There’s no way around it: you have to watch your pet’s poop.
Gross, right? But ask anyone who’s had a baby: we do it as humans and it’s much more gross.
Pet poop can tell you if your companion is healthy, eating well and exercising enough. Constipation is one of the first signs that something is wrong and if caught early, it can be fixed easily. If not, constipation can be very serious, depending on the cause.
Make sure your dog or cat ‘goes’ at least once a day, sometimes more often, depending on the frequency of feeding and the kind of food. If nothing happens after two days, see your vet right away.
Here are the top 5 pet constipators to watch out for.
Just like humans, dogs and cats that do not drink enough water can get dehydrated. The body tries to get the liquid it needs for functioning, so it pulls it from the waste in the colon.
Dry, hard stool is difficult to eliminate and you will see your dog or cat straining or even crying when squatting unsuccessfully.
Make sure your pets always have fresh water handy. Some cats might benefit from switching to wet, canned food, with higher water content. Offering your pets a bit of melon, watermelon or pumpkin can make a big difference.
You will know that your pet is severely dehydrated if he or she is lethargic, tired and has dry nose and gums. It can be very serious, so see your vet.
Pets that lose more than 15 percent of water from their system can die.
2. Swallowed Objects
Swallowed objects can cause both chronic and acute constipation:
These objects make pet’s feces into a solid rock, impossible to pass. If ingested objects are large enough, your pet might have to be operated.
Pets that lick themselves often can form a hairball that makes stool too hard to pass. Find out the reason for too much licking to eliminate this potential cause.
Keep small objects away from your pets and give only uncooked bones large enough so that they cannot be swallowed or chipped.
If you are missing a small object like your ring and you think your dog swallowed it, he might pass it naturally with a bit of mineral oil in the food. For anything larger, see your vet.
3. Bad Food
Bad food can be home made or commercial. It means that it does not satisfy your pet’s dietary needs.
Foods without enough protein and fat and with too much carbohydrate can be the cause of poor digestion and constipation. Commercial food often has additives, dyes, preservatives and who knows what else that a pet cannot digest, resulting in either diarrhea or constipation.
Bits of human food that we consider treats for our pets can cause either constipation or diarrhea. Don’t fool around with cheap pet food: good quality food is the foundation of good pet health.
A little extra money spent on good food means saving money on vet bills later.
4. Lack of Fiber
When your pet’s food lacks fiber, the stool will not have enough volume and it might cause constipation. This is much more common with pets that eat human food.
Poor quality commercial pet food often has too much fiber, but of the wrong, over-processed kind. Try adding a bit of pure bran into your pet’s food, or some crushed pumpkin, fresh or canned.
5. Enlarged Prostate
Older male dogs that have not been neutered often suffer from enlarged prostates.
When dog manages to pass stool, can look narrow and ribbon-like. This problem can easily be avoided by neutering your dog when he reaches maturity.
Some reasons for our pet’s constipation are our own fault.
When we housetrain our pets, we take responsibility for making sure that they have opportunity to poop in the right place. A dog left alone in the house the whole day will refuse to poop in the house and will get constipated.
The same happens on long drives, in a strange place or when a pet feels insecure or stressed. Cats can refuse to share litter with another cat and may be reluctant to use their own litter in a new place.
Living with a pet is a delight, but a responsibility as well. Take care of your best friend, even if it means looking at poop.