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What Causes Dog Diarrhea & How to Treat It

It's not uncommon for pet parents to be distressed at discovering their dog has developed diarrhea. Our vets in Alpharetta know that if your pup has diarrhea, you're looking for a cure fast. Here are common causes of diarrhea in dogs and how this messy issue can be treated.

Diarrhea in Dogs

Our vets in Alpharetta see many dogs suffering from diarrhea, for many reasons. 

Our canine friends may commonly develop mild bouts of diarrhea that might 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 objects, or just from the simple act of eating a new flavor or brand of food. 

Nonetheless, your dog may also be suffering from diarrhea due to a number of more serious health issues. 

What causes diarrhea in dogs?

Here are some of the reasons our vets see cases of diarrhea in dogs in our office and during our animal emergency clinic hours:

  • Medications such as antibiotics
  • Anxiety or stress
  • Intestinal cancer
  • Change in diet or treats
  • Kidney or liver disease
  • Eating spoiled food or garbage
  • Pancreatitis 
  • Colitis
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Ingestion of foreign objects such as bones, fabric and toys 
  • Ingesting poisons or toxins 
  • Bacterial infections such as salmonella
  • Viral infections such as distemper, coronavirus or parvovirus 
  • Parasites including hookworms, whipworms, roundworms, Giardia or coccidia

That said, how do you know whether your dog will need to see the vet for their diarrhea?

When should you 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 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 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 pooch is experiencing repeated episodes of diarrhea, as this is considered a veterinary emergency. If you have an after-hours pet emergency, take your pet to one of the emergency animal hospitals listed on our emergency page.

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 can you stop diarrhea in dogs?

When it comes to treating diarrhea in dogs it's essential that you 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 and necessitate a visit to an emergency pet hospital. 

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 in dogs is a serious health concern that may need emergency veterinary care. Contact our Alpharetta vets at Loving Hands Animal Clinic & Pet Resort immediately if your dog shows the symptoms discussed above.

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Loving Hands Animal Clinic & Pet Resort is always accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Alpharetta companion animals. Get in touch today to book an appointment.

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