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Constipation

Poodle Constipation

Overview - Any time that there is a change in stools, it warrants paying attention. In the case of constipation, this can be very uncomfortable for a dog and while it does not always point to a serious health issue, there are some red flags to look out for. 

Fortunately, many cases of minor to moderate constipation with Poodles can be resolved from home.
In this section, we will cover:
  • Symptoms of constipation
  • Most common reasons why a Poodle may become constipated
  • Red flag health issues that require veterinary intervention
  • Best at-home remedies
  • Helpful prevention tips 
Symptoms that a Poodle is Constipated

Many owners assume that constipation means that a dog cannot push out a bowel movement, however there are other, less severe signs than that that are also included with this. For each of these, these will occur for at least a 24-hour period. If a Poodle is constipated, he may have one, some or all of the following: 
signs-of-canine-constipation-chart
  • Straining – While a dog can strain and nothing can come out, this also includes straining during a bowel movement, in which it takes a lot of effort however it does lead to stools being pushed out. Most often, you can notice this by your Poodle’s stance and expression. 
  • Fewer bowel movements - A dog that normally goes three times a day may go twice or even just once or there may even be some days in which a Poodle does not go at all. 
  • Hard consistency – Opposite to diarrhea, when the stools may be quite hard due to inadequate amounts of water within it. 
  • Smaller size – Stools may come out in small tiny pellet type pieces. 
Reasons That Can Cause a Poodle to Become Constipated

Aside from health issues, which we will cover next, there are some common, basic reasons that can trigger constipation: 

1) Inadequate water intake. Drinking the proper amount of water is needed for the digestive and intestinal systems to work properly. If a Poodle is not drinking enough, this can cause stools to harden, which then leads to constipation. In general, canines need about 8 fluid ounces for each 10 pounds of body weight, per day. Some dogs do not self-regulate, so this may be more common during the summer and if a Poodle is more active than normal.

2) Decrease in exercise. When a dog starts to receive less exercise than normal, this can cause temporary constipation. Exercise is beneficial in so many ways, from heart health to releasing pent-up energy. Moving around also prompts food matter to travel through the large intestines. If there is a sudden decline in activity, bowel movements may become sluggish.

3) Change in food. Most dogs do best when the receive the same food for meals on a consistent basis, as a change can lead to temporary issues including upset stomach, runny stools or constipation. In many cases it is just the change itself that causes the problem, even if it is a switch to a better food.

In other cases, it may be a matter of the newer diet containing less fiber then before. If a Poodle has recently been given such foods as cheese and red meats, this can make stools sluggish as well. 

4) Stress. Though this is a less common cause, it is worth mentioning. If typical issues as listed above do not apply to a Poodle and health issues (more ahead) are not the cause, it may be worth assessing the household to see there has been an increase in stress levels for a dog. This may include a sudden addition to the family, a sudden departure of a family member, large changes in routine such as much more time home alone, etc. 
Red Flag Health Issues that Can Cause Canine Constipation

It is always wise to be aware of certain health issues that do have constipation as one of the symptoms. If treatment at home does not resolve the issue or if there are other signs as described below, it will warrant a visit to the veterinarian.

Engorged anal glands - These are also known as scent glands. Each dog has a pair, with one located on each side of the anal opening. These contain a liquid that is secreted in minute amounts each time that a dog meets another; this lets them relay information such as gender, health status and even mood. 

When a dog has a bowel movement, tiny amounts are released as well. If this oil builds up, either not secreting naturally or if there is an abnormal accumulation, the glands become swollen and engorged. Due to their positioning, these swollen glands can act as a sort of barrier, making it more difficult to push out stools. 

It is recommended to become familiar with the normal size of your Poodle’s anal glands, so that you can easily identify swollen glands. If engorged, the vet or a groomer can express these (release the fluid).

Internal blockage – This is considered to be a very serious condition in which something (food or non-food item) was ingested and is causing a partial or full blockage. Other signs are drooling, panicked behavior, vomiting or dry heaving, hunched appearance and/or straining to push out stools. If this is suspected, do bring your Poodle to the vet ASAP, even if you did not witness the possible ingestion of an object.  

Enlarged prostate gland – Relevant for male Poodles, this can develop due to age-related hormone changes. Other signs of this aside from constipation include having trouble urinating, blood in the urine and/or the stools (will appear bright red) and/or stools that are shaped like thin strips (often equated to ribbon). 

Dehydration – While we did cover the element of decrease water intake being a cause of constipation, if this develops into a more serious issue of dehydration, constipation will worsen and there will be other symptoms as well. This includes but is not limited to sunken-in eyes, trouble breathing, lethargy, confusion and/or pale gums.

There is a quick at-home test that you can do to help gauge dehydration in a dog, in which you test blood vessel response time. This is done by pressing a fingertip firmly onto a spot of the dog’s gums for a count of 5 seconds. 

When you remove your finger, there will be a white area where you finger was pressed onto the gums. Normally, it will return to its normal color within seconds. If a dog is indeed dehydrated, it will take longer than 5 seconds to transition back to pink. 

Other causes – While rare, it is important to note that an array of other conditions can cause constipation; this includes trauma to the pelvic area, rectal tumors, bloat and certain neurological disorders. For senior Poodles in particular, orthopedic issues, mostly those occurring in the back or hips, can cause a dog to have trouble taking a comfortable stance to push out a bowel movement. If a dog does indeed hesitate in this regard, stools can back up and in some cases become impacted. 
The Timing of TreatmentWhen stools are not being expelled as normal, a couple of things can happen:

1. Stools remain in the colon for a longer amount of time. When there, any moisture in them is absorbed back into the body. This exasperates the problem. 

2. For chronic constipation lasting 2 weeks or more, impacted feces can cause the large intestine to stretch unnaturally. This can lead to a quite serious condition referred to as megacolon that often requires surgery. 
For these reasons, it is suggested to treat constipation as soon as it is noticed and to bring a Poodle to the vet if things do not resolve within a few days.  

How to Treat a Poodle at Home for Constipation There are some home remedies that can usually resolve minor to moderate cases of constipation. For quick results, follow as many as applicable to your Poodle. 

1) Encourage increased water intake. It’s easy for dogs to drink a bit less than required; some simply do not self-regulate. With others, there may be some reasons why the dog resists drinking; this may include water not being fresh or cold enough, the bowl being dirty, or the bowl being in a spot in which a dog does not feel comfortable.
You’ll want to ensure that the bowl is clean, with fresh cold water at all times. 

In addition, an easy remedy, by itself or along with other treatments, is to add water-rich foods. Given either as snacks or blended into meals, fruits such as watermelon (92% water), blueberries (87%), raspberries (87%) and oranges (87%) are great choices. 

2) Add fiber. There are two types of fiber and each can aid with constipation. Soluble fiber causes more water to remain in the stools which can help with hard stools and prompt them to pass through the intestines. Insoluble fiber adds bulk to stools and this as well can cause them to pass more quickly. 

For Poodles that are constipated, you may find that soluble fiber works best. 

Fruit - The previously mentioned fruits contain some soluble fiber, thereby offering two treatments in one.

Pumpkin – This is a standard go-to remedy that works well for many dogs. You will want to be sure to obtain 100% real canned puree pumpkin and not the pie filling. 

Dosing is as follows and is for adult dogs:
  • Toy Poodle – Start with 1 teaspoon per day, increase to 2 teaspoons if needed.
  • Miniature Poodles – Start with 1 tablespoon per day, increase to 2 tablespoons if needed.
  • Standard Poodles - Start with 2 tablespoons per day, increase to 3 tablespoons if needed.
Kale, spinach – These dark leafy green vegetables contain good levels of fiber. When ground, these can easily be mixed into meals with a Poodle noticing. 

3) Coconut oil – This is remedy that is purported to have many benefits including boosting the immune system and clearing up skin & coat issues. And it may also help cure constipation, in both humans and canines. 

Typically, coconut oil can be found in the vitamin aisle often packaged in small tubs. It has the consistency of a paste. An easy way to offer this is to scoop out the amount that you will be giving to your Poodle, microwave it to liquefy it and then drizzle it over the kibble. For each teaspoon, just 8 to 10 seconds in the microwave is sufficient to melt it. 

Typical dosing is 1 teaspoon for each 10 lbs. of body weight, given once per day. 
4) Exercise – If a Poodle is feeling well without any other symptoms that would interfere with his ability to exercise, increasing activity can help in two ways. Exercise helps move fecal matter through the large intestine faster, which leads to less water being absorbed by the body and therefore facilitating bowel movements. Also, the increased breathing and heart rate triggers natural contraction of intestinal muscles which can also prompt a bowel movement to be eliminated. 

Therefore, adding an extra 20-minute walk or adding 10 minutes to your Poodle’s scheduled walks can help. 

5) Alternative at-home treatments. First check with your veterinarian, as these should not be given to a dog without consent and monitoring. Possible aides include supplements containing acidophilus, folic acid and/or vegetable enzymes, milk of magnesia, bran, mineral oil, organic apple cider vinegar, and psyllium husk powder.

When Constipation Needs to Be Treated by the VeterinarianYou will want to bring your Poodle to the vet if any of the following is applicable:

• If your Poodle has not had a bowel movement for 48 hours
• If constipation lasts longer than 1 week
• If there are any other signs including but not limited to labored breathing, panicked behavior, marked lethargy, signs of pain, bloated stomach, dry heaving, vomiting, fever, marked decreased appetite and/or trouble drinking. 

Veterinary TreatmentFull testing should be performed including a complete blood count, stool sample testing (if possible), blood work, electrolyte panel and urinalysis. Your vet may also order radiographs and/or ultrasound, particularly if a blockage is suspected. 

If the issue is indeed a case of constipation without underlying issues or complications, laxatives or stool softeners may be prescribed and/or an enema may be given. 
Prevention There are some steps you can take to prevent your Poodle from dealing with a bout of constipation: 

1) Monitor your Poodle’s water intake and work to ensure that he meets his daily requirements. While it can certainly fluctuate due to activity, weather and more, in general canines need 12 ounces for each 10 pounds of body weight, per day. 

Employing a canine water filter, offering ice cubes (plain or flavored) and offering foods with high water content such as fruits can all work together to help a dog reach his daily requirement. 

2) Avoid giving raw hides, bones or other chews and foods that have a possibility of creating obstruction or blockage. 

3) Exercise your Poodle on a regular basis. While time may be tight and the weather may not always be agreeable, regular exercise has a host of benefits aside from keeping the digestive system functioning properly; it is keeps the heart healthy, helps a dog maintain muscles, helps keep the metabolism healthy and can even play a role in preventing health conditions such as canine diabetes and even some cancers. 
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