Species affected: Cats, Dogs
Background: Causes of chronic constipation in dogs and cats include dehydration (may be secondary to renal disease), obstruction, dietary indiscretion and occasionally, colitis.
Symptoms: May include pain and difficulty with defecation.
Diagnostics: Palpation may reveal a feces-distended colon.
Special Notes: Some cases are complicated by long-term effects of a highly-processed or cooked diet that is low in roughage, lack of exercise, inability to eliminate at will, and confinement. Cats have a unique condition, megacolon, which is a functional deficit of colonic smooth muscle. The use of fiber may worsen the condition of megacolon.
Principles for Supplementation: Ideally, dogs and cats should be gradually switched to a natural diet containing meat and vegetables, or a high-quality canned food. Some animals may need long-term fiber supplementation. Digestive herbs and variety in the diet may help.