Puppy Constipation: Causes, Remedies, and Prevention

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As a dog mom, I know it’s the worst feeling when something goes wrong with your dog and you don’t know how to fix it.

One of the first times I experienced this was when Maggie had her first round of constipation.

She was just a puppy at that point.

She’d only been home for a week.

I immediately began to worry and called the vet to make sure I hadn’t done something wrong.

The vet’s office gave me great advice, and I read into it further after I got off the phone.

Here’s what I learned and why constipation shouldn’t really worry you.

How to Tell if Your Dog is Constipated

Being proactive about your puppy’s health is always a good idea, and you can definitely be proactive when it comes to your dog’s regular bowel movements.

The first thing I noticed in Maggie was that she stopped drinking water as frequently.

Being a puppy, she had been drinking water constantly, so I figured she decided she was hydrated.

The next thing that many dog owners will be able to spot is that her bowel movements changed.

I took her out to use the bathroom in the morning and the consistency of her stool was much different.

Constipated stool will be much like it is in humans. Some signs you can look for include:

  • Dry stool
    no dog pooping sign constipated canine cannot defecate
    Maybe your dog took this sign too literally?
    Photo by David Swayze (CC BY-ND 2.0)
  • Harder stool
  • Darker stool
  • Stool that breaks into pieces

I didn’t worry at that point, because at least she was still pooping (thankfully, not in the house).

That’s when she stopped.

She didn’t have a bowel movement for a day, and that was fine. Maybe she didn’t get enough water or exercise.

The next day, the same thing.

I increased her walks and nothing changed.

After three days, I placed the call to the vet.

They said that along with the symptoms she was exhibiting, she may demonstrate some other ones too:

  • Squatting and circling on the ground
  • Whining or flinching while trying to eliminate
  • Not eating her food or appearing eager to eat
  • Occasional vomiting
  • Passing mucus in stool

Thankfully, Maggie didn’t have any of those symptoms, but it wouldn’t have been the end of the world if she had.

What Causes Constipation in Puppies?

To fully understand puppy constipation, you have to learn about what can cause it.

An Increased Amount of Anxiety

Puppies go through a lot of stress and anxiety when they are introduced to their new home.

They’re used to where they were raised for the first eight weeks of their lives, so all the newness can be scary.

If a puppy doesn’t feel safe or comfortable, the anxiety can manifest in their gut and cause constipation

Consider if your puppy has been overly shy or cautious to determine if anxiety may be a factor.

Some products, such as the ThunderShirt, can help relieve your pup’s anxiety!

Foreign Objects in the Digestive Tract

dog puppy chewing on a roll of toilet paper intestinal blockage foreign object
Silly hooman, you’re using toilet paper wrong!
Picture by Taro the Shiba Inu (presumably with human help) (CC BY 2.0)

No matter how closely you monitor your puppy, their desire to teethe on everything means they’re going to end up eating things they aren’t meant to eat.

Maggie’s favorite forbidden snacks were pillow stuffing, toilet paper, and the pages from the novels on the lowest bookshelves in my office.

Most of the time, what your puppy eats will be able to pass through their digestive tract, but it may make the digestive tract freeze up for a bit.

Here are some signs that the intestinal blockage won’t work itself out:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Constant drooling
  • Rigid abdominal bloating
  • Pain when lying down

Your puppy’s system may take some time to process foreign objects, but if they take longer than 48 hours to get back on their normal schedule, you may need to call your vet.

Licking Themselves Too Frequently

Without their mom to groom them, puppies quickly discover that they can lick themselves to get clean.

This is completely normal, but it could make them swallow a lot of loose fur.

Dogs can get hairballs this way, and if they don’t puke the hair up, it can cause constipation.

Keep an eye out for similar signs of intestinal blockage if their constipation lasts longer than 48 hours.

What to Do About Canine Constipation

While you wait out the constipation, there has to be something you can do to help your puppy, right?

Here are some tips you can try:

Go For a Walk

take dog for walk to relieve constipation exercise activity blood flow
A sure-fire way to make sure your dog poops is to forget the poop bags

Taking your pup out for a longer or more frequent walks could be all you need to do to cure their constipation.

Exercise encourages proper blood flow, which lets their gut work properly.

If your pup tires out quickly on walks, let them rest for a bit before continuing on.

As cute as they are, carrying them home when they get tired won’t help the situation.

Give Them More Water

After you’ve spent a few nights waking up every two to three hours to let your pup go outside, you may feel that they could do with less water.

Puppies actually need greater amounts of water than adults.

They’re still growing, and water is key to healthy development.

Make sure your puppy gets at least one ounce of water per pound of body weight every day!

Give them plenty to drink during the day and then remove the water bowl at least two hours before bedtime for easier nights.

Soft dog foods, such as those sold by NomNomNow, contain more water than dry food and can help ensure your dog is adequately hydrated.

Spend More Time With Them

puppy anxiety can lead to constipation snuggle cuddle with dog to ease gastric discomfort
A happy puppy is a smooth puppy, in a manner of speaking

Since anxiety can play such a major role in a puppy’s gut health, do what you can to spend more time with them.

Take them for walks and play with them to make them more comfortable.

Even if you just let them nap on you, you’re still developing that bond that will make them feel at home.

As their anxiety eases, they’ll have an easier time going to the bathroom.

What Can You Give a Constipated Puppy?

Now that you know what you can do to help your constipated pup, you should learn what you can give them if their constipation seems more severe.

Home Remedies

Home remedies can be quick, easy, and exactly what your puppy needs

Add More FiberNummy Tum Tum organic pumpkin for pets to add fiber to diet

Like humans, pups may need more fiber in their diet to digest food properly.

You can add one to two teaspoons of canned pumpkin to your pup’s meals.

Start with small doses and move up to two teaspoons twice a day until you see improvement.

Give Them Coconut or Olive Oil

Olive oil is a natural supplement that essentially greases the digestive tracts

After being dehydrated for a while, this could be all your puppy needs to get back on tract, along with an increased amount of water.

Try adding a teaspoon of olive oil to your puppy’s food.

Do not administer with a syringe, as it could increase their anxiety to experience the forced oil.

Soak Their Food

Even if you leave more water in their water bowl, your puppy may not seem interested in drinking more.

Soaking their food guarantees that more water is getting to their digestive system.

Administering their food this way for a couple days could fix the constipation problem.

OTC Remedies

Sometimes constipation can be more severe, so home remedies may not sound like they’ll pack enough of a punch.

Try these over the counter remedies and call your vet if you have any questions about a product.

Psyllium Husk PowderNOW psyllium husk powder soluble fiber to increase stool size softness promote defecation

Psyllium works by absorbing excess water in the gut and directing it to the colon, where it increases the size of feces and pushes it out.

One teaspoon for puppies up to ten pounds can be given twice a day, but make sure to administer it with extra water so it’s effective.

A good way to do this is to mix in the powder with soaked kibble.

Docusate Sodium Tablets

Docusate sodium tablets pull water and fats from the digestive system into sedentary stool, allowing it to easily be passed.

Puppies under 20 pounds can have one 20 mg capsule at least once or twice daily.

Start with one tablet once a day, since giving your pup too much of this product can cause cramps and diarrhea.

How to Prevent Constipation

After you have discovered how to help your puppy out of their constipation issues, there are steps you can take to prevent it from happening again.

Watch Their DietBlue WIlderness puppy dry dog food nature's evolutionary diet with chicken

What foods does your puppy eat?

Do you keep them restricted to their dog food, or do you give them human food scraps?

Dogs struggle to digest human food like carbs, sugar, and grains.

If they stick to kibble that’s been designed for their digestive system, they’ll more easily digest and process their food into waste.

Making your own dog food can give you the opportunity to tailor your dog’s food to their diet without having to experiment with expensive dog foods!

Keep Them Active

Active dogs have an easier time going to the bathroom because their body has been circulating blood effectively.

Walk your puppy at least once or twice each day to prevent constipation, and give them plenty of play time when they’re not out on walks.

Monitor Their Water Intake

Is your puppy drinking water regularly?

Monitor their water bowl and keep track of how often you have to refill it.

If you don’t think you’re refilling it enough, soak their kibble to hydrate them.

Conclusion

Maggie’s constipation ended up being related to her food.

Her breeder had been giving her expensive kibble that I couldn’t afford, so the change in brand when she came home was a shock to her system.

With a little more water and exercise, she was totally fine.

Try out some of these home remedies for your constipated pup, and always call the vet if you have any questions or if your pup hasn’t had a bowel movement in over 48 hours.

puppy bowel bowl movement how to get dog to poop
As opposed to a “bowl” movement

FAQs

What to Feed a Constipated Dog?

Food that’s high in fiber is good for a constipated dog to eat.

Changing to a high fiber kibble or supplementing their meals with canned pumpkin are both good options for concerned pet parents.

Can I Give My Puppy a Laxative?

Puppies and adult dogs cannot have human laxatives.

Humans need a more heavy duty laxative than dogs, so sharing this medication most often overdoses dogs and causes severe cramps, diarrhea, and vomiting.

There are dog stool softeners, though

When Should I Be Concerned About My Dog’s Constipation?

Sometimes, puppies don’t poop and that’s normal.

Not even humans have a consistent bowel movement schedule that never changes.

If your pup hasn’t pooped in 24 hours, try home remedies to fix the problem.

If the constipation persists for 48 hours, call your vet to discuss the next steps you can take and if your pup should come in to be checked.

Still Have Questions?
Ask a Vet!