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Dog pooping

What to Do When Your Furry Friend Struggles To Poop

What to Do When Your Furry Friend Struggles To Poop

As a responsible dog owner, it's natural to be concerned when your furry friend experiences a change in their bathroom habits. A common issue that pet parents can encounter is constipation in dogs. There can be a multitude of reasons behind your dog's constipation: a lack of dietary fiber, dehydration, insufficient exercise and changes to routine are common culprits. Additionally, ingesting foreign objects, excessive grooming, or even certain medications can disrupt the digestive process and passage of ingested foods through the gastrointestinal tract. It's important to identify the underlying cause to provide effective relief for your pet.

It's important to watch out for signs of constipation in your dog. Straining to poop, passing small, dry stools, and displaying discomfort while attempting to defecate are common indicators. Other symptoms might include lethargy, loss of appetite, vomiting and abdominal discomfort. If you notice any of these signs, it's time to take action and seek out veterinary advice.

What to Do If Your Dog Hasn't Pooped for 24, 48, or 72 Hours

24 Hours: If your dog hasn't pooped for a day, closely monitor their behavior, including food and water intake. Ensure they have access to fresh, clean water at all times and encourage them to stay hydrated. Adding cooked pumpkin, squash and/or oatmeal (if appropriate) can bring in a lot of moisture and some fiber, especially soluble fiber, to your dog's diet to help maintain moisture in their bowel contents. A short walk or mild exercise might also help stimulate bowel movements. While a short period like 24 hours without passing stool can be relatively common and even occur just from missing a meal, if at any time your dog seems uncomfortable, disinterested in food or water, or otherwise abnormal, seek veterinary attention.

48 Hours: If your dog's constipation persists for two days or longer, consult your veterinarian. They can provide guidance based on your dog's health history and recommend safe options such as pharmaceutical interventions or a prescribed therapeutic diet to alleviate the issue.

72 Hours: If your dog reaches the 72-hour mark without passing stool and hasn't seen their veterinarian yet, seek veterinary attention promptly. Prolonged constipation can lead to serious complications and your veterinarian will be able to conduct a thorough examination and recommend appropriate treatments.

Preventing Constipation in Dogs

Prevention is key to maintaining your dog's digestive health. Try incorporating these practices into your pet care routine to help your dog prevent constipation.

Balanced, Fiber-rich Diet

Ensure your dog's diet is rich in fibers, if appropriate for your individual dog. Soluble fibers are those which dissolve within the milieu of the gastrointestinal tract and can bind water, increasing the moisture content of the digesta and preventing hard, dry faeces. Insoluble fiber, on the other hand, does not dissolve but helps to increase the bulk of intestinal contents, stimulating gut contractions. Consider exploring the benefits of a plant-based diet. Plant-based diets are naturally rich in fiber, helping to support healthy digestion and maintain a thriving gut microbiome. 


Always provide access to clean, fresh water. Dehydration can exacerbate constipation. Adding water to foods (both dry or wet) can help to increase water consumption. If necessary, water additives can help to entice dogs to drink more, but ensure that plain, fresh water is also always available.

Regular Exercise

Regular physical activity aids in promoting proper motility along the gastrointestinal tract. Engage your dog in walks, playtime, and other activities they enjoy. Be careful with excessive exercise around meal times, especially for larger and deep chested dogs, and instead focus any rigorous exercise before or a few hours after eating.


Regular grooming can prevent excessive ingestion of hair, which can accumulate within the gastrointestinal tract and cause complications.

Limit Foreign Objects

Keep household items that can be ingested, like small toys or pieces of clothing, out of your dog's reach.

Monitor Medications

If your dog is on medication, consult your veterinarian about potential side effects on their digestive system.


Consider incorporating gastrointestinal supporting supplements into your dog's routine. Vivus Pets' specially formulated Gastrointestinal Support Supplement is ideal for dogs of any age, especially those with a sensitive system. It contains prebiotic fiber and probiotics, as well as anti-inflammatory turmeric. Additionally, the supplement includes sustainable, plant-based DHA and EPA in the form of algal oil, which have additional anti-inflammatory benefit. 

Constipation can be uncomfortable for your furry friend, but with vigilance and appropriate action, it can be managed effectively. If in doubt, always consult your veterinarian for professional advice tailored to your dog's specific needs.

Chandler M (2012) Dietary fibre in dogs and cats - its therapeutic importance. Vet Times 42(40): 10-12
Chandler M (2013) Dietary management of gastrointestinal disease. Compendium: Continuing Education of Veterinarians E1-E3,
Oh H-G, Lee H-Y, Seo M-Y, et al. (2011) Effects of ficus carica paste on constipation induced by a high-protein feed and movement restriction in beagles. Laboratory Animal Research 27(4): 275-281
Nath I, Singh J, Behera SS et al. (2015) Gastric foreign body in a dog and its surgical management. Indian Journal of Canine Practice 7(1), 
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