It's not the most exciting part of owning a dog, but occasionally every owner finds himself standing impatiently at one end of the leash while his dog strains to do his business at the other end. Thankfully, dogs don't get constipated very often. "But every dog may occasionally get blocked up, and no matter how much they strain, they can't seem to finish what they started," says Rance Sellon, D.V.M., assistant professor in the Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences at Washington State University in Pullman. It's not always easy to tell when dogs are constipated, adds Dennis Jensen, D.M.V., a veterinarian in private practice in Houston. In fact, dogs that are straining often have diarrhea. The only way to tell the difference is to take a close look. With constipation, your dog will have little to show for his efforts.
Constipation can make your dog very uncomfortable until it passes. Here are a few ways you can help.
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- High-fiber foods are a great way to stop constipation because dietary fiber enlarges stools, which helps them pass more quickly through the body. Canned pumpkin is a super fiber food that vets recommend and dogs love. Mix some with your pet's food until he's regular again.
- Dried beans are one of the highest-fiber foods and they make a great addition to your dog's meals. Because they take forever to cook, use canned beans. Dogs love canned green beans.
- Veterinarians usually advise not giving table scraps to dogs because they can make the stools too soft. But when your dog has constipation, a little softening may be just what he needs. So indulge him with raw or cooked vegetables, but avoid dairy and other high-fat foods, which may give him diarrhea.
- Another way to keep your pet regular is to mix some Metamucil in with his food. This over-the-counter product is made from psyllium seed husks, a potent natural laxative. Give half a teaspoonful to small dogs, and two teaspoons to larger dogs. Avoid giving Metamucil to dogs with a history of colitis or other bowel conditions.
- Like any other muscle in your dog's body, the large intestine works best when it gets plenty of exercise. Taking him for regular walks (15 to 20 minutes twice a day) will go a long way to keep him regular.
Occasionally, dogs become constipated due to bone fragments. Your dog may have a hard time passing the bone fragments because they're very sharp and they scrape the inside of the large intestine or rectum as they move along. This causes severe pain and may require a visit to your veterinarian. Talk with your veterinarian about alternatives to giving bones to your dog. There are many bone-like products made with materials that are safe for dogs to chew on.2
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