Causes and Prevention of Constipation in Dogs

Source: Canadian Veterinary Medical Association Updated on July 16, 2015

Causes of Constipation

Before treating constipation in dogs, a cause should be identified. Constipation can be associated with many underlying abnormal conditions. Treating the primary problem that leads to constipation may be curative, and thus is a better approach. To treat just the resulting condition may allow the underlying problem to progress. If constipation occurs, your veterinarian should be consulted to schedule a thorough physical examination. Blood, urine and stool samples may also be obtained for further analysis. Sometimes, imaging tests such as X-rays are also recommended.

Causes of constipation may include hormone conditions, pain in the pelvic area resulting from trauma, arthritis or spinal disk disease, nerve trauma or masses that partially block the tract such as polyps or cancerous masses. Infections of anal glands located next to the anus, bite wounds around the rear end, or foreign material such as bones in the lower gut can also interfere with normal defecation. Certain drugs may slow the gut contractions, and certain foods may favor constipation due to the particular diet formulation. Dogs that are obese, losing their mobility, or are stressed due to travel and changes in routine may also pass their bowels less frequently, leading to constipation.


Dog owners can also take measures to try and prevent constipation. It is essential that dogs have access to clean water at all times, because hydration is paramount to preventing constipation. Also, as mentioned above, a high-fiber diet can promote regularity in dogs. Regular exercise is also an effective weapon against constipation. Some more specific preventative steps include switching from natural to nylon bones to aid in digestion, eliminating medications that contribute to constipation and, with the help of a veterinarian, learning how to feel a dog’s abdomen to recognize when it is constipated.

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