At some point, your dog may experience defecation problems. It is normal for a dog to have one or two stools per day. Dogs that have not passed stools for several days or dogs that pass loose stools need proper treatment.
Constipation occurs when a dog has difficulty defecating. The longer feces stay in the colon, the harder they are to pass through the dog. This results in hard stools that can cause straining.
Constipation commonly occurs in older dogs. There are several causes of constipation. Some dogs simply don't drink enough water, which makes it difficult for the colon to pass the feces. Eating foreign materials such as paper, cloth, plants and bones can obstruct the colon and make it difficult to defecate. In addition, some drugs may cause constipation as a side effect.
Constipation can be prevented by ensuring that the dog has access to clean water at all times. If your dog is in the house or locked up often, provide multiple opportunities throughout the day to defecate. Keep garbage away from the dog. Bone chips can cause constipation, so if you want your dog to chew on something, use biscuits instead.
If your dog continues to have problems with constipation, your vet can prescribe a laxative. Laxatives draw water into the colon and aid in the elimination of feces. Your vet may also recommend a high-fiber dog food. Wheat bran, Metamucil and canned pumpkin are useful in treating constipation.
Diarrhea in dogs can frequently be traced to parasites in the diet. Some common types of worms that cause diarrhea in dogs include hookworms, roundworms, giardia and threadworms. Dogs are scavengers and will often eat garbage and other things that are not digestible. If this is not vomited out, they will come out in the form of diarrhea.
Diarrhea can also be caused by change in a diet as well as a viral or bacterial infection. The diarrhea is often more serious and accompanied by vomiting and loss of appetite.
Diarrhea is characterized by loose and runny stools. Diarrhea may sometimes be accompanied by fever, loss of appetite, weight loss and lethargy. Diarrhea that is black often signals internal bleeding and should be examined by a vet immediately. If the diarrhea continues for beyond one day, you should also see a vet for treatment.
The vet will assess the dog's condition. He or she will check to see if the dog is dehydrated. Blood tests will be performed, and a stool sample may be analyzed. Ultrasounds, radiographs, cultures and biopsies may also be performed, depending on your dog's condition.
Diarrhea is not typically life-threatening, and it can be easily prevented. Keep your dog current on flea medications and vaccinations. Limit your dog's access to garbage and foreign objects. If you plan to switch your dog's food, do it gradually to avoid upsetting the dog's stomach.