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Causes of Diarrhea In Dogs

If you have a dog, you probably already know how common it is for them to get diarrhea. Mild cases of diarrhea are common, and as much of a pain they can be to clean up, they often are not anything to worry about.

That said, diarrhea can also be caused by many health issues that require your dog to visit the vet. Before you rush them to the hospital, review some of the common causes of diarrhea and some at-home remedies that can be used to treat it.

dog sitting on ground

What Is Diarrhea In Dogs?

Diarrhea in dogs is very similar to that of a human. It’s when your dog’s stool becomes loose and water-like after their digestive system becomes upset. For the most part, diarrhea is not a cause for concern unless it is chronic.

While it can be gross to look at, responsible dog owners should always study their canine’s stool for any signs of medical issues. Any color stool that is not chocolate brown can be a sign of a health issue.

The frequency that your dog poops is important too. If your dog is going to the bathroom too much, then they might be suffering from a health issue that causes their digestive track to want to empty itself as soon as possible. Conversely, if your dog isn’t pooping enough, then they may be suffering from constipation.

What Causes Diarrhea In Dogs?

There are many different possible causes of diarrhea in dogs to look out for, including:

  • Eating too much food
  • Eating spoiled food or garbage (also known as “garbage toxicosis” or “garbage gut”)
  • Antibiotics, or other prescribed medications
  • A sudden change in diet
  • Food intolerances
  • Bacterial infections, such as salmonella
  • Parasites (such as hookworms, whipworms, giardia, roundworms, and coccidia)
  • Stress
  • Emotional distress
  • Consuming poisonous substances, such as plants
  • Eating an inedible substance, like a toy
  • Viral infections (such as parvovirus, distemper, and coronavirus)

How to Treat Your Dog’s Diarrhea

Many causes of diarrhea are mild and do not require a trip to the vet. However, there are a lot of different methods to treat diarrhea, and it may take a lot of experimentation to figure out what is the best way to treat your dog.

One of the best things you can do for your dog when they have diarrhea is to have them fast for 12-24 hours. By withholding food, you can more easily determine the cause of their illness and give their digestive track time to settle on its own. Before fasting, make sure your dog is healthy enough to go without nutrients for a period of time. Puppies, elderly dogs, and tiny dogs should never be deprived of food.

While fasting is generally safe, you should never deprive your dog of hydration. Diarrhea in particular can lead to dehydration so make sure your dog has easy access to plenty of water.

Once your dog has fasted, you can give them some food that acts as binders that can return their stool to normal consistency. Some of the best binders include:

  • Plain white rice
  • Pumpkin (100% puree)
  • Plain yogurt
  • Rice Water
  • Skinless, boiled potatoes
  • Cottage cheese
  • Egg
  • Chicken
  • Probiotics
  • Fennel

Should I Take My Dog to the Vet?

Most of the time, diarrhea is mild and will go away within a day. However, you should consider taking your dog to the vet if they are experiencing other physical symptoms such as lethargy, vomiting, weakness, or fever.

Diarrhea is also no longer considered normal if one of the following happen:

  • Lasts longer than a few days
  • Causes dehydration
  • Is a serious side effect of a medication
  • Accompanies another existing condition, such as diabetes

Ultimately, you know if your dog best. If you believe something is wrong with them, then you should take them to the vet for a check-up and professional advice.

Mia Daniele

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Pets: I have a fluffy, 14 year old chow-collie mix with red fur named Rosso. He's very stubborn and has the standoffish personality of a cat.
Fun stuff: I am a hot chocolate connoisseur.

Copy Editor

Pets: I have a fluffy, 14 year old chow-collie mix with red fur named Rosso. He's very stubborn and has the standoffish personality of a cat.
Fun stuff: I am a hot chocolate connoisseur.

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