This article talks mainly about constipation in cats. Can we have some help for dogs please?
Our experience with feline constipation Edit
I've been battling constipation with Lionel for the past 5 years. At first I used the typical remedies like fiber and stool softeners, but I soon learned that almost every remedy for this ailment comes with problems of it's own.
The first thing I learned was that hydration is key. Adding water to canned food and inducing more water consumption are vital. Subcutaneous fluids can also be used in cases where cats won't eat watery food or increase their oral water consumption, but this should only be done with the supervision of a vet as over hydration can cause serious problems of it's own.
After water, stool softeners seem to be the first line of defense. With Lionel, we started him on Lactulose syrup, 1 ml. twice a day. It helped somewhat, but eventually we had to add cisapride in order to help him pass his stools. This method of adding water, giving stool softeners and the motility drug, Cisapride, worked very well for us for a few years. Later in the cycle he started to show a rise in his kidney values, creatinine and BUN. It was partly due to the dehydrating effects of the stool softener. We started him on subcutaneous fluids, gradually increasing it to 100 ml. per day. During the period when he was on sub-q fluids, we rarely experienced any constipation issues.
Well, nothing good seems to last forever, and so this period of relative calm came to it's end when it was discovered that Lionel had developed cardiomyopathy. Right away I lost two of my key tools in fighting his constipation problems, sub-q fluids and cisapride. I wasn't ordered to stop giving cisapride, but considering that it has been discovered to cause heart arrhythmia in humans, I thought it best to discontinue it. We've been very fortunate so far with his heart problems. He has responded well to the medications, and so far his kidneys are holding up very well despite having to take Benazepril and Lasix (diuretic) every day.
One of the effects of the cardiomyopathy was anemia. The vet recommended that I give him an iron supplement. I found a multiple vitamin for cats that contains a small amount of iron and started giving it to Lionel in his food. I soon found out that iron supplements can increase the chance of constipation, so since then I have reduced the amount of that vitamin that I give to Lionel.
Right now we are using Miralax and extra water in his food, and not much else. I have tried adding fiber on occasion, but rarely ever has it provided good results. I think that fiber may be a good way to maintain healthy bowel movements in a cat that has minor constipation issues, but those like Lionel who have a "motility" issue, don't respond well to it. All it does is increase the bulk in the colon and doesn't really help move it out. Cats with bowel obstructions, especially older ones, should never been given fiber. Not only does it not work, but the build up of non-moving bulk in the colon can be painful for the cat and lead to Megacolon, a condition that can be very dangerous. I'm not an expert on Megacolon or it's causes, but I know enough about it to do everything I can to prevent Lionel from having it. I would rather have to take him to the vet every week for an enema that to see him get Megacolon.
It is likely that Lionel will need more enemas in his future. One thing that I have not used very often is mineral oil. I may try it soon since we're running out of options. Mineral oil can be an effective lubricant, but it has numerous problems. One is that it prevents absorption of both nutrients and medications. The other is that great care must be taken when administering it not to allow the cat to aspirate or inhale any of it as it can be damaging to their respiratory system. Nevertheless, I may try using it very judiciously as a last resort before an enema.
I hope my comments can help others who have experienced these problems with their cats.