Constipation in dogs and cats treatment options, recommended remedies and helpful information has been provided by certified Master Herbalist Philip Reich and certified Canine Nutritionist Maria Reich. Philip and Maria specialize in medical herbalism and nutrition for animals with conditions like constipation. They approach this situation in a holistic manner with the main priority being the health and safety of your animal.
Chronic constipation is generally defined as infrequent bowel movements or difficulty passing often hardened stools that persists for several weeks or longer. This condition can also be described as having fewer than three bowel movements a week when a healthy individual should have at least one to two daily.
In our experience the most common causes are:
Stool softener medications such as dioctyl sodium sulfosuccinate or lactulose are commonly prescribed. In cases where stimulant laxatives are required, drugs such as cisapride or tegaserod, may be recommended. These drugs artificially increase motility in the uper GI tract. Some dogs may require hospitalization while undergoing multiple enemas or to replace fluids to correct dehydration. If the constipation is allowed to progress a veterinarian may need to loosen or remove the impacted, hardened fecal matter. Removal may be accomplished through the use of one or a combination of therapies, including enemas, suppositories, manual removal, and medications. More serious conditions may require additional treatments, including surgery or lifelong medical or dietary management. This is all rather easily avoided with a more natural approach.
When to Bring Your Dog or Cat to the Vet
Bring your dog or cat to the vet if they do not have a bowel movement in 48 hours. Normally, animals have one bowel movement for each meal they consume daily. For most animals this means that two bowel movements per day would be considered optimal.
The goal of our Natural Constipation Protocol is to provide enzymes and probiotics to promote fast and complete digestion of your pet's food while also replenishing healthy digestive beneficial bacteria. We also want to supply important soluble fibers and herbs that will help to retain moisture and lubricate the digestive tract to promote healthy elimination and prevent future constipation issues.
Core Recommendations Suggested products (excluding food) are included in the Core Constipation Package found below.
Our "Core Recommendations" form the foundation of our Natural Constipation Protocol. They consist of diet suggestions and supplement recommendations and are what we feel are the most important to provide to your animal companion for this condition. They are displayed individually or as a package at the bottom of this page along with other helpful products from which you may make additional selections. Pet foods can be purchased at your finer, local pet stores. If you desire more individualized attention please feel free to use our Consultation Form to provide detailed information about your dog or cat so we can better help you.
Core Recommendation #1 - Daily Multi Plus
This special product was formulated with natural and organic whole foods to form the foundation of an animals' nutritional needs. Combined with a high-quality diet it provides the enzymes, probiotics, prebiotics, glandular support, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and phytonutrients needed to support healthy digestion and a strong immune system as well as the body's daily maintenance and repair needs for healthy aging. When animals have imbalances, like Constipation, other supplements can be added in to help with the special needs of that particular animal.
Core Recommendation 2 - Constipation Relief
Constipation is generally the result of poor motility (waste movement through the digestive tract) related to dehydration, poor diet, poor digestion or a sedentary lifestyle. We would like to address all of these issues, but with this supplement we will address what is happening in the digestive tract in the case of constipation. This involves the following:
Whole Food Nutrition
With a condition like Constipation we highly recommend a raw food diet for your dog or cat that is higher in moisture and easier for them to digest than dry, kibble pet foods. One of the primary causes of constipation is dehydration and no wonder when you realize that the moisture content of a kibble diet is 10% max (closer to 5%) while a more natural raw diet provides around 75% moisture content!
If a raw food diet is not your cup of tea, the next best thing would be a cooked, whole food diet. There are now many quality premixes to choose from to which you can add your own raw or cooked meat. If you decide to make a homemade diet please research the proper way to do this and make sure to add a calcium source like our Seaweed Calcium. For a quick and easy way to add high-quality protein to your dog's diet take a look at our Whey Protein Isolate. A high-quality, meat based canned food can also be a good option, especially for cats, because of canned foods' high moisture content (be careful to choose canned foods with little to no fish content for too many reasons to list here). For more information read our articles How to Feed Your Dog or How to Feed Your Cat that can be found in our Education section.
Many animals we see are having problems with hypochloridia, or low stomach acid output. Feeding a kibble diet raises the alkalinity of your pet's stomach resulting in incomplete digestion, but dogs and cats can have problems properly digesting other foods as well. This contributes to many imbalances in the body. In order to acidify the gut many people use apple cider vinegar alone. We prefer our Herbal Digestive Tonic for this purpose because it is formulated with herbal bitters that stimulate digestive secretions to super-charge digestion.
Liver congestion is a common contributing factor to constipation. Bile supplied by the liver acts as a natural laxative and when the liver is not functioning properly the result can be constipation among other potential health issues. Our Liver Tonic contains organic herbs that help to gently encourage liver detoxification and the secretion of proper levels of bile along with milk thistle to help regenerate damaged liver cells.
A very highly researched blend of two green and two red algae chosen from thousands of species because of their synergistic effects when taken together! This microalage formulation contains thousands of highly bioavailable nutrients that are able to cross the digestive tract and enter the blood stream without any burden on the digestive system. Because they are microlagae they enter cells providing powerful cellular nutrition that can have amazing health benefits for your dog or cat including, but certainly not limited to, enhancing all nutrient absorption, supporting the body's ability to repair itself, aiding cellular detoxification, balancing the endocrine (hormone) system, crossing the blood brain and blood retinal barriers to nurture the hypothalamus (brain) and eyes.
Healthy Levels of Exercise
Constipation can be related to a number of things as previously discussed. Included in those possibilities is a sedentary lifestyle. Exercise can help aid the movement of waste through the digestive tract by naturally aiding the wave-like, smooth muscle contractions (peristalsis) that move waste along. Exercise can be as simple as walks that are suited to your dog's fitness level or throwing a ball every evening. For cats, getting a little feather teaser on a pole, or similar toy, and letting your cat chase this as you walk around the house can be very beneficial.
Healthy Levels of Moisture
We alluded to this in the diet portion above. A raw food diet will provide sufficient moisture, but your dog must have access to fresh water daily especially if he has a higher activity level. Make sure the water is free of impurities, so have it checked and use a high quality carbon filter if needed. Municipal water supplies use chlorine and this chemical can be very unhealthy and should be filtered out. Cats have evolved from desert animals so they will drink very little water and obtain the majority of their moisture needs from their diet - this is why kibble foods can be so damaging to cats. With dogs you can add some water to their meals with cats this is very hard to do. Felines will thrive on a raw food diet or high-quality meat based canned food diet with a digestive supplement (found in our Daily Multi Complete).
Constipation in Dogs. Retrieved from http://www.vcahospitals.com/main/pet-health-information/article/animal-health/constipation-in-dogs/7684
What is constipation? Retrieved from: http://www.webmd.com/digestive-disorders/digestive-diseases-constipation#1
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