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December 13

Dog Health Part 4: Diarrhea [2021 UPDATE]

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Diarrhea in Dogs: Introduction


A common canine infection, dog diarrhea is not a pleasant thing to encounter – neither for you nor for your pet.

But as dog owners, we often find ourselves amidst this horrid situation with our dogs passing stinking brown puddles every now and then. 

While diarrhea is a disease that’s associated with lose, watery stools, the frequency and duration of the disease varies from one dog to another.

And the intensity remains unpredictable.


A typical diarrhea episode could last from several days to few weeks. But even a few bouts of diarrhea could take a toll on your dog’s health and well-being.

That’s why, it is important to quickly take the matter in your hand and address the issue before it gets too late.


But how to stop diarrhea in dogs? What causes it? Are there any anti-diarrhea medicine for dogs?

To help you and your dog feel at ease, in this article we have enlisted everything that you need to know about diarrhea in dogs. 

Like various reasons that could lead to dog diarrhea, its symptoms, steps to treat diarrhea in dogs and ways to prevent it.

So, read on to know all that you want to know about diarrhea in dogs.


What is Dog Diarrhea?

As with humans, diarrhea in dogs in itself is not a disease, but a manifestation of the dysfunction of your dog’s gastrointestinal tract (GIT).

It occurs when unabsorbed nutrients from food retain water in the intestines, overwhelming canine’s intestinal ability to absorb water and nutrients.

When this happens, dogs tend to pass large amounts of fluid in their feces leading to watery or runny stools.


Dog diarrhea could also occur due to an intestinal inflammation.

This occurs due to a disease or an irritant that increases the movement of fluid and electrolytes into the intestine, leading to impaired absorption of nutrients.


Depending on the underlying cause, diarrhea in dogs has been categorized as acute, intermittent or chronic.


Acute diarrhea


It occurs suddenly and lasts for days.


Chronic diarrhea


This type of diarrhea lasts for weeks to months.


Intermittent diarrhea


It keeps occurring on and off.


Why Dogs Get Diarrhea?

Well, the causes of diarrhea in dogs are plenty and many a times unpredictable.

There could be many things that disrupt the otherwise well-balanced gastrointestinal system of your dog. 

Sometimes, something as simple as a slight dietary change, like the introduction of a new food that’s not a part of your dog’s regular diet, could lead to dog diarrhea.

While at other times, diarrhea could be related to an underlying intestinal infection being caused by a bacteria, parasite or virus.

In all scenarios, diarrhea in dogs is a serious condition and should be treated with utmost care and attention.

Here are the top most things that lead to diarrhea in dogs:

Dietary indiscretion


Eating too much, consuming spoiled food or ingesting foreign objects or garbage could lead to bad stomach in canines.

This is also called as garbage gut or garbage toxicosis in veterinary sciences.

Changes in diet


Introduction of new food could also make your dog’s digestive system sensitive to new proteins.

That’s why, you must always go slow while introducing new food in your pet’s diet to avoid food intolerance.

This also includes you cooking for your dog - go slow and let them get used to it first!


Allergies

Certain food substances may cause allergy to your pet, leading to an upset stomach.


Parasites

Food infected with parasites like roundworms, hookworms, tapeworms, whipworms, coccidia, or giardia may cause severe stomach and intestinal troubles in dogs, leading to acute or chronic diarrhea.


Plants

Certain wild plant species, including Azalea and Rhododendron, are extremely dangerous for dogs.

Eating even a few leaves of these plants can make your dog really sick, leading to diarrhea, vomiting, shock, paralysis and even death.


Virus

Viral infection is also a common reason for stomach and intestinal infections in dogs.

Viruses like parvovirus, distemper and canine coronavirus can lead to dysfunction in the intestinal walls and severe abdominal pain.


Bacterial infections

Food infested with Salmonella, E.coli, Clostridium perfringens, Clostridium difficile and Campylobacter could lead to severe gastrointestinal troubles and diarrhea in dogs.


Illnesses

Persistent illness caused due to kidney and liver disease, inflammatory bowel disease and colitis could also manifest them in the form of diarrhea.


Cancer

Chronic diarrhea is also a potential sign of intestinal cancer in dogs – something that needs immediate medical attention.


Antibiotics and other medications

Continuous medication and strong antibiotic doses could also disturb the normal bowel movement of your dog.


Stress or emotional trauma

Stress, anxiety or emotional ordeal could also lead to diarrhea in dogs. 

This can be caused due to re-homing, traveling, or the introduction or death of a pet or human family member.

Symptoms of Diarrhea in Dogs

Apart from frequent bowel movements and lose watery stools, these are some of the other symptoms that indicate your dog is suffering from gastrointestinal problem:

·        Weakness
·        Lethargy
·        Abdominal pain
·        Blood in stools
·        Vomiting
·        Fever


If any of the symptoms persist along with frequent bowel movements, there are strong chances that your dog is suffering from diarrhea and needs your help.

You can also examine your dog’s poop to understand the underlying cause of the problem.


Color

Color indicates a lot about the health of your dog’s gut.

While chocolate brown colored poop is normal, colors like green, orange, or gray may signify issues associated with gall bladder, liver or pancreas.

Image courtesy of Purina


Shape

The shape of your dog’s poop also indicates the problem your dog is suffering from.

For example: poop with several small white rice-like shapes signifies a tapeworm infection. 


Likewise, appearance of wood, twigs or grass indicates that your dog has eaten something that he has not been able to digest.


Consistency

Lose watery stools are a clear indication of dog diarrhea.

Image courtesy of Purina


Frequency

Stool frequency in diarrhea may range from squirts or small amount of poop several times within an hour to large volume of stool three or four times a day.


How Do You Get Rid of Dog Diarrhea?

Well, there are various ways of treating diarrhea in dogs.

While you would need expert medical advice from a veterinary doctor in case your pet is suffering from chronic diarrhea, mild diarrhea can often be easily treated at home.

It does not require expert supervision. Here’s how you can effectively treat your dog’s gastrointestinal issues at home with cures right from your cupboard. 


Treating Dog Diarrhea at Home 

The easiest way to treat your dog’s diarrhea is by putting him on a basic home regime, which includes:


Fasts

When your dog has a runny day, it’s best to let him rest and fast for a day.

Withholding food can help him clear his gut and repair his gastrointestinal tract. 


However, make sure you provide your dog with clean drinking water several times a day.

Also, before you make you dog fast, ensure that he is healthy and in right condition to endure it.

Fasts are generally not recommended for puppies, little dogs and elderly dogs as they do not have high volumes of nutrient reserves in their bodies.


Oral rehydration solution

Diarrhea can lead quick loss of essential nutrients from the body.

That’s why it’s important to keep your dog hydrated all the time.

To ensure the optimal balance of electrolytes and nutrients like sodium and potassium in the body, you can give your dog unflavored Pedialyte.

This will help him feel better fast.


Rice water

Replace your dog’s meal with freshly prepared rice water. Boil rice water for a little long amount of time and strain it to remove the grains.

Offer your dog the creamy white soup or the starch that’s left behind.


White rice

Cooked plain white rice is also an effective dog diarrhea treatment.

You can also mix white rice with curd to amplify its healing effects.


Plain yogurt

Full of good gut-friendly bacteria, yogurt can help rebalance your dog’s intestinal bacterial population and helps him quickly recover from diarrhea.


Bland diet

You can also give you dog plain bland food for a week to ensure his gut is back to normal.

You could give your dog one or two of these foods in small quantities, two to three times a day: boiled potatoes, cottage cheese, boiled eggs, chicken broth and boiled chicken without skin.

Once your dog is on his road to recovery, you can slowly increase these portions to ensure he’s getting a proper diet.

 And once he’s fully recovered, you can slowly bounce him back to his regular food.

But remember to add only small quantities of your dog’s regular food every day.


Specially-formulated dog foods

A lot of manufacturers offer specially formulated dog foods that can easily be added to your dog’s diet when he’s suffering from diarrhea.

With added proteins, nutrients and minerals, they can help your dog recover fast.


Over-the-counter medications

You can also buy over-the-counter anti-diarrheal medications containing bismuth subsalicylate (such as Pepto-Bismol, Kaopectate) and loperamide (Imodium) to treat your doggie’s diarrhea.

However, you must give all OTC medicines with caution and should talk to your vet before using them.


A word of caution

While one method works for one dog, it may not be able to help another. 

Therefore, you need to do a little permutation-combination to find the solution that works best for your dog. You can also consider writing down things that worked best for your dog.

So the next time you land up in a similar situation, you know exactly what to do to help your dog recover fast.


When to Consult a Doctor

Your dog’s diarrhea could indicate a trip to the vet if things are going out-of-the-ordinary and your dog’s health is deteriorating.

Below are some of the signs that indicate that your dog is not recovering with home remedies or when something’s serious and a doctor’s intervention is required:

·        Physical symptoms like weakness, lethargy, fever, vomiting, and dry, tacky or pale gums
·        Persistent diarrhea that has not stopped despite all home remedies
·        Dehydration
·        A diarrhea that has long past 4-5 days duration
·        Blood or worms in the stool
·        Discolored poop
·        Allergy to OTC medication (antibiotics, supplements, etc.)
·        Pre-existing health conditions, like age, diabetes, cancer, or any medical issue
·        Stool is black and has a tarry appearance
·        When your dog has ingested a foreign body – toy or clothing
·        Your dog's gums are pale, bluish white or gray in color
·        The abdomen seems bloated and painful
·        You see worms in the stool


Severe dehydration and diarrhea could lead to disruption of acid-base balance in your dog’s body, leading to weight loss, loss of appetite, and his overall well-being.

So, when things don’t seem right, you must always care to consult a doctor.

Respect your instincts and seek veterinary guidance, whenever you think things are going out of your hand.


How to Prevent Diarrhea in Dogs?


Not just curing diarrhea in your dog, it is also important to protect him from sudden and unwanted bouts of diarrhea. For this,


Do not let your dog access the garbage cans or feed on waste.

This statement is probably self explanatory - you don't know what is in the garbage or waste bins, and anything inside could potentially be lethal.

If possible, keep a lid with a lock on the garbage bins you have, and fence up the garbage areas to prevent your dogs from getting in.


Do not allow other people to feed your dog. 

Food items they offer might not suit your dog, which may cause diarrhea

 

If you are planning to change or modify your dog’s diet, do it gradually

Mix new food a little into is existing food items and increase the quantity as you progress. Diet changes should never happen at once.

·        Keep your dog’s vaccination schedule up to date.

If antibiotic is prescribed to your dog, do ask your vet for a probiotic to reduce the risk of antibiotic associated diarrhea.

·        Keep dog’s deworming medicines always handy.
·        When you take your dog for a walk, make sure he doesn’t pick up trash or drinks from puddles.
Conclusion

So here you go! By following these precautionary steps, you can protect your dog from unwanted occurrences of diarrhea.

These steps can also help you minimize its risk and impact, and cure your dog's gastrointestinal problems at home without much medical intervention.


about the author

Frank Harrigan

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


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