What to Expect After a Dog Enema? (9 Possible Side Effects!)

If you have been keeping dogs for a while now, you know how scary it is when you suspect your dog is sick. It can be difficult trying to figure out what condition is harmless and temporary and which one is an emergency. And it doesn’t help that these pets have been known to suddenly start bloating or develop red eyes

can dogs sense when something is wr...
can dogs sense when something is wrong with their owner

Whatever the case, when you do decide to take your dog to the vet, you need to understand any side effects of the resulting procedures and medications. It’s, therefore, not surprising that a lot of dog owners wonder what to expect after a dog enema. Fortunately, this is where we come in. 

In this post, we are going to delve deeper into what an enema is, how to determine whether it’s right for your dog, its side effects, and how long it takes for your dog to recover from it. So if you’re considering getting your dog an enema, this is the right post for you. It will not only give you clarity on the path ahead but will also give you peace about your decisions. 

What Is an Enema for Dogs?

An enema is a fluid that a vet injects into your dog’s lower bowel through its rectum. It’s usually administered to clean your dog’s bowels so that they can be relieved from bowel issues. It’s commonly prescribed for dogs who have constipation. Once your dog gets an enema, it will be able to defecate effectively. 

Keep in mind, though – there are different types of enemas. These include tap water, mineral oil, lactulose, dioctyl sodium sulfosuccinate (DSS), and warm isotonic saline. But before any of these are administered to your dog, your vet will sedate it. Also, they will thoroughly mix up the enema they choose with warm water and other ingredients before filling an enema bag or syringe with it. 

Once they are ready, they will oil the syringe or nozzle and then gently lift the dog’s tail. Afterward, they will insert the syringe or nozzle into the dog’s rectum and squeeze the plunger until all the enema has been deposited. Once this is done, your vet will remove the nozzle or syringe from the dog’s bowel. Usually, your dog will have a bowel movement after this. 

How to Determine if An Enema Is Right for Your Dog

To be safe, you should only get your dog an enema if they are chronically constipated. Signs of this condition include difficulty defecating, producing small hard, dry stools, and the inability to poop at all. Even if you think that your dog is constipated, though, it’s always best to get a vet to diagnose the condition and administer the required enema.

After all, only licensed professionals can tell whether your dog has constipation for sure and even administer an enema. As much time as you spend with your dog, it’s still possible for you to confuse issues like diarrhea and trouble peeing for constipation. Beyond that, trying to administer an enema at home can gravely injure your dog. And even if you manage to do it safely, it will still be difficult, if not impossible, for you to identify and treat the root cause of your dog’s constipation. 

While constipation can be caused by common easy-to-solve problems like dehydration and lack of exercise, it also has some serious causes. These include arthritis, intestinal blockages, and injuries. Arthritis is particularly known to cause hip pain that makes some dogs avoid defecating, leading to drying out of their feces and more trouble trying to pass them. On the other hand, injuries caused by car accidents have been known to narrow the pelvises of some dogs, making defecation difficult. 

What Are the Side Effects?

When the right enemas are administered by a licensed professional, your dog shouldn’t develop any side effects. However, the following can occur in some cases:

Bloating and cramping

Some dogs usually get these symptoms after getting an enema. However, they are usually temporary. 

Tissue damage

This only happens when an enema is administered incorrectly and ends up harming rectal tissue. It can even lead to bowel perforation. 

Infections

This is yet another result of an incorrectly done procedure. It can start as a rectal wound that is then exposed to dirty tools. 

Electrolyte imbalance

This is particularly common among dogs who get enemas frequently. That’s why it’s important to only get one when needed. In some cases, electrolyte imbalance is also a sign that your dog has been given the wrong enema. 

Vomiting

Vomiting usually happens when your dog eats something inappropriate after getting an enema. However, it can still happen if your vet administers the wrong enema – a hypertonic phosphate one. Such enemas contain sodium phosphate and other phosphates that are toxic to dogs, especially small ones. 

Dehydration

This is yet another side effect of giving your dog a phosphate enema. When these enemas get into your dog’s intestinal tract, they are absorbed quickly and cause dehydration. This can easily escalate into hypertension if left untreated. 

Weakness and death

In time, a phosphate enema can make your dog weak and even kill them. This is more likely among small dogs that have a pre existing condition. Common pre existing conditions that put dogs at risk are gastrointestinal diseases, cardiac diseases, and renal insufficiency. 

Diarrhea

Diarrhea is one of the most unexpected side effects of an enema that went wrong. It’s common for dog owners to assume that it’s a good sign that your dog’s digestive tract is working properly. On the contrary, it’s a sign that your dog got the wrong enema. 

Depression

If your dog seems down and out after an enema, this is a bad sign. They should be relieved and more like themselves after getting the procedure. 

How Long Does It Take for A Dog to Recover?

If an enema is administered correctly, most dogs will defecate within an hour and be back to their normal selves within 24 hours. However, some dogs will require additional enemas to defecate. Also, others will defecate quickly but take 2 to 3 days to go back to their usual eating and defecating habits. If your dog just got an enema and you notice that they’re still exhibiting signs of constipation, though, take them back to the vet. 

This could be an indication that there’s still a blockage in their digestive tract – like some fecal matter stuck further up their colon. You should also take your dog back to the vet if they don’t exhibit signs of constipation but show signs of hypertonic phosphate toxicity. Remember, the sooner you get your dog treated for this condition, the higher the chances of survival. To ascertain that your dog is suffering from hypertonic phosphate toxicity, the vet will conduct some laboratory tests and ask you some questions about its history. 

After a successful diagnosis, they will treat the condition by prescribing oral calcium and vitamin D supplements. If your dog’s condition is dire, though, they will administer the calcium supplements using an IV instead. They will then monitor your dog’s condition to ensure that they are getting better. The vet may also administer electrolytes, anti-seizure medication, and antibiotics to rehydrate your dog and relieve them of any discomfort. 

Conclusion 

When it comes to what to expect after a dog enema, we can assure you that the only normal symptoms are bloating, cramping, and in some cases, vomiting after a meal. Anything beyond this should be taken as an indication that something is wrong. There’s particularly something to worry about if you notice severe symptoms like infections, seizures, and dehydration. So if you notice them, take your dog to the vet immediately – any delay might as well kill them.