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Common Causes of Diarrhea in Dogs & How to Stop It

Common Causes of Diarrhea in Dogs & How to Stop It

Few symptoms are more concerning (and perhaps messy!) for pet parents than when their dog has diarrhea. Our Baltimore vets understand that if your pup has diarrhea, you need a cure quickly. Here are some of the most common causes of diarrhea in dogs and what you can do to help resolve the distressing issue. 

Diarrhea in Dogs

Many dogs will have issues with diarrhea in their lifetimes, for a wide range of reasons. 

Mild bouts of diarrhea are common in our canine friends and can be caused by mild intestinal distress, often because your dog has eaten a small amount of something that doesn't agree with them, such as scraps from the dinner table, or just as a result of switching to a new flavor or brand of food. 

That said, many serious health issues can cause your dog to suffer from diarrhea. Today, our Baltimore vets will list these issues, recommend when to contact your vet and describe common treatments. 

What causes diarrhea in dogs?

Here are some of the most common reasons for diarrhea in dogs:

  • Eating garbage or spoiled food
  • Medications such as antibiotics 
  • Stress or anxiety 
  • Intestinal cancer
  • Colitis
  • Pancreatitis 
  • Change in treats or overall diet 
  • Ingesting poisons or toxins 
  • Ingestion of foreign objects such as fabric, bones and toys 
  • Viral infections such as distemper, coronavirus or parvovirus 
  • Liver or kidney disease 
  • Inflammatory bowel disease 
  • Parasites — Giardia, coccidia, whipworms, roundworms or hookworms 
  • Bacterial infections, including salmonella

With all these potential causes, how do you know whether your dog will need to visit the vet?

When should you contact your vet?

If your dog has had a single episode of diarrhea but is otherwise acting normal, it's likely not a cause for concern. Track your dog's bowel movements to see whether your pup starts to feel better on his or her own. More than two episodes might be cause for concern as these could indicate a health problem, so it's a good idea to contact your vet if your pooch experiences two or more bouts of diarrhea.  

If your pup 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 veterinary emergency and needs veterinary attention right away. Contact your vet or head to the nearest emergency animal hospital for care.

Recurring bouts 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.

Dogs showing other symptoms as well as diarrhea should also be seen by a vet as soon as possible. If your dog has any of the following symptoms, contact your vet right away to make an appointment:

  • Lack of Appetite
  • Blood in stool
  • Signs of dehydration (Sunken dry-looking eyes, dry nose, or dry, sticky gums)
  • Unusual drooling
  • Weakness
  • Vomiting

If your pooch is displaying any symptoms that cause you concern, contact your veterinarian. Your vet will let you know whether your pet's symptoms indicate that an examination is necessary.

How can you stop diarrhea in dogs?

When it comes to treating diarrhea in dogs it's essential that you never give your dog medications formulated for people before consulting your vet. Many human medications are toxic to dogs and could cause further health complications for your pooch.

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

A bland diet for 24 to 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.

When it comes to your pup's health it is always best to err on the side of caution. By taking your pooch in for an examination you give your vet the opportunity to determine the underlying cause of your pup's diarrhea and recommend the most effective treatment.

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.

Chronic diarrhea in dogs is a serious health issue. If your pup is suffering from diarrhea, contact our Baltimore vets today to schedule an appointment. We can treat your dog's diarrhea and help your pooch feel better.

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