Constipation can be very uncomfortable. When you are constipated, you probably reach for a laxative. You just want relief as fast as possible. If your dog is constipated, you understand their discomfort, and want to give them relief.
Constipation is a common problem for dogs. You may be wondering what you can do to help your pooch get things moving. Milk can help with constipation, but there are usually better options.
Can milk help dogs with constipation?
Yes, milk can help dogs with constipation. The issue is that it works because most dogs are lactose intolerant. A small amount of milk can get your pooch pooping properly, but it can also cause stomach issues.
Signs of Constipation
Your pooch can’t tell you when they are having bathroom difficulties, so it’s up to you to recognize the signs of constipation. If you pick up your pooch’s poop, you’ll notice when they haven’t pooped recently.
If your dog hasn’t pooped in 24 hours, they are constipated. Other signs of constipation include straining or whining when trying to poop, attempting to poop but being unable to go, and hard dry stool.
When deciding if they are constipated, it’s best to consider how often they normally poop. Dogs can poop anywhere from 1-5 times a day. If your pooch normally poops once a day, 24 hours without a bowel movement isn’t very concerning.
If they poop multiple times a day, 24 hours without a bowel movement is a significant sign of constipation.
Should You Contact Your Vet
Many cases of simple constipation can be treated at home. However, there are times when it’s important to speak with your vet.
If your pooch appears to be in a lot of pain or is lethargic, speak with your vet. Vomitting can be a sign of a bowel obstruction, and should be evaluated as soon as possible.
If it’s been 48-72 hours since your pooch pooped, particularly if home treatments aren’t working, consult your vet. If it’s been more than 72 hours, your pooch needs to be evaluated immediately. This can indicate a serious problem like a bowel blockage.
How to Use Milk to Relieve Constipation
There are several ways to relieve constipation in dogs without the risk of stomach upset that milk can cause. However, if you are in a pinch, milk can do the job.
Give your pooch a few tablespoons of milk. Keep an eye out for signs of stomach upset, which can indicate lactose intolerance. The milk should help them poop within a few hours.
Do not give large quantities of milk or repeat the dosage if your pooch doesn’t potty. Try another constipation remedy, which we will discuss in an upcoming section, instead.
Should dogs drink milk?
Young puppies subsist by drinking their mothers milk. This may lead you to believe that milk is a good idea for dogs.
If it’s good for puppies, it’s good for adult dogs too, right? Small amounts of milk are ok as an occasional treat, but milk really isn’t a great choice for your pooch.
Dogs and humans digest milk with the lactase enzyme. As dogs grow out of puppyhood, they produce less lactase, because they are no longer drinking milk for nutrition.
Some adult dogs will produce more lactase than others. This is similar to humans. If you are lactose intolerant, it means that your body doesn’t produce significant amounts of lactase.
Milk is the most common food intolerance for dogs. Once they grow out of the puppy stage, their bodies aren’t really equipped to digest milk. Many dogs lose the ability to digest lactose as they age.
The symptoms of lactose intolerance can start within a few minutes to a few hours after drinking milk. Most symptoms are gastrointestinal. They include diarrhea, vomiting, bloating, and abdominal pain or tenderness.
Most dogs who are lactose intolerant don’t have serious symptoms. However, if your pooch has severe lactose intolerance, there are other symptoms you should look out for.
These include excessive thirst, dehydration, weight loss, and weakness.
Milk does contain calcium and Vitamin D, which are nutrients your dog needs. However, it’s also high in sugar and fat, so large quantities of milk can lead to weight gain and pancreatitis.
Don’t consider milk a part of your pooch’s regular diet. Instead, it should be given as an occasional treat if it’s given at all.
How Much Milk Can A Dog Have?
If you give your dog milk, limit it to a few tablespoons. This reduces the risk of them having gastrointestinal symptoms. If your dog is lactose intolerant, the more milk they drink, the more severe their symptoms will be.
The type of milk can also make a difference. Goats milk is easier to digest than cow’s milk. This makes it a better choice for dogs with lactose intolerance or a sensitive stomach.
Are Other Dairy Products Good for Dogs?
Not all dairy products are high in lactose. Cheese, for example, contains little lactose. It’s broken down in the cheese making process. Yogurt is also low in lactose.
Both cheese and yogurt make good treats for your pooch, and are typically easier to digest than milk. However, they are not effective for treating constipation.
In fact, large amounts of cheese can have the opposite effect, making your pooch constipated.
What can help a dog with constipation?
There are a few great ways to help your dog with constipation. These include hydration, exercise, and pumpkin.
Dehydration can cause constipation. When your dog’s body is dehydrated, they don’t have enough water. Water is used by the body in a number of ways, including eliminating poop from their body.
When there’s not enough water, the body doesn’t have the water necessary to form healthy poop. This can cause hard, dry poop, or the inability to poop.
If your pooch is constipated, be sure they are drinking plenty of water. Make sure water is available at all times during the day.
Switching Dog Food
Canned dog food can help with constipation. It has a much higher moisture content than dry food, which helps with hydration. The food is also softer and easier to digest, which can result in softer stools.
To avoid stomach upset, you may need to mix the canned food with dry food. Begin with 25-50% wet food and the rest dry food. If you plan to continue the wet food, you can slowly increase the amount of wet food over the course of a week.
If you don’t want to switch to wet food, you can add water to dry dog food. This may help with hydration and digestion. You can add low sodium chicken broth instead of water to make it more appealing to your pooch.
Pumpkin is a healthy addition to your dog’s diet. In small amounts, it can help relieve constipation. Larger doses can help firm stools and treat diarrhea.
Pumpkin is high in vitamins, including Vitamin A. The fiber and moisture contained in pumpkin makes it helpful for the digestive system.
The easiest way to give your pooch pumpkin is to purchase canned pumpkin. Be sure that it is 100% plain pumpkin. Never give them pumpkin pie filling. It has added ingredients that can be unhealthy or even harmful to your pooch.
For small dogs, give 1 to 2 teaspoons of pumpkin. Large dogs can halve 1 to 2 tablespoons. Mix it with your dog’s food, or serve it alone. Your pooch should have a bowel movement within 12 to 24 hours. You can repeat the dosage at your dog’s next meal if needed.
Exercise can also help with constipation. When your pooch is exercising, it stimulates the intestinal tract. This can help move waste through your dog.
Lifestyle changes and natural foods are the best first line treatment for dog constipation. However, you may find your pooch needs a little extra poo help.
Laxatone is a petroleum jelly based laxative. It essentially lubricates your dog’s system, which helps poop work its way through their body.
Miralax is a human laxative that is also effective for dogs. The typical dosage is 1/8 to 1/4 for small dogs. Medium dogs should take 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon, and large dogs can take 1/2 to 3/4 of a teaspoon.
You can repeat the dosage every 12 hours. A bowel movement should occur within 12 to 24 hours of beginning Miralax.
Both these laxatives can be purchased over the counter.
Severe cases of constipation can be treated with a prescription laxative. This requires a prescription from your vet.
There are a few types of supplements that can be helpful for treating dog constipation. Just like us, a dog’s digestive system has probiotics. These good bacteria help break down food and regulate the digestive system.
A probiotic supplement can be beneficial for digestive issues, including constipation. It may take several days for the effects to become apparent, so this isn’t a quick fix.
Another option is a nutritional supplement designed to promote healthy bowel movements. These can include foods like beet and pumpkin powder, as well as herbs like slippery elm bark.
Just like probiotics, these are not a fast fix. They are a good choice for preventing constipation and promoting healthy digestion, however.