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Ask the Vet: Better Treatments For Nuisance Barking Than Devocalization

Dr. Lee Pickett on

A common cause of constipation is decreased motility of the large intestine, also called the colon.

Normally, as the muscular wall of the large intestine contracts to move fecal material along, the colon absorbs water from the feces back into the body to help maintain hydration. This process transforms wet feces into the healthy bowel movements you're accustomed to seeing in the litter box. But if the colon's motility is slowed, the feces remain there longer than usual, getting abnormally dry and hard.

Another cause of Joy's constipation could be chronic kidney disease, which reduces the kidneys' ability to conserve water and prevent dehydration. The large intestine compensates by absorbing even more water from the feces, leaving them excessively dry and hard.

Lack of exercise, obesity and conditions that cause pelvic pain, such as arthritis or an anal-rectal mass, can also induce constipation.

Depending on the cause of Joy's constipation, treatment may include giving her medication, increasing the fiber in her diet, adding enough water to her canned food to make it soupy, offering broth, providing a water fountain or administering a sterile electrolyte solution under her skin.


Without treatment, Joy could develop megacolon, a serious and painful condition in which the colon is dilated and unable to contract to move fecal material through it.

When Joy visits her veterinarian, take along a fecal sample. The vet will likely want to do blood and urine testing to help determine the cause of Joy's constipation and recommend effective treatment.


Lee Pickett, VMD, practices companion animal medicine in North Carolina. Contact her at

Copyright 2021 Creators Syndicate Inc.



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