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Constipation in Dogs




If your dog is dehydrated or obstipated (has difficult to manage constipation or does not respond to medical treatment), then it will need to be treated on an inpatient basis. Fluid therapy will be given, and if your dog is taking any medications that may be causing the constipation, they will be discontinued or replaced.


Dietary supplementation with a bulk-forming agent (such as bran, methylcellulose, canned pumpkin, psyllium) often is helpful, though these agents can sometimes worsen fecal distension within the colon. If this occurs, you will need to switch to a low residue-producing diet for your dog.


After your doctor has determined that your dog is sufficiently rehydrated, manual removal of the feces, with your dog under general anesthesia, will be conducted. If the impaction is not too severe, enemas may help to loosen or dislodge the impaction, but generally, the impaction must be removed manually. Your veterinarian may do this by hand, or with forceps. If the condition has been chronic, your veterinarian may need to perform a surgical procedure to remove part of the colon. This type of surgery is known as a subtotal colectomy, and may be required with recurring obstipation, or when circumstances suggest that the colon has been irreversibly damaged.


Living and Management


Monitor the frequency of your dog’s defecation and stool consistency at least twice a week initially, then weekly or biweekly. Contact your veterinarian if you notice very hard, dry feces, or that your dog is straining while defecating. Diarrhea is also a cause for concern, since it can quickly lead to dehydration. You will need to contact your veterinarian as well if you note it. To prevent a recurrence, feed your dog a veterinarian-approved diet and be sure to keep your dog active so that the muscles of the intestine are working properly.


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