Constipation in humans is a stressful (and painful) condition.
And when our furry friends also experience it for several days…
It’s truly alarming.
So, why does this happen?
And how can you help them?
Keep reading to find out:
- What makes dogs unable to poop for 4 days.
- Whether this is normal after diarrhea or surgery.
- The possible dangers of constipation in canines.
- 5 practical tips you can use to stimulate them to pass stools.
- And many more…
Table of contents
- Why hasn’t my dog pooped in 4 days?
- 15 reasons why your dog hasn’t pooped in 4 days (after diarrhea)
- What should I do if my dog hasn’t pooped in 4 days? 5 tips
Why hasn’t my dog pooped in 4 days?
Your dog hasn’t pooped in 4 days because of dehydration, lack of fiber, or chemical imbalances. Other possible reasons are injury, joint pain, anal sac abscess, bowel obstruction, swollen lymph nodes, perineal hernia, prostatomegaly. But it can also be due to medicines, diarrhea, surgery, or stress.
It’s normal for adult dogs to defecate after eating. So they may do it 2 to 3 times a day depending on the number of their meals.
And other canines might also poop at least once a day. Or not poop within 24 hours.
If your pooch is straining and passing hard stools for days, they’re likely constipated.
“What are the other signs to watch out for?”
Since it’s difficult for dogs to defecate, they may also:
- Lick their behind.
- Whine while trying to poop.
- Look at and scoot their bum.
And there are many possible reasons for this.
What are they?
I give you…
15 reasons why your dog hasn’t pooped in 4 days (after diarrhea)
This is the most common reason for constipation in dogs.
A canine can get dehydrated if they’re not drinking enough water.
Or when they’re losing more fluid in the body due to other conditions. Like diarrhea, viruses, or intestinal worms.
“How does lack of water affect their stool?”
What happens is that their colon takes in water from their poop before it goes out.
So when a canine doesn’t have many fluids in the body, their stool hardens.
“How to tell if a dog is dehydrated?”
AKC says to look for its other signs, such as:
- Dry nose.
- Thick saliva.
- Loss of appetite.
- Sudden panting.
But, there are also 2 more ways:
Inspect their gums:
- Touch your dog’s gums.
- If they feel dry and sticky, it’s one sign of dehydration.
- Also, press their gums softly using your finger. Then release it.
- If the part that goes white doesn’t return fast to its pink color, they’re likely dehydrated.
Test their skin elasticity
- Gently pull up a part of your dog’s skin. Preferably close to their shoulders.
- Then let go of it.
- When it doesn’t quickly go back to its normal state, it means they’re dehydrated.
You might also be interested in: 11 Real Reasons Why Dogs Lick Their Toys (#3 Is Weird)
#2: Lack of dietary fiber
Another thing that affects the consistency of stools is fiber.
It affects the digestion process. As fiber motivates the intestines to contract. Regulating the time it takes for food to move within the system.
So when a dog lacks this in their diet, they’ll have slower digestion. Which results in constipation.
“How much fiber does a dog need daily?”
The National Research Council says it should be 2.5 to 4.5% of a canine’s diet.
And according to vets, fiber also helps in:
- Keeping your dog fit.
- Maintaining blood sugar levels.
- Making your dog feel full easily.
- Avoiding growth of bacteria in the intestine.
It’s also possible that your dog can’t poop well because they’re in a lot of pain.
This could be due to a back or leg injury. Like sprains, strains, and slipped discs. Which are usually a result of:
- Poor posture.
- Blood vessel blockage.
The pain in those areas makes ‘squatting’ or the pose they assume when pooping difficult. So your dog may not be able to defecate for days.
Other signs of physical discomfort are:
- Walking wobbly.
- Loss of appetite.
- Being less active.
- Hunched posture.
- Sudden aggression.
- Refusal to walk/climb stairs/get up.
- Discomfort when touched/picked up.
#4: Joint pains
Do you have a senior pooch?
If so, they may have trouble pooping due to severe joint pain.
Because in order to defecate, they need to exert force. Plus, they have to squat with their back hunched.
Both of these can make joints ache more. As experts say that the commonly affected joints are in the:
- Lower back.
So arthritis also has similar symptoms as injuries. Because they both cause physical pain.
“But what are its causes?”
Based on PDSA, this is normal for old dogs due to wear and tear.
Also, bone abnormalities (.e.g., elbow or hip dysplasia) and injuries can result in this as well.
However, one study says that some breeds are at higher risk of arthritis than other dogs. Such as:
- Golden Retrievers.
- Labrador Retrievers.
And another research also found that it has a 50% prevalence rate in dogs aged 8 to 13 years old.
“But what can I do about it?”
This gets worse over time, so consult a vet to know the right:
- Joint supplements.
- Pain relief medications.
Aside from medicines, maintaining a healthy weight is also a must for them. Because extra mass adds more pressure to their joints.
Don’t forget to check out: 11 Real Reasons Why Your Dog Cries When Picked Up + 7 Tips
#5: Anal sac abscess
Excuse me if you’re eating right now. But I’m going to talk about dog poop.
When a canine poops, there’s something else that also comes out of the dog’s bum.
It’s a foul-smelling fluid.
And when it’s not completely drained, it’ll harden inside. Resulting in a blockage.
“What is it?”
The fluid is released by dog’s ‘anal sacs’ when they poop. Or the 2 tiny pockets inside their anus.
It contains their identity. This is why dogs sniff each others’ behinds and wastes. Because it’s a part of the getting-to-know process.
When anal sacs are blocked, they can be expressed to let out the fluids. But if they’re left untreated, the simple impaction will become an infection.
This causes an abscess or pus build-up. Which is extremely painful and makes it hard for your dog to defecate.
Other symptoms are:
Note: The vet can drain the abscess and give your dog antibiotics.
You might also like: 5 Reasons Why Dogs Sniff Their Own Bums + 7 Dangers
This happens when there are not enough thyroid hormones in their body.
Which results in slow metabolism. As well as constipation.
“What’s the reason for this?”
According to Merck Vets, 95% of its cases in dogs are caused by a damaged thyroid gland.
This also affects canines aged 4 to 10 years old. And is found to be rare in toy breeds. But common in medium and large dogs.
Apart from not pooping, canines who have this may also:
- Gain weight.
- Have dry skin.
- Shed excessively.
- Lose interest in exercising.
- Have trouble focusing and remembering.
This condition is the result of too much calcium in a dog’s body.
“But how does this affect their bowel movement?”
Hypercalcemia makes dogs vomit and refuse to eat. And this may lead to dehydration.
As well as slower contraction of their intestines. Resulting in fewer or dry, hard stools.
“How do canines get these?”
Experts found that its most common cause in dogs is cancer with 45% to 65%. Such as lymphoma and anal sac tumor.
And canines with high calcium levels will also show signs, like:
- Weight loss.
- Increased thirst/urination.
Note: This can be treated by curing the tumor. As well as fluid therapy – or replacing the lost water and electrolytes in the body.
#8: Intestinal obstruction
Constipation for days can also be a red flag for a bowel obstruction.
Dogs who have this may either strain as their stools can still pass through the blockage.
Or not poop at all as the tract is completely congested.
“Oh no. How does this happen?”
A dog’s intestines could be blocked due to:
- Foreign objects.
- Impacted feces.
- Intestinal tumors.
Most canines love to chew on things. This is why they might ingest small pieces of fabric or parts of their toys.
They can eat non-food items as well. Like rocks, bones, or anything around them.
While dogs who love licking blankets, furniture, and even themselves…
Might swallow a great amount of hair or fiber. And this could also obstruct their intestines.
Other signs to watch out for are:
- Stomach pain.
Warning: This is an emergency matter. So if you suspect your dog of having this, call and rush to the vet right away.
#9: Swollen lymph nodes
Apart from bowel obstruction…
Enlarged lymph nodes could also cause pooping dilemmas. Especially when they’re near the groin area.
Other lymph node locations in dogs are:
“Why do they swell?”
These are tiny clumps of tissues within the body. And they’re made of white blood cells which fight infections.
So if a nearby tissue is infected, they’ll swell too. As a reaction of the blood cells.
Note: The swelling of the lymph nodes can be lessened by taking medications.
#10: Perineal hernia
Sometimes, a pain near a dog’s thighs might also cause them to strain.
Vets say that this is a sign of perineal hernia in canines. Or a condition that happens when the tissue around their pelvis weakens.
As a result, some of the organs will be dislocated. (Which is usually treated by surgery.) Such as their:
So dogs will have constipation. As well as swollen anal area and reduced appetite.
“Why do canines develop this?”
The reasons for this were said to be unclear. But, it’s mainly observed in adult intact male dogs.
Other studies also show that this can be hereditary. As it mostly affects:
- Welsh Corgis.
- Boston Terriers.
- Pekingese dogs.
- Miniature Poodles.
- Old English Sheepdogs.
This means abnormal enlargement of the prostate. So it’s only for male dogs.
The prostate is under the colon or large intestine. That’s why when it becomes bigger, it’ll press the colon. As well as block the urethra.
Making it hard for a canine to pass stools and urinate.
Based on what experts are saying, dogs who have this may either feel pain or none at all. Plus, they’ll also have ‘ribbonlike’ poop.
And this is said to be caused by:
Note: This could either be cured by neutering or antimicrobial medications. But dogs who have an infection or abscess need surgical drainage.
Does your pooch take other medicines as well?
Because constipation can also be a side effect of some drugs.
According to vets, this could be the aftermath of:
- Antihistamines: For allergies.
- Iron supplements: For anemia and iron deficiency.
- Antacids: For ulcers, heartburn, stomach problems.
- Diuretics: For removing excess fluids and blood in the body.
Note: Don’t just stop giving these medications to your dog. Discuss this with your vet as well. To know the best thing to do and if there’s an alternative.
But wait, did your dog have watery stools for days before they suffered from constipation?
If yes, this could be an effect of diarrhea.
Dr. Peter, a veterinarian, says it’s normal for dogs to not ‘go’ for 2 to 4 days after having diarrhea.
And this is because of 3 things:
- One, their intestines are still empty.
- Two, they’ll have a reduced amount of stools. Especially if they’re on a bland diet.
- Three, the medications of your dog will also slow down the movement of food in their tummy.
So, it may take several days before your dog has a proper bowel movement.
“My dog isn’t pooping after surgery.
According to specialists, it’s also normal for canines to not pass stools 4 to 5 days post-surgery.
And this could be due to:
- Lack of exercise.
- Pain medications.
- Reduced water/food intake (temporary).
- Anesthesia (slows down the intestines).
So you don’t have to worry much if this is your case.
But still, monitor your pooch every day. And encourage them to eat or drink.
Note: It isn’t normal if your dog hasn’t pooped for more than 5 days. So have them checked by an expert asap.
#15: Environmental stress
Lastly, did you know that ‘ileus’ or slow movement of the intestines can also be a result of stress?
This is observed in both dogs and humans. And it’s because the brains are linked to the guts.
Inside the digestive system are millions of nerves. Which are all connected to the nervous system, experts say.
So when we’re having anxiety, the brain produces hormones. Such as:
Serotonin was said to be responsible for stomach spasms. And if these only take place in a certain part of the colon, digestion will be impaired.
So a dog who’s stressed will have trouble digesting their food. As well as have slower contraction of the intestines. Which results in constipation.
What should I do if my dog hasn’t pooped in 4 days? 5 tips
If your dog hasn’t pooped in 4 days, you should consult your vet at once. Add more fiber to your canine’s diet and make them drink more fluids. Try to lessen their anxiety as well and attempt to give them a poop-inducing massage.
#1: Bring them to the clinic
This must be the 1st step if they’re constipated for many days. To know if they have other underlying medical conditions. And for it to be resolved immediately.
Because if this continues longer, vets warn that this could lead to ‘obstipation.’ Or being constipated permanently.
As well as ‘sepsis.’ And this happens when the waste and bacteria inside a dog’s body enter the bloodstream.
#2: Feed them good sources of fiber
Your vet will also recommend a high-fiber diet. And canines usually get this from boiled:
- Beet pulps.
- Green beans.
- Soybean hulls.
- Sweet potatoes.
- Bran from wheat.
Note: Research shows that these alternative sources of fiber are beneficial for dogs.
#3: Make them drink enough water daily
Aside from adding more fiber, you may also include broth in your dog’s meals. Besides refilling their bowl from time to time.
This is to make sure that they drink enough water daily.
Because a lack of fluids in the body causes dehydration. Which is the most common culprit of constipation.
#4: Find and avoid the trigger of their anxiety
If your pooch has a clean bill of health…
They might be constipated due to so much stress. So the 2nd thing you have to do is find the root of this.
Most dogs are negatively affected by:
- A new member of the family.
- A change in their surroundings.
- A group of strangers/certain people (e.g., men, children).
- Sudden loud noises (e.g., banging fireworks, rumbling thunder).
Once you do, remove it from them. Or avoid it to reduce their stress.
Taking them outside for more walks will also release their tension. As well as help their digestion.
So do this at least 30 minutes before or after eating. And only based on their limits.
Say, give short 10-minute walks for old dogs with breaks in between.
Also, you can try to…
#5: Perform massages to make them poop
Well, yup! There are a few simple massages that you can do on your dog.
These target some pressure points in their body. Let’s take for example massaging your canine’s back, lower abdomen, and ears.
Gently pressing these points can help:
- Calm their anxiety.
- Relieve joint pains.
- Loosen tensed muscles.
- Stimulate their intestines and tummy.