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Constipated Dog (Dog won't poo), Blocked Bowel
What to Do and What Not to Do

Constipation: A constipated dog spends longer than usual defecating (eliminating, pooping), and the resultant stools are small, round, and hard. You can bet that if your dog is constipated, he's uncomfortable.

One of the main causes of constipation is insufficient water, often coupled with too much time between outdoor potty breaks.

How to help your dog

  • Make sure your dog always has plenty of fresh water to flush her intestinal tract.

  • Add vegetables to her diet.

  • Give plenty of exercise, either walking or playing fetch or anything which will stimulate her bowels.

  • Offer canned pumpkin in its pureed form (not pumpkin pie filling)

  • Give one teaspoon full of salmon or olive oil for a dog but much less for a puppy.

  • Offer  a small bowl of milk.

  • Using a warm (not hot) moist wash cloth, gently apply slight pressure on her tummy while stroking downward toward the anus. This action mimics the natural way a mother dog uses her tongue to help her pup to eliminate trapped gas while encouraging the elimination of waste and urine. 

 If you will be away from home for a long time, arrange for a neighbor or a professional pet sitter to let your dog out to relieve himself. Never withhold water from your pet as this could set him up for kidney problems and other behavioral issues. Prevent constipation by adding vegetables to his diet. Many people use a combination of cut green beans mixed with wetted dry dog food.

Exercise is a great constipation cure. Depending on the age and health of your dog, a long slow walk for older dogs or a vigorous game of fetch for a younger, healthy dog, does a great job of kick-starting a sluggish bowel and will have your dog as regular as clockwork in no time.

Milk will often help a constipation problem as dogs even reluctant to drink water will most often drink milk when offered. A small bowl of milk should solve the constipation problem. Be advised his stool may be a bit runny afterward but it should last no more than two to three bowel movements at the most.

Canned pumpkin in its pureed form (this is not sweet pumpkin pie filling) is also a great stool softener and a natural remedy for constipation. It helps soothe an upset stomach or indigestion in both cats and dogs. It is very rich in fiber and adding just one or two teaspoonfuls to your pet's food often gets their system moving in no time. Dogs may eat it by itself and that's all right too.


DO NOT give laxatives to a constipated dog! Over-the-counter laxatives are more likely to do harm than good. Laxatives cause diarrhea and diarrhea causes dehydration. Dogs can become dehydrated much more quickly than humans and laxatives may contribute to gastrointestinal discomfort as well.

Q: I have a four week old puppy that is constipated. I have been giving it cottage cheese, goats milk and baby suppositories per my vets instruction but nothing helps. What else can I do?

A: Before attempting anything, remember how a mother dog helps her young offspring to eliminate waste. Using her tongue, she gently but firmly licks in a downward motion from the bottom of his ribcage to the end of his tummy. Now we are not recomming you use your tongue to do this but instead, use a warm, moist cloth and gently rub the puppy's stomach (belly, tummy) in a downward motion toward his anus (or bottom). Do not use force but rather a firm but gentle stroking motion.

If the pup is very small, use a moist cotton ball instead of the cloth. The warmth of the cotton ball or cloth, combined with the gentle downward motion should help your puppy eliminate, ending his constipation problem. If this does not work, read on.

Rarely does a puppy ever become constipated, but if one does, this can be easily corrected by using children's Castoria or by giving an enema. An enema can be given, using a #8 feeding tube, attached to a syringe (without the needle of course), filled with approximately 2 to 5 cc's of warm (not hot) water (the amount depends on the size of the puppy).

Put a dab of K-Y Jelly (or Vaseline) on the end of the tube and gently insert it into the rectum, maybe an inch (again, how far in, depends on the size of the puppy). Gently and slowly push the plunger of the syringe until the liquid is entirely emptied. Within a few minutes, you will get results. Constipation rarely occurs in puppies that are nursing, but it can be a frequent problem in hand-raised litters, especially if the water amount in the formula is not sufficient. If constipation continues to be a problem in the hand-raised litter, a tablespoon of Karo syrup can be added to the formula.

Blocked Bowel

How do you know if your dog has a blocked bowel? The information above regarding constipation may also apply.

Has your dog been vomiting? If a dog starts throwing up for long periods of time, it could be a blockage, even if they have diarrhea.

Is your dog drinking plenty of water? Dehydration can occur very quickly and and sometimes IV's are necessary.

If you suspect your dog has been in distress more than two days, do not delay in seeking prompt medical attention for your dog. Inability to eliminate waste (or poo) can cause his system to become septic which would set him up for many other problems. Your vet will want to do an x-ray and/or blood work. Depending on your vet, sometimes they can tell you what to do over the phone once you have discussed your dog's symptoms.

See also: Bloated dog and emergency treatment