Find out how to prevent this uncomfortable condition, and what you should do if your pet stops "going."

Occasionally, what goes in doesnt come out. If your pet doesnt produce a bowel movement for one to two days, he may be constipated.

Not all constipated pets are sick. For example, some cats just wont defecate in a dirty litter box can you blame them? Staying in an unfamiliar environment, such as a boarding kennel, or going on vacation also may cause pets to hold it until they get back to the privacy of their own homes.

Cats meticulous grooming habits can backfire when undigested hair causes constipation. If this problem persists, the body can absorb too much water from the feces, leading to hard stools that are difficult to pass. These pets arent sick, but they will be if they remain constipated.

Constipation can also indicate more serious medical conditions. For example, arthritis, spinal problems and pelvic fractures make squatting difficult or painful. Medications, neurological disorders, dehydration, lack of exercise, and low-fiber diets decrease intestinal activity. Conditions that block feces, such as a stricture, tumors and swollen lymph nodes also cause constipation.

What You Can Do at Home
To prevent constipation, give your pet plenty of fresh water, and keep your cats litter box clean by scooping out waste once or twice a day its a dirty job, but your cat will appreciate it. Brush your cat daily to remove loose hair, and give him a hairball preventive. Exercise will keep your pet healthy inside and out it stimulates water consumption and intestinal activity, and it helps prevent obesity.

Talk with your veterinarian about increasing the fiber in your pets diet. You can do this either by switching to a high-fiber pet food or by adding fiber (bran flakes, canned pumpkin, or Metamucil) to his regular diet. Always discuss over-the-counter remedies with your veterinarian before administering them to your pet, or your next problem may be a messy case of diarrhea.

When to Call the Veterinarian
Schedule an examination if your pet hasnt defecated in one or two days. If he seems uncomfortable, strains to defecate, passes blood from the rectum, stops eating, vomits, or acts lethargic, take him to the veterinarian immediately.

What Your Veterinarian Will Do
The doctor will carefully examine your pet to determine the cause and severity of the constipation. Depending on the examination results, your veterinarian may recommend blood tests and X-rays.

Treatment may include an enema, laxatives, medication to increase intestinal activity, or intravenous fluids to correct dehydration. In some cases, the doctor will anesthetize the pet and manually or surgically remove an obstruction. However, most episodes of constipation dont pose a serious problem, and your pet will be back to his regular self in no time.