Dog Constipation: Symptoms, Causes and What to do

When your Shiba isn’t pooping as they usually do, or not at all, they are most likely constipated. 

Constipation is a common health problem in dogs. This means when your Shiba Inu can’t pass a normal stool, which is soft but still hold its form, regularly. Constipation in dogs can be mild or severe, but it is often easy to treat.

What you do need to look out for is obstipation. This is when constipation is so severe that passing is impossible, or when your dog does, it is painful as their stool is small, hard, and dry. 

Prolonged or severe obstipation can lead to megacolon, a condition where the colon wall muscles are stretched and can no longer function properly. 

To avoid this, here’s what you need to know about constipation in dogs, its signs, its causes, and what you can do to treat it. 

What is constipation?

Constipation is difficulty passing stool or feces and is usually temporary. 

Many dogs with constipation experience pain when pooping. Some even pass small amounts of liquid feces or blood due to straining. 

When constipation is prolonged, it can lead to obstipation, which can be serious, permanent, or irreversible. 

Additionally, one of the colon’s primary functions is absorbing water, and when the retained stool is hard and dry, passing is difficult. In some cases, it dehydrates the dog. 

Causes of Constipation

In digestion, waste is full of water and pushed through the intestines to the colon by a muscular motion. The water is absorbed in the colon, and the waste becomes the stool. If this process becomes slow, the colon will keep absorbing water, thus making the stool harder and drier. 

The most common cause of doggy constipation is ingesting indigestible objects that get stuck in the colon, preventing waste from pushing through. Still, there are many other causes as well, such as: 

  • Inadequate exercise
  • Diet (poor diet or sudden changes)
  • Not enough fiber
  • Eating indigestible objects
  • Age
  • Renal issues
  • Medications
  • Stress
  • Colon disease
  • Tumors

Symptoms of Dog Constipation

The symptoms of dog constipation are usually easy to spot, like: 

  • Lack of defecation (usually for a few days)
  • Hard, dry, and pebble-like stool
  • Straining while pooping
  • Pain while pooping
  • Stool with mucus
  • Stool with blood 

Generally, dogs defecate 1-3 times daily, often after meals. Your dog is constipated if he attempts to pass stool several times unsuccessfully. You may see him excessively circling, dragging his bottoms to the ground, or even crying and whimpering out of pain. 

If your Shiba Inu displays the signs above and fails to produce a stool in 48 to 72 hours, take him to the veterinarian. 

Constipation can happen to any dog of breed and age but is more common in older dogs. 

Treatment for Dog Constipation

If the condition has just started (constipated dog for a day or two), there are home remedies that could ease this. Remember, it is best to call your veterinarian instead of self-medicating, and what worked for other dogs might not work for your Shiba. 

For home remedies, try the following: 

Canned dog food. Canned dog food is softer and has a higher moisture content, creating softer stools. You can mix canned food with their normal meal to avoid an upset stomach. 

Pumpkin Puree. Pumpkin puree is high in fiber and moisture and helps regulate the digestive tract. DO NOT give pumpkin pie filling. 

Lots of water. Make sure your Shiba Inu is well-hydrated, and make sure to encourage them to drink, as well. If they are not drinking water, consult the vet. 

Exercise. Take your dog for a walk to get his bowels moving. Activities like running is a good way to get the digestive tract moving. 

It is best to consult the veterinarian and seek professional help for chronic and persistent constipation. Here are the treatments that your veterinarian may recommend to do: 

Enemas. Enemas can be uncomfortable for your Shiba. Most dogs dislike this procedure and should not be forced on your pooch. If done improperly, it can cause injury so this should be performed by a professional only. 

Laxatives. Before giving your dog laxative, make sure you have the go sign from your veterinarian. Long-term use of this medication can dehydrate your dog. 

For serious constipation, other treatment options might include: 

  • If the colon is affected, manual removal might be recommended
  • Medication to block enzyme
  • Nerve-stimulating medication
  • Surgery

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