If your dog hasn't pooped for several days, you may be concerned about your dog feeling discomfort and pain. Constipation in dogs is not very common as it is in humans, therefore a dog that hasn't pooped for several days may warrant some investigation with the help of a veterinarian, especially if your dog seems to be acting uncomfortable. If your dog hasn't pooped for several days, skip human enemas, as these can be toxic to dogs. See your vet instead as he or she may be able to provide you with safe medications so that your dog can get relief.
First, Is it Really Constipation?
If you suspect your dog is constipated, you need to really ask yourself if your dog is truly constipated in the real sense of the word, or if you are just seeing signs that look like constipation but your dog is actually suffering from something else.
For example, many times dog owners assume their dogs are constipated when they watch their dogs in the yard from the window and notice them straining and nothing comes out.
These dogs move from one area to another trying to produce something but it seems like nothing comes out. However, many times dog owners are totally unaware that the dog has had a lot of diarrhea prior to that, and when their dog is straining, he is producing tiny drops of diarrhea that are not visible from a distance.
In this case, most likely the dog is suffering from a bout of colitis. Colitis causes dogs to produce diarrhea (often with mucus and blood) and a typical sign is tenesmus. Tenesmus is the medical term for the sensation of needing to empty the large bowel of stool, even if there is little or nothing left to expel. In the cases of colitis, and its accompanying diarrhea, as one may imagine, the treatment is the total opposite of a case of constipation, hence the importance of differentiating the two.
If you are absolutely sure your dog is not suffering from colitis and you are positive that your dog hasn't pooped for several days (meaning that you are always with your dog when he is outside in the yard or on walks pooping), then read on for some possible causes and what you should do.
" It is very common for a dog with diarrhea to actually look impacted because they are trying to defecate often but not passing much."~Dr. Christian, veterinarian
My Dog Hasn't Pooped For Several Days
If your dog hasn't pooped for several days, it warrants spending some time wondering what may have happened. Dogs don't get constipated as often as humans do, and when it happens, there is often a reason for the bowels slowing down.
For instance, if your dog has recently had diarrhea, consider that it's very common to not produce a bowel movement for about 2 to 4 days. This happens because after the diarrhea, the intestines are completely empty and therefore it may take several days for the dog to produce a bowel movement, explains veterinarian Dr. Peter.
Something similar may happen after surgery. The dog has fasted overnight and maybe is also drowsy from the anesthesia or has some post-surgical pain, and therefore may not have a bowel movement for a day or two after being released from the hospital.
If your dog is the type that tends to swallow parts of toys or foreign objects, not pooping for several days may be a concern because it may be a sign of an intestinal blockage. Affected dogs typically have abdominal pain, vomit and may have nausea and may not want to eat. In some cases, the presence of a mass, such as cancer of the bowel, may act as foreign object blocking the normal passage of poop. Other possible causes of mechanical blockages include enlarged lymph nodes or an enlarged prostate in male dogs. Eating things that are poorly digested such as bone fragments, may at times make passing the stools difficult.
Pain can be a cause for constipation as well. If a dog has a rear leg injury or problems in the spine, he or she may feel pain when assuming the position for defecating. Some dogs may have problems with their glands which makes passing stools also painful. Other conditions that may predispose dogs to constipation include hypothyroidism, hypokalemia, dysautonomia and lesions affecting the spinal cord. Medications such as opioids, diuretics, antihistamines, sucralfate, potassium bromide, benzodiazepines may also promote constipation.
In many cases, though things aren't necessarily so dire. Dogs may suffer at times from primary constipation that is not related to any disease process but may be related to eating foods that bind like rice or bread or indigestible material that may increase fecal bulk (bone fragments). The stress of a new move or fear of something in the yard may also cause a dog to not poop regularly. If the problem persists though or other symptoms appear (lethargy, loss of appetite vomiting, fever) you should consider seeing the vet for proper diagnosis and treatment.
At the Vet's Office
If your dog hasn't pooped for several days, there are risks for complications to occur. As the feces stay in the dog's colon for some time, they become prone to getting dryer and harder, ultimately making them more difficult to pass.
This can lead to a case obstipation, where the colon and rectum are so impacted with hard, dry feces that natural defecation is no longer possible.
If your dog hasn't pooped for several days, your dog may make frequent attempts, he or she may assume a hunched-up posture and some dogs may cry when trying to defecate.
Irritation caused by the impacted feces may at times cause mucus and fluid to bypass the impaction and be expelled. Left untreated, long-lasting constipation may cause he dog to lose his appetite, vomit, become lethargic and dehydrated. If your hasn't pooped for several days and is showing symptoms, see your veterinarian.
Mild cases may respond with simple dietary adjustment (high-fiber bulk foods like pain canned pumpkin), encouraging the dog to drink and/or the use of suppositories, and/or laxatives given as directed by a vet. If there is an impaction this may need to be addressed by the vet. Your veterinarian can confirm large amounts of retained fecal matter by abdominal palpation. He or she can then administer a safe enema. Severe cases may beforehand require correction of dehydration and electrolyte imbalances.
Several tests may be performed to determine why the dog is constipated in the first place. Your vet may check your dog all over for signs of pain. The vet may then do blood work so to check the organs which may at times be a cause for causing dehydration (liver or kidney issues). X-rays can check whether there are blockages.
Based on your vet's findings, treatment may vary. Constipation is ultimately not pathognomonic (specifically indicative) of any one particular disorder, but several, and therefore, treatments may vary between one dog and another based on the underlying cause.
" High-fiber diets require adequate patient hydration to work; otherwise they will contribute to further fecal impaction. Options for high-fiber diets include commercial diets, wheat bran, oat bran, canned pumpkin (1-5 tbsp/meal), or psyllium (1-5 tsp/meal)" ~Dr. Karen Teft, DVM