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What to Do About Diarrhea in Dogs

Dog diarrhea is a messy problem most pet parents find themselves dealing with at some point. So, what causes diarrhea in dogs and how can you stop it? Read on to find out.


Diarrhea in Dogs

Our Clemmons vets see a lot of dogs suffering from diarrhea and for a wide variety of reasons.

In dogs, brief bouts of diarrhea are very common and can be caused by something as simple as mild intestinal distress. Intestinal distress could be the result of your dog eating a small amount of something that doesn't agree with them, such as table scraps, or just from the simple act of switching to a new brand or flavor of food.

That said, there could be a more serious health problem causing your dog's diarrhea.

Some Causes of Dog Diarrhea

At Animal Hospital of Clemmons our team is often asked, 'What is the most common cause of diarrhea in dogs?'. Below are some common reasons why your dog may be suffering from a bout of diarrhea:

  • 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
  • Pancreatitis
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Colitis
  • Liver or kidney disease
  • Intestinal cancer
  • Medications such as antibiotics

But how do you know whether your dog's diarrhea requires a visit to the vet?

When To Contact Your Vet About Your Dog's Diarrhea

If your dog has a single episode of diarrhea and is otherwise acting normal and appears healthy, 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, so it's a good idea to call your vet if your pooch has two or more bouts of diarrhea.

On the other hand, if your dog 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 needs veterinary attention right away, contact your vet or head to the nearest emergency animal hospital for care. 

Recurring episodes 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 pooch is experiencing repeated episodes of diarrhea.

If your dog is exhibiting other symptoms, as well as diarrhea, they should also be seen by a vet as soon as possible. The list below is not exhaustive. If you are concerned about symptoms or behaviors that your dog is showing, call your vet right away or visit your nearest animal emergency hospital.

Some of the symptoms that indicate that a trip to the vet is in order include:

  • Blood in stool
  • Unusual drooling
  • Vomiting
  • Lack of Appetite
  • Weakness
  • 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 vet right away. Your vet will let you know whether your pet's symptoms indicate that an examination is necessary.

Bloody Diarrhea in Dogs

Is bloody diarrhea in dogs an emergency? Well, it could be. It is certainly the most straightforward indication that you should consider contacting your vet.

If you find blood in your dog's stool, in any amount, it is always best to contact your vet, describing exactly what you have observed will allow your vet to give you detailed instructions on what you should be watching for, and if it makes sense for your dog to come in for a visit based on their symptoms.

Singular streaks of blood are often a fluke. However, if the blood is consistently present or if the bleeding is in larger amounts, that is a clear indicator of a much bigger problem, such as a viral or bacterial infection, parvovirus, hemorrhagic gastroenteritis, and even cancer.

How to Stop Diarrhea in Dogs

When it comes to treating diarrhea in dogs never give your dog medications formulated for people before consulting your vet. Many human medications are often toxic to dogs and could cause further health complications for your beloved dog. 

If your pup has had one or two runny or soft stools, you may want to give them time to recover by simply fasting for 12 - 24 hours.

A bland diet for 24 - 48 hours 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 to make your pup's tummy feel better. Once your pooch feels better gradually reintroduce their regular food.

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.

It is always best to err on the side of caution when it comes to the health of your canine companion. By taking your dog in for an examination you allow your veterinarian to check for any serious underlying problems that may be at the root of your pet's diarrhea. Many conditions are most easily treated when diagnosed early, which makes prompt attention to symptoms essential for your dog's long-term health.

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.

Does your dog have diarrhea? Contact Animal Hospital of Clemmons today to book an examination for your canine companion.

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We are always thrilled to welcome new patients into our veterinary family, so contact our office today to book your first appointment with our team.

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