Dogs sometimes experience difficulties when passing stool due to constipation, just like humans. The good thing about constipation is that it resolves on its own in most instances. Learn here how to give your dog an enema at home.
In order to give your dog enema, you need to inject the liquid or fluid into the dog’s rectum. This liquid will help loosen hard stool and relieve constipation. Another way of doing it is by adding laxative treatments such as Miralax to his food to help ease digestion and the passing of feces. However, such procedures are best left to be done by the veterinarian.
What is a dog enema?
An enema is a process of injecting fluids into the lower bowel through the rectum. Dog enema is when this procedure is done on dogs. In most cases, an enema is used to relieve constipation or cleanse the bowel before a medical procedure or simply a medical bowel examination.
Can you give a dog an enema at home?
Although there are many reasons for administering to your dog an enema, you should learn and gain more knowledge about this procedure before you undertake it by yourself. This is because you will want to give an enema to relieve constipation yet dogs usually recover from constipation naturally on their own.
But on the question of whether you can give a dog enema at home is affirmative. Yes, you can give an enema to your dog. When used correctly, it stimulates the intestinal mucosa of your dog while softening hard fecal matter simultaneously to make bowel movements relatively easy for your dog.
The procedure is usually not easy to perform especially when your dog is not relaxed during the process of administration of the enema. You should also watch out lest you harm your dog by performing the procedure when it is not necessary, or if you do not have experience carrying it out.
Constipation and blockage in dogs
Canines are very susceptible to conditions affecting the gastrointestinal tract such as diarrhea and constipation. These problems are not life-threatening per se unless they have become chronic.
Usually, constipation and diarrhea in dogs will resolve on their own without any intervention. Constipation refers to the difficult, less frequent or complete absence of bowel movements.
- Common signs include dry and hard stool that may have patches of blood and some layers of mucus.
The proper administration of enemas can help your dog pass dry hard stool.
Blockage, on the other hand, is bowel obstruction that can either be partial or complete blockage. Blockages prevent the passage of food down the gastrointestinal tract and may also hamper the blood supply to the bowels thereby causing ineffective absorption and deterioration of cells lining the bowel.
Signs of blockage include:
- Loss of appetite
- Diarrhea and
The most frequent cause of bowel obstruction is ingestion of foreign materials such as bones or pebbles which usually lead to perforation of the wall of the stomach and intestines. Other causes include: twisting of the intestines on itself or around an artery in the abdomen, intestinal parasites, gastrointestinal inflammation and tumors.
Enemas CANNOT help with bowl obstruction. Seek immediate vet attention for cases which foreign materials, objects, or other serious health problems are suspected.
How to give a dog an enema
An enema administration is a technique applied to stimulate the evacuation of stool. Although common enemas are sold over the counter in pharmacies, you should consult your veterinarian for specific instructions before administering it to your dog to prevent injury.
Your veterinary officer may ask you to follow certain dietary instructions for your dog a few days prior to enema administration to your dog. Depending on the veterinary officer you are visiting and the health needs of your dog, the diet instructions may vary.
Choose an area that is easy to clean and can withstand the enema fluid just in case it spills and splatters. The best area to choose should be away from food or food preparation sites such as an outdoor yard or a garage where the floor is covered by a material – say newspapers or clothing.
You should also put your protective gear in places such as disposable gloves, waterproof footwear, and disposable plastic aprons.
If your dog is suffering from mild constipation, choose a micro enema. Mild constipation is seen when the dog is straining to evacuate the bowel though he or she may not have missed a bowel movement hitherto. Micro enemas were initially designed for humans and can also be used comfortably in dogs. They are found over the counter at the pharmacy.
If your dog needs a full enema, use warm water with small amounts of liquid paraffin added to it. Pure liquid paraffin should be avoided since it can lead to an electrolyte imbalance in the blood.
Gather your equipment and enema fluid as you get ready for the procedure. Veterinarians commonly use an enema pump to introduce the enema fluid into the bowel. You can use this equipment or a syringe with a rubber tubing attached at the other end.
Whether you purchase the kits from the pharmacy or make an order via the internet, the procedures are still the same. Consider the size of your dog when choosing a kit. A large dog may require an enema bag while a small dog will be fine with a syringe. Follow the instructions and determine the amount of fluid you should administer to your dog.
Finally, ask someone to assist you by holding your dog still and keeping the day off the way. The assistant may also keep your dog relaxed by petting him or distracting him by talks. The procedure is not painful but is quite uncomfortable hence the need to have someone help you in keeping the dog still.
How to Administer the Enema (Procedure)
At the Vet’s office:
This is usually the appropriate place to give an enema to a dog especially when the dog parent is not familiar with enemas or when the problem at hand is not constipation or blockage but for diagnosis and medical examination.
For instance, barium enemas are exclusively administered by veterinary officers to highlight a certain area of the gastrointestinal tract for the purpose of medical examination. This enema is not used to relieve constipation.
However, when constipation is the issue and you are not familiar with the procedure, your veterinary officer will offer you special instructions for kits that you can use at home.
The kits are available over the counter at for sale. Nevertheless, you should check with your veterinary officer before using them.
One good thing about enemas is that you can administer them at the comfort of your home making it less expensive and convenient. If you are not sure about the procedure and the instructions, as your vet to help you understand the basic principles of an enema. Once you are set to perform the procedure:
- Position your dog appropriately
Bring the dog to the spot you chose for the procedure and ensure that the floor is protected by coverings such as newspaper and pieces of cloths.
Your assistant will hold the dog and elevate the tail to expose the anal area. This gives you a clear view and makes it easier for you to administer the fluid. Position yourself behind the dog to begin the procedure.
- Fill the enema bulb
Care to note that certain kits may use syringes and pumps instead of a bulb. To fill the bulb, insert the tubing into the enema fluid until the tubing is completely submerged. While the tubing is inside the fluid, compress the bulb to expel the air inside it.
Finally, release the bulb without removing it from the fluid. The negative pressure created will drive in the fluid to fill the bulb. The same procedure can be done using a syringe, only that this time you are not compressing but sucking back the fluid by pulling the plunger. Ensure that the water used is not too hot by testing it on your wrist before using it.
- Identify the anus
The anus is the hole through which stool passes out during bowel movements. In a male dog, the anus is easy to identify since it is the only hole in the rear end. In female dogs, on the other hand, the anus is immediately below the tail while the vulva is slightly lower between the legs and closest to the ground.
- Prime the enema pump and insert the tubing
At this point, you should have worn your protective clothing including the hand gloves. Squirt a little amount of liquid out of the tubing to lubricate it.
Alternatively, you can use the lubricant you had set before such as a petroleum jelly. Insert the end of the tubing gently into your dog’s rectum. As you insert the tubing, twist it slowly as it advances for a successful insertion. The rectum lies parallel to the backbone.
This means that you should insert the tubing in a straight line parallel to the spine for you to accurately follow the path of the rectum. If the tubing is not advancing, do not force it in because it may be jammed at the other end by fecal matter. Push in some fluid when you experience such a situation. Ideally, you should only advance into the rectum by one to two inches. Four inches or more will harm your dog.
- Administer the enema solution
Compress the syringe or squeeze the bulb slowly to avoid damaging the epithelium of your dog’s rectum or causing discomfort. Once the process is complete, remove the tubing slowly.
- Allow your dog to use the bathroom in a convenient place
By walking your dog to his usual place of bowel movements, you allow the enema fluid o mix with and soften the fecal matter.
If you notice that your dog is still not passing out stool after the enema, repeat the enema process after two hours while giving your dog an opportunity to defecate at intervals I between the repeated procedures.
Here’s a video to help you with it.
Possible Side Effects of Enema
Side effects of enema usually arise from using outdated therapeutic recommendations or trying to administer enema at home without experience in preparing the fluid or the entire process. Possible side effects may include:
- Intoxication due to an improper formulation. You may use toxic amounts that cannot be tolerated by your dog to prepare the enema fluid.
- Your dog may begin passing out bloody stool if you accidentally tore the epithelium of the rectum. This can lead to severe sepsis which might kill your dog if not treated promptly.
- Other side effects may include vomiting, depression, ataxia, bloody diarrhea, bradycardia or tachycardia, muscle weakness, and seizures.
Alternatives to an enema?
Parasitic cleansing herbs or medications can be used to eliminate the intestinal parasites causing the blockage. Abdominal massage can also be helpful in softening the contents of the intestines. You may also use rectal suppositories as advised by the vet.
It does not suffice to administer an enema to your dog for whatever reason while at home. Enemas should only be indicated for use by a veterinarian because problems of constipation in dogs usually resolve on their own. Although enemas are not harmful, the procedure may harm your dog if you are not experienced enough to perform it.
- Richard H. Pitcairn, Susan H. Pitcairn, Dr. Pitcairn’s Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs & Cats, 305, Link
- Diane Stein, (1994) The Natural Remedy Book for Dogs and Cats, 31, Link
- The MSD Veterinary Manual, Constipation and Obstipation in Small Animals