What To Do For Diarrhea In Dogs

While diarrhea in dogs can be indicative of a serious condition, more often than not it can be the result of pilfering something from the garbage, or even from your table, that didn't go down so well!

In the case of a puppy diarrhea, it is often the result of overfeeding.

No matter what the cause, the mechanism of diarrhea - however uncomfortable - is usually helpful in purging a dog's system of whatever is causing the upset.

It's inevitable that at some point your dog or puppy will have a case of the runs that will cause him to lose interest in his food, become sluggish and often dehydrated. Aside from these symptoms being caused by a disease, it can be brought on by culprits you might not suspect, such as milk or potatoes.

  • In the case of milk, while puppies are able to produce a sufficiency of the enzyme lactase that digests the lactose found in their mother's milk, many dogs become lactose intolerant as they mature.

    In fact, milk can act as a laxative - certainly something you want to avoid when diarrhea is present!

  • In the case of potatoes, it's the ones with green parts visible on the skin that need to be avoided. This is an indication that the toxic substance, Solanine, that can trigger diarrhea as well as vomiting, is present in greater quantities than normal.

    To be on the safe side, discard these type of potatoes because this toxic substance is also harmful to humans.

While these two culprits are not the most common ones, there are a number of other more well-known causes to consider.

Causes Of Diarrhea In Dogs

Recognizing that there are different types of diarrhea, the cause of diarrhea in dogs can be be attributable to a number of different triggers such as:

  • Sensitivity to a pet food ingredient

  • Bacteria

  • Abrupt change in diet

  • Insufficient fiber in the diet

  • Internal parasites such as worms, coccidia and giardia

  • Infected fleas

  • Viral infections such as parvovirus or coronavirus

  • Liver or kidney disease

  • Pancreatitis

  • Drug interactions

  • Ingestion of any non-food item or plant foliage

  • Stress


Viral Causes

From the above list of triggers, you can probably guess that diarrhea caused by a virus is a significantly more serious case and one that can cause your dog to experience severe dehydration and possible damage to the tissues of his intestinal tract.

Signs that may accompany this type of diarrhea in dogs are: fever, vomiting and abdominal tenderness or pain - plus the stools will appear more watery. If you see any of the signs, don't wait to seek professional advice!

Parasitic Causes Of Diarrhea in Dogs

If you suspect that worms may be at the heart of the loose stools, one sign is that worms will often make a dog itchy. So if you see your dog scooting his rear accross the room, worms may be the reason.

Since there are various kinds of worms, some of which can do more than just cause diarrhea in dogs, your vet will want to examine your dog's stool to identify the type of worm present so that he can treat it accordingly.

Tapeworms are the most common, but other invaders are roundworms, whipworms and hookworms.

The bottom line - any diarrhea in dogs that continues into a second day without showing signs of easing, needs to be reported to the vet. Chronic conditions can develop from persistent diarrhea and won't get better without your vet's help.

glass bottle of water marked H₂OH₂O Help

Dog Diarrhea Treatment

To give your dog's digestive system a chance to recover:

  • Hold off on his food for 24-hours. This will give him a welcome break from the "runs". (However, if your dog is diabetic, has an existing medical condition, or is a puppy, check with your vet before starting a fast.)

  • While on this fast, offer plenty of water or clear low-fat broth to replace lost nutrients and to offset the risk of dehydration.

  • One way to check for dehydration, is to examine your pet's gums which will have a dry appearance instead of their normal moistness.

    Another test, is to carefully pull down on the eyelid - if it sticks to the eye this is an indication of serious fluid loss and needs your vet's immediate attention.

  • If your dog doesn't seem interested in plain water or broth, with your vet's ok you can try giving him a little Pedialyte, which has a taste dogs seem to like, to replace lost fluids and minerals.

  • If vomiting is present along with the loose stools, this is a sign that something more serious may be going on and is your signal to consult your veterinarian right away.

Following the period of fasting, a bland diet can be started with easy-to-digest foods such as low-fat chicken, or fish with rice, spread out over the day in small quantities.

When normal normal eliminations return, very gradually resume a normal diet so as not to cause a recurrence of diarrhea.

Prevention Of Diarrhea In Dogs

While there are no dog diarrhea cures to speak of, because it's almost impossible to track everything you dog gets into or what may be brewing that you can't see, here are some guidelines for what you can do to help prevent episodes of diarrhea:

  • Keep the garbage containers, both outside and in, safely locked to avoid them being raided when you're not around. Dogs have an incredible sense of smell which is why they are so attracted to smelly garbage or anything else that has an interesting odor.

  • Clean your dog's water bowl and change the water often to prevent a build-up of bacteria. And make sure there are no inviting areas of stagnant water in your back yard that could be harboring harmful, diarrhea causing organisms.

  • Keep leftover pet food tightly covered in the refrigerator to prevent bacteria from forming.

  • Make sure your dog has a nutritious well balanced diet that keeps him healthy and his immune system strong.

  • If you change your dog's diet, do it gradually over a period of one to two weeks, adding in the new food to his regular food in small amounts.

  • Make sure your dog is well-groomed and kept free of fleas.

  • Try to keep him from sniffing at or around dog stools that you come across out on a walk - even those that have disintegrated.

    Worm eggs are passed out of the body via the stool and can remain in and around the deposit for a long time, even surviving over winter under the snow! If worm eggs are present, they can be inhaled through your dog's nose, licked off the ground by him, or picked up on his paws.

  • Also, if you have to board your dog, choose a facility that not only keeps the premises immaculate, but also sterilizes pens between boarders and also routinely monitors the health conditions of its canine boarders.

    Many dog health problems can and are spread from dog to dog through residual fecal matter making it extremely important for a boarding facility to have thorough cleaning practices in place.

Diarrhea in dogs - Don't Panic

Since diarrhea in dogs is a fairly common occurrence among pets, dogs (including puppies) will have bouts of diarrhea throughout their lifetimes for various reasons.

While there are times when it can be serious, most of the time it will more than likely be of the type that comes and goes quickly as a result of a dog's adventures into tainted food.

The main thing is to get on top of it right away and if it persists, or you have any worries about it, get in touch with your vet.

Learning about the symptoms of various dog conditions and their treatment, will help you be a much more confident dog owner, as well as recognize when your vet's help is needed.

Get yourself a copy of Dr. Pitcairn's New Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs,  and you'll be way ahead of the game whenever your dog has a health issue.

In the meantime, you can take a look at this very popular remedy used successfully by many pet parents for dog diarrhea: Olewo Carrots Digestive Non-GMO Supplement, effective dog diarrhea relief.

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  • Always consult your veterinarian when you have health-related questions. Information on this website is not intended to replace the advice of a qualified professional.

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