July 19

Dog Health Part 4: Diarrhea


If your pet is dealing with doggie diarrhea, there are a number of possible culprits.  The cause of the diarrhea can have a lot to do with how you help your canine friend cope with its problem.



Perhaps the most common cause of doggie diarrhea is viral, particularly in puppies.  Distemper and parvo are the two biggest viral causes of diarrhea.  Keeping your pet up to date on its vaccinations is the first line of defense in preventing your pet from suffering from diarrhea.  In fact, viral diarrhea occurs most often in puppies that have not been vaccinated.

Of course, older dogs that have been vaccinated can still experience this problem.  When selecting a vaccine, it is important to select a better and newer vaccine in order to ensure your pet is protected as much as possible.




Bacterial problems can also lead to diarrhea.  Dogs take in large amounts of bacteria every day, and it is little surprise.  After all, they eat rancid garbage, chew on road kill, lick everything they see, groom themselves with their tongues, and drink out of puddles.  Most pets fend these bacteria off just fine.

A dog that is on a poor diet, has parasites, has recently undergone stress from surgery or pregnancy, or is otherwise in poor health, bacteria can lead to diarrhea.  This is because the harmful bacteria is able to make it past the acids in the stomach, which are your dogs first line of defense, as well as the “good” bacteria found naturally in the stomach.


Bacteria such as clostridium, e-coli, and salmonella can all lead to bacterial diarrhea.  Pets can also get food poisoning from these bacteria and be struck with diarrhea.  They can also get bacterial infections from infected gums or problems that inflame the bowels.  Inappropriate long-term antibiotic use can also make your dog more susceptible to bacterial diarrhea.




Diarrhea from parasites is a common problem throughout the world, but it is not common in pets that receive proper veterinary care.  Nonetheless, all of the current parasite control products still do not completely prevent pets from experiencing diarrhea from protozoa, intestinal worms, amoebas, and other types of parasites.  Similar to bacteria, parasites are all around your pet.  A weakened immune system makes your pet more likely to experience diarrhea and other problems from parasites.




Your dog getting into the garbage can also cause diarrhea.  Dogs have a tendency to eat all sorts of things they shouldn’t be eating, such as leaves, sticks, toys, clothes, balls, plastic wrap, and spicy table scraps.

If your pet is experiencing diarrhea from gastro-intestinal irritation from eating something inappropriate, your veterinarian might suggest giving your pet a mineral oil based laxative to help clear out the bowels.


A good, and rather simple way of preventing this is to train your dog well – If your pooch is disciplined NOT to eat what we throw out, this problem can possibly be eliminated entirely.

Here’s a way to help train your dog not to eat or sniff around the trash bin!

Metabolic or Organ Diseases


Your dog’s body has a number of different systems that are all tied together.  Diarrhea can be a symptom of serious diseases, including pancreatitis, liver disease, hormone imbalances, and kidney disease.  Pets in their middle age and older pets are particularly concerning when they have diarrhea, as the likelihood of it being a problem with one of the body systems is increased.  In order to rule out these diseases, your pet will require blood work.




Your pet’s diet can also cause diarrhea to occur.  Food allergies, for example, are a common food-related cause of diarrhea.  In addition, your pet might need to switch to food that is more digestible.  Once your veterinarian has ruled out all other possible causes of the diarrhea, he or she might recommend a special diet to help control the diarrhea.




Dogs can sometimes excessively lick themselves and swallow too much of their hair.  Hair does not digest easily and ferments in the lower bowel.  This causes irritation in your dog’s colon, which then causes diarrhea.  To help your pet with this problem, you can help reduce your pet’s shedding.  This can require improving your pet’s diet, helping it with allergies, or grooming it more frequently.


Other Causes


Other causes of diarrhea include chronic diseases such as lymphoma, cancer, and chronic bowel disease.  Stress and anxiety, pancreatic insufficiency, and fungal problems can also cause diarrhea, as can side effects from some medications.


While canine diarrhea isn’t the most lethal illness in a dog, it CAN be very distressing and disturbing, not to mention frequent trips to the vet.

That said, costs can pile up pretty quickly, especially if the diarrhea leads to something else. This is why i advocate every dog owner to obtain good dog insurance for their pets. Check out this one by PetPremium here!

about the author

Frank Harrigan

Frank loves tacos and dogs - the good, bad and ugly sides of dog ownership.

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