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Obstipation in Cats and Dogs… Symptoms, expectations and costs!

Given all the different diseases we write about, we find it a bit ironic that this one, which many at first glance might not seem too serious, is one of the leading causes of financial euthanasia in pets today simply because the availability of treatment options for Obstipation or severe or complete constipation isn’t always widely available. Coupled with the fact that most pet owners can’t afford the thousands and thousands of dollars it takes to have the recommended surgery, this is made even worse by the fact that surgery doesn’t always provide the results you folks would hope for.

Which is why…

We here at IndulgeYourPet wanted to take a moment and discuss what Obstipation is and hopefully provide some insight on what it might be like to own a pet diagnosed with this condition. Lastly, we’re going to invite anyone who has never considered purchasing a pet insurance policy for their furry little family members to check out our Best Pet Insurance Companies article so that if they do ever find themselves in this situation again, hopefully, they won’t be on the hook for 100% of the medical costs!

So, without further ado, let’s dive right in


Before we get more into what to do if your loved one has Obstipation, it is essential to make sure that you folks know what Obstipation is and if your furry friend even has it. You may be wondering…

“What is obstipation?”

Because when we speak of “obstipation,” while it is caused by chronic constipation, it is not referring to “constipation.” Instead, Obstipation refers to the large intestine as a rude to term/chronic constipation.

You see…

When chronic constipation occurs, all that “blockage” has to go or “stay” somewhere. And that somewhere is the large intestine. And what happens over time, the significant intestine slowly loses its ability to pass fecal matter from the small intestine to the anus, resulting in even more constipation.

The problem is…

Once the large intestine loses its ability to function correctly, that ability is lost forever! And this inability of the large intestine to function normally is what medical professionals call constipation. This condition is challenging to treat because “chronic constipation” doesn’t have to happen simultaneously. This disease can play out over months or even years, each time doing just a bit of damage to the large intestine over time, ultimately causing complete failure of the large intestine.


Because no breeds of cats or dogs are more likely to develop Obstipation (than the other except for the Manx cat), veterinarians can’t necessarily be on heightened alert for this condition when working with certain breeds. It would be best if you always were careful. Particularly cat owners because most animals diagnosed with Obstipation are not dogs (although they can develop it), but it. Cats are much more likely to have Obstipation than their canine counterparts because their large intestine seems to lose its function much more than dogs.

That’s not the only bad news…

Obstipation also leads to a more chronic severe constipation disease called Idiopathic Megacolon, which is the outcome of a long battle with Obstipation that is caused by fecal mass being left in the colon (which elongates it because of the large quantity) and then damages the nerves. This nerve damage prevents your pet from removing the waste from their bodies.

In summary…

Constipation leads to Obstipation, which leads to Megacolon. So, to diagnose your four-legged family member with Obstipation, here are some symptoms that are common in constipated cats and dogs:

  • Chronic constipation (This one seems pretty obvious)
    • This could lead to your furry friend taking a very long time to defecate,
    • Straining to defecate,
    • Also, it could make them seem as if it is taking them a lot of effort to defecate,
  • Less bowel movement and the creation of feces,
  • The stool is firmer,
  • Cats not using their litter box or dogs pooping inside,
  • Some watery stools/diarrhea,

This then shows itself in more severe forms after prolonged bouts of constipation. Here are some clinical signs of Obstipation and Megacolon:

  • Throwing up,
  • Loss of appetite,
  • Losing a lot of weight,
  • Not wanting to engage with you or seeming unhappy,
  • Being dehydrated.

Which brings us to…

We want to remind folks that we at IndulgeYourPet are not doctors, veterinarians, or medical professionals. We are all a bunch of folks passionate about animals and only want what’s best for them. If you feel your pet may have Obstipation (or any other health issue), you’ll want to have them checked out by a vet ASAP!


An early diagnosis will often lead to the “best” medical outcome for your pet regardless of what is bothering them, but beyond that, diagnosing a medical condition early could save you a bundle in medical costs! This is also why diagnosing your dog’s constipation before it becomes Obstipation or Megacolon is essential.

Diagnosis of Obstipation.

Before diagnosing Obstipation, your dog will likely have a long and documented history with your vet. They may also have already had several routine examinations performed by your vet. Exams such as:

  • An endoscopy
    • This is when the vet would stick a camera into your pet’s large intestine through their mouth.
  • Physical and mental examinations
  • A count of the blood in your animal (CBC) to see if they have lost any blood.
  • Analyzing the urine of your pet
  • X-rays of the abdomen and pelvic canal
  • Rectal examination
  • CAT scan
  • Upper Gastrointestinal Study

The good news is there are treatment options to help your animal with Obstipation or Megacolon. However, these treatments do not usually result in a “cure” but are used before surgery to make sure it is necessary:

  • High-fiber diet
  • Canned food
  • Laxatives
    • Like mineral oil
    • Petroleum jelly
  • Enemas to remove stool regularly
  • Persistent hydration
  • Cisapride which is a drug that is supposed to help the colon to work again


A Subtotal Colectomy surgery is the next best option if these treatments are not helpful. Most of the large intestine (the root of the issue because it does not function correctly) is removed in this surgery. Hopefully, this will significantly aid the animal’s ability to defecate properly. However, this procedure is rare and extremely expensive because a board-certified surgeon must perform it. It should also be noted that it isn’t always successful! This means that your pet will still require careful care for the rest of its life and will have loose stool because of the shorted large intestine (which, let’s face it, isn’t a lot of fun).


These treatments are costly. The treatments can cost hundreds and hundreds of dollars a year for medications, foods, laxatives, and veterinarian help. Not to mention, if your pet requires the Subtotal Colectomy surgery, which can cost anywhere from $1500 to $5000 based on the care provided and any complications.

So, needless to say…

Suppose your furry buddy does turn out to have Obstipation or any other medical issues. In that case, the treatments can quickly become very expensive, especially if they require Subtotal Colectomy surgery. This is why, here at IndulgeYourPet, we always recommend checking out Pet Insurance to see if it is right for you. Especially if you are considering adding a new furry member to your family, this way, if any unexpected vet bills do “pop up,” you won’t necessarily be on the hook for 100% of those costs on your own!

Now, will a pet insurance policy be suitable for everyone?

No, probably not. But until you fully understand what these policies “will” and “won’t” cover and how much these pet insurance policies cost, how will you know if one might be right for you?

For more information on who we feel currently offers the “best” pet insurance policies out there, we would encourage you to check out our Best Pet Insurance Policies article.

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