Dogs can get hemorrhoids?!
Heck yes they can…and do. Hemorrhoids are as uncomfortable for dogs as they are for us, and there’s definitely a right way and a wrong way to treat them. Let’s talk about your dog’s bum.
How and Why Dogs Get Hemorrhoids
Dogs get hemorrhoids the same way we do: By straining to poop. A hemorrhoid, in case you don’t already know, is just a swollen blood vessel located at the edge of the anus. Hemorrhoid(s) start to protrude once they get big enough and they’re incredibly sensitive and painful.
Your dog could have developed a hemorrhoid all at once, when straining against a particularly large bowel movement. They can also develop slowly over time and are particularly likely to happen if your dog struggles with constipation on a regular basis.
While dogs get hemorrhoids, they’re less likely to get them than humans because their horizontal GI tract puts less pressure on their anus.
Why Hemorrhoids Are a Problem
Hemorrhoids can make it really uncomfortable for your dog to have a bowel movement. They can also make it difficult for him to sit upright and might lead him to do behaviors you don’t love, like rubbing his butt on the carpet to try and get relief. Dogs with hemorrhoids are also likely to lick the affected area incessantly to try to soothe the pain.
In particularly serious cases, a hemorrhoid can rupture. This can lead to bloody stools and even an infection if not properly treated.
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Treating Your Dog’s Hemorrhoids
Okay, so let’s talk about what to do if you suspect your dog has hemorrhoids. If it’s the first time, you definitely want to call your veterinarian and schedule an appointment. Hemorrhoids and several other anal issues can look a lot alike, and your vet can help you rule out tumors, fissures, rectal prolapse, or impacted anal glands. Even if you’ve seen hemorrhoids before, if you have reason to suspect a serious case (i.e. blood in the stool, decreased appetite in your dog, etc.), go ahead and call the vet.
Ask your veterinarian about potential at-home treatments in case your dog’s hemorrhoids flare up again. Some vets swear by witch hazel and ice for reducing inflammation. Many recommend prescription and/or over the counter steroid creams for the same purpose. Your vet can also talk to you about ways you can soothe your dog’s pain, such as by using petroleum jelly, so going to the bathroom isn’t so difficult while he’s healing.
Preventing Hemorrhoids in Your Dog
The best treatment for hemorrhoids is prevention. Dog’s usually get hemorrhoids because their stool is too hard or large to pass, or because they’re constipated. Adding more fiber to your dog’s diet can help get him pooping more regularly; there are even high-fiber commercial dog foods available, but you’ll want to ask your vet which one is best for your pet.
It’s also important for dogs to drink plenty of water in order to maintain regularity. If your dog doesn’t drink much water, you may need to exercise him more. More exercise has the added benefit of stimulating his GI tract, too! Healthy dogs generally poop at least once a day.
Also ask your vet if there’s any possibility your dog might be suffering from some kind of intestinal disorder. Medications are available designed specifically to help reduce inflammation in your dog’s gut. It’s also vitally important that you express your dog’s anal glands (or, better yet, have your vet do it) whenever he’s showing signs it’s time. Carpet scooting, excessive licking, brown staining, and a foul smell can all indicate your dog’s glands are overdue.
Unsure whether or not your dog has a hemorrhoid? An in-home appointment with a Vetted veterinarian can solve the mystery once and for all.