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Dog Constipated After Surgery? Our Surgeon Explains What to Do

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dog trying to do his business on grass

Is your furry friend feeling a little clogged up after surgery? Having performed numerous surgeries on dogs, I can tell you that constipation following surgery is a common concern. Constipation in dogs is an issue that can range from being mildly uncomfortable to seriously life-threatening if not addressed quickly. Dogs undergoing surgery may be especially likely to experience abnormal bowel movements.

While this is usually nothing to worry about, it’s important to be aware of when you need to contact your vet. In this article, I will explain why your dog might have constipation, common dog constipation symptoms, how you can get your dog’s stools back to normal, and more!

Why Does My Dog Have Constipation After Surgery?

After surgery, it is normal for dogs to suffer from constipation due to the effects of the anesthesia drugs and other changes in their body. Squatting frequently, excessive straining, dry stools and a painful abdomen are all symptoms of canine constipation.

As anesthesia disrupts the normal functioning of the body, it may cause dehydration or interfere with digestion leading to constipation. General anesthesia depresses many organ systems in the body including the gastrointestinal system, leading to the slower passage of food through it. This makes it difficult for your dog’s digestive system to work properly. Additionally, an empty stomach due to them being fasted prior to surgery can affect their bowel movement as food is necessary to aid digestion. Reduced exercise following a procedure also slows the intestines down.

Dogs often awake from anesthesia and surgery dehydrated, a lack of fluid results in the stools within their bowels drying up, further predisposing them to constipation. Many pain medications can also contribute to constipation.

Is it Normal for a Dog To Be Constipated After Surgery?

If your pup has recently undergone surgery and is now struggling to pass a first bowel movement, you’re probably feeling a range of emotions. It’s completely normal to question if this constipation is the result of a complication or even worse, something far more serious. Fortunately, it’s likely just a normal reaction post-surgery for the reasons mentioned above. If your dog is otherwise well in itself then it’s often not anything to worry about.

It’s important to carefully monitor your dog’s symptoms, evaluate the situation and talk to your vet before taking any action. While constipation is usually not a cause for major concern following surgery, it can be uncomfortable and even lead to other medical problems if it doesn’t resolve by itself.

How Long Should Post-op Constipation Last? When Will My Dog Get Better?

In general, a post-op dog should be back on “form” within three or four days. If constipation persists for more than a week, it’s time to contact your vet and discuss further treatment. The pain medications that they’re on may also be contributing to irregular bowel movements, so your vet might advise stopping this. Many owners worry that there may be an underlying cause of constipation, but usually, this will resolve itself without medical intervention.

Home Remedies For Irregular Bowel Movement In Dogs

Many pet owners take for granted the importance of regular bowel movements in keeping their pup healthy and happy, but constipation can be a very real problem. Fortunately, there are steps you can take at home to help your pooch avoid constipation and stay discomfort-free.

1. Feed your dog a high-fiber diet

A high-fiber diet that encourages digestion can help your dog move naturally; canned pumpkin or specialized gastrointestinal canned dog food are good ideas.

2. Make sure your dog is hydrated

Adequate hydration keeps moisture in the bowels so make sure your dog drinks plenty of water. Simply make sure that your dog has easy access to fresh water anytime during the day.

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3. Consider gentle exercises

Regular exercise is also key in helping maintain stool consistency – of course take into account whether this is appropriate for the procedure your dog has had done but short lead walks are usually fine.

If constipation persists despite these home remedies, it’s best to consult with your vet as they may prescribe further treatment or check for underlying conditions.

Make sure you read our veterinarian recommendations for simple home remedies to help a constipated dog.

Reasons You Should Seek Veterinary Attention Immediately

If your dog’s constipation appears to be accompanied by symptoms such as lethargy, vomiting, diarrhoea or fever it’s important to contact your vet urgently as this could indicate a more severe underlying issue. Additionally, if constipation persists for longer than a week despite home remedies and medications prescribed by your vet then further investigation may be needed.

No matter how minor the issue appears to be, it’s always best to err on the side of caution when dealing with a dog post-operatively – If you’re ever in doubt over your dog’s condition or behaviour speak to your vet. A veterinary professional can evaluate their condition and come up with the best treatment plan depending on the degree and cause of constipation. Additionally, without proper medical attention, your beloved pet can develop more significant problems such as bloating or even intestinal blockage. So, don’t let minor issues become much bigger ones; act fast and contact your vet for timely and effective treatment. It’s rare, but in some cases, impacted stools can be life-threatening and require urgent medical attention.

Other Important Tips for Surgery Aftercare for your dog:

When caring for a dog post-surgery, several important factors should not be overlooked. First and foremost, it is essential to ensure proper pain management and physical comfort to alleviate pain and any distress your dog may be experiencing – your vet can provide additional pain medication if necessary. Keeping the surgical site dry and clean as well as checking for signs of infection is also critical for ensuring healthy wound healing post-surgery. Additionally, it’s also important to keep an eye out for any changes in appetite or behaviour as it can be indicative of a medical complication or other health concern; if this occurs, contact your veterinarian immediately. Finally, providing emotional comfort and consistent care during your pup’s recovery contributes significantly toward the success of the overall recovery process – because we all know a hug does wonders! Following these simple tips will have your pup feeling better in no time!

In conclusion, surgery can lead to constipation in dogs. To help your pup avoid this uncomfortable post-op side effect, be sure to talk to your vet beforehand, follow their advice regarding aftercare diet and exercise, and act quickly if you suspect any signs of abnormal bowel movement. It’s important to remain vigilant and seek professional help should the matter worsen or extend over time. Thankfully, there are also many practical home remedies you can use in the meantime while awaiting an appointment with your vet. Your furry friend’s health is important even after a successful surgical procedure; take the necessary steps to ensure their speedy and safe recovery!

Make sure you read our veterinarian recommendations for simple home remedies to help a constipated dog.

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  • Dr Alex Crow, Veterinary Surgeon

    Alex Crow, VetMed MRCVS, is an RCVS accredited Veterinary surgeon with special interests in neurology and soft tissue surgery. Dr Crow is currently practicing at Buttercross Veterinary Center in England. He earned his degree in veterinary medicine in 2019 from the Royal Veterinary College (one of the top 3 vet schools in the world) and has more than three years of experience practicing as a small animal veterinarian (dogs and cats).

Disclaimer: This website's content is not a substitute for veterinary care. Always consult with your veterinarian for healthcare decisions. Read More.

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