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Puppies poop—a lot! They are growing quickly and it is part of their metabolic function at this stage.
While you might feel a bit relieved if they suddenly start pooping less often, constipation can be a serious issue for puppies.
It usually diminishes their appetite, which means they aren’t getting the energy and nutrition they need during this crucial time of growth.
So, what can you give a puppy for constipation?
How Often Should Puppies Poop?
Your puppy will often let you know when something is wrong with their behavior, but then it is up to you to divine the problem and discover a solution.
This is why you should always keep an eye on your puppy’s daily routine, including their bathroom routine, as noticing changes is usually the quickest way to make a diagnosis.
Growing puppies in the first six months or so of their lives need to poop a lot. You can expect them to defecate four or five times a day.
As they grow, the frequency with which they do their business should decrease, and most adult dogs might only go once or twice a day.
Puppies poop so often because they haven’t yet learned to control their bowels and “hold it” until an appropriate time. They also tend to eat more frequently, which means more frequent trips to the loo.
Small puppies, less than a month old, often can’t poop on their own. They need their mothers to lick their backsides in order to stimulate the need to go.
But after about four weeks, they should be able to go independently and usually get the urge shortly after eating.
Even when they start on solid foods at about 8 weeks of age, they will still probably poop 4-5 times a day. It is only around 12 weeks that they start to be able to hold it and go less often.
But, of course, all of this information comes with the caveat that “normal” is different for every dog, just like it is for every person.
So, you should get to know your dog’s routine so you can spot any worrying changes.
If your dog poops a lot more or less than the averages that we have suggested above, this is probably not a problem as long as they are consistent.
Why Do Puppies Become Constipated?
Many different factors can lead to constipation in puppies, but some causes are more common than others.
Puppies explore the world with their mouths, which means they are often picking things up.
Swallowing certain objects can affect digestion, as they can puncture the intestines or cause an obstruction. When there is an obstruction, feces can become cement-like masses that block the colon.
A poor diet can also lead to constipation, especially if they aren’t getting enough fiber. Without fiber, stools are often dense, sticky, and difficult to pass. Dehydration can have a similar effect on your young dog.
Just like with humans, stress can also be a factor. Puppies often find themselves taken away from their mothers and birth homes and taken to new homes with new people. As much as you love them, this can be a scary experience.
They may subconsciously choose not to defecate because of their strange surroundings. The more they hold it, the more likely they are to give themselves involuntary constipation.
Some breeds, especially those with longer hair, can also cause themselves constipation through self-grooming. They can swallow their hair, which develops into hairballs that block their digestive tract.
If the hair beneath the tail becomes matted with feces, this can cause inflammation in the area, which makes pooping painful. This again will cause puppies to try not to defecate, which can result in involuntary constipation.
How Do You Know If Your Puppy Is Constipated?
You will probably realize that your puppy is constipated when they start pooping less. Also, when they do go, their feces are often hard and dry.
They may also have a reduced appetite since their stomach feels heavy and potentially painful, so they don’t really want to put anything else into their system. Your dog’s behavior will also be a clear indicator that something is not right.
You can expect them to appear restless, perhaps pacing or squirming in discomfort. You may also notice them sniffing the floor as if they are looking for somewhere to go but nothing happens.
They may start to bark or whine to show their pain and frustration. They may do this while in the squatting position to go, which is a clear indication that this is what is causing them distress.
Some puppies may also become aloof and want to stay away from you and the rest of the family when their stomach is not feeling great.
How Long Before You Should Worry About Constipation?
While constipation is never good, your puppy’s body may deal with the problem itself within about 24 hours.
So, if your dog doesn’t poop for a day, you should monitor them and try and help them, but it is not yet time to panic.
If 48 hours pass, though, it is time to take more aggressive action to deal with the problem.
The Dangers Of Constipation For Puppies
Aside from discomfort and general unhappiness, extended or chronic bouts of constipation can be a health concern for young dogs.
It often interferes with their appetite and eating, which means they aren’t getting the nutrients and energy they need while they are in this fast stage of growth.
It doesn’t take long while undereating for puppies to lose significant weight or for their growth to become stalled.
Chronic constipation can also affect your puppy’s bowel lining and it can become inflamed. This can result in constipation, or diarrhea, as mucus is expelled from the bowels with anything else they have inside.
What To Give A Puppy For Constipation
If you find yourself with a constipated puppy, what can you give your puppy to help restore their normal bowel movements?
Increase Their Fiber Intake
Your principal focus should be to introduce more fiber into your puppy’s diet so their body corrects itself naturally. There are a variety of natural sources of fiber that you can give your dog.
Pumpkin is both high in fiber and high in water content, so it can help with both a lack of fiber and lack of hydration in puppies.
It is easy to slip a bit of pumpkin into their food if they are eating. Just puree fresh pumpkin or use canned pureed pumpkin. Make sure there are no additional spices added.
QUICK RECOMMENDATION: We give our puppies with upset tummies puree pumpkin from the grocery store (make sure there are no added ingredients). We also buy smaller packages of Weruva Pumpkin Patch Up from our local pet store.
Bran is another high-fiber food that can safely be added to your dog’s bowel to help their body correct the situation naturally.
If your dog is currently constipated, bran could make up a quarter of their bowel contents, to give them an immediate and big fiber boost.
Use Natural Hydrating Supplements
If your puppy is passing infrequent but hard and dry feces, this could be a sign that hydration and lubrication in the intestinal and bowel tracts are a major problem.
There are a variety of things you can give your dog to naturally hydrate and lubricate these areas.
If they are eating dry kibble, consider switching to wet food, or mixing some of it in with their kibble. This contains lots of moisture that your puppy will probably want to gobble up.
Powdered psyllium seed can naturally pull water into the stool, which can help it move along more easily. Mineral oil and aloe ferox can also have a lubricating effect.
At the same time, make sure your pup is drinking plenty of water. Clean, fresh water should always be available. If they don’t seem that interested in drinking, then dry giving them chicken broth instead. The meaty smell is usually enough to entice any dog.
If they seem like they are in major distress and don’t really want to touch anything, then consider giving them ice chips to lick. This can be comforting to a distressed and dehydrated dog, and even this bit of water can make a difference if they are dehydrated.
Introduce Probiotic Supplements
Giving your dog a probiotic and enzyme supplement can also help restore their gut health and help them naturally fight off whatever is causing their constipation.
Try these top picks from Chewy:
- Zesty Paws Probiotic Bites – Pumpkin and papaya provide natural fiber and enzymes, and each chew contains six live probiotic bacteria that encourage gut health. Plus, the chews make an excellent treat for training or soothing unhappy pups.
- Nutri-Vet Pre & Probiotic Soft Chews – These chews contain probiotics to restore gut health and probiotics to encourage your dog’s digestive system to cultivate its own essential microorganisms. Each yummy chew contains one billion CFUs or beneficial bacteria cultures and prebiotic inulin.
- PetHonesty Digestive Probiotics Chews – This is another pumpkin-based chew containing probiotics to support digestive health. They are made in the US to national standards with no GMOs, wheat, corn, soy, or artificial preservatives.
While your dog may not feel like moving much while they have an upset stomach, a bit of exercise can help get things moving. This massages internal organs and increases blood flow to the colon to help things along.
You could also try a light stomach massage. But don’t be surprised if your dog pulls away. They may not want to be touched around their stomach if they are in digestive distress.
If you have tried natural remedies and nothing is working, then, in consultation with your vet, a laxative might be what your dog needs to get things flowing again.
Your vet may give you a prescription, or they might suggest something like Milk of Magnesia, which can be bought over the counter.
You will usually see movement within 1-6 hours after giving your dog a laxative. If your puppy is still suffering after this, on rare occasions a vet may suggest an enema.
How To Prevent Constipation In Puppies
How do you stop constipation in puppies? While you can’t control everything, especially the tendency that puppies have to put things they shouldn’t in their mouths, there are things that you can do to reduce your puppy’s risk of developing constipation.
Keep your puppy well-groomed, especially around their rear end. Keeping this area clean will prevent painful infections that can interfere with regular bowel movements.
Regularly groom puppies with longer hair, so they don’t end up self-grooming excessively and swallowing too much hair that can interfere with their digestion.
Put your puppy on a good-quality diet that is high in protein and has lots of healthy fats, but also a suitable amount of fiber to aid healthy digestion.
Puppies should be eating foods that are between 3-5% fiber. Avoid foods with artificial additives, as these can also irritate the stomach, resulting in constipation or diarrhea.
Contrary to popular opinion, most dogs have no problem with grains at all. But if they do develop regular constipation and they have grain in their diet, it can be worth consulting your vet just to rule out celiac disease. But bear in mind that this is quite rare in dogs.
Also, monitor your puppy’s liquid intake. Some dogs don’t like to drink a lot of water, and that can leave them dehydrated. If they won’t drink water, try chicken broth. The smell is often too good for them to resist.
QUICK RECOMMENDATION: We are currently feeding our guide dog puppies in training Purina Pro Plan – Puppy Formula.
Do your best to make your puppy feel safe, secure, and happy at home, something that is likely at the top of your agenda anyway.
Also, make sure to teach them to go on different surfaces, including grass, dirt, and concrete, so that they are never stuck feeling like they don’t have anywhere appropriate to go potty.
Never punish puppies for going in the “wrong place.” The fact is that while they may understand that they are being punished for pooping if you catch them in the moment, it is often unclear what specifically they have done wrong.
Rather than realizing that they should do their business somewhere else, they might think they need to hold it generally, leading to constipation.
You should also work on the “leave it” command so that you can get your puppy to drop anything from their mouth that looks suspicious and you don’t want them to swallow.
Of course, you need to see them eating it to prevent it, which is not always possible. Besides, puppies need to be able to explore the world with their mouths.
What helps a constipated puppy?
Constipated puppies need plenty of liquids and a big fiber boost. Pureed pumpkin is high in fiber and maybe something they are willing to eat if they are feeling unwell. If they are on dry kibble, consider switching to wet food for a while.
How do I know if my puppy is constipated?
You will probably see that your puppy is in discomfort, and they may cry or strain while in the position to try and defecate. You should also be monitoring their bathroom habits and notices that they aren’t going, or that their feces are hard and dry.
Is it normal for puppies to be constipated?
While it is certainly not normal for a puppy to become constipated, it can happen quite often, especially since they have a tendency to swallow objects that can cause obstruction.
Puppies might also struggle to poop for the first few days after arriving in a new home due to stress.
It is hard to see your puppy in distress, and constipation can cause them quite a bit of discomfort and anxiety. Extended or chronic periods of constipation can also have a major impact on their health.
Growing puppies need a constant source of energy and nutrition, which means eating regularly. Constipation can interfere with that and with their natural growth and development.
It is always best to try natural remedies first to encourage your puppy’s own system to right itself.
This usually means giving them lots of fiber and keeping them hydrated, but probiotic supplements can also play a useful role. A little bit of exercise to warm up the internal organs can also make a difference.
If your puppy’s body doesn’t right itself, you will need to talk to your vet. If nothing else is working, they may give you a laxative for your pup, to provide immediate relief. After that, it is about getting them on a healthy, high-fiber diet.
Have you dealt with a constipated puppy?
What worked for you?
Share your experiences with the community in the comments section below.
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DISCLAIMER: We are not veterinarians. This article is for entertainment purposes only. If your puppy is experiencing any health problems please contact your veterinarian immediately.
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