Dry dog food is convenient for pet owners. However, dogs may experience constipation when eating dry food. This is because dry food, or kibble does not contain as much moisture as wet food. When a dog's diet lacks moisture, the stool can become hard and difficult to pass. If your dog is constipated, there are a few things you can do to help.
Can Kibble Cause Constipation?
Yes, eating kibble dry dog food can easily cause constipation because it is dried and rarely contains enough fibre to stimulate defecation.
What Is Constipation?
Constipation is when the large bowel does not empty 2-3 times daily. The faecal matter accumulates, stretching the large bowel, causing discomfort.
Did you know that dehydration is a cause of constipation?
The main function of the large bowel is to regulate the fluid levels of the body. This homoeostatic mechanism relies on the colon’s ability to reabsorb water from the faecal matter when the body is dehydrated.
When the body is properly hydrated, no such resorption is necessary, and soft, formed faeces are excreted with ease from the well hydrated, well lubricated large bowel and rectum.
It's All About The Mucous
The large bowel is lined with a delicate mucous membrane which is just one cell thick, just as is the entire digestive tract, from the mouth to the anus.
This mucous membrane secretes mucous to enable smooth passage of the soft gut contents and to protect itself from any nasties in the ingested food.
In the dehydrated animal, if there is enough liquid available to produce any of this lubricating fluid at all, this mucus is thick and sticky instead of thin and slippery.
This not only impedes the progress of the gut contents through the gut, but it also reduces the mucous membrane’s ability to absorb the digested nutrients into the blood, for distribution around the body. This is partly why constipated animals (and people) are so tired and sluggish.
Dehydration leads to constipation which leads to poor digestion and nutrient deficiency
As digestion is largely a water dependent process of enzyme facilitated hydrolysis, the dehydrated animal is less able to even digest the ingested food, let alone absorb, distribute and use it.
Generally, dehydrated animals will not eat.
An Example Of Dehydration In Horses
I always remember offering our horses some dried pellets, comprising chopped, dried grasses. When they all refused to eat, I had to investigate.
I discovered to my horror that the stream upon which they relied for their beautiful fresh drinking water had become contaminated with nitrogen-based fertilizer that a nearby farmer had spread liberally all over his fields, in the pouring rain.
His compacted, saturated fields were unable to absorb this chemical "fertilizer", and it washed off into the stream, contaminating the whole river system right down to, and including, the sea.
The animals were unable to drink contaminated water and became thoroughly dehydrated
I could smell a chemical smell and noticed that the water was slightly blue. I immediately filled buckets with my clean borehole (well) water and they all drank copiously. Once hydrated, they enjoyed their buckets of dried grass pellets immensely. A salutary tale!!
When unable to find clean water to drink, the large bowel of the dehydrated animal is forced to reabsorb as much fluid from the faecal matter as possible. It does this to maintain hydration and prevent death.
As the faeces are the main exit route for toxins, processed by the liver and excreted via the bowel into the gut, the faeces of course are full of toxins.
Faeces are packed with toxins - for good reason!
Many of these are soluble, so when the large bowel resorbs the fluid from faeces, it also inadvertently reabsorbs a load of toxins.
These circulate round the entire body in the blood, delivering much needed water, but sadly, also, delivering the very toxins of which the body is trying to rid itself!
This makes the constipated animal feel absolutely terrible. They are much more likely to display behavioural problems such as aggression when constipated.
What Happens To The Accumulated Toxins?
What can a dehydrated body do with all these accumulating toxins? It will excrete as many as possible via vicarious elimination. So through the sweat, breath and urine. But a dehydrated animal cannot afford to sweat or lose much fluid in respiration or in urine.
You will have noticed how concentrated you own urine becomes when you are dehydrated! And the smell. Eugh!!!
But the body is clever and also will do anything to survive. Fat cells are pretty stable, as anyone who has tried to reduce their own can testify.
So the toxins of the constipated animal are stored in fat. This is why constipation and weight gain are inextricably linked.
So That's What Fat Is For
Fat cells are used for storing toxins - far away from organs where they can do damage.
Circulating toxins are also very irritating to the cells and so cause inflammation and many degenerative diseases, such as cancer. Hence the link between obesity and cancer, well documented in humans.
One of the other essential jobs of the large bowel is to nurture and produce probiotics. Living throughout the gut, the digestion of fibrous material is dependent on probiotics.
Equally, probiotics are dependent on a good supply of fibre. Many kibble biscuits lack fibre, so the probiotic colonies in the gut of a kibble feed dog are pretty unhealthy.
A large proportion of faecal matter is in fact dead probiotic bacteria being expelled from the body. This is one of the reasons why dogs deficient in probiotics are very keen to eat other animals’ faeces.
It's not natural for dogs to eat cooked, processed, dried food. It's not surprising it causes such havoc in the body.
The feeding of dried food impedes every aspect of nutrient availability to the animal and is so not recommended.
To minimize these deleterious effects of feeding kibble, make sure there is always fresh clean chemical free water available at all times, so your dog can do its very best to remain hydrated.
Always ensure your dog has had plenty to drink before feeding kibble. You can also soak the kibble in clean water for an hour or so and mix in some liquidised organic green vegetables to try and improve their diet.