At Dunnellon Animal Hospital, we see a lot of dogs suffering from diarrhea brought on by a litany of different causes. Let's talk about what you can do as a pet owner to help treat and stop sporadic and chronic cases.
Mild bouts of diarrhea are very common in dogs and can be caused by mild intestinal distress after your dog ate a small amount of something that doesn't agree with them, such as table scraps, or from switching to a new dog food brand or flavor.
With that said, there are also a number of more serious reasons why your dog could be experiencing Diarrhea.
But what causes diarrhea in dogs?
Many, though not all, of the explanations for diarrhea in dogs include:
- Stress or anxiety
- Change in diet or treats
- Eating garbage or spoiled food
- Ingestion of foreign objects such as toys, bones, and fabric
- Ingesting toxins or poisons
- Viral infections such as parvovirus, distemper, or coronavirus
- Parasites - roundworms, hookworms, whipworms, Coccidia, or Giardia
- Bacterial infections - such as salmonella
- Inflammatory bowel disease
- Liver or kidney disease
- Intestinal cancer
- Medications such as antibiotics
when should I contact my vet?
With such a diverse range of potential ailments, it can be difficult to know when you should contact your vet about your canine companion's diarrhea!
If your dog has a single episode of diarrhea and displays no other symptoms, it is likely not a cause for concern. Monitor your dog's bowel movements to see if diarrhea persists. More than 2 episodes could indicate a problem, so it's a good idea to call your vet if diarrhea has persisted for three or more episodes.
If your dog is straining to pass small amounts of watery diarrhea, they could be experiencing a painful blockage due to the ingestion of a toy or another foreign object. This is a very serious concern and needs veterinary attention right away, and you should contact your vet or the nearest emergency animal hospital for care immediately.
Recurring bouts of diarrhea over a short period of time could be a sign of a very serious health issue, particularly if the patient is very old, very young, or has a compromised immune system. Infections such as parvovirus are extremely serious, contagious, and life-threatening. Contact your vet right away if your pet is experiencing repeated episodes of diarrhea.
Dogs presenting additional symptoms alongside diarrhea should be seen by a vet as soon as possible. If your dog has any of the following symptoms, consider contacting a vet right away to make an appointment:
- Blood in stool
- Unusual drooling
- Lack of Appetite
- Signs of dehydration (Sunken dry-looking eyes, dry nose, or dry, sticky gums)
Whenever in doubt, if your dog is displaying any symptoms which cause you concern, contact your veterinarian. Your vet will let you know whether your pet's symptoms indicate a need for further examination.
What treatment is recommended for a dog suffering persistent diarrhea?
Never give your dog human medications without consulting your veterinarian. Many over-the-counter medications that work well for people can be toxic to dogs.
If your dog has had one or two runny or soft stools, you may want to give your dog some time to recover by fasting for 12 - 24 hours.
A bland diet for a couple of days may help to resolve your pup's issue. Plain-cooked white rice with a little chicken and some canned plain pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling) may help quell their intestinal issues. When symptoms subside, gradually reintroduce their regular food back into their diet.
Natural yogurt, probiotics, peeled boiled potatoes, cottage cheese, egg with no oil added, and specially formulated dog foods are all good dietary alternatives to help keep your dog comfortable while they are sick.
In chronic cases of diarrhea in dogs, your vet might prescribe medication to alleviate discomfort and harden their stool.
When it comes to your best buddy's health, it is always best to err on the side of caution. Preemptively seeking advice from your vet at the first sign of concern allows them to guide you on the most effective treatment plan to get your dog up and running again!
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.