Yes, dogs have constipation problems too. And interestingly enough, it is the small breeds that tend to experience this problem most often. However, constipation in small breed dogs does not usually cause serious difficulties, although if it occurs over a long period or repeatedly, it can have consequences.
Symptoms of constipation in dogs
You may have noticed that a healthy dog has one or two bowel movements during the day. So, if your dog takes longer to have a bowel movement, he could be constipated.
Constipation is generally understood to be a lack of bowel movements, or infrequent or difficult elimination.
The main symptom of constipation in small breed dogs is tenesmus. It consists of the dog feeling the urge to defecate continuously and also feeling pain. Usually, the dog with constipation or tenesmus tries to defecate, but it does not succeed or only comes out in small, very dry and hard amounts.
That is why constipation will make him complain, be discouraged and even lose his appetite. And if you touch his belly you will feel it hard, because that is where the stool accumulates.
Causes of constipation in small breed dogs
This is the most common cause of constipation in small breed dogs. If your dog consumes an inadequate diet for his needs, which is low in fiber and water, he may develop constipation.
If you give your dog a homemade diet it is possible that this food is not designed for his needs but for the needs of the family. Keep in mind that dogs and humans have different nutritional requirements.
Ingestion of foreign materials.
Another factor that can cause constipation in small breed dogs is the ingestion of materials such as bone chips, hair, paper, cloth, plastic, among others, that cannot be digested by their body. These materials end up mixing with the feces, forming hard masses in the colon that make it difficult to evacuate.
Constipation in small breed dogs can occur when a dog goes from nursing to eating adult food, as there is a change in the digestive system. Also if you take him on a trip and change residence, he may notice differences in water and habits that will cause him to occasionally suffer an episode of constipation.
Decreased motility of the intestine
Your dog’s bowel motility may be slowed by taking certain medications, such as diuretics, iron supplements, antipeptics, antacids, etc.
There may also be a reduction in intestinal motility if the dog is very old and moves little or if he has neurological problems or diabetes.
Although it may be less likely, there is a possibility that your dog is voluntarily avoiding defecation. There are many reasons that can cause this voluntary withholding, especially because of stress or because he feels pain in his hips when defecating, etc.
Some condition or disease.
Some diseases such as colitis, anorectal obstruction, intestinal obstruction are also responsible for constipation in small breed dogs.
Another cause related to anorectal obstruction is an enlarged prostate, which protrudes backwards and compresses the rectum. This happens more frequently in older male dogs.
False constipation is caused by hair or strands clumping with the dry stool and impeding evacuation. It occurs in long-haired dogs, in which the skin becomes irritated, sore and infected, resulting in voluntary retention.
Dogs with false constipation are often very restless, licking their anus, rubbing against the floor and trying to evacuate in an upright position. You will also notice that the odor is very unpleasant.
Treatment consists of trimming the knots and clumps of hair to remove the cause of the obstruction. If the area is sore, it is best to have it done by a veterinarian under general anesthesia.
Constipation in puppies
A separate issue is constipation in puppies.
At Las Almenas we breed small or mini breed dogs and we are aware of the bowel movements of our nursing puppies who usually defecate after each feeding.
If they do not, we have to stimulate them to evacuate. To do this, after the feeding, we place the puppy on its back on our lap and put a soaker underneath. Using warm water, we wet absorbent cotton or gauze and gently wipe the genital area and then the anal area. A gentle belly massage is also very helpful.
This type of stimulation simulates that given by his mother with the tongue and provokes urination and defecation.
If you have a puppy with constipation and a day goes by without urination or defecation, you should see a veterinarian.
What happens if constipation is prolonged?
As mentioned above, constipation in small breed dogs is not a problem if it resolves in a couple of days. However, if this does not happen, vomiting, abdominal pain, lack of appetite… may appear.
Keep in mind that the longer your dog does not relieve itself, the more serious the problem will be. This is because the feces will accumulate and lose their water in the colon, which will make the stools harder and harder.
There may come a time when even the colon becomes damaged. This is the problem known as megacolon, which is the exaggerated dilation of the colon that may require surgery by your veterinarian.
Treatment for constipation in dogs
Although constipation in small breed dogs is not, in principle, a serious ailment, it is necessary that you take measures to prevent your dog’s discomfort and the problem from becoming more complicated. So the sooner you put remedy, the better. From Las Almenas we propose these simple solutions, but if you see that the situation does not improve, it is best to go to the vet.
You have to make sure that your dog consumes enough water. Hydration is essential for the stool to soften and be expelled more easily and painlessly.
To increase bowel movement, there is nothing better than daily physical exercise. You will see how this advice will help your dog.
Food with more fiber
Check the type of food you feed him. If it is processed food, check that it contains enough fiber and make sure it is wet food. If it is homemade food, it may need to be supplemented with fiber. If you have any doubts, we tell you what type of food is the most suitable: dog food or homemade food.
Pay attention to what your dog puts in its mouth.
No bones or chewy plastic objects that can clog his colon, keep this in mind.
Laxatives for dogs
If none of the above mentioned above ends constipation in small breed dogs, you can go to your veterinarian to get a prescription for some type of laxative for dogs. There are those that stimulate bowel movements, others help to concentrate water in the body to soften the stool, there are lubricants with oils that help evacuate and there are also laxatives for dogs that are based on increasing the amount of fiber.
Enemas for dogs
Like laxatives, enemas are solutions for your dog’s constipation that your veterinarian will prescribe if necessary.
As you can see, constipation in small breed dogs is quite common. Fortunately, if you get your dog to eat a healthy and balanced diet, accompanied by physical exercise, you will not have a problem.
However, if after 24-48 hours, the problem has not been solved, or starts to show other symptoms such as vomiting, apathy, pain, or if this situation is repeated recurrently, we recommend that you go to the vet. As we have already mentioned, the sooner you treat constipation in small breed dogs, the better.
We hope these tips will help you improve the well-being of your furry friend and put an end to constipation in small breed dogs. Share with us your opinions and doubts here below, in the comments box. You can also write us on our Facebook and Instagram profiles, as well as on Las Almenas YouTube Channel where every week we keep giving you the best tips for you to enjoy our doggy family!