An understanding of the types and causes of diarrhea in dogs can get the problem to resolve more quickly.
Nobody wants to deal with diarrhea—not even your dog—so the more facts you can share with your veterinarian, the faster he or she can arrive at a treatment plan. Discover what you need to know to pinpoint the type of diarrhea and how to zero in on possible causes.
The most common causes of diarrhea in dogs are internal parasites and eating inappropriate items. These two causes are especially true for puppies and young dogs. Roundworms and hookworms
are common in young dogs. Whipworms are harder to diagnose and can be associated with large-bowel diarrhea in dogs of any age. Protozoal parasites like giardia and coccidia can cause diarrhea as well. Fecal examinations, possibly both flotations and antigen tests, may be required to get a definitive diagnosis.
Your Dog eating improper items such as dead animals found outside to chewed-up toys to being given tastes of spicy human food. Garbage-can enteritis is a popular problem for dogs who pull raids on the trash bin. Sometimes you will be aware of what your dog has eaten, but other times it can be a mystery to you. Trash cans may need locking lids or to be stored in closed areas.
Chronic diarrhea in dogs tends to suggest more complicated causes. Causes here can include genetic disorders such as IBD (inflammatory bowel disease) of Basenjis or pancreatic insufficiency in German Shepherd Dogs (any breed or mix can suffer from these maladies). A variety of cancers can develop in the intestines and cause long-term diarrhea in dogs. Food allergies and intolerances can lead to diarrhea, even if your dog has been on the same diet for a while.
Diagnosing long-term-diarrhea cases often includes specialized equipment. An endoscope to look at tissues and possibly take samples may be required. Radiographs, with or without dye studies, as well as ultrasound evaluations, may be required for an accurate diagnosis. Some specialized bloodwork may identify pancreas issues or liver and kidney problems that affect bowel function.
Over time, diarrhea in dogs can lead to protein loss and weight loss. Your Dog fur may become dry and brittle as well as looking dull. Secondary edema can occur due to the loss of the protein albumin.
Simple, acute small-intestinal diarrhea can be treated at home. Provided your dog is not also vomiting, the risk of becoming dehydrated is low. Trying to hold off on a meal or two while providing free-choice water may stop the problem. Then, go to multiple meals of easily digested, bland foods. Avoid over-the-counter medications as you may mask symptoms.
If your dog is lethargic or has a fever you need to contact your veterinarian. The same is true if the diarrhea is accompanied by vomiting. Small toy-breed puppies and very young puppies of any mix should not fast. Contact your veterinarian as these pups can dehydrate quickly and develop hypoglycemia from missing meals.
Diarrhea in dogs that lasts more than a day or two will require veterinary intervention. A dewormer may be needed or an intestinal antibiotic to help with any overgrowth of pathogenic bacteria
that are releasing toxins and causing diarrhea in dogs. Follow up with a canine probiotic may help restore the “good” bacteria. A high-fiber diet can help with large-bowel diarrhea.
What You Should Know
Use the Right Terms
- Small-Intestine Diarrhea: Large volume passed at one time. Vomiting may occur. Weight loss over time will occur. May include foul passed gas. The stool may have a black, tarry appearance.
- In Large-Intestine Diarrhea: Your Dog passes many small stools the whole day. The dog may strain. You may see mucus or bright red blood.
- Chronic Diarrhea: Defined as any diarrhea lasting two weeks or more.
- Acute Diarrhea: diarrhea appears, you treat it, and it resolves in a few days.
- Parasites, eating inappropriate items, inflammatory bowel disease, pancreatic insufficiency, cancer, food allergy, food intolerance.
What You Can Do When You Notice Diarrhea In Dogs
Collect clues needed for a diagnosis
- Jot down what your dog ate within the 24-hour period before diarrhea started
- Note down any medications, supplements, or treats your dog may have been given
- While zealously cleaning, save some of diarrhea for a fecal evaluation
- Be sure your dog has plenty of fresh, clean water to stay hydrated
- Note down any unusual travels you have made recently
- Then check your other pets if they have diarrhea too
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