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What Can Dogs Eat When They Are Constipated? Five Common Remedies

Is your dog constipated, leaving you frustrated because you can't seem to help them poop? Believe it or not, dog constipation is quite common. In this article, Veterinarian Joanna Woodnutt looks at some common foods that may help alleviate your pup's bathroom struggles.

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Last Updated: June 24, 2021 | 6 min read

What Can Dogs Eat When Constipated

This article was written by a veterinarian, but it should not substitute as contact with a trained professional. If your dog is constipated and is reacting adversely, contact your local veterinarian immediately.

As much as we may dislike picking up dog poops during toilet time, a well-formed poo can be appreciated as a sign our dog is eating well with a functioning gut. Even your veterinarian will often ask about bowel movements to get a good picture of your dog’s overall health.

On average, dogs poop 1-2 times every 24 hours. However, this can vary slightly from dog to dog and can depend on the type of diet. You are correct to become concerned if your pup poops less than once every 48 hours; there’s a chance that he is constipated!

There are several different reasons that constipation happens in our canine companions. Read on to learn more about constipation in dogs and what the best foods are for a constipated pooch.

What is Constipation?

Greyhound Looking Back at Camera
If your dog is struggling to poop, it is possible it is constipated.

Constipation occurs when waste moves too slowly through the gut or stops and forms a blockage. It may be accompanied by straining during pooping and the production of hard feces that are difficult to pass. Signs of severe constipation, which would require an emergency trip to the veterinarian, include vomiting, lethargy, bloody stool, abdominal discomfort, and a 72-hour or more delay between bowel movements.

What Causes Constipation in Dogs?

Frenchie Taking a Poop
There are a number of reasons constipation occurs in dogs.

Causes of constipation include:

  • Lack of fiber in the diet
  • Impacted anal glands
  • Intestinal disorders
  • Hernias
  • Spinal pain
  • Swallowing objects that get stuck in the gut

Many of these will require veterinary intervention for treatment, so it is important to pick up on clinical signs as early as possible.

What Can I Feed My Dog For Constipation?

Pug Eating Bowl of Vegetables
A diet full of fiber and water is ideal for your constipated pooch.

Many causes of constipation will not be solved by a simple diet change. You must see a veterinarian for a dog that is showing severe clinical signs. Some cases may even require surgery and an extended stay in the clinic if they are not caught early. For mild constipation, you can start by modifying your dog’s diet to help ease uncomfortable symptoms.

Constipation-Easing Treats

The following are some veggies you can add to your pooch’s diet or give on their own. They tend to be high in fiber, which will help keep things moving in the gut. Treats in the diet should make up no more than 10% of your dog’s daily calories. Thankfully, a few high fiber vegetable options with different caloric values fit in with a range of doggy meal plans.

Plain Canned Pumpkin

Golden Retriever With Slice of Gourd in its Mouth
Most dogs love the taste of canned pumpkin, so this is an easy treat to offer to help with constipation.

Canned pumpkin is easy to serve right out of the can. It can be added to your dog’s meal or given as a treat. Canned pumpkin has 25 calories per quarter cup. When choosing canned pumpkin, double-check the label to confirm that you have pumpkin puree rather than pumpkin pie filling.

Canned pumpkin pie filling contains sugar, which will greatly increase the calorie count, as well as a selection of spices that may be unsafe. So it’s important to make sure that you account for this in Fido’s daily calorie intake if you plan to feed it to your pup.

Carrot

Puppy Eating a Carrot
Carrot is both hydrating and full of fiber, making it a good choice for a constipated pooch.

Some dogs will happily chomp on a carrot and enjoy the crunch. Others might prefer it to be grated and mixed into wet food. Carrots can also be steamed or boiled and then mashed. A quarter cup of grated carrot contains 12 calories, while a medium carrot is 25 calories.

If your dog chooses to eat whole fresh carrots, make sure they are properly chewing their bites. A very large chunk of carrot in the gut might have a hard time passing through and can lead to an obstruction or cause your dog to vomit.

Celery

Green Celery For Dogs
Celery can be given to dogs but should be chopped up and well-chewed by your pup.

Another great vegetable with high moisture content and a tasty crunch is celery. Again, ensure your pup is chewing so any large pieces don’t get stuck in the gut. Cut them up if possible, to make it easier for your pup to consume. Each stalk of celery contains around 16 calories.

Zucchini

Small White Dog Eating Meat and Vegetables From Dog Bowl
This soft and low-calorie vegetable is a good option for your pooch.

Zucchini is a soft vegetable. This makes it easy to chew, even for older dogs who might be missing some teeth. Zucchini is a great choice for dogs who don’t have much room in their diet for too many extra calorific treats. A half-cup, chopped, is only 10 calories.

Constipation-Reducing Diets

Bulldog Eating From Red Dog Bowl
Fiber is necessary for your dog’s digestive system to keep moving, so be sure to include it in your constipated pup’s diet.

If your pup is struggling to use the restroom, you can try making dietary changes as long as it’s been approved by your vet. Moving your pup to high-fiber dog food can help. But you can also add some wet dog food, and other ingredients to try and help get things moving.

High Fiber Diet

To help with constipation, one of the most beneficial nutrients is fiber. Fiber comes in two forms: soluble and non-soluble. The soluble form of fiber absorbs water as it moves through the gut and can delay the passage of feces. Non-soluble fiber moves through the gut, largely unchanged, and quickens the movement of things through the gut.

Fortunately, you can get a good idea of the non-soluble fiber content of a food from the label. The guaranteed analysis should list the “as fed” crude fiber value of the food, which will be closely representative of the non-soluble fiber content.

A good level of dietary fiber is at least 7% on a dry matter basis. You can learn how to convert the as-fed crude fiber value to a dry matter basis right here.

High-Moisture Diet

Water consumption is known to help with constipation. Choosing a high moisture diet such as a canned food will ensure there is plenty of it to go along with every meal.

Additional At-Home Remedies

Puppy Drinking Water From Bowl
Healthy water intake, supplements, exercise, and a wet food diet can all help with constipation.

There are a few tricks, other than altering the diet, which can help stimulate your dog to poop. Remember to always keep an eye out for symptoms of severe constipation as a sign that you should book an emergency visit with the veterinarian.

Psyllium Fiber

Psyllium fiber supplements are often used to help with constipation in people. You will likely find them in your local grocery store. They are low in calories but may not be very tasty. The best way to feed them is by mixing them into wet food or a gravy-like treat. Give no more than two teaspoons in 24 hours.

Consult with your veterinarian if constipation has not improved within 48 hours of giving the supplement. When picking out a psyllium fiber supplement, choose one with no added sweeteners or flavorings, which can be toxic to dogs. Ones, in particular, to watch out for are xylitol and chocolate—these are both toxic to dogs!

Increasing Water Intake

Just as a high moisture diet can stimulate movement in the gut, encouraging water intake can have the same effect. Always have a freshly topped-up bowl of water available. Some dogs are more likely to drink if they have multiple bowls available in different locations.

Chicken Broth

You can add a cooled plain chicken or beef broth to one of their water bowls for an extra treat. However, keep in mind that broth can have up to 86 calories per cup, so ensure to fit this around a healthy treat allowance.

Playing Some Fetch

A good run or heavy session playing fetch might be just the ticket for getting bowels to pass. Exercise is known to help encourage pooping. Even simply spending more time outdoors can be a good reminder for our dogs to try to get on with their poop schedule.

What Will My Vet Recommend?

Young Lab at the Vet
Veterinary intervention can be as major as surgery to remove an obstruction or a small diet change to add fiber.

If your dog is presented to the vet with constipation, she’ll want to do a thorough review of the history to work out the reason. Your veterinarian will review their medical history to decide which diagnostics to pursue in looking for the root cause of constipation.

The vet will perform a full physical examination and may include x-ray images to better view any potential obstructions. In some cases, laboratory analysis of the blood and urine will be recommended to check for systemic problems.

Veterinary treatment of constipation can range from recommending a simple dietary change to full gastrointestinal surgery. Thankfully, veterinarians also have access to a range of clinical-grade laxatives they may recommend depending on the cause of constipation. Fluid therapy may also be used with other treatments to ensure proper hydration.

Highly Digestible Diets

Dog Looking Confused
You should not have to worry about constipation if your dog’s diet has less fiber.

A dog may poop less if his food contains less fiber. This does not mean he is constipated. There are benefits to having fiber in the diet and passing feces. The anal glands are stimulated with bowel movements and this avoids a painful situation in which they become impacted and need to be expressed by the veterinarian.

Frequently Asked Questions

Final Thoughts

With this information, you’ll be able to monitor your dog’s pooping schedule like a pro. You’ll also know what to do if things seem amiss. Most of the time, constipation is temporary, and easily fixed. You should always consult with your veterinarian if you aren’t sure about your dog’s bowel movements. If something seems off, it’s always worth a quick trip to your vet!

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