Docusate Sodium for Dogs: Uses, Dosage, and Side Effects

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So, you’ve been out for an hour with el-poocho, and despite squatting several times, it appears to be an unproductive walk. Hmmm…. what to do when it’s clear your pet is constipated?  There are a couple of ways you can go – including adding fiber to his diet if it seems to be a frequent dilemma – but the quickest route to relief can be through some tried and true over-the-counter medications such as Docusate Sodium.

If the name doesn’t sound familiar, you may know it as Colace. And if it’s still not ringing a bell, let me clarify – it’s a stool softener that can help get things moving along. Unlike products like Dulcolax, which works as a stimulant to get your pet’s bowel active and moving, Docusate is considered an emollient laxative that actually softens the blockage to make it easier for him to pass. By reducing the surface tension in your pet’s stomach, the Docusate salts draw fat and water out of the ingested food and into the fecal matter, helping to produce a softer stool.

Now, although Docusate is considered a relatively mild laxative that is generally safe for use on dogs, you need to consult with your veterinarian before running off to the drugstore to make your purchase. Blockages can occur for a number of reasons and some of them can be more serious than simply his diet being a bit off. That’s why getting a proper diagnosis and your vet’s blessing before moving forward with any form of medication is so important. He or she will also be able to recommend dosage amounts based on your pet’s age, weight, and medical history as well as recommend a schedule of how frequently and for how long you can provide this type of treatment to your pet.

And like any other over-the-counter medication, Docusate is not meant for long-term use but for sporadic bouts of constipation that are specifically down to non-medical issues. These can include over-grooming and ingestion of hair, lack of fiber in his diet, or lack of access to water which can dry out your pet’s stools. As a general rule of thumb, Docusate should be given on an empty stomach, and doses for small dogs should not exceed 50 mg twice daily. For medium-sized dogs, the dosage can increase to no more than 100 mg twice daily, and for larger dogs, no more than 200 mg twice daily.

Laxatives of this nature should never be used to “dislodge” something you think your pet has consumed or to induce the expulsion of something he may have eaten and that you fear could be toxic. There are other, more effective methods of dealing with that type of situation. Additionally, you must always be watching for potential adverse reactions when introducing any type of medication. Side effects from Docusate can include cramping, diarrhea, nausea, and serious reactions in dogs that are hypersensitive to medications or are currently taking another form of medication.


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