hydrate.

Dietary Changes

Switching to a portion of high-fibre dog food can soften stools and promote regular bowel movements. Consult your vet for dietary recommendations.

Adding Fiber to the Diet

Incorporate fibre-rich foods like canned pumpkin or sweet potato into your dog’s meals. These natural sources of fibre can aid in digestion.

Regular Exercise

Ensure your dog gets daily exercise. A brisk walk or playtime in the yard can stimulate their digestive system.

Natural Laxatives for Dogs

Consult your vet about safe natural laxatives for dogs, such as olive oil or psyllium husk, to help relieve constipation.

When to Seek Veterinary Help

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Chronic Constipation

If your dog experiences recurrent or chronic constipation, consult your veterinarian. It could be a sign of an underlying health issue.

Presence of Blood in Stool

The presence of blood in your dog’s stool is a concerning sign and warrants immediate veterinary attention.

Unexplained Weight Loss

If your dog is constipated and also losing weight, it may indicate a more severe problem. Contact your vet promptly.

Persistent Vomiting

Vomiting along with constipation can be a sign of bowel obstruction. Seek immediate veterinary care in this case.

Behavioural Changes

Pay attention to any changes in your dog’s behaviour. If they seem distressed, anxious, or in pain, consult your vet.

Preventing Dog Constipation

Balanced Diet

Provide your dog with a balanced diet that includes an appropriate amount of fibre for their age and breed.


Ensure your dog stays well-hydrated by always having access to fresh water.

Exercise Routine

Incorporate regular exercise into your dog’s daily routine to keep their digestive system active.

Regular Vet Check-ups

Schedule routine veterinary check-ups to monitor your dog’s overall health and address any potential issues early.

Safe Environment

Keep your home environment safe to prevent your dog from ingesting harmful objects.

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  1. How long can a dog go without a bowel movement? Dogs should have regular bowel movements. If your dog hasn’t had one in 48 hours, it’s time to seek veterinary advice.
  2. Is pumpkin a good remedy for dog constipation? Yes, canned pumpkin is often recommended as a natural remedy for constipation in dogs due to its fibre content.
  3. Can stress cause constipation in dogs? Yes, stress can affect a dog’s digestive system and potentially lead to constipation. Keeping your dog’s environment calm can help prevent this.
  4. What should I do if my dog’s constipation doesn’t improve with home remedies? If home remedies don’t alleviate your dog’s constipation within 24-48 hours, consult your veterinarian for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan.
  5. Are certain dog breeds more prone to constipation? While any dog breed can experience constipation, breeds with short noses, like bulldogs and pugs, may be more prone to digestive issues due to their anatomy.


In conclusion, dog constipation is a common issue that can be managed with proper care and attention. By understanding the causes, recognizing the symptoms, and implementing home remedies when appropriate, you can help your furry friend maintain a healthy digestive system. However, always consult your veterinarian if you have concerns about your dog’s constipation, as it could be a sign of a more serious underlying condition.