Should I Use Milk for Dog Constipation?

Can milk help a dog with constipation?

If your dog gets constipated, he’ll be just as miserable as you are when things get backed up.

Everyone has their surefire remedy for constipation, but what can you do about your dog?

Should I use milk for dog constipation?

Should I use over-the-counter laxatives?

You obviously want to help your pooch relieve himself as soon as possible, but you need to do a bit of research to understand what are the best remedies for dog constipation.

Here’s a look at what works and what doesn’t. 

What are the causes of dog constipation?

To help out your four-legged friend you first need to understand what’s causing a problem.

Everybody knows what constipation is and how unpleasant it is. If your dog is unable to pass a stool for two or more days, there’s no question he’s constipated.

Other symptoms include trying and trying to get the best position, straining and whimpering, and, after all the fuss, all that gets out is a small firm piece of poop, that looks nothing like your dog’s regular feces. Let’s have a look at what might be causing the issue.

Intestinal occlusion

This is caused by the ingestion of a foreign object, which can be literally anything – dirt, stones, coins, bones and bone fragments, pieces of broken toys, or whatever he might have found on the floor.

This is not a frequent occurrence but it’s something you need to keep in mind, as intestinal occlusion can be fatal if left untreated. Other intestinal blockage symptoms are:

  • Vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Dehydration
  • Abdominal bloating
  • Weakness

If your dog exhibits any of these symptoms, besides being constipated, it might be a good idea to take him to the vet.

Enlarged prostate gland

This problem tends to affect mostly elderly male dogs and it’s also something you should discuss with your vet. A short bout of constipation that gets fixed in a couple of days is no cause for alarm, but if your senior pet has chronic constipation it might be the prostate and only a vet can help you with that.

Lack of fiber

Yes, dogs are primarily carnivores but they also need some fiber in their diet. Maybe you won’t convince your dog to have a bowl of AllBran, but you should make sure he gets some fiber, either from natural sources (pumpkin, ground flaxseed, carrots, apples, lettuce, green beans, etc) or in supplement form.

Lack of exercise

Many pets lead a sedentary life and lack of exercise can also affect their bowels. 

Medication

If your dog is taking some sort of medication check out the side effects. Many drugs, including antibiotics, can cause constipation. The solution is not to stop giving your dog the treatment he needs, but you should talk to your vet about probiotics to help restore his intestinal flora. 

Dehydration

If your dog doesn’t get enough water, this can lead to constipation. The same can happen if the dog is unwell for some reason and is vomiting quite a lot. Dehydration is a very serious problem for puppies, so do not treat this as a simple case of constipation and see a vet as soon as possible. 

Is milk good for dog constipation?

There’s a lot of debate on whether a dog can drink milk or not. Experts say that a few tablespoons of cow or goat milk as an occasional treat should be just fine provided your dog is not lactose intolerant.

On the other hand, there are those who maintain that milk is a good remedy for constipation precisely because many dogs are lactose-intolerant and it will loosen their bowels. 

If your dog has never had cow milk before you might not even know if he has a problem with lactose or not, so what do you do?

Just to be on the safe side, start by giving your dog a very small bowl of milk and see what happens. If the dog seems OK you can give him a little more milk after a few hours. Generally, a small bowl of milk will do the trick in just a few hours.

Best case scenario – the milk manages to get things flowing and your pooch passes a decent stool.

Worst case scenario – your dog is indeed lactose intolerant and just a little milk is enough to give him diarrhea. If that is the case, put the dog on a bland diet and talk to a vet if diarrhea doesn’t go away by the next day.

In any case, milk won’t cause a serious issue even if your dog happens to be lactose intolerant.

What are other home remedies for dog constipation?

If your dog is backed up, here are some tricks to help him.

Pumpkin puree

If you’re looking for the safest natural remedy for your pet’s constipation you should know that plain pumpkin puree does wonders for a dog’s digestion. Besides being a valuable source of micronutrients, pumpkin is also full of dietary fiber. The fiber in pumpkin puree improves digestion by adding bulk to the stools, which is why it can be used to treat either diarrhea or constipation. 

Never use pumpkin pie filling as this may contain additives and flavorings which your dog doesn’t need, especially if he has stomach issues. Look for plain pumpkin and serve it straight from the can.

Psyllium seed supplements: 

Use a dog-friendly psyllium (Metamucil) formula and always check the label to make sure the product does not contain artificial sweeteners and other additives. Psyllium is high in fiber, so it will add bulk to the stool. Always follow dosages exactly and make sure to give your dog plenty of water. If you don’t, the large amount of fiber might cause an obstruction making the situation even worse. 

Olive oil

Olive oil is a natural laxative and is safe for dogs. Just don’t overdo you as too much olive oil can give your dog a bad case of diarrhea. You should add a teaspoonful of olive oil to your dog’s regular chow and wait for it to work. If nothing happens, you can give him another dose at the next meal.

Can I use laxatives?

Do not ever give your dog laxatives for human consumption as they may be too strong. Talk to your vet or look for a laxative made especially for dogs at the pet shop. Or you can use a stool softener, also known as an emollient laxative. This acts for smoothing things out and helping the dog produce a bowel movement. 

Also, keep in mind that laxatives can be dangerous as the dog may become addicted to them. Only use them when really necessary and look for other ways to improve your dog’s digestion.

Can I give my dog an enema?

Under no circumstances. As they say, don’t try this at home as an incorrect enema can cause serious problems like a ruptured intestine. If your dog suffers from extreme constipation, take him to the vet and let a professional give the dog an enema. 

How can you prevent constipation in dogs?

If your dog seems to be prone to constipation you need to take active measures to prevent the problem. 

Switch to canned foods

If you usually feed your dog kibble it may be that it is too dry and this makes him constipated. You should try to switch your dog to canned wet foods. Or you may try to add a bit of water or chicken broth to the dog’s kibble.

Give access to plenty of fresh water

If the dog is well hydrated, constipation won’t be much of a problem. Make sure his water bowl is always full and clean it regularly. If you’re away for most of the day, the water in his bowl may become stale and unappetizing. Consider buying a water fountain for your dog. This sort of equipment keeps the water fresh and clean, and your dog might find it quite fun to use so he’ll drink more.

Increase physical exercise

Nothing like a good walk to get the bowels moving. You should increase the number and duration of your walks together. Also, you may want to increase the pace, like taking your dog with you when you go jogging. If long walks are not an option, for instance during winter months, try to engage your dog in some vigorous playing. Find a room or a hall where you can safely throw a ball or build an obstacle course. 

Closing thoughts

There are many reasons why your dog may be constipated. It may be a temporary thing, like a side-effect to certain medications, but it may also be a sign of an underlying health issue. If you are worried about your dog’s lack of bowel movements, you may want to see a vet if only to rule out problems like an intestinal blockage or an enlarged prostate. You can use milk to treat your pet’s constipation but only use small amounts. Milk works as a laxative because many dogs are lactose intolerant, but too much might cause diarrhea. 

The safest remedy for dog constipation is pumpkin puree, but you can also try olive oil or add water to the dog’s food.