Causes Of Diarrhea In Dogs And How To Treat It

Causes Of Diarrhea In Dogs And How To Treat It

Diarrhea in dogs is no laughing matter and can range from simple stomach distress to something much more serious. It is miserable for the dog but also for the owner as it can quickly disrupt a schedule, can ruin vacations, and makes it nearly impossible to leave the dog indoors unattended.

Common causes of canine diarrhea:

  • New food
  • Food intolerance
  • Allergic reaction
  • Ingesting something that disrupts normal digestion (trash, plants, foods, etc.)
  • Bacterial infection
  • Virus
  • Parasites
  • Stress
  • Medications or new supplements

Serious causes of canine diarrhea:

  • Parvovirus
  • Distemper
  • Corona virus
  • Toxins, Poisoning
  • Gastroenteritis (and Hemorrhagic gastroenteritis)
  • Small intestine bacterial overgrowth (SIBO-more common in German shepherds)
  • Cancer/tumors
  • Exocrine pancreatic insufficiency (EPI)
  • Colitis (and ulcerative)
  • Obstruction
  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)

When to call the vet:

Normal symptoms include the obvious runny stools and the dog may also have gas, stomach cramps, exhibit signs of straining and discomfort. Call the vet if:

  • It is a puppy with or without all vaccinations
  • Has red blood or the stools are black or tarry
  • The dog may have eaten something toxic or poisonous
  • The dog has eaten a foreign object
  • The dog has a fever
  • The dog acts ill or is depressed
  • The dog's gums are pale
  • The dog is in pain
  • The diarrhea is accompanied by vomiting
  • The dog is weak or lethargic
  • Bloating, panting, avoiding touch
  • The diarrhea is profuse, watery, and very frequent
  • Recurrent bouts of diarrhea
  • Refuses food or water for longer than 24 hours, less for puppies
  • Shows signs of dehydration

The good news about uncomplicated diarrhea is that it runs its course rather quickly. If the dog continues to have diarrhea over 24 hours or shows any other signs of illness, call the vet. 

In cases where diarrhea is mild, and the dog is acting normal, common home remedies include:

  • Easy to digest foods such as boiled skinless chicken breast or ground turkey breast mixed with pumpkin, sweet potato, or skinless mashed potato (50 – 50 mixture).
  • Plain broth for drinking or doggy chicken soup from the boiled chicken.
  • Probiotics (supplements are more effective that yogurt) give for a week.
  • Canned pumpkin (plain, cooked, not spiced) added to food.
  • Anti-diarrhea medication from your vet or kaolin (Kaopectate-ask your vet for dosing instructions-a rule of thumb is 1 tsp per 5 lbs. of body weight every 6 hours or Imodium AD 2 mg for 40 lbs. of body weight – if your dog is a puppy do not give meds. For young, old, ill, or dogs taking medications, call your vet before administering).
  • 50 -50 dilution of water and Pedialyte.
  • Do not withhold water.
  • Slippery elm (herb – half teaspoon for each 10 lbs of body weight in food twice a day for 3 days rather than over the counter medications).

*Rice may be offered; however, it often causes gas in dogs with diarrhea. Ground turkey breast is easier to digest than hamburger and contains less fat.

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