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Common Cause of Diarrhea in Dogs & How to Stop It

If your dog gets diarrhea, it's always a little concerning, especially if they have it for an extended period of time. In this post, our Cincinnati vets share some common reasons why your dog may have diarrhea, what you can do, and when to see the vet.

Diarrhea in Dogs

Our Cincinnati veterinary team sees many dogs suffering from diarrhea for a wide variety of reasons. This is a common issue as dogs tend to get into all kinds of things they should not be eating. If you want to know what the most common cause of diarrhea in dogs is, it simply is them eating rotten food or food that isn't ideal for dogs.

Aside from just having one instance of diarrhea (which isn't a concern), there are two types of diarrhea that your dog may encounter. The issue can either be acute, meaning it begins suddenly and lasts for more than 48 hours, or chronic, which lasts more than three weeks, sometimes varying in intensity from one day to the next. Chronic diarrhea in dogs isn't nearly as common and is likely a sign of a serious health concern.

Sometimes the cause is fairly obvious, but often the exact cause can be difficult to identify. Nevertheless, several more serious health issues could lead to your dog experiencing diarrhea. 

Possible Causes of Diarrhea in Dogs

If you're wondering what causes diarrhea in dogs, here are some of the most frequent reasons for this symptom:

  • 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, etc.)
  • Bacterial infections - such as salmonella
  • Intestinal cancer
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Liver or kidney disease

When to Seek Veterinary Assistance

If your dog has experienced a single episode of diarrhea but is otherwise acting perfectly normal, you likely don't have anything to worry about. Just be sure to monitor your pup's bowel movements to ensure they return to normal. More than 2 episodes in a short period of time may signify that something is wrong, so you may want to consult with a veterinarian just to stay on the safe side.

If your pup is straining to pass a stool but only passing small amounts of watery diarrhea, this could be a sign of a blockage in their digestive tract. This is a very serious concern and requires immediate veterinary attention. Contact your vet or head to the nearest emergency animal hospital right away. 

Repeated bouts of diarrhea over a short period could be a sign of a serious health problem. This is especially the case if you have a senior dog, a young puppy, or if your dog has a compromised immune system or other preexisting conditions.

Dogs showing other symptoms as well as diarrhea should also be seen by a vet as soon as possible. In addition to diarrhea, if your dog also 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)

Treating Diarrhea in Dogs

If you want to know how to treat diarrhea in dogs, it's critical that you never 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. 

A bland diet for 24 - 48 hours can be a simple and effective way to help your dog's diarrhea. 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, you can start gradually reintroducing them to their regular food.

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 allow your vet to find the underlying cause of your pup's diarrhea, and recommend an appropriate treatment plan. Your vet can also give you some tips on how to stop diarrhea in dogs so you have some ideas if it happens again.

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.

Has your dog been experiencing diarrhea for an extended period? Don't wait for it to go away on its own. Contact Eastgate Animal Hospital to have your pup examined, diagnosed, and treated.

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Eastgate Animal Hospital is welcoming new patients! Our compassionate vets are passionate about the health of Cincinnati companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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