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Help! My Senior Dog Has Constipation

Shaggy dog trying to poop in a field of dead grass

Constipation is a common problem in dogs, especially as they grow old. In most cases, simple remedies, like changing your canine’s diet, can improve the situation. However, if your pup seems to have chronic constipation, you must contact your vet immediately to prevent any severe complications. Read on to know more about the causes, symptoms, and useful remedies (and treatments) of senior dog constipation. 

What Causes Constipation in Senior Dogs?

The following reasons can make it difficult for your pooch to defecate.

Inappropriate Diet

This is the most important factor when we talk about constipation in dogs. This is because an optimal amount of fiber is needed in your pup’s diet to prevent dry and hard stools. Lack or excess of this nutrient will disturb the regular functioning of a dog’s digestive system. Likewise, dehydration can also lead to difficult defecation because the water in the GI tract is scarce.

Other than that, consuming any indigestible material (like cloth) can also result in constipation. The irritating substance will crumple up in the intestines to cause the blockage.     

Lack of Exercise

Old balck and white dog being lazy on a porch

Dogs with inactive lifestyles are more vulnerable to constipation. Hence, senior dogs often face this problem as they grow old because their physical activity is minimized. For this reason, it’s imperative to give your canine friend enough exercise to keep their bowel movements effective.


Anxiety can disturb the proper functioning of a dog’s digestive system. This disturbance in the bowel movements will result in irregular stools and difficult defecation.


Close up of dog hair matting

The chances of constipation increase many times if your dog’s hair are matted around his/her bottom. Excessive grooming is a likely cause of this type of matting. Therefore, it’s highly recommended to keep the fur around your pup’s bottom short. You can also contact a professional groomer to get rid of these irritating mats.

Medical Reasons

Constipation is a symptom of various diseases and medical conditions. The most common ones among them are discussed below.

Digestive Tract Diseases – Any problem with your dog’s colon can result in constipation. This is because the colon is the place from where water is absorbed into the body. If it is absorbing too much moisture, the stools will become hard and dry. Similarly, tumors in the digestive tract can also cause constipation.

Prostate Enlargement – This condition is limited to unneutered, male dogs as it is caused by testosterone. An enlarged prostate makes it difficult to poop because it pushes on the rectum. Consequently, your senior dog will suffer from constipation.

Arthritis – Dogs tend to squat while defecating and any pain (or discomfort) will make them “hold” for too long. This will make the stools harder and it will be difficult to eliminate them.

Symptoms of Senior Dog Constipation

Old Boston terrierlaying down in a furry blanket

Some of the most common signs of a constipated dog are as follows.

  • Discomfort
  • Going without defecation for 2-3 days
  • Trying hard but unable to produce stool
  • Difficult and painful defecation
  • Hard and dry stool
  • Mucus and blood with stool

What to Do if My Senior Dog Has Constipation?

Tan dog with head tilted, outdoors

Most cases of dog constipation can be managed through home remedies. However, if they are not working, you will need the services of a professional veterinarian to resolve this issue. Let’s discuss some of the most effective remedies and treatments to counter senior dog constipation.

Keep Your Dog Hydrated

Hydration is crucial for the formation of soft stools and easy defecation. Therefore, it’s important to ensure that your pooch drinks plenty of water. Although it will prevent your senior dog from developing constipation, some canines don’t like to drink water. In that case, you can add some broth to the water to make it more appealing.

Provide Sufficient Exercise

Cocker Spaniel running down a beach

Increasing the physical activity of your dog can be quite useful to improve his/her bowel movements. Hence, you can take your senior companion on longer walks or schedule an additional play session to counter constipation. If the situation doesn’t improve in a couple of days, visit your vet for a detailed examination. Keeping your dog active can also be used to prevent constipation in the first place.

Feed Pumpkin

Canned pumpkin is an excellent (and probably most common) home remedy for dog constipation. This high-fiber food is completely safe for canines and can solve the problem very quickly. Just make sure that the pumpkin puree you are using is 100% pure. This is because many commercial products can have other ingredients that are dangerous for dogs.  

Give Fiber Supplements

Fiber powder being mixed into a glas of water

In some cases, dietary changes are not sufficient and your vet would suggest fiber supplements for your dog. They will help in regulating bowel movements and easing the discomfort. Never feed these supplements without consulting a vet because specific dosages are needed for every pup.

Try Canned Dog Food

Your vet might recommend a prescribed dog food with extra moisture and fiber in it. This diet can help your dog’s digestive system to recover and produce softer stool. You can also mix these products with your pup’s regular food to minimize the chances of an upset stomach.

Use a Stool Softener

CLose up of red and white stool softener gel caps spilling from a bottle

Although human stool softeners are also used by some owners, it’s not recommended to use them for dogs. This is because these softeners can worsen the situation for some breeds. Therefore, it’s highly advisable to ask your vet for a dog-safe stool softener to regulate your pooch’s bowel movements.

Administer Enema

This is used as a last resort to ease the discomfort of dog constipation. Enema is a fluid that is injected into the lower bowel through the rectum. Owing to the sensitivity of this procedure, you should always get professional help for administering an enema.

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