What is Constipation?
Constipation is a common problem of the digestive system. All animals can suffer from constipation, but older dogs are most prone to the condition. The term ranges from less frequent bowel movements than normal to more difficult passage of stools or a combination of both. Being constipated can make your pet feel uncomfortable, bloated, heavy and sluggish.
Regular elimination of waste products from the animal body is vital to maintaining health. If waste is not removed your animal’s system is polluted and at risk. The colon is the organ in the animal body that gets rid of waste, toxins and bacteria. It contains and moves waste materials throughout the body.
When the waste materials become clogged inside the colon, constipation occurs. Because the colon walls are so thin, clogged waste material that stays in the colon too long can result in the leakage of harmful toxins and bacteria through the colon wall and into the body to cause further complications. If the colon is not in regular use it can become weak finding it difficult to move or pass waste through the body.
The signs and symptoms of constipation in animals include:
- Abdominal bloating
- Cramps or abdominal pain
- Experiencing hard, compacted stools that are difficult or painful to pass
- No bowel movement or the urge to move bowels
- Loss of appetite
Related symptoms include:
- Flatulence with the inability to pass a stool
- Coated tongue
- Nausea and appetite loss
What Causes Constipation?
Constipation can result from a number of factors and they include:
- A diet low in fiber (lacking whole grains, bran, fresh fruit and vegetables)
- Insufficient intake of water
- An inactive lifestyle
- Medical conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), underactive thyroid gland (hypothyroidism), spinal injury, kidney failure, colon or rectal cancer, too much calcium in the blood, tumors and lesions of the bowel can all result in constipation
- Changes in the environment
- Poorly healed pelvic injuries
- Medications given your pet for other ailments (such as antibiotics).
- Parasite infestations
- Blockages caused by ingested, and undigested, grass or bones.
It is important to monitor your pet’s bowel movements. Indoor cats are easier to monitor as one can check the sandbox. Look out for any changes in stool color or consistency. Veterinarians stress that it’s important to be aware of any signs of constipation early on and deal with them quickly.
Long standing constipation can lead to a condition called megacolon – a stretched and flaccid colon no longer able to contract as it should. If you notice any changes in your pet’s bowel movements take your animal to your vet for a check up.
Help for Constipation
Various treatments can help to ease the symptoms of constipation and promote a healthy digestive system. Conventional medication, complementary therapy and natural remedies together with a high fiber diet and regular exercise will keep your digestive system regular.
If your animal is constipated, conventional laxatives are often prescribed. Giving your pet a mild laxative, if advised by your vet, can solve the problem. However, keep in mind that smaller dogs are likely to require smaller amounts than larger dogs – make sure you get the correct dosage from a professional. Enemas are also performed, however it is not pleasant and may be stressful for your pet. If a blockage is suspected, x-rays may be needed.
There are many natural and holistic treatments that can help with constipation and promote easier digestion for your animal, without the side effects commonly associated with veterinary prescribed drugs. Treatments such as herbal and homeopathic remedies can restore balance and regularity to the digestive system and bowel. Psyllium nigrum husk and Avena sativa (Oats) are very high sources of dietary fiber and has been used for centuries to promote regular bowel movements.
Aloe Ferox is known for its beneficial effect on digestive functioning and acts as a natural system cleanser while Natrium Muriaticum helps to maintain the body’s water balance and is an essential component of all living cells helping to ease constipation, diarrhea, vomiting, indigestion and bloating. Remember to source your natural remedies from reputable companies to ensure maximum effectiveness and safety.