Constipation (obstipation) means infrequent, difficult defecation, and you may also notice that the animal does not defecate at all for several days. This of course also depends on the animal's body and diet. If the animal has not defecated for one or two days, this does not necessarily indicate a problem, especially if the faeces are of normal size and the animal does not have to make much effort to defecate. However, if there are no faeces for more than two or three days and your pet is struggling but not making any effort, this is a sign of constipation and the faeces are hardening as they accumulate in the intestines, which will require even more effort to defecate.
Before helping the animal, it is also important to assess whether it has any other diseases that can cause constipation, which is often the cause of certain disorders, and obstipation is often confused with Colitis.
Constipation is most common in middle-aged to older animals. A common cause is dehydration - the animal does not drink enough fluids, which leads to hardening of the faeces in the intestines and constipation.
Ingestion of foreign bodies is not uncommon in dogs. Dogs chew and swallow wood particles, paper, grass, clothes, toys - all of which can cause gastrointestinal blockages. For long-haired dogs and cats, constipation can also be caused by the amount of hair in the intestine, so foods containing substances that remove hair from the intestine, including special preparations, are particularly useful. The indigestible particles of ingested items mix with the faeces and cause hardening, blockages and impassability, and do not pass through the intestines, so that the animal is unable to void.
Another reason for this in dogs is long periods between walks. The longer the faeces remain in the gut, the harder they become, so if the dog is tidy and is never inclined to do his business at home, it is likely that the constipation will lead to him having to exert more effort in defecating.
The most important thing is to check that the defecation process does not cause discomfort for your pet, that it is easy for your pet to pass, and that there are no signs of blood on the faeces.
Veterinarian Aurimas Kviklys advises on how pet owners can identify these problems and what measures can be taken to prevent them.
The most important thing is always to ensure that the animal drinks enough water. Dog owners who like to treat their pets should make sure that the bones to be gnawed on are not soft (especially chicken bones are not suitable), as bone splinters clog the intestines, and in some cases it is better to give special treats.
You can also take your pet for longer or more frequent walks.
Do you often have to treat animals that have swallowed foreign bodies, as it relates to constipation?
This is not a very common problem, in our practice it usually occurs in dogs that swallow bones, bone splinters become stuck, clogging up the digestive tract and intestines. Sometimes it is very difficult to see the fine bone particles when they get stuck in the oesophagus, near the stomach, which is extremely dangerous, because the sharp bone debris can puncture the trachea, draw blood into the lungs and the animal can suffocate.
Constipation is more common in older animals and is usually a chronic problem, usually related to the animal's diet, lack of physical activity, and previous illnesses.
Which products are suitable for relieving constipation?
Various capsules, enemas and special balanced foods are recommended.
What are the signs that an owner may suspect that the animal has ingested a foreign body and should be referred to a veterinarian?
The animal vomits heavily, tries to expectorate, has difficulty defecating, strains but fails to defecate, and drinks water but loses a lot of fluid during vomiting, making it weak and sluggish.
What measures does a veterinarian take in such cases?
The abdomen is usually palpable, but if the foreign body is large, the veterinarian will palpate it. Otherwise, an X-ray is taken, which in most cases is effective in showing the foreign body. However, there are some cases where the foreign body is not visible. In fact, in practice, there are cases where the equipment does not show a foreign body, so we have to perform surgery and find small, tiny particles stuck, usually in the large intestine.
Based on scientific literature and consultation with veterinary surgeons