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How Long Can a Dog Go Without Pooping?

Pug pooping in grass

The shortest answer to this question is that a dog can go up to 48 hours without pooping. This means that if your pup hasn’t pooped in 2 days, you should immediately take him/her to the vet. In the case of puppies, the safe duration to go without pooping drops down to just 12 hours. Although constipation, in itself, is generally NOT dangerous for canines, it can create serious problems, if left untreated.

For instance, persistent constipation (called obstipation) results in a condition called Megacolon. This happens when a continuous buildup of fecal matter enlarges the colon to a point where the dog can’t poop on its own. This is an awfully painful condition and it may require surgery in extreme cases. Keep reading to know all about canine constipation and its treatments.

Reasons for Constipation in Dogs

There are many causes that can make it difficult for your dog to poop. Some of the most common among them are listed below.

  • Lack of fiber in the diet
  • Dehydration
  • Insufficient physical activity
  • Worm infestation
  • Blockage of the anus by matted hair
  • Stress
  • Side effects of medications that are prescribed for other problems
  • Kidney problems
  • Enlarged Prostate
  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Central nervous system disorders
  • Injuries
  • Tumors

Symptoms of Dog Constipation

White dog pooping in yard

The biggest and the most obvious symptom of constipation is that your dog hasn’t pooped for over 48 hours. In addition to that, there are several other signs that can indicate the presence of this condition. The following list covers many symptoms of constipation in dogs, including serious medical implications.

  • Straining to defecate
  • Crying in pain while pooping
  • Dry, stone-like stools
  • Loss of appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Traces of blood and mucus in the fecal matter
  • Lethargy
  • Urinary tract infection
  • Anorectal obstruction
  • Colitis

When is Constipation Dangerous for Dogs?

Pug at vet being examined

Constipation is usually NOT regarded as a critical medical emergency. Having said that, it can be a sign that something’s wrong with your pup. For example, a dog suffering from heart issues may try to survive without pooping because of the strain of defecation. In this case, your pet will need immediate veterinary assistance to control the situation.

Similarly, the canine who hasn’t pooped for more than 2 days is at a high risk of developing obstipation. This is a painful condition and the vet will have to evacuate the colon by putting the dog under anesthesia. Other than that, the extended accumulation of fecal matter within the body can also cause sepsis. This is an extremely serious condition that could lead to a long-term hospital stay or even death.   

How to Treat Constipation in Dogs?

basset hound laying on bed with pink wall and blanket

Most cases of dog constipation are fairly easy to treat and can be managed at home. However, you should always consult your vet before administering a treatment because a small mistake can prove quite costly. For instance, it can worsen the condition of your dog or cause harmful side effects.

In extreme cases, the dog may have to be hospitalized for removing the impacted fecal matter. This type of treatment is mostly needed if your pup is suffering from chronic constipation or obstipation. Although the chances are quite rare, canines can also develop a medical condition called Megacolon. In this case, the vet may have to perform a surgery to treat the problem. 

Home Remedies for a Constipated Dog

Below are some of the home treatments that are effective for treating simple constipation in dogs.

Hydration

Close up of dog drinking water

It is very important for the health of your pet to drink water. It eases the process of defecation by hydrating the dry, hard stools that the dog is trying to pass.

Unfortunately, most canines are NOT very fond of drinking water. Consequently, you have to find an alternate way to add more water in their diet. Bone broth is quite helpful for this purpose because dogs love it in their meals. In addition to that, it also provides useful minerals and electrolytes to your puppy.

Fiber-Rich Diet

Pumpkin is an excellent source of fiber. For this reason, it is often added in the diet of a constipated dog to ease the condition. Likewise, you can also feed other fiber-rich ingredients, like bran, to your companion.

Increased Exercise

dogs on leashes running on beach with owner

Lack of physical activity is one of the biggest causes of constipation in dogs. If your dog is passing long spells without pooping, try to schedule some extra walks for him/her. This may help in relieving the discomfort by working the stool out of the body. Exercise is also one of the recommended methods to prevent constipation.

Stool Softeners and Laxatives

Chemicals, like Milk of Magnesia and Laxatone, offer another possible solution to treat dog constipation. The laxative properties of these compounds increase water in the digestive tract to induce bowel movements. Even though they can be effective, stool softeners should NEVER be administered without consulting your vet.  

Prebiotics and Digestive Enzymes

Prebiotics can help treat or prevent constipation because they improve the growth of good bacteria in the gut. Similarly, the use of a quality digestive enzyme could also assist the treatment.   

How to Prevent Dog Constipation?

closeup of Yellow labrador with bowl of food

Whether your dog has recovered from constipation or you want to prevent it in the first place, a balanced diet is the best method to keep your pup healthy. Other than that, make sure that your pet is drinking sufficient amount of water and is getting regular exercise.

Likewise, avoid giving your canine bones and other materials that can cause obstructions upon ingestion. Neutering is also effective for reducing the chances of constipation (caused by prostate enlargement), especially in male cats.

Summary

Dogs poop 1-3 times in a day, but they can go without pooping for up to 48 hours. Having said that, you must visit the vet immediately, if your canine hasn’t pooped for more than 2 days. Although constipation is normally NOT a medical emergency, it’s better to keep your pup safe. After all, prevention is the best cure.

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