When a Shih Tzu is constipated it means that it’s in a condition in which defecating is not possible or the frequency of it decreases. You can observe it in your Shih Tzu if they defecate small, hard, and dark stools. Constipation in Shih Tzus can indicate an unbalanced diet or lack of physical exercise, but it can also be the manifestation of serious pathological disorders, such as tumors that obstruct the digestive tract.

Constipation in Shih Tzus is a frequent problem and simply consists of difficulty in eliminating feces. If it’s not resolved, it can cause vomiting, abdominal pain, anorexia, and other problems. That is why it’s important that you know the symptoms, why your Shih Tzu may be suffering from constipation, and most importantly, what you can / should do.


The main symptom of a constipated Shih Tzu is called Tenesmus. This is when your Shih Tzu continually feels the need to defecate but it is often accompanied by pain. When suffering from constipation and/or Tenesmus, your Shih Tzu constantly tries to defecate but often does not succeed or only very dry and hardened small amounts of feces come out.

We can distinguish three main causes of constipation in Shih Tzus:

  • Interluminal causes: constipation is caused by a partial or complete obstruction of the digestive tract.
  • Extraluminal causes: constipation is caused by abnormalities outside the colon, but they also contribute to obstruction of the digestive tract.
  • Intrinsic causes: it is not possible to evacuate the stool due to neuromuscular pathologies or other disorders such as hypercalcemia or hypothyroidism.

Any Shih Tzu ​​can be affected, however, being constipated is more frequently present in older dogs, due to the physiological changes experienced by their body and the reduction in daily physical activity.


beautiful shih tzu in the garden

Shih Tzus usually defecate once or twice a day, although it depends on the food they eat and their daily habits.

The intestine of carnivores, like dogs, moves constantly. This facilitates the mixing of food with intestinal secretions and other digestive glands such as the pancreas, the intestinal absorption of nutrients, and also its advance to the intestine and its subsequent exit. In the colon, the stool becomes solid, since water absorption occurs there. When the dog’s feces spend more time than normal in the colon, it continues to absorb water, making the feces hard and dry, which will make it increasingly difficult to expel.

The longer your Shih Tzu spends time without relieving themselves, the more serious the problem will be, as the feces will continue to accumulate and harden. There may be a point when their colon becomes damaged, causing a problem known as megacolon which is an extreme dilation of this part of the body that may require surgery.

Symptoms Of Shih Tzu Constipation

By walking your Shih Tzu every day, you already know their toileting routines better than anyone. Some defecate every walk, others twice a day; It depends a lot on their daily activity and diet, but never less than once a day. In the event that a full day goes by without them defecating, your alarms should go off.

It’s not only the absence of feces that can cause us concern. An appearance of blood or mucus in them and the production of harder and darker feces should also put us on alert. 

Other symptoms are grimaces or sounds of pain when defecating, the inability to pass stool despite being in a posture to do so, a bloated stomach, loss of appetite, or vomiting (not to be confused with one that occurs after eating prohibited food for dogs).

You should also be especially vigilant if, although your Shih Tzu can defecate after 1 or 2 days, being constipated repeats constantly. Likewise, you should be alert if you notice your Shih Tzu becomes somewhat lethargic after a couple of walks without being able to poop.

What An Ideal Feces Should Look Like

The easiest way to remember what an ideal feces should look like is through the ‘3Cs’:
1. Consistent
2. Compact
3. Chocolate-colored.

In the consistent rating, they point out that each dog is different. You know your Shih Tzu better and how often they go to the bathroom every day. If this changes from 3 times a day to just once, this could be a sign that things are straying from normal.

In the event that a poop is compact, a healthy Shih Tzu ​​feces should be solid and dense, maintaining their shape even after being collected. Apologies for the reference but you should be looking for a chocolate color, that is the ideal color. Anything other than this may be cause for concern.

To ensure that your Shih Tzu is healthy, make sure that their food is nutritionally complete and balanced; always keep their water bowl full so they have access to liquids at all times; and make sure your Shih Tzu gets regular exercise as this will improve the digestive system.


black shih tzu playing in the grass

The stool can spend more time than normal in your Shih Tzu’s colon for different reasons such as the following.

Issues With Diet

This is the most common cause of a Shih Tzu being constipated. It occurs for example when they eat bones since these are not digested correctly and end up compacting and forming a hard mass in the colon. It also happens from stick splinters that your Shih Tzu can ingest and that are not digested and then mix with feces. This also happens when your Shih Tzu has a low fiber diet, which is an essential component to maintain intestinal function and bacterial flora in good condition. Another cause of constipation in dogs is dehydration. Make sure they have access to clean and fresh water at all times.

Decreased Intestinal Motility

This can be caused by medications such as diuretics, iron supplements, stomach protectors, antacids, antiepileptics, etc. It is also common in older Shih Tzus and those with little to no exercise. On the other hand, this cause a Shih Tzu being constipated can be caused by neurological problems that affect the nerves that control a part of the intestine, or by hypothyroidism and diabetes, which can make the colon muscles weak.

Alterations That Hinder The Passage Of Feces Through The Colon

Hernias, the increase of the prostate size in males, foreign bodies such as pieces of clothing or stones that your Shih Tzus may have swallowed, or other diseases could be the cause of constipation in your Shih Tzu.

Voluntary Retention

After all, defecation is a voluntary act and it is possible that your Shih Tzu is avoiding it voluntarily. The reasons can be many. For example, it may be because they are under stress, because they are hospitalized, because they spend many hours at home without going out, because they feel pain when defecating due to hip problems such as arthrosis or dysplasia, etc.


cute shih tzu tongue sticking out

Constipation in Shih Tzus can be caused by diseases (some of them serious) and can cause health complications. That is why it is important that you try to solve the problem as soon as possible and that, if you do not succeed, you go to the vet as soon as possible.

Here are some of the things that may be useful to you when it comes to helping your Shih Tzu who is suffering from constipation.

Increase Your Shih Tzu’s Water Consumption

Hydration is essential to soften the stool so that it can come out more easily. Add homemade chicken stock to your Shih Tzu’s water for flavor or offer wet food mixed with their dry diet, which can add more fiber.

Add Psyllium Fiber, Wheat Bran Or Plantago Ovata To Your Shih Tzu’s Regular Diet

Insoluble fibers increase the amount of water in the stool, stimulate intestinal motility and increase the frequency of defecation. Sources of soluble fiber, although not as important in solving constipation in dogs, are advisable for their prebiotic effect, since they are fermented by beneficial bacteria in the colon.

Make Sure That Your Shih Tzu Is Doing Exercises

Increase your Shih Tzu’s daily walks and exercise. This will stimulate their bowel movement and help their stool pass easily.


Laxatives such as lactulose, canned pumpkin or olive oil, help soften the stool, helping its expulsion. You can start with one to two small tablespoons at each meal.

Control Your Shih Tzu’s Weight

Since being overweight can also be the cause of constipation, light food and diet will not only help your Shih Tzu stay in shape, but its fiber content will make their intestinal transit faster.


cute shih tzu

Pumpkin, One Of The Best Remedies For Shih Tzu Constipation

Pumpkin is one of the best natural remedies for constipation in Shih Tzus due to its high fiber content and a high percentage of water. In addition to that, it is rich in vitamins, such as Vitamin C and A, and minerals, such as potassium, phosphorus, and calcium. In this way, by introducing this food to the diet of your constipated Shih Tzu, you will not only get the feces to moisten and advance better through the digestive tract, but your Shih Tzu’s entire body will also benefit from it.

To introduce pumpkin to your Shih Tzu’s diet, you can cut the fruit pulp into small pieces and offer a maximum of two tablespoons a day to your Shih Tzu, always without seeds. Another totally valid option is to cook the pumpkin first and let it become warm before giving it to your Shih Tzu mixed with other foods such as beet pulp and carrot which are natural products that help reduce constipation in Shih Tzus. These foods have fiber and other beneficial nutrients for your Shih Tzu that you can take advantage of to improve their overall health.

Oat Bran, Rich In Fiber

Oat bran is one of the most recommended products to treat constipation in both animals and humans due to its large amount of fiber, in addition to vitamins, minerals, and enzymes. To offer this product to your Shih Tzu and increase its effects, we recommend preparing a breakfast mixing natural yogurt without sugar with one or two teaspoons of oat bran. It is important to note that, depending on the size of your Shih Tzu, the quantity must be adapted.

Plain Yogurt, Source of Probiotics

Plain yogurt is one of the best sources of probiotics that you can find in the market which favors the regulation of intestinal floral. Thus, we not only recommend offering this product as a home remedy for constipation in your Shih Tzu, but we also recommend introducing it into your regular diet and preparing this natural breakfast once a week. To further improve this ingredient, you can of add one or two teaspoons of muesli, since the combination of cereals provides a great amount of fiber that will help with motility regulation.

Leafy Green Vegetables

The best type of fiber to fight constipation is insoluble fiber which increases the volume of stool and ensures that it advances more easily through the digestive tract. The type of foods that are rich in insoluble fiber includes green leafy vegetables, such as green beans and spinach. These are ingredients that are suitable for dogs and are highly recommended both to reduce constipation and to provide vitamins and minerals.

To offer these foods to your Shih Tzu, you need to wash the ingredients well and cook them in boiling water. You can mix them with boiled brown rice, another ingredient rich in insoluble fiber and is known to alleviate constipation.


shih tzu running around

If constipation in your Shih Tzu has not been resolved in 24-48 hours or is accompanied by other symptoms such as vomiting, apathy, anorexia or pain, or if it occurs frequently, we recommend that you take them to the vet urgently. They will search for the most probable cause and give the proper treatment.

Sometimes, it is necessary to apply enemas or even remove stool manually under sedation. In severe cases, even surgery may be necessary. That is why it is important that you do not take it for granted since it is a problem that will only get worse over time and can lead to a chronic problem or a serious and persistent dilation of colon, the megacolon that we mentioned above.

As you have seen, constipation in Shih Tzus is a frequent problem that can affect them severely. A diet with adequate amounts of fibers, both soluble and insoluble, is necessary to avoid constipation and help your Shih Tzu maintain good intestinal health.