Hey, there human, my name is Gemma, and I’m a collie. I’m especially happy because I recently gave birth to my first litter! There’s nothing more joyful than a newborn puppy, but boy, am I learning that there’s a lot to keep track of.
If you’re lucky enough to adopt such a young pup, you have to make sure that you’re ready for anything. Much like human babies, puppies may develop a few issues that need special attention. One of those issues is newborn puppy constipation.
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Today, you’ll learn from an expert (me!) how to spot any problems in your newborn puppy, including constipation, and what to do if you find that your puppy isn’t feeling quite right.
Signs that a Newborn Puppy Constipated
Puppies are not unlike your baby humans in that they have bowel movements more often than adults.
Healthy puppies should have two to three healthy bowel movements a day, so it is important to ensure that your puppy stays regular. If you notice anything out of the ordinary, your puppy may be constipated.
Signs that your puppy may be constipated include:
- 24 hours without a bowel movement
- A few days of infrequent bowel movements
- Difficulty passing stool that is hard and dry
- Loss of appetite
You may also find that your puppy will appear uncomfortable and restless, and may even be in pain. It breaks my heart when I notice that one of my pups is in distress from constipation, but luckily there are ways to make them feel better.
Why is My Newborn Puppy Constipated?
Like in you humans, puppy constipation happens when stool remains in a puppy’s colon for an extended period. The puppy’s body absorbs almost all the moisture content, causing the stool to become dry and hard, making it difficult to pass. There are several reasons that this may occur.
Diet is probably the number one cause of newborn puppy constipation, as a puppy’s diet has a huge effect on its bowel movements. To avoid constipation, the two most important components that you need to ensure your puppy is getting enough of are water and fiber.
Insoluble fiber plays a significant role in moving digested food through your puppy’s intestines. Insoluble fiber helps prevent constipation and results in solid and bulky poop for your puppy.
Hydration ensures that there is enough moisture in the puppy’s body to move stool through your puppy’s bowels and comes out without too much difficulty or strain. However, ensure that your puppy’s constipation is due to a lack of hydration before giving it more water. If another problem is causing your puppy’s constipation, more water will solve the problem.
Finally, you want to make sure that you are giving your puppy high-quality puppy food. Cheap, high-processed dog food is not only gross, but it can cause issues for your puppy on account of the extra chemicals, preservatives, and sugar they have while carrying very little fiber, all of which could lead to constipation.
As an extra tip, sudden diet changes can cause newborn puppy constipation, such as changing from wet to dry food. Any big change that can shock the digestive system can cause diarrhea or constipation. I recommend making any diet changes gradually to ease their tummies into the new food.
If your puppy is constipated as soon as you bring him home, it may not be your fault at all. In cases like this, the problem is most likely stress.
Your newborn puppy might be overwhelmed by his new environment, which may be bringing him stress. This stress may affect your puppy’s digestion as the stress might be causing the body not to digest its food fully, causing constipation. Stress can also cause your puppy’s muscles to tense up, physically inhibiting his stool from passing. Talk about uncomfortable!
In most cases, this problem resolves on its own as your newborn puppy gets used to being in your home. But if you find that your newborn puppy’s constipation lasts longer than two days, you should consult your vet as soon as possible.
A full or partial colon blockage can prevent your puppy from having a proper bowel movement, causing a buildup of waste and constipation.
A common cause of colon obstruction is your puppy eating things it’s not supposed to, specifically indigestible things. If your puppy’s like any of mine, it will probably put whatever it can find in its mouth!
Common items to watch out for include:
- Small toys
- Grocery bags
When a puppy ingests these items, they can block the large intestine and cause the bowel to slow. In serious cases, these lodged items can stop movement completely. If this happens, take your puppy to the vet immediately.
Puppies also lick themselves a lot, which can lead to swallowing a lot of fur, especially for longhaired breeds, like collies! The fur will build up and form balls that may cause colon obstruction.
Puppy constipation can be a sign of a more serious illness, including:
- Bacterial infections
- Perineal hernias
- Kidney disease
All of these diseases can affect digestion and lead to constipation. Kidney disease, for example, causes excess water to be absorbed into the body, leaving the stool dry and hard. Tumors can create obstructions that may prohibit waste from leaving the body.
Bring your puppy to the vet immediately to treat the underlying condition before treating him for constipation.
If your puppy is on medication for any reason and becomes constipated, double-check their medication, which could be a side effect of the medication.
Medications that treat diarrhea and antihistamines have caused constipation in puppies.
If your puppy’s medication is causing constipation, stop the medication immediately and bring him to the vet to make sure everything is ok.
Lack of Exercise
Letting your puppy sit around too much increases the risk of constipation. Moving around helps to keep things moving, making bowel movements easier.
Treating Newborn Puppy Constipation
If your puppy has a case of newborn puppy constipation, you must start treating them as soon as possible to avoid anything more serious from developing. Luckily, there are several safe ways to treat your puppy if they are constipated.
Here are some safe ways to treat your newborn puppy’s constipation.
I hear that many humans use pumpkins to help relieve their puppy’s constipation, so I had to try it on one of my pups. Turns out it works!
Pumpkin contains a lot of fiber and high water content, the two main things you need to combat puppy constipation. Pumpkin can, therefore, both bulk and loosen your puppy’s stool.
All you have to do is mix a little bit of pumpkin into your puppy’s food. For newborn puppy’s you shouldn’t add more than a teaspoon.
You can make pumpkin a regular part of your puppy’s diet if you wish. A fun tip is to freeze canned pumpkin in ice cube trays and give it to your puppy as a treat.
Let me start by saying you must ensure that any laxatives you give your newborn puppy are vet-approved. Do not give your puppy human laxatives, as they may have bad side effects for your puppy.
Laxatives are a great help to provide quicker results. Use a pet laxative approved for young dogs. Ensure that you use the right type of laxative and amount following the instructions and your puppy’s age and size.
If you feel uneasy about giving your puppy a laxative, cow’s milk is a good alternative. Normally, milk can give your puppy diarrhea because as dogs, we cannot absorb lactose.
That said, this is the effect that you are trying to achieve if your dog is constipated, so it may be worth a try.
You can mix about a quarter cup of milk with your puppy’s food, or you can pour it into a saucer to consume alone. You should notice your puppy’s bowel movements return in one or two days.
If your puppy is in pain from constipation, a quick way to calm it is with a gentle tummy massage. I do this for my pups is by licking their tummies after nursing, but I don’t think you want to do that with your puppy.
To give your puppy a massage almost as good as mine, use a little bit of pressure and apply a warm cloth to your puppy’s tummy as you massage downwards toward the anus. This motion will help stimulate bowel movement.
Newborn Puppy Constipation Prevention Tips
Hopefully, you now have an idea of how to help your puppy if they are suffering from constipation. However, the best thing you can do for your newborn puppy is to prevent constipation altogether. So I compiled some additional tips to help you prevent newborn puppy constipation so that your little friend can feel good.
- Invest in good quality puppy food to avoid any digestion issues from arising. Make sure it’s unprocessed and full of fiber, and pay special attention to treats!
- Keep your puppy on an exercise routine. As dogs, we love being active. Letting us sit inactive for too long will slow down our digestive system, which may lead to constipation.
- Keep up with your puppy’s grooming. If the area around the anus fills up with dog hair, it can get knotted up, causing mechanical constipation. Use scissors to trim the hair, but be careful as this is a sensitive area!
Well, human, I hope these tips have given you better insight into newborn puppy constipation! It is a problem but also a preventable one with several solutions.
If you keep your puppy’s tummy happy, constipation will never be more than a minor problem.