Puppy Constipation: Causes, Remedies and Prevention

constipated puppy

A healthy puppy should have 2 to 3 bowel movements in a day. If your puppy goes for 24 hours without passing stool, exhibits infrequent bowel movements over a few days and has difficulties defecating because the stool is dry and hard then he is certainly experiencing constipation.

Related: Top 5 High-Fiber Dog Foods 

A constipated puppy will appear restless, uncomfortable and sometimes even in pain. It is common for the dog to lose appetite and move around much less than usual.

While seeing your puppy in distress is heartbreaking, there are steps you can take to make her feel better. Read on to understand what may be causing the problem, what you can do to relieve it and how to prevent it from happening again.

Why my puppy is constipated?

Constipation occurs when solid waste remains in the puppy’s colon for too long and almost all the moisture content is absorbed. The stool becomes hard and dry, causing difficulties in passing it. There are several causes of this.

1. Diet

A puppy’s diet greatly affects its bowel movements. If the water and fiber content in a diet is not enough, constipation can occur.

Fiber, specifically insoluble fiber, plays an important role in easing the movement of digested food material through the intestines. Not only does it help prevent constipation, it also results in good quality poop. This is stool that is bulky and solid (not too hard and not lose either).
Adequate hydration on the other hand ensures that stool has enough moisture content to move through the bowels and get expelled without difficulty. Before you start giving your pet more water, first make sure that dehydration is the underlying cause of constipation. If there is another problem, giving more water will not help.
Another aspect of diet that can cause constipation is low quality food; specifically, cheap and highly processed food. It can cause digestive problems for your puppy. Highly processed foods have very little fiber and have preservatives and chemical dyes added to them. The combined effect of all these issues can result in constipation as well as other health problems.
Finally, sudden changes in diet can also cause constipation. If for instance you suddenly change from canned food to dry food, the shock to the digestive system can result in constipation or diarrhea. Making gradual changes over a period of a few days will be easier on the puppy’s digestive system.

2. Stress

If you have just brought your puppy home and she is already constipating, the problem might be stress. Dogs are very susceptible to emotional distress in stressful situations. Bringing a new puppy home exposes it to a new environment. The stress in turn affects digestion, often causing food not to be fully digested. The excess waste causes a build up in the colon, causing constipation.
Puppies under stress, for one reason or another also tend to have increased muscle tension. This inhibits the smooth passing of waste.
In most cases, this problem will resolve on its own as the pet gets used to the new situation. But if it persists beyond two days, consider seeing a vet.

3. Colon obstruction

Partial or complete blockage of the colon can prevent proper bowel movement, leading to a buildup of waste and irregular or no defecation.

One of the most common causes of colon obstruction is the ingestion of indigestible stuff. Puppies are naturally curious and will eat almost anything they can get into their mouths.

This includes your favorite sock or underwear, plastic grocery bags, small plastics and small toys. When ingested, they obstruct the large intestine causing a slowdown in bowel movement and in
very serious cases, bring movement to a complete stop. If you suspect complete obstruction, see a vet immediately.
Some puppies also tend to lick themselves a lot, they can swallow a lot of fur in the process. This is especially the case for longhaired breeds. The fur accumulates in the alimentary canal and forms into balls that can cause colon obstruction.
Another form of obstruction occurs at the very end of the large intestine, the anus. For dogs with long hair around this area, it can sometimes get tangled and prevent bowel movement. This is referred to as Psuedoconstipation or mechanical constipation.

4. Medications

Be careful of the medications you are currently administering your puppy. Certain medications have been found to cause constipation. They include those used to treat diarrhea like PeptoBismol and anti-histamines used for allergies.
If you suspect that a specific medication is causing constipation, cease administration immediately and consult your vet. It is also essential to clear with your vet before giving your pet any drug, even over the counter ones.

5. Disease

Puppy constipation can also occur as a symptom of another more serious illness. Disease like tumors, bacterial infections, perineal hernia and kidney disease can affect the digestion process, leading to constipation. Some of them like kidney disease cause too much water to be absorbed from the stool, leaving it dry and hard. Others such as tumors create obstructions that affect the movement of waste out of the body.
It is important to treat or manage the underlying condition first before trying to remedy the constipation.

6. Lack of adequate exercise

Letting your puppy sit around all day raises the risk of constipation due to poor digestion. Moving around helps in easing bowel movements.

7. Surgery

The combined effect of anesthesia administered during surgery and the lack of activity after slows down the digestive system. Any food eaten tends to build up in the colon, creating a risk for constipation.

Treating Constipation in Puppies

puppy constipation

As you contemplate on what remedies to use on your pet’s constipation, it is essential to know what you should not use. Do not give your puppy any human laxatives. These are designed for use by humans, not animals. Giving them to your pet risks adverse side effects. If you have to use any human laxatives, consult your vet first. He or she will advice you which laxatives are the safest.

In any case, there are laxatives designed specifically for pets. A good example is Lactulose.
Something else you should not give your dog is mineral oil. For one, most of them are not effective against constipation. Secondly, it can cause permanent damage if inhaled into the lungs.
Also stay away from high fiber human grains. Your pup may be constipating due to inadequate fiber, but giving it human grains might make the situation worse. Consult your vet first. Lastly, do not attempt to give your dog an enema or suppository without talking to your vet. Some enemas are highly toxic to puppies.
Here are some safe and effective remedies you can try:

1. Pumpkin

Many pet owners swear by the effectiveness of pumpkin in relieving puppy constipation. Just mix some pumpkin, fresh pureed or canned pureed (plain), with high quality puppy food. Just a tablespoon per meal should be enough. Add only a teaspoonful for a young puppy. You can also divide canned pumpkin into small pieces and freeze. Thaw them later and give to your pup as treats.
Pumpkin contains high fiber and water content, which can help bulk up and loosen the stool. Continue this treatment until constipation passes. You may also choose to make pumpkin a regular part of its diet.
Other remedies with a similar bulking effect include bran cereals, squash and methylcellulose.

2. Vet-approved laxatives

For a quicker result, laxatives can be of great help. Just make sure that you consult your vet before using any laxative, especially one meant for humans. For complete safety, consider using a pet laxative like Lactulose. Make sure that you use the right type and amount of laxative depending on the age and size of your pet.

3. Over the counter remedies

Laxatone has been specially designed to combat swallowed hairballs that obstruct bowel movement. It is also a mild laxative. Certain other OTC medications work by triggering stronger contractions in the large intestine. This helps to move stuck waste along. Ask your vet for recommendations on the most effective over the counter constipation remedies.

4. Vet-administered enema

Never attempt to give your puppy an enema at home. There are serious injury and toxicity risks to your dog. Only opt for an enema as a constipation remedy when the vet has recommended it. Even then, it is best if the vet is the one to administer the treatment.

5. Milk

If you do not want to use an over the counter laxative, a good alternative is cow’s milk. Normally, milk causes diarrhea since the body cannot digest lactose. But this effect is exactly what you need to get the bowels moving again. So at the price of a little diarrhea, you can easily combat puppy constipation.
Mix a quarter cup of milk with its food or give it to the puppy on its own. Within one to two days, you will have no problem of the puppy not pooping. For a larger puppy, give a half cup of milk with every meal.

6. Hydrate and exercise

Check that your pup is drinking plenty of clean, fresh water. This can help mitigate the severity of constipation. Additionally, get the dog more active. Increased activity helps to create easier bowel movements.

7. Massage

If your dog is really in pain and distress, a quick way to calm her down is by massaging her tummy. Use a warm cloth and apply a little pressure as you massage downwards toward the anus. Like a mother licks her pup’s tummy after nursing, massage helps to stimulate bowel movement.

8. Special dog food

Ask your vet if it is okay to give your puppy food that is specially manufactured for consumption by constipated pets. This food contains extra fiber content. Other commonly used remedies include milk of magnesia, oil (under a vet’s advice), supplements, Powdered psyllium seed and Aloe Ferox. For each case, please consult a vet first.

Puppy Constipation Prevention Tips

Your puppy may have gotten over the difficult period and is now back to his playful normal, but if you are not careful it could happen again. This is especially if you did not understand the cause of the problem in the first place. Here are some things you can do to ensure that your pet is not constipated again.

• Check the puppy’s diet. Invest in high quality dog food that has plenty of fiber and is not over-processed. Avoid too many unhealthy treats as they can complicate digestion and cause constipation.
• Have a regular exercise schedule. Letting the dog get inactive slows down the digestive system, which can cause constipation. Regular exercise keeps everything running smoothly.
• Proper grooming. Check that the area around the anus is not overflowing with long hair that can cause mechanical constipation when the hair gets tangled. Use a small pair of scissors to trim the hair, being very careful not to cause injury to the skin.
• Stick to dog food. One mistake many puppy owners make is to assume that all human food is okay for their pet. You are two different species with two very different digestive systems. Some human foods can cause indigestion and in worse cases, toxicity.
• Recent research has shown that low grain pet food reduces cases of constipation. It seems as if puppies are unable to digest grains properly.
• Adequate fluid intake is very important. Ensure that your puppy has a constant supply of clean fresh water. Give it more fluids when the weather is hot or when the puppy has been extra active.


If you were wondering how to make a puppy poop, how to make the stool softer, what to give a constipated puppy or how to prevent constipation, hopefully the above information has helped. A constipated puppy is something every owner dreads. The pup refuses to eat, whines in pain and refuses to go for walks. But with the easy remedies provided above, she should be back to her normal self in no time. With the provided prevention tips, you should be able to keep constipation at bay.
For most constipated puppies, the problem is often in the diet. Tweaking the diet will usually end the constipation. But do not keep the pet at home if constipation persists. Take it for a checkup to ensure there is no serious underlying condition.