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Diarrhea in dogs: causes and care tips

If your dog develops diarrhea, pet parents can experience a world of worry and distress. Our Laguna Woods vets share helpful information about common causes of diarrhea in dogs and what you should do to help resolve this messy issue.


Diarrhea in Dogs

Dogs often suffer from diarrhea, and our Laguna Woods vets see these animal patients for a wide variety of reasons.

Mild bouts of loose stools or diarrhea can be caused by mild intestinal distress due to your dog eating a little bit of something that doesn't agree with them, such as table scraps, or being introduced to a new type or brand of dog food.

Nonetheless, there are also a number of more serious health issues that could lead to your dog suffering from diarrhea. 

What causes diarrhea in dogs?

There are some common reasons for diarrhea in dogs:

  • Stress or anxiety
  • Change in diet or treats
  • Eating garbage or spoiled food
  • Ingestion of foreign objects (e.g. toys, bones, cloth)
  • Ingesting toxins or poisons
  • Viral infections (e.g. parvovirus, distemper or coronavirus)
  • Parasites (e.g. roundworms, hookworms, whipworms, Coccidia or Giardia)
  • Bacterial infections (e.g. salmonella)
  • Pancreatitis
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Colitis
  • Liver or kidney disease
  • Intestinal cancer
  • Medications such as antibiotics

But how can you tell if your dog's case of diarrhea means you need to take them to the vet?

When should you contact your vet?

If your dog has a single episode of diarrhea and is otherwise acting normal, it is likely not a cause for concern. Monitor your dog's bowel movements to see if things clear up. If there are two bouts of diarrhea, however, it's a good idea to call your vet for further guidance.

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 very serious concern and needs veterinary attention right away, contact your vet or head to the nearest emergency animal hospital for care. 

If your dog experiences recurring episodes of diarrhea over a short period of time, this could be a sign of a serious health issue. This is especially true if your dog 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:

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

If you notice any symptoms in your dog that concern you, 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 treating your dog's diarrhea, 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 pet. 

If your dog passes one or two runny or soft stools, you may want to give them some time to recover by fasting for 12 - 24 hours.

A bland diet for 24 - 48 hours may also help your dog to feel better. Plain cooked white rice with a little unseasoned cooked chicken and some canned plain pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling) may help to make your dog'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 concern. If your dog has diarrhea 

New Patients Welcome

Laguna Hills Animal Hospital is welcoming new patients! Our vets are friendly, experienced, and passionate about caring for the health of the cats and dogs in Laguna Woods. Contact us today to schedule your pet's first appointment.

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