Keeping an eye on your dog’s bowel movements is an important part of dog ownership. After all, you can’t help but notice when something is wrong when you bend down to pick up trash. Even if you don’t monitor your dog in the yard, it’s a good idea to pay attention to what he comes out with.
You may have noticed that your dog’s stool is harder and lumpier than usual. Or maybe you haven’t had to clean it for a day or two. Whatever the reason, you are almost certain that your dog is constipated. And you know you have to do something before he gets even sicker.
Most conventional veterinarians prescribe pharmaceutical laxatives. But prescription laxatives are not the best option. Natural laxatives are much safer and just as effective.
But before we talk about natural laxatives for dogs and other ways to relieve constipation naturally, let’s make sure we know why it occurs.
What causes constipation in dogs?
The most common reason for constipation in dogs is that they have eaten something they shouldn’t eat. It could be rocks, pieces of toys, or something they found in a bush during a walk. If they are large enough, they can cause intestinal blockages which, if left untreated, can be life-threatening.
But there are many other reasons for constipation in dogs…
Too much or too little fiber in your dog’s diet can cause constipation. Your dog may also have problems with bowel movements if his diet contains too much calcium (usually from bones) or fat.
If the constipation is due to too many bones in your dog’s diet, his stool will appear dry, chalky, and crumbly. Bone constipation is also common in dogs who are switched to raw food.
If your dog doesn’t get enough exercise, it can slow the movement of stool through the colon. This can cause the colon to absorb too much water from the stool, resulting in constipation.
The presence of dull hair around the anus can prevent the dog from expelling feces properly, resulting in constipation. The dog can also become constipated due to excessive grooming, which can lead to too much hair in the stool.
If the dog does not drink enough water, his intestines cannot add enough water to the feces before it reaches the large intestine. This can lead to hard, dry stools and constipation. To detect dehydration, perform a juicing test.
Press a fold of skin on the dog’s neck. It should pop back into place in a second. If it takes longer, the dog is likely dehydrated. Always provide fresh, filtered water to your dog. Adding a little bone broth can encourage him to drink more.
As dogs get older, their systems begin to slow down. Older dogs often have problems with constipation.
The dog’s brain and digestive system constantly communicate with each other. This helps regulate body functions. However, this also means that stress and anxiety can affect your dog’s digestive system. The most common stress-related digestive problems are diarrhea, stomach pain, and constipation.
Inflammation of your dog’s intestines or rectum can cause constipation and many other digestive problems. It can also lead to inflammatory bowel disease.
If your dog’s constipation started while taking a new medication, this could be the cause. Diuretics, antihistamines, and anticancer drugs are common causes of this side effect.
Some diseases can cause constipation. Dogs with hypothyroidism, enlarged prostate, or organ problems may suffer from constipation. Tumors of the digestive and excretory organs can also cause constipation and constipation.
If your dog has suffered an injury to the spine, hip, or pelvis, bowel movements may become more painful. This can lead to constipation if the dog doesn’t poop often enough.
Blocked anal sacs
The dog has a small sac on each side of the anus, commonly called the anal gland. These sacs release a small amount of liquid when the dog poops. The smell of this liquid helps dogs mark their territory and recognize each other. Sometimes, though, these anal sacs become clogged and can make it difficult for the dog to poop, which can lead to constipation.
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Symptoms of Constipation in Dogs
Dogs normally poop once or twice a day. However, if your dog is constipated, his bowel movements will be much less frequent. If your dog hasn’t pooped for more than 24 hours, he is most likely constipated.
Other signs of constipation are…
- Straining to poop (with or without a bowel movement).
- He screams while pooping
- longer bowel movements
- Stony feces that leave no residue when collected.
If your dog exhibits any of these symptoms, there are many natural treatments you can try to find relief. We’ll share some of them shortly.
When to call your holistic vet
If dog constipation is treated promptly, you can manage it at home with natural remedies. However, if it is left untreated, you may need professional help. If it has been more than three days since your dog’s last bowel movement or if you notice any of these more serious symptoms, contact your vet.
- Loss of appetite
- Swollen abdomen
- Abdominal pain
The Truth About Prescription Laxatives for Dogs
When dogs suffer from constipation, conventional veterinarians often resort to prescribing laxatives. However, these can be harmful to the dog. To understand why, let’s see what laxatives are and how they work.
What are laxatives?
Laxatives are substances or medications that promote bowel movements and relieve constipation by increasing the frequency or ease of bowel movements. When most people think of laxatives, they immediately think of prescription laxatives. And these are often the drugs that vets prescribe to constipated dogs.
Types of Laxatives | How do laxatives work?
Here are the three most common types of prescription laxatives and how they work:
- Filling laxatives: Help make stool larger and softer by retaining water in the stool. However, the dog must drink plenty of water when taking them, otherwise, there is a risk of bloating or constipation.
- Osmotic laxatives: they are not well absorbed by the body and therefore draw water into the intestine. This makes bowel movements easier. The most common osmotic laxatives are milk of magnesia, lactulose, sorbitol, and polyethylene glycol (PEG).
- Stimulant laxatives: work by stimulating the muscles of the intestine. They also cause the intestine to produce more fluids.
Sometimes senna and cascara are also found in herbal teas or natural remedies.
The most commonly prescribed laxative for constipation in dogs is lactulose. It is a synthetic sugar that draws water into the dog’s colon and feces.
The problem with prescription laxatives for dogs
The problem is that prescription laxatives don’t solve the underlying problem, they only relieve the symptoms. Additionally, your body can become dependent on these laxatives if you take them too often. The intestinal muscles lose tone and nervous response and are no longer able to expel feces on their own.
There are also many known side effects of laxatives, including abdominal pain, diarrhea, and dehydration.
Thanks to the many natural laxatives and other ways to make things work, there is no need to resort to prescription laxatives for dogs. If you decide to use them, always do so under the guidance of a professional. And never give your dog human laxatives, because they can be even more dangerous for dogs.
The best natural laxatives for dogs
Because prescription laxatives have many side effects and other risks, it is best to use natural laxatives. There are many gentle natural laxatives that can stimulate the intestines.
Aloe – Aloe vera is a natural laxative that helps stimulate muscle contractions and lubricate the digestive tract. It also has a high water content which can help keep your dog’s stool hydrated.
Use food-grade gels or fruit juices made from the inner fillet. Add up to ¼ teaspoon per 4.5 kg of body weight to your dog’s food.
Whether you buy fresh leaves at the grocery store or use home-grown ones, be sure to avoid aloe latex. This is the yellow substance found inside the leaf. It is often used as a laxative for humans, but is very toxic to dogs. Fresh aloe leaves will keep for 3 days in the refrigerator.
Apple Cider Vinegar – Some believe that apple cider vinegar can increase colon contractions to expel waste. (We’ll talk more about prebiotics to prevent constipation.)
When using apple cider vinegar, you should always mix it with your dog’s water or food. Never administer directly. The dosage depends on the dog’s weight.
Up to 14 lbs… 1 tsp.
15 to 34 lbs… 2 tsp
35 to 84 lbs… 1 tsp
How to eliminate dog constipation naturally
If the above natural laxatives don’t work, there are other strategies to get rid of them.
The first thing to do if your dog is constipated is to think about what he has eaten in the last few hours. Have you added anything new to his diet? Did he eat something he shouldn’t have?
If nothing obvious comes to mind, the next thing to look for are visible problems. These may include dull hairs, lumps, or foreign bodies at the opening of the anus. You also need to check for dehydration. To this end, you can perform the previously mentioned pinch test.
Finally, try taking your dog for a walk or playing fetch. Exercise can help reactivate your dog’s gastrointestinal tract.
If none of this helps, try these natural remedies. It is advisable to try them in no particular order and wait a few hours before moving on to the next. This way you will avoid putting unnecessary strain on the dog’s body.
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1. Fiber-Rich Foods
There are two types of fiber: soluble and insoluble. Soluble dietary fiber dissolves in water. When this happens, a gel forms which can improve digestion. They can help bulk up stools and increase nutrient absorption. Furthermore, they guarantee enrichment of the stool, preventing constipation and diarrhea.
However, if your dog is already constipated, he needs insoluble fiber. Insoluble fiber draws water into your dog’s stool, making it softer.
Fruits and vegetables such as squash, green beans, zucchini and carrots are good sources of insoluble fiber. They also have a high water content, which can help keep your dog hydrated.
3. organ meats
If your dog is constipated, add offal to his diet. This is especially effective if he is not used to offal (so don’t overdo it).
If offal is already part of your dog’s diet, add more until the constipation goes away. You can also try an organ preparation if fresh organs aren’t your thing.
3. lubricating herbs
Another way to relieve your dog’s constipation is to give him humectant herbs. They help increase mucus production and create a gel-like substance called mucus. Together, they help move feces out of the dog’s colon.
The most common herbs are
Marshmallow Root – Marshmallow root helps reduce inflammation, soothe the digestive tract, and moisten mucous membranes. It is particularly useful in case of mucus in the dog’s feces. Dog herbalist Rita Hogan recommends using marshmallow root capsules (size 00). Administer the following amount for 2 or 3 days.
Small dogs … ½ capsule (you can open them and divide the powder).
Medium-sized dogs … 1 capsule, twice a day.
Large breed dogs … 2 capsules in the morning and 1 in the evening.
Extra large breed dogs … 2 capsules, twice a day.
Plantain – The seeds and peel of the plantain are a good source of fiber. Plantain reduces inflammation and pain. It also helps detoxify waste. It is better to use a tincture. Give your dog 20 drops per 15 pounds of weight three times a day. If your dog is sensitive to the dye or has an autoimmune disease, dilute the tincture in one ounce of water.
Cicerchia – It is a very gentle laxative that helps soothe the digestive tract. It helps lubricate the colon and cool the tissues to soothe them. Use grass pea in the form of a tincture and follow the same instructions as plantain… 20 drops per 15 kilos. You can dilute it in a gram of water if it is easier to give to the dog this way.
Slippery Elm – Slippery elm works like marshmallow root to soothe and lubricate the digestive tract. Give your dog ¼ teaspoon of powder per 4.5 kg of body weight.
Flaxseed – Flaxseed is a good source of fiber and forms mucilage that lubricates the colon. Give the dog ¼ teaspoon per 20 kg of body weight.
4. Choose a stronger natural laxative.
If nothing else has worked, it may be time to choose a stronger solution. Even though these are natural products, it is best to use these options only when absolutely necessary and under the guidance of a holistic veterinarian.
Ask your veterinarian for the right dosage for your dog.
Senna – Senna can be very effective, but improper use can cause diarrhea. Prolonged use can also lead to addiction. Senna should not be used if intestinal blockage is suspected or if the dog has symptoms of abdominal discomfort.
Cascara sagrada – This laxative should not be used for constipation in nursing dogs. Mothers can pass it on to nursing puppies through their milk. Read on to learn about safe options for pregnant dogs.
Turkey Rhubarb – This herb is often used for digestive problems such as constipation. It is a short-term solution and can cause diarrhea and cramps.
Safe natural laxatives for pregnant dogs.
If you have a pregnant dog, it is especially important to avoid laxatives. Laxatives work by increasing movement of the digestive tract. This can lead to stress on the fetus and reproductive organs.
If the pregnant dog is constipated, it is best to focus exclusively on moistening the digestive tract with …..
- Flax seed
Why you shouldn’t use milk as a laxative
Some dog owners use milk for constipation in dogs. This works because most dogs are lactose intolerant…so it causes indigestion and diarrhea. But it can also lead to more serious problems. Therefore, it is better not to use milk as a remedy for dog constipation.
Chronic constipation in dogs
Constipation is a common digestive problem in dogs, but it is usually acute. This means it only lasts a few days and is often caused by a change in diet or routine.
Chronic constipation is a completely different matter. It can last for long periods of time. It can persist for years.
Chronic constipation is usually caused by impaired liver function or liver congestion. When the liver isn’t working properly, bile production slows. Bile is an important part of the excretory system. When there isn’t enough bile or the bile is too thick, fat builds up and slows the digestive tract, increasing the risk of constipation.
In case of chronic constipation due to liver problems, your holistic veterinarian may prescribe…
- Milk thistle
- Omega-3 fatty acids
These help protect and repair the liver so it functions properly.
Similar problems can occur if the gallbladder or bile ducts are blocked. The digestive system does not receive everything it needs to break down food properly and constipation occurs. In these cases, you can try dandelion root or Oregon grape. They improve the production and transport of bile to push stool out of the body.
Tonic for chronic constipation
If your dog suffers from chronic constipation, herbalists Mary Wulff and Gregory Tilford recommend this tonic.
2 parts dandelion root
2 parts marshmallow root
1 part Oregon grape
1 part yellow dock
You can also add 1 part of fennel to relieve flatulence.
Tinctures, teas or herbs can be used to prepare this tonic. If using herbs or teas, administer 1 teaspoon per 30 pounds of body weight two to three times daily. For the tincture, 1 ml per 30 pounds can be given two to three times daily.
How to Prevent Constipation in Dogs
Because constipation can come and go, it’s important to know how to prevent it. The most important step is to make sure your dog doesn’t eat anything he shouldn’t. But I know that’s easier said than done (especially with the stealthier dogs). So here is some other advice.
- Feed Raw
Raw food is easy on the digestive tract. This helps reduce inflammation and irritation. Plus, it contains all the natural vitamins and nutrients your dog needs to stay healthy. This way its systems work properly.
- Feed fruit and vegetables.
This goes hand in hand with raw food, but even if you opt for dry food, you can add fruits and vegetables. Why administer them? They are rich in fiber, which helps regulate bowel movements.
- Add digestive enzymes
Digestive enzymes help break down food. This is important because undigested food can cause constipation and constipation. Digestive enzymes also help your dog absorb more nutrients from his food.
Digestive enzymes are especially important if your dog eats processed foods. This is because digestive enzymes are destroyed when heated. If your dog eats raw food, he will absorb the enzymes naturally. However, some holistic veterinarians recommend digestive enzymes for all dogs, even if they are fed raw.
- Add prebiotics and probiotics.
Prebiotics and probiotics help improve your dog’s digestive health. Prebiotics are indigestible soluble fibers that feed probiotics. Probiotics are healthy bacteria that enter the dog’s large intestine where they ferment prebiotics and provide health benefits.
If you use a probiotic supplement, there are also those with prebiotics. Or you can use prebiotic foods such as mushrooms, berries, dandelion greens or garlic.
Digestive problems are common in dogs… whether it’s constipation, diarrhea, or another intestinal problem. The good news is that there are natural ways to prevent and deal with them. So, before you resort to conventional medications, try some of these safe and effective natural remedies.
Can I give my dog a natural laxative?
Using natural laxatives for dogs should be done under the guidance of a veterinarian, as the specific treatment depends on the cause and severity of the constipation. Some natural remedies can help alleviate mild cases of constipation, but it’s crucial to consult with a vet before administering any treatment. Here are a few natural laxatives that are sometimes used for dogs:
Pumpkin Puree: Canned, plain pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling) is high in fiber and can help soften stools. It’s often used to relieve mild constipation. The recommended dosage depends on your dog’s size and should be determined by your vet.
Dietary Fiber: Adding more fiber to your dog’s diet can help prevent constipation. This can include incorporating foods like cooked, unseasoned vegetables (e.g., green beans or carrots) into their meals. Consult your vet for specific recommendations.
Exercise: Regular physical activity can help stimulate bowel movements and promote overall digestive health.
Probiotics: Probiotic supplements can sometimes help with gastrointestinal issues, but their use should be discussed with a vet.
How can I relieve my dogs constipation fast?
Relieving your dog’s constipation quickly requires a careful approach. Here are some steps you can take to help alleviate constipation in your dog:
Consult Your Veterinarian: Before trying any home remedies, it’s essential to contact your veterinarian. They can assess the severity of the constipation and provide guidance on the best course of action.
Increase Water Intake: Ensure your dog has access to clean, fresh water at all times. Hydration is crucial for maintaining healthy bowel movements. You can also encourage drinking by adding a small amount of low-sodium chicken or beef broth to the water.
Dietary Changes: Consult your vet for advice on dietary changes. They may recommend adding fiber-rich foods to your dog’s diet, such as plain canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling) or cooked vegetables like green beans. Be sure to follow your vet’s guidance on appropriate portions.
Exercise: Physical activity can help stimulate bowel movements.
Laxatives or Stool Softeners: Your vet may prescribe a stool softener or mild laxative for your dog. Never administer human laxatives to your dog without veterinary approval, as they can be harmful.
Regular Toilet Breaks: Ensure your dog has ample opportunities to go outside for bathroom breaks. Create a routine to encourage regular bowel movements.
Massage: Gently massaging your dog’s abdomen in a clockwise direction can sometimes help stimulate the bowels. Be gentle to avoid causing discomfort.
Probiotics: Probiotic supplements can promote gut health and regularity.
Avoid Potential Causes: Identify and eliminate any potential causes of constipation, such as foreign objects or inappropriate items your dog may have ingested.
Remember that if your dog is experiencing severe or persistent constipation, it may indicate an underlying health issue that requires professional evaluation and treatment. Always consult your veterinarian for the best course of action to address your dog’s constipation.
FAQ: Natural Laxatives For Dogs
What is a homemade laxative for a dog?
I’m not a veterinarian, but I can offer some general information about homemade laxatives for dogs. If your dog is experiencing constipation, it’s essential to consult with a veterinarian before attempting any home remedies, as the underlying cause of the constipation should be determined and addressed properly.
What laxative can I give my dog to poop?
It’s essential to exercise caution when considering laxatives for your dog, as using the wrong laxative or dosage can be harmful. Before administering any laxative or medication to your dog, consult your veterinarian for guidance and approval. Your vet will be able to recommend the most suitable laxative based on your dog’s specific needs and medical history.