The best dog laxative
Constipation can be a serious medical issue for dogs, and owners should be prepared to take swift action if their pet starts exhibiting any of the warning signs. Dog laxatives tend to be formulated as stool softeners or gentle intestinal lubricants. Success may be measured in hours or days, not minutes. However, if a dog’s constipation is not resolved quickly at home, emergency intervention by a veterinarian will be the next step. Having a safe dog laxative on hand is always a good idea for dog owners, because the situation can appear without much warning.
If you’re in need of an effective laxative for your dog, read our buying guide. You’ll find a short list of products we believe offer the best solutions based on your dog’s particular needs. Topping that list is Pfizer Lax'aire, a lubricant-style laxative that works well when other approaches have been unsuccessful.
Considerations when choosing dog laxatives
Possible sources of constipation
There are literally dozens of possible root causes for constipation or bowel blockage in canines. Some of them are dietary in nature, including dehydration, lack of fiber or ingestion of foreign objects. A veterinarian can recommend changes to make if constipation is a frequent issue.
Other causes are health-related. Constipation could be a side effect of certain medications, for example. Older dogs can develop kidney, prostate or arthritic conditions that affect digestion. Diabetes can also contribute to digestive issues, as can tumors or hormonal imbalances.
Some causes are physical or psychological, such as matted hair in the anal region or a fear of using an unfamiliar box or new territory.
While some human laxatives contain chemical stimulants to induce bowel movements, this is not the best approach to canine constipation. There are three basic types of dog laxatives available. The first is a fiber-heavy supplement that absorbs excess water in the dog’s digestive tract and helps form large but soft stools that are easier to pass.
Another form of laxative uses mineral or petroleum-based oils to lubricate the dog’s intestines and colon, reducing the amount of friction against hardened stools. These should only be used occasionally, however.
A veterinarian may suggest using an emollient-style laxative for more serious cases. This would be the equivalent of a stool softener for humans. The stool itself becomes softer in texture and becomes easier to pass naturally.
There are only two routes to follow when it comes to administering a dog laxative. Most brands are designed to be given orally, either as a capsule or a chewable tablet. More advanced cases may need to be treated with an enema or suppository, but this process is usually above the paygrade of the owner.
Flavors and textures
Giving a dog a laxative orally can be an exercise in canine psychology. Some brands make the process easier by adding an appealing flavor. Others offer a softer texture for older dogs, or arrive in liquid form for easier camouflage in food.
Dog laxative prices
Basic fiber-based bulk laxatives or single-dose enemas can cost as little as $10, while chewables, lubricants and emollients are generally in the $15-$20 range. A veterinarian may recommend a prescription-grade high-fiber powder for daily digestive maintenance, which can cost as much as $40 in specialized pet stores.
Q. If I’m not seeing any results, can I double up on the next dose of laxative?
A. Some forms of dog laxatives can take 24 to 48 hours to show results. Doubling the dose to speed up the process can cause an overcorrection, leading to diarrhea and dehydration.
Q. Can I give my dog an enema instead of a laxative?
A. An aggressive treatment such as an enema should only be administered after a consultation with a veterinarian. While an enema may address the immediate issue, it can also cause internal damage if performed improperly or unnecessarily.
Dog laxatives we recommend
Best of the best: Pfizer Lax'aire
Our take: This safe and effective laxative from Pfizer is a good alternative if other laxatives have produced little to no results.
What we like: Effective on both dogs and cats. Provides lubrication, not harsh contractions. Contains several oils and iron in a flavorful base. Works on severe constipation.
What we dislike: On the expensive side. Noticeable odor may discourage some pets.
Best bang for your buck: NaturVet Stool Ease Stool Softener for Dogs
Our take: These flavorful chews help balance gut flora, and also increase the level of fiber in a dog’s regular diet.
What we like: Created by veterinarians. Contains a wide variety of natural fiber sources. Includes special enzymes for stool softening. Soft kibble is appealing to dogs.
What we dislike: Can take several days to work. Some reports of hardened chews on arrival.
Choice 3: Pet Wellbeing Smooth BM Gold for Dogs
Our take: This liquid-based herbal laxative is very easy to administer to dogs who might resist kibble or powdered food additives.
What we like: Fast but gentle action. Appealing bacon flavor. Emphasis on intestinal movement, not bulky fiber. Natural herbal formulation.
What we dislike: Expensive price point. Not as suitable for cats as promoted.
Michael Pollick is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money.
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