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What should you do for a constipated dog?

A:

Quick Answer

Constipated dogs should be seen by a veterinarian as soon as possible. Common treatments include commercial laxatives or stool softeners, adding fiber to the diet, and certain medications that increase intestinal strength, according to American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

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Full Answer

Constipation is usually easy to treat, but it needs to be diagnosed by a veterinarian because certain other conditions, such as urinary tract infections, can sometimes cause similar symptoms, explains the ASPCA. Dogs also sometimes eat things they cannot digest or develop tumors that cause obstruction in the bowels, and this can be a life-threatening emergency that requires surgery.

Normal constipation is usually simply treated by removing the impacted feces by use of enemas, suppositories or manual removal, notes VCA Animal Hospitals. Some dogs may also be given intravenous fluids to combat dehydration. After that, the dog is usually sent home with laxatives or other medications to get the bowels working again, and the dog should be back to normal within a few days.

Dogs that experience chronic constipation may need some lifestyle and dietary changes to prevent it, according to VCA Animal Hospitals. Diets with too little fiber are a common cause, so owners may need to supplement with high-fiber foods such as canned pumpkin or supplements such as Metamucil. In some cases, however, dogs need a low-fiber diet to combat constipation, so this should be discussed with a veterinarian. More exercise can also help prevent constipation, especially in older dogs.

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