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What causes diarrhea in dogs & how is it treated?

Diarrhea in dogs is one of the most distressing symptoms pet parents often have to deal with. Our Cordova vets know that if your canine companion has diarrhea you need a cure right now! Below are some common causes of diarrhea in dogs and what pet parents can do to help resolve this messy health problem.

What is the most common cause of diarrhea in dogs?

Our Cordova vets see a lot of dogs suffering from diarrhea, and for a wide variety of reasons.

Mild bouts of diarrhea are very common in our canine companions and can be caused by mild intestinal distress due to your dog eating a small amount of something that doesn't agree with them, such as table scraps, or just from the simple act of switching to a new brand or flavor of food.

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

The causes of diarrhea in dogs vary greatly, below are some of the most common causes:

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

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

When to 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 pet'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 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 very serious concern 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 pup 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 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 to Treat Diarrhea in Dogs

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 - 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.

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 is a serious health concern for dogs. Contact our Cordova vets at Germantown Parkway Animal Hospital today if your pooch is suffering from diarrhea, we can help.

Dog with sad eyes outside laying on grass. Cordova Vet

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