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Maris for dogs

Holistic Canine Constipation Support

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Understanding Constipation in Pets

Vet Talks 4 min read
An orange cat lies in front of a litter box.

Constipation in pets is a common reason for pet owners to seek veterinary care. Constipation occurs when they have infrequent and difficult bowel movements, resulting in very dry, hard stools due to prolonged fecal stasis in the colon. Obstipation refers to severe and persistent constipation, while megacolon involves generalized distension and loss of motility in the colon.

Constipation and obstipation can affect animals of any age, breed, or sex because the causes are very diverse.

What Causes Constipation in Pets

Constipation can result from various diseases affecting the colon, leading to delayed transit of feces and absorption of excess water and salts. It can be linked to pain or difficulty during defecation, causing the dog to avoid bowel movements, which worsens the condition over time.

Constipation and obstipation can also result from spinal cord injuries, paraplegia, and nerve damage that affect the region and compromise the activity of the smooth intestinal muscles.

Endocrine disorders, such as hypothyroidism, and electrolyte imbalances, like hypercalcemia, hypokalemia, and dehydration, can also cause intestinal constipation. Medications such as opioids, aluminum hydroxide, sucralfate, and anticholinergics can have constipation as a side effect.

Dogs of different sizes and breeds have distinct physiological characteristics that can impact their likelihood of experiencing constipation. Small dogs are prone to constipation due to their digestive traits, such as a shorter intestinal fermentation time and a longer intestinal length relative to body weight.

Obstruction caused by parasites, neoplasms, prostate problems, hair, or foreign bodies may hinder the normal passage of feces, leading to constipation.

Signs Your Pet has Constipation

Constipation and obstipation can affect animals of any age, breed, or sex because the causes are very diverse.

Signs of constipation include straining to defecate and passing firm, dry feces. Some pets may also show signs of illness such as lethargy, depression, loss of appetite, vomiting, and abdominal discomfort.

If you notice these symptoms, take your pet to the veterinarian, and inform them if your pet eats bones, litter, or other hard objects.

Diagnosing Constipation in Dogs, Cats, and Other Pets

During diagnosis, veterinarians consider factors such as medications, diet, environment, and behavior. They may conduct fecal examinations, physical and rectal examinations, and blood tests. Additionally, they might perform abdominal X-rays and a rectal exam, and conduct further tests as needed, such as ultrasonography, and colonoscopy to identify the underlying causes.

Managing Pet Constipation

Initial treatment focuses on symptomatic relief, but uncovering the root cause is important to prevent irreversible issues. Surgery may be necessary in cases of obstructive or compressive lesions or when conservative measures fail.

In more severe instances, a veterinarian may be required to employ enemas or manual extraction under general anesthesia to eliminate retained fecal matter. If they are suffering from persistent constipation or megacolon does not exhibit improvement with standard medical treatments, surgical excision of the affected portion of the large intestine may be warranted.

It is important to provide both cats and dogs with additional integrative support, such as a diet that promotes maximum digestibility and nutrient absorption, and natural supplements to support their gastrointestinal health.

To manage mild constipation, switch to a high-fiber diet, prevent your pet from consuming bones or other objects, make sure water is readily available, and create more opportunities for defecation and natural supplements to support this condition.

Avoid using human laxatives, as they can be harmful to pets. Use only veterinarian prescribed laxatives, and be sure to follow their instructions carefully.

Supplements for Pet Constipation

NHV Maris is an herbal supplement that has laxative properties and can help with constipation in pets. It works by creating softer stool, which makes bowel movements easier and reduces strain. Maris also promotes healthy movement through the colon by stimulating bile flow and lubricating irritated digestive tissues.

NHV TumFlora is a supplement that may help reduce inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract and improve natural intestinal flora in pets. It can be beneficial for easing symptoms associated with gastrointestinal issues, such as inflammation of the GI tract. TumFlora also has antibacterial properties and may aid with blood in the stool, and lethargy.

NHV Probiotics & Prebiotics may also be handy. Probiotics are live microorganisms, such as bacteria and yeast, that can potentially restore the natural microorganisms in a healthy gut. They are crucial in supporting the digestive tract and addressing digestive problems like Inflammatory bowel disease (IBS), diarrhea, and constipation. Prebiotics, on the other hand, are substances that provide nourishment for the beneficial bacteria in the gut.

Dr. Barbara Benitez DVM, MS

Dr. Barbara Benitez DVM, MS

Dr. Barbara is a veterinarian from Brazil with a specialty in pet nutrition. She completed her Bachelor’s degree in Veterinary Medicine in 2006 from the University of Uberaba. In 2010, Dr. Barbara received her Master’s of Science in Pet Nutrition from the Federal University of Minas Gerais. She has over 15 years of experience in research and development in the pet food industry. When Barbara isn’t helping pet parents, you can find her spending time with her family, including her senior dog, Caze.

Published: June 17, 2024

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