Diarrhea in Dogs: The Most Common Causes and Treatments

There are few symptoms that cause more distress for pet parents than when their dog develops diarrhea. Here, our Apple Valley veterinary team shares what you need to know when your dog has diarrhea including some of its common causes and what you can do to help resolve the issue. 

Diarrhea in Dogs

Our Apple Valley veterinary team sees many dogs suffering from diarrhea for a wide variety of reasons. 

The most common are mild bouts of diarrhea that may be caused by mild intestinal distress from eating too much food, a small amount of something that doesn't agree with them or switching from one brand of food to another. 

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?

You may be wondering what the most common causes of diarrhea in dogs are. Below are some of the most frequent reasons for this symptom in our pups:

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

But how do you know whether the cause of your dog's diarrhea requires a visit to the vet?

When should you contact your vet?

If your dog has experienced a single episode of diarrhea but is otherwise acting perfectly normal, their symptom probably isn't a cause for concern. Make sure to monitor your pup's bowel movements to ensure they normalize. More than 2 episodes in a short period of time may signify that something is wrong, so it's probably a good idea to call your vet if you notice this in your pooch. 

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. 

Repeated bouts of diarrhea over a short time period could be a sign of quite a serious health problem. This is especially the case if your dog is very old, very young, has a compromised immune system or other preexisting conditions, Infections like parvovirus or incredibly contagious and life-threatening to boot. Contact your vet as soon as possible if your dog 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:

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

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 the treatment of diarrhea in dogs, it's critical that you never ever give your pup medications formulated for people before consulting your vet. Many human medications are toxic to dogs and may cause further health complications for your pup. 

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

A bland diet for 24 - 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.

Some other things may also help your dog to soothe their upset stomach, including probiotics, peeled boiled potatoes, egg without added oil, cottage cheese, specially formulated dog food and medications and prescribed by your veterinarian.

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.

Repeated bouts of diarrhea and chronic diarrhea are very serious health concerns. If your dog is suffering from diarrhea, contact Bear Valley Animal Hospital as soon as possible. Our Apple Valley veterinarians will be able to help alleviate your dog's symptoms and return them to good health.