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Diarrhea in Dogs: Causes, Treatments & When to See a Vet

Diarrhea can be a distressing symptom for both you and your pup. Today, our South Wilton vets discuss the most common causes of diarrhea in dogs, how to stop diarrhea, and when to see a vet. 

Diarrhea in Dogs

Our South Wilton vets commonly see dogs that are experiencing diarrhea. 

Usually, a mild bout of diarrhea is nothing to be concerned about. The most common cause of diarrhea in dogs is usually just mild gastrointestinal distress caused by your dog eating something that didn't agree with them— such as table scraps. Switching your dog to a new brand or type of food may also cause them to have diarrhea as their stomach adjusts to their new diet. 

However, there are some situations in which diarrhea can indicate a more serious underlying issue. You should monitor your pet for any further symptoms and contact your vet if you feel there is any reason for concern. 

What Causes Diarrhea In Dogs?

Below are some of the most common causes of diarrhea in dogs:

  • 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 such as roundworms or hookworms 
  • Bacterial infections such as salmonella
  • Pancreatitis
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Colitis
  • Liver or kidney disease
  • Intestinal cancer
  • Medications such as antibiotics

When Should You Contact Your Vet?

If your dog has one or two episodes of diarrhea but is otherwise symptom-free, there is likely no 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 more than 2 bouts of diarrhea.

If your dog seems to be straining to pass a stool but is only passing small amounts of watery diarrhea, it could be experiencing a painful blockage due to the ingestion of a foreign object, such as a toy. This is a serious situation and requires immediate veterinarian attention. Contact your vet or head to the nearest emergency animal hospital for care. 

Recurring bouts of diarrhea over a short period could also be a sign of a very serious health issue, particularly if your dog is very young, very old, or has a compromised immune system. Your dog could be experiencing a life-threatening infection, such as parvovirus or salmonella. 

If your dog is displaying other symptoms alongside diarrhea you should also take them to the vet as soon as possible. Other symptoms to watch for include:

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

How to Treat Diarrhea in Dogs

When it comes to treating diarrhea in dogs you mustn't give your dog any human medication without consulting your vet. Many human medications are toxic to dogs and could cause further complications. 

If your pup has mild diarrhea with no other symptoms you may want to give your dog some time to recover by having them fast for 12-24 hours. 

You can also try having them switch to a bland diet for 24-48 hours. Plain-cooked brown rice with chicken or canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling) is both good options that may help to stop diarrhea in dogs. Once their bowel movements return to normal you can slowly reintroduce their regular food. 

Other things that might help to soothe your dog's upset stomach include natural yogurt, probiotics, peeled boiled potatoes, cottage cheese, or a cooked egg with no oil added.

Chronic diarrhea in dogs can happen when your pup has a sensitive stomach. If your dog experiences frequent diarrhea with no other underlying causes, your vet may be able to recommend medication or a specialized diet to help. 

When it comes to your dog's health, it is always better to err on the side of caution and speak with your vet to determine the best treatment plan for your dog's diarrhea. 

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.

Is your dog experiencing frequent bouts of diarrhea? Contact our South Wilton vets today to set up an appointment for your pup.

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