What To Do When Your Dog Has Diarrhea?


Every pet owner wants his pet to be hale and healthy. Sickness in their pets can worry them a lot. Diarrhea in dogs is quite a matter of deep concern for dog owners. Everything that you need to know about diarrhea in dogs including, What are the causes of diarrhea in dogs? What are the symptoms of diarrhea? What to do when your dog has diarrhea? And much more are discussed in this article.


What Is Diarrhea?

Diarrhea is a kind of stomach upset characterized by frequent liquid or loose bowel movements. Numerous things can lead to diarrhea. It may be a simple diet change or a serious sickness or infection. Diarrhea can occur suddenly or in a short duration. It can last for a day, or days, or a week, or weeks, or even months. It can occur consequently or can come on and off. A single session of diarrhea is not a matter of concern in dogs. But if it is persistent, lasting for more than a day, it can end up in dehydration, or it may be an indication of an underlying disease and therefore should be reported to a vet.

What Are The Causes Of Diarrhea In Dogs?

  • Change in the usual diet
  • Intolerance to certain types of foods
  • Consumption of food items from garbage
  • Hypersensitive digestive tract
  • Consumption of spoiled foods
  • Consumption of non-food items such as toys, plastic bags, rubber bands, etc
  • Allergic reaction to foods or other items
  • Bacterial infection
  • Viral infection
  • Internal parasites like coccidian, round worms, giardia, etc
  • Kidney disease
  • Liver disease
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Cancer or other types of tumors in the digestive tract
  • Intake of certain drugs
  • Ingestion of toxins
  • Stress
  • Colitis
  • Hemmorhagic gastroenteritis
  • Systemic illness
  • Blockage in the intestine
  • Adrenal glands that is less active than normal- Addison’s disease.
  • Pancreatic disease

What Are The Symptoms Of Diarrhea?

Stomach upset with frequent liquid or loose bowel movements are the usual symptoms of diarrhea in dogs. Other symptoms include blood or mucus in feces, flatulence, straining to pass stool, dehydration, increased urgency to defecate, changes in the volume of feces, lethargy, fever, reduced appetite, vomiting, and weight loss.

In cases when your dog passes black stool during diarrhea, chances are that he is having internal bleeding of his stomach or small intestine. This is quite a serious thing, and therefore your dog should be taken to a vet immediately.

Physiology Behind Diarrhea In Dogs

Dogs generally get diarrhea due to four main reasons. These include osmotic imbalances, intestinal exudation, over secretion, and motility disorders.

  • Osmotic imbalances: Osmotic imbalances are caused due to high concentration of food molecules in the intestine. Because, when this happens the excess molecules draw the water into the intestine. This causes diarrhea.
  • Intestinal exudation: Intestinal exudation is the slow ooze of blood fluids into the tissue layers of the intestine through breakages or ulcers. This ooze or exudation can range from mild to extremely severe conditions.
  • Over secretion: Over secretion occurs in the intestine when it starts secreting too much fluid post exposure to toxins or bacteria.
  • Motility disorders: Motility disorder is the terms used to refer to how active the intestine walls are in moving the stomach contents through them. Peristalsis is a condition where the intestine functions slowly and is unable to contract to push its contents out of the canal. This is a very common condition. Sometimes, an opposite of this can happen. That is, the intestinal walls contract fast, and hence the fluid that normally gets absorbed into the body is lost into the stool. Diarrhea in dogs can result from both of these causes. Intestinal infections leading to over secretion can also lead to motility disorders.

What To Do When Your Dog Has Diarrhea?

Since diarrhea in your dog can indicate an underlying illness, it is important for you to know what to do when your dog has diarrhea, so that you can offer him initial treatments or remedies at your home. Vets usually advice dog owners to stop giving any food for 12 to 24 hours to their dogs that is suffering from diarrhea. Instead, you are recommended to provide him with abundant of fresh, clean water to keep him away from dehydration. However, it is important to consult with your dog’s specific case with your vet.

When Should My Dog Be Taken To The Vet?

If your dog has diarrhea for more than one day, he should be taken to the vet. Also, if you notice symptoms such as vomiting, lethargy, fever, bloody feces, dark colored feces, reduced appetite, straining to defecate, or unexplained weight loss take him to the vet. In case of puppies, diarrhea can be an important indicator of a serious underlying disease.

What Is The Treatment Given To A Dog Diagnosed With Diarrhea?

Your vet will conduct a complete physical examination on your dog. You will be asked to produce a thorough history of your pet’s health. This should include a history of symptoms exhibited by your dog, potential causes of the condition, etc.

When your dog has diarrhea, your vet will examine him for any underlying disease and check for dehydration. He may examine your dog’s feces for the presence of internal parasites. He may also carry out a blood chemical profile, blood count analysis, electrolyte profile, and a urinary analysis of your dog in order to find out the reason behind his diarrhea.

If he suspects that your dog might have ingested any foreign object, which might have resulted in diarrhea by blocking or irritating his digestive tract, he may take an X-ray of your dog.

Blood tests may also be carried out to find if he has an inflamed or an under secreting pancreas. Blood tests to check the levels of folate and cobalamin absorbed into the intestine may be carried out by your vet.

Microbial cultures on fecal samples of your dog to check for Cryptococcus, Parvovirus and Giardia infections may be carried out. The vet may also conduct other diagnostic tests including radiographs, biopsy, and endoscopy. The diagnostic tests conducted and the treatments prescribed will rely on the duration of diarrhea in your dog and the extent of severity it has had on your dog.

If your dog is only mildly sick, he will be treated as an outpatient, but if he has severe dehydration and/or vomiting, he will be admitted for electrolyte or fluid therapy. He may require shock fluid therapy. If he is severely sick, he may need potassium supplementation along with shock fluid therapy. If your dog is mildly sick and he has no vomiting, he should be put under a fast for 12 to 24 hours. After this, a bland diet should be followed.

Those dogs that have foreign bodies or obstruction in them may need surgery to remove the foreign bodies. Your vet will also prescribe appropriate drugs for your dog’s sickness. The medications most often prescribed are anti-secretory drugs, dewormers and intestinal protectants. Antibiotics are rarely prescribed for those dogs suffering from diarrhea.

Are There Some Breeds Of Dogs That Are Susceptible To Diarrhea?

Some breeds of dogs are known to develop those conditions that cause diarrhea. For example, German Shepherds are known to have a higher rate of exocrine pancreatic insufficiency. Apart from breed specific susceptibility to diarrhea, young puppies are also prone to parasitic related and infectious diarrhea than that of adult dogs.

Can There Are Any Means To Prevent Diarrhea In Dogs?

Remember that occasionally even healthy dogs get diarrhea, and that is perfectly okay. Below given are some tips to decrease the occurrence of diarrhea in dogs.

  • Keep up with your dog’s vaccination scheduled.
  • Follow your vet’s suggestions to ensure that your dog is free from parasitic infections. He may administer deworming drugs at regular intervals.
  • Keep your dog away from spoiled food, garbage, etc.
  • During your walk with your dog outdoors, make sure that he does not eat foodstuffs from the street, does not feed on plants, or drink from puddles.
  • Keep him away from consuming the feces of other animals.
  • Find out the stress causing factors in your doctor’s environment, and minimize those.
  • In case you plan to switch your dog’s diet, do not do so abruptly. Instead, gradually introduce it by mixing small quantities of the new diet with his current food. This will allow for an easy transition for your dog’s gastrointestinal tract.

Home Remedies For Treating Diarrhea In Dogs

Mild cases of dog diarrhea can be treated at home. To help you on what to do when your dog has diarrhea, here are some proven home remedies.

  • Put him on a temporary fast

Putting your dog temporarily on a fast will give some relaxation and rejuvenation to his GI tract. Taking a break from meals will reduce diarrhea. Your adult dog can be put on a 24 hrs fast whereas pups can be fasted for 12 hrs or less. If your pup is under seven months, he should not be put under a fast. A pup below one month can die if put under fast while he is having diarrhea. So, in case if your pup who is suffering from diarrhea is very young, seek the immediate help of a vet.

  • Keep him hydrated

Make sure that your dog intakes plenty of fresh and clean water when he has diarrhea. The more severe the diarrhea, the much water he needs to consume.

  • Supply Yogurt

Consuming plain yogurt or cottage cheese is good for your dog that is having diarrhea. This is because the good bacteria in these foods can restore the beneficial bacteria lost from your dog’s GI tract during his frequent and watery bowel movements.

  • Give him probiotics

Probiotics are living bacterial cultures in an edible form that helps restore the favorable micro- flora in your dog’s GI tract. This aids in accelerating the healing process and in the overall well being of your dog. Your vet may have probiotic cultures like that of acidophilus. These are far better than yogurt or cottage cheese. So, get one of these from your vet, and administer it to your dog by mixing it with his rice.

  • Bland diet

After the period of fast, do not provide your dog with his usual meals. Instead give him boiled rice and chicken (without its skin). Keep giving him this bland diet until his stool turns normal. After this, you may gradually replace this with his usual meals.

  • Rehydrate

You can conduct a hydration check on your dog after making him consume some unflavored Pedialyte. Observe the duration taken by his skin to return to its form. You can check this by pulling back some of his back skin. If it is taking more than a few seconds to return to its form, he is not properly getting hydrated. So, you need to take him to a vet.

  • Do not give stomach irritation causing substances to him

Certain substances such as snacks, bones and table scraps can irritate your dog’s GI tract when he is suffering from diarrhea. So, do not give these to him till he is back o normal.

  • Your dog can be given Pepto Bismol. The dosage of this drug depends on the body weight of your dog. It should be given at the rate of 1 ml per lb body weight of your dog. This should be split into 2 to 4 doses and should be given at intervals for not less than 6 hours.
  • Imodium AD and Kaopectate are two other over- the – counter drugs that can be given to dogs suffering from diarrhea. The dosage for Imodium AD is 1 ml per lb body weight of your dog. The entire dosage should be split and should be given to your dog at 8 hours intervals. Kaopectate should be given at the rate of 1 ml per lb body weight of your dog. This should be split and should be given to your dog once in every 2 hours.