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What Causes Diarrhea in Dogs? And How To Stop It

It can be very frustrating when your dog is experiencing diarrhea, and you will want a cure as soon as possible. Here the Tumwater vets talk to you about what could be causing your dog's diarrhea and how to treat it.

Diarrhea in Dogs

Lots of dogs visit us at Tumwater Veterinary Hospital who are suffering from diarrhea, and there is a wide variety of reasons that cause it.

It's very common for dogs to have mild spells of diarrhea which could be caused by mild intestinal distress from your dog eating a little bit of something that doesn't sit well with them, such as table scraps or a new brand/type of dog food. 

There is also a handful of other causes of your dog's diarrhea  that can be more serious.

What are the most common causes of diarrhea in dogs?

Following is some of the most common causes of diarrhea in dogs:

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

But how do you know when it's time to bring your dog to the vet?

When is it time to take my dog to the vet?

If your dog has a single episode of diarrhea and is otherwise acting normal, it is probably not a cause for concern. Keep an eye on your dog's bowel movements to see if things clear up. More than 2 episodes may indicate a problem, so it's a good idea to call your vet if your pooch has two or more spells of diarrhea.

If your pooch is straining to pass a stool but only passing small amounts of watery diarrhea, they could be experiencing a painful blockage caused by the ingestion of a foreign object such as a toy. This is a very serious concern that requires immediate veterinary care, contact your vet or go to the nearest emergency pet hospital for assistance. 

Recurring diarrhea over a short time period can be a sign of a very serious health issue, particularly if your dog is very old, very young, or has a compromised immune system. Infections such as parvovirus are very serious, contagious and life-threatening. Call your veterinarian right away if your pup is suffering from recurring episodes of diarrhea.

Dogs showing other symptoms on top of the diarrhea should also be seen by a vet as fast as possible. If your dog is experiencing any of the following symptoms contact your vet right away to make an appointment:

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

If your canine companion is displaying any symptoms that are making you concerned, contact your vet. Your veterinarian will let you know whether your pet's symptoms require an examination.

How to Treat Diarrhea in Dogs

Never give your dog human medications without asking your veterinarian. Many over-the-counter medications that work well for people can be toxic to dogs.

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

A bland diet for a day or two could help resolve your pup's issue. Plain, cooked white rice with a little chicken and some canned plain pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling) might help to make your dog's stomach feel better. When your pup feels better gradually reintroduce their regular food.

Other things that may help soothe your dog's upset tummy are probiotics natural yogurt, peeled boiled potatoes, cottage cheese, egg with no oil added, specially formulated dog foods, and medications prescribed by your vet.

When your best buddy's health is in question it's always best to be cautious by taking your dog in for an examination. Bringing them to the vet will give your veterinarian 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.

If your dog is experiencing diarrhea contact our Tumwater vets to schedule an appointment. Our team of experienced veterinarians will be able to diagnose the cause of your dog's diarrhea and prescribe them treatments that will help them feel better.

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