As with humans, pets can also get constipated. There are several causes of constipation in pets. For cats who groom excessively for example, they ingest a lot of hair which ends up in their stools which can lead to constipation and in such situations dealing with the constant grooming will often alleviate the constipation. With dogs, they can get into the habit of eating constipation inducing materials such as gravel, stones, or plants. Also, if your pet is on any kind of prescription medication, constipation can be a side effect. In addition, certain dietary deficiencies can cause constipation and for this reason it is important that if you notice your pet suffering from prolonged constipation you visit a veterinarian. Other than these reasons there are a number of other factors that can lead to constipation in your pet: electrolyte imbalances in older pets leading to constipation may be a sign of kidney failure and internal obstructions may also lead to constipation. Clearly, while seemingly insignificant, constipation can be a serious issue for you and your pet beyond the fact that it can be physically uncomfortable for your animals.
Symptoms and Diagnosis
The symptoms and diagnosis of constipation in your pets are quite similar to the symptoms and diagnosis you would expect in humans. You’ll probably notice that your pet’s stools are much harder and smaller than you would usually see. Furthermore, your dog or cat will defecate much less frequently and may strain to achieve defecation. Diagnosing constipation can ultimately be done by your veterinarian but you can also watch for these common signs of constipation. If you are concerned that your pet is constipated and have noticed a drastic change in bathroom behaviour you may want to visit your vet.
Treating episodic constipation is best achieved through the use of an enema but remember that your pet is not going to be too keen on this type of treatment and so you should not try to do it yourself. If you attempt to administer an enema to your pet on your own be aware that this treatment may cause your pet to bite or scratch and messes are common.
If an enema is not effective, some veterinarians will recommend a short course on a prescribed medication. Stool softeners like laxatone or lactulose are common medications that are used in humans as well as pets. Another type of common prescription is one that will increase the muscular strength of the large intestine like ciaspride.
There are number of home remedies that have been shown to be effective. Administering a bit of mineral or caster oil orally can help to relieve episodic constipation. This treatment must be undergone carefully though as mineral oil is an odourless and flavourless liquid that can be easily inhaled into the respiratory system. As a mineral substance, mineral oil cannot be naturally removed from the body and your pet’s immune system will continually attempt to fight its presence.
Perhaps the best first treatment for episodic constipation is a diet change. Try adding some fibre to your pet’s diet to see if this will help to alleviate the constipation. Regardless, if your pet is experiencing difficulty with constipation then a highly digestible diet is necessary.