Are you straining to know the answer???
Updated: Nov 19, 2018
This time of year, we see many dogs and cats for diarrhoea (watery or runny poo), and this can be extremely distressing for both the owner and the pet. However, constipation (having difficulty passing faeces) can be equally or even more troubling.
This dog came to us for straining without passing any poos after eating a large bone on the weekend. The faeces were so hard they could be felt as a solid tube in his belly. A radiograph (x-ray) was performed, and the full extent of the blockage was revealed. This dog was definitely constipated! The faeces (poo) in his colon was the same colour on the x-ray as his skeleton. This confirmed our suspicion that the bone he ate on the weekend caused his poos to set like concrete and make them so hard that they couldn’t easily pass out.
So an enema (gentle flushing of the colon with warm water) was performed the same day to soften and remove these faeces and provide this pooch with instant relief. The x-rays afterwards look much more comfortable!
Cats can get constipated too!
This was an old cat who came to us because he was vomiting. As lots of cats will go to the bathroom outside where we cannot see them, it’s hard to tell if they are having trouble pooing, but a physical examination again showed a firm ‘tube’ of faeces in the colon. The blockage of the colon with hard poo can cause vomiting, but why was this cat constipated in the first place? He hadn’t eaten lots of bones like the dog…
Blood tests revealed that he had actually had kidney disease!!! This was causing him to dehydrate (loose body fluids) from his whole body, including the poo in his colon. The faeces were therefore far too hard and dry to pass. So after we rehydrated this cat, we gave him an enema, and the faeces passed out easily.
Eating lots of bones and dehydration are just a couple of the multiple causes of constipation. Most of the underlying reasons can be diagnosed with a thorough history, a physical examination, radiographs and sometimes a blood test. But just like the poo in the colon, a single test to diagnose these... hasn’t come out yet.