When your dog has diarrhea it can be stressful. Today, our Parrish vets discuss some common causes of diarrhea in dogs, along with what you can do to stop it and when it warrants a trip to the emergency vet.
Diarrhea in Dogs
Dogs with diarrhea are fairly common patients at our Parrish animal hospital.
Mild bouts of diarrhea are very common in our canine companions and can be caused by mild intestinal distress due to your dog eating a small amount of something that doesn't agree with them. This could be anything from table scraps or too much grass to a new food brand that isn't sitting quite right.
However, extended bouts of diarrhea or chronic diarrhea in dogs could indicate a more serious underlying health concern and you should take your pup in to be seen by the vet.
What causes diarrhea in dogs?
Below are some of the most common reasons for diarrhea in dogs:
- 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 you contact your vet?
If your dog has a single episode of diarrhea and is not displaying any other symptoms, it is likely not a cause for concern. Monitor your dog's bowel movements to see if things clear up. More than 2 episodes could indicate a problem. To err on the side of caution, you should arrange for a vet trip if your pooch has two or more bouts of diarrhea.
There are some situations in which diarrhea indicates your dog needs immediate emergency vet care. For example, if your pup is straining to pass a stool but only passing small amounts of watery diarrhea, they could be experiencing a painful blockage due to the ingestion of a foreign object such as a toy. This is a very serious concern and you should head to the nearest emergency animal hospital for care.
As well, recurring bouts of diarrhea over a short period of time could be a sign of a very serious health issue, particularly if your pup 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 dog is experiencing repeated episodes of diarrhea.
Dogs showing other symptoms as well as diarrhea should also be seen by a vet as soon as possible. If your dog has any of the following symptoms contact your 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)
If your pooch is displaying any symptoms that cause you concern, contact your veterinarian. Your vet will let you know whether your pet's symptoms indicate that an examination is necessary.
How can you stop diarrhea in dogs?
If your pup has had one or two runny or soft stools, you may want to give your dog some time to recover by withholding food for 12 - 24 hours and monitoring their bowels to see if things clear up. Be sure your pup has plenty of access to water and avoid any strenuous activity during this period.
You can also try feeding your dog a bland diet for 24 - 48 hours before gradually reintroducing their regular food. Plain-cooked white rice with a little chicken and some canned plain pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling) may help to make your pup's tummy feel better.
Other things that might help to soothe your dog's upset tummy include natural yogurt, probiotics, peeled boiled potatoes, cottage cheese, egg with no oil added, specially formulated dog foods, and medications prescribed by your vet.
When it comes to treating diarrhea in dogs it's essential that you never give your dog medications formulated for people as many human medications are toxic to dogs and could cause further health issues for your dog.
When it comes to your pup's health, it's always best to be safe and consult with your vet. Your vet can rule out any serious conditions and provide you with the best advice on how to help your pooch feel better.
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.