Digestive problems in dogs and cats: constipation
In the last article we stressed that even supposedly short-term digestive problems should be seen as serious warning signs from the animal’s body. This also applies to constipation, which is something that worries many pet owners. Cats are even more susceptible to it than dogs. The following measures can help.
Digestive problems in focus: Causes of constipation
- Indigestible items
- Incorrect feed composition (too much bone in the feed ration)
- Too little fibre in the feed ration
- Bottom and hip pain (for fear that defecating will be painful, the cat holds it in and becomes constipated).
- Anal gland inflammation
- Too little exercise and activity
- Hormonal disorders
- Organ diseases
- Megacolon (chronic constipation caused by a widening of the bowel)
- Higher susceptibility with advanced age
To remedy this and counteract constipation, it is helpful to include fibre-rich foods, roughage, in the feed ration. Examples of high-fibre foods include bran, coconut flakes, coconut pulp, almonds, brown rice, berries (blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, red and black currants, cranberries), carrots, sesame, oatmeal. It is important to distinguish between soluble and insoluble fibres. Most plants contain both soluble and insoluble fibre, but in varying amounts.
A comparison of insoluble and soluble fibres
Insoluble fibres (e.g. whole grain; wheat bran, which contain a lot of phosphorus and can therefore impair the calcium to phosphorus ratio and also often contain impurities such as mould; cauliflower, potatoes, nuts) stimulate the peristalsis (proper movement) of the intestines because they are not water-soluble and are therefore indigestible. They contain plant cellulose and hemicellulose, promote the emptying of the bowels via the large intestine, lead to bulky and loose stools and thus ensure that more moisture is contained in the faeces. But caution is also required here, as these fibres can lead to very soft stools and even diarrhoea if the dosage is too high.
Soluble fibres (oats, apples, citrus fruits, carrots, barley, psyllium, fruit and vegetables), on the other hand are, as the name suggests, soluble in water, contain plant pectin and therefore do not stimulate peristalsis. They are broken down by bacteria and serve as “feed” for the good intestinal bacteria or the microbiome.
Treating digestive problems: Supplements and tips for short-term constipation:
- Short-term laxative diet (pumpkin, sauerkraut, little apple cider vinegar)
- Prebiotics and probiotics
- Aloe juice
- Grated apples and carrots or carrot juice
- Plenty of oils (note: can quickly lead to diarrhoea!)
- Increase in the proportion of liver in fresh meat feed
- Dairy products that contain lactose (caution: this changes the energy content of the ration)
With a high-fibre diet, it’s important to increase the amount slowly so that the animal’s body can get used to it. Also make sure you give your pet enough water. However, if the animal does not defecate for more than 48 hours, a vet should be consulted. If the animal also vomits, a vet must be consulted as soon as possible, as they might have an intestinal obstruction (ileus).