Treatment and Prognosis for Constipation in Dogs
If an owner suspects that her dog is constipated, she should consult a veterinarian for treatment. The medical options depend on the cause of the condition. Every dog should have free access to fresh water at all times. Sometimes, constipation can be treated with laxatives to draw water into the intestines and soften the feces. Enemas can also be used to evacuate the bowel. Another potential treatment option is adding milk to the dog’s diet. The lactose in milk is difficult for dogs to digest; it pulls fluid into the bowel and stimulates intestinal motility. Typically, milk causes diarrhea in adult dogs. However, giving a constipated dog an amount of milk that would otherwise cause a non-constipated dog to develop diarrhea can be an inexpensive and effective laxative.
Foods with extremely high fiber content, such as unprocessed wheat bran or unsweetened pureed canned pumpkin, can be added to the dog’s diet to promote defecation. Soaking dry kibble with warm water before feeding is another easy way to add liquid to the digestive tract. Of course, if something is causing a physical intestinal obstruction, such as a tumor or a foreign object, it probably will be necessary for a veterinarian to remove it surgically. It is extremely important for a veterinarian to be involved with any treatment of a dog with constipation, as certain types of laxatives and enemas can cause more harm than good and may be dangerous for dogs with kidney disorders.
Other less traditional techniques that may benefit constipated dogs, in addition to medical treatment, might include: massage therapy to stimulate blood flow and peristalsis; application of acupuncture and/or acupressure techniques; use of herbal or other non-regulated supplements or homeopathic “remedies”; and other forms of supportive care that may help to ease discomfort, increase circulation, promote intestinal motility and otherwise promote wellness, relaxation and comfort. Some of these adjunct approaches lack controlled studies of their effectiveness and may not have established quality control methods or ways to assess their benefit to dogs with constipation or other gastrointestinal disorders.
The prognosis for dogs suffering from constipation is generally quite good.