Dog and Cat Constipation – When Should Pet Owners Be Worried?

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Cats and dogs go through some bouts of constipation, and fortunately, the situation is temporary.  But when should you be worried?

By David Huner, Guest Blogger

Cats and dogs go through some bouts of constipation, and fortunately, the situation is temporary. Constipation is defined as the inability to produce normal stool regularly, which is different from diarrhea, where stool becomes more frequent than usual. Dogs and cats that suffer constipation will not go at all to ease themselves, or they find it stressful to defecate or produce some hard rock stools. Not all constipation issues must be taken lightly. There comes a time when you should take your pet for veterinary examination.

Causes and Handling Constipation in Dogs and Cats

When it comes to handling constipation in your pet, perhaps the first step you must take is to get the regular cleanup supplies such as the scooper. The Best Cat Litter Scooper should be made with all-metal with a solid core. It should also come with a sifter alongside a deep shovel design to make the stool’s packing very efficient at a go. It should be able to sift clear litter and must be light, durable, and comfortable to use always.

Constipation may also be referred to as an infrequent or absent of bowel movements in the digestive system. It is characterized by hard and dry stool, and some animals may excrete mucus in an attempt to eliminate stool. There are several reasons why your pet may become constipated; excess or too little fiber in the diet, lack of physical activities, Blocked or restricted anal sacs, enlarged prostate gland, excessive self-grooming leading to a collection of hair in stool, Matted hair growing around the anus as a result of excess weight or lack of grooming, tumors around the anus obstructing stool passage, medication side effects, Trauma within or around the pelvis, orthopedic issues causing problems when the cat or dog attain a position to excrete, neurologic problems and dehydration issues due to underlying issues.

Neurologic problems may force some dogs to consume more fluids than usual, a situation that may not lead to softening of stools but rather more hardening. If your cat or dog is the outdoor type, the animal may also consume some non-food substances that may trigger constipation. The cat or dog may also pick up pieces of leftover foods that have spoilt while you walk them; such behavior may also lead to constipation. Giving pets human food is also a major cause of constipation.

When You Should Become Worried

Not all constipation situations should give you some sense of urgency; for instance, some symptoms of constipation are quite similar to those of urinary tract infection. If your dog has no bowel movement or didn’t pass out stool in a day, you may want to wait until the third day before seeing a doctor. You should also check in to a veterinary doctor if your dog cries or crouches before passing out stool. That may be a sign of chronic constipation that requires urgent attention.

Elderly cats and dogs are known to have higher risks of chronic constipation, but the issue may occur in a pet suffering from one or more of the potential causes mentioned above. If constipation in your pet cat or dog is left untreated, several aggravated issues can surface. For instance, obstipation is a condition that occurs when constipation is left untreated. This is a situation where the cat or dog is unable to empty the colon on his own. In this situation, the colon area will be packed with a large amount of stool that creates some discomfort for the animal and can be challenging to handle. When too much stool pools in the colon, it can lead to vomiting, lethargy, loss of appetite, and unproductive straining.

Once you decide to consult a veterinarian over the issue, some treatment options will be presented before you, depending on the type, cause, and severity of constipation. In most cases, the veterinary will recommend a laxative or any other appropriate stool softener.

Another treatment option that may be recommended is using medications that can increase the contractile strength of the animal’s large intestine. If the problem occurs as a result of a lack of fiber in diets, the veterinarian may recommend naturally adding more fiber. For instance, a canned pumpkin or wheat bran may be recommended as additions to the pet’s food. Certain products like Metamucil may also be recommended. In case the problem was caused by excess fiber, the doctor may recommend a complete change of diet. If the situation was brought about by a lack of activity, you might be advised to schedule physical exercises for the cat or dog.

In the case of chronic constipation, a method known as “Enema” may be recommended. This method of constipation treatment must not be handled at home but by a professional because of the risks of increased toxicity or injury that may occur if the procedure is not managed correctly.

In cases where there is partial or complete blockage of the anus or rectum, the veterinarian may recommend surgical options to eliminate such blockages to create room for excretion. Grooming may also have to be monitored and handled by professionals to prevent injuries around the anal region, leading to difficult excretion.


In the process of diagnosing the cause of constipation in a cat or dog, several questions may be asked. As the pet owner, you must be prepared to answer the question of when last did your pet had a bowel movement? You must also be aware of the stool consistency and color, alongside any recent changes in the dog’s diet and eating routine. You must be mindful if your dog has eaten non-food items before, during, or after the commencement of noticeable symptoms of constipation. You must also record any injuries being treated currently and the kind of treatments for other ailments you might have to administer on the pet.  Information on other signs of constipation, especially lethargy,  bloating, and vomiting, may also be requested by the veterinarian.

About the author

David Huner has always been a dog lover, which is why it’s not a surprise that he decided to combine business and pleasure and become a dog trainer. But, keeping his dog-training knowledge to himself was never his plan. Instead, he wanted to share his knowledge with the world, which is why he created a blog called Now he is sharing lots of tips and tricks there.

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