When Your Cat or Dog Becomes Constipated
Humans understand the discomfort of constipation and naturally want to help their pets from suffering the same consequences. Often the search takes a person to the pharmacy or the internet seeking a prompt, easy source of relief for their pets.
Pure canned pumpkin or fresh cooked pureed pumpkin can be used for cats or dogs. Pumpkin works by adding bulk to the stool. Pumpkin may be mixed with normal food or eaten plain. One or two tablespoon doses per day are recommended. Make sure not to use any spices like those contained in a canned pumpkin pie filling.
Humans often reach for Metamucil or psyllium products. This option will work for your dog as long as it is unflavored. A dose of 1/4 teaspoon per 20 lbs. of body weight, twice per day is recommended. Psyllium requires adequate water intake to be the most effective and safe. One option may be to mix up the psyllium with water or meat broth and let it gel. Your dog could then enjoy a “Jell-O” treat. Psyllium products help by adding bulk to the stool.
Stool softeners such as docusate may be used. These work by holding more water in the intestines. Ask your veterinarian or pharmacist about doses appropriate for your pet. Using the liquid form of these products may make dosing easier and more efficient.
Due to the risk of intestinal obstructions, stimulant laxatives such as bisacodyl or senna-containing products should be avoided or used only under the direction of your veterinarian. Likewise, enema products should not be used without professional instructions. Mineral balance disturbances may be a problem without proper care.
The main goal is to minimize the risk of bowel obstruction. A bowel obstruction may turn the situation into an emergency quickly. Make sure mild cases of constipation resolve promptly. Seek medical help if your pet continues to be constipated.
Written by Carol Petersen, RPh, CNP
Edited by the Staff at Pet Health
© Pet Health, a division of Women’s International Pharmacy, Inc.