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What Causes Diarrhea in Dogs (and How to Treat it)

Diarrhea is a prevalent problem for dogs. Even worse, it can be a serious issue that quickly leads to dehydration. What people want to know most, though, is how to treat diarrhea in dogs. Let's look into that as well as the common causes of diarrhea in dogs and how veterinarians diagnose the ailment.

 

What Causes Diarrhea in Dogs

"There are many causes of diarrhea in dogs," says Dr. Jennifer Coates. "The most common are intestinal parasites (e.g., roundworms, hookworms, Giardia), bacterial infections or overgrowth, dietary indiscretion (e.g., garbage ingestion or an abrupt diet change), and inflammatory diseases (e.g., diet intolerances or allergies)."

 

"Diarrhea can also be a common side effect of some pet medications, including antibiotics, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and heart medications,” says Dr. Jules Benson, VP of Veterinary Services at Petplan pet insurance. Some dogs will even have bouts of diarrhea when their diet is altered or they are overly stressed.

 

How is Diarrhea in Dogs Diagnosed

Identifying the cause of the diarrhea will vary in difficulty. "To diagnose the cause of severe or prolonged diarrhea," says Dr. Coates, "veterinarians will perform a thorough history and physical exam and, in some cases, may also need the results of blood work, a urinalysis, fecal examinations, X-rays, abdominal ultrasounds, specialized laboratory tests, and even exploratory surgery or endoscopy with tissue biopsies."

 

Sometimes the cause could be as simple as your dog eating something from your trash. Whatever the cause, it is important that the diarrhea is treated accordingly.

 

How to Treat Diarrhea in Dogs

Treating diarrhea in dogs will vary based on what’s causing it, so it’s important to consult your veterinarian if you notice an issue with your pet’s health. “If the diarrhea is being caused by an underlying condition," says Dr. Benson, "the vet will work to control that, while advocating treatment that will alleviate your pet’s symptoms.” This could include the use of anti-diarrheal medication containing kaoilin and pectin.

 

According to Dr. Coates, many diarrhea-causing diseases are easily diagnosed and treated. However, some disorders are not curable and must be managed with medication and/or dietary modification.

 

"Diet also plays a large role in the management of most cases of chronic diarrhea in dog," says Dr. Coates. "For example, symptoms of food intolerance or allergy may completely resolve with a hypoallergenic or novel protein diet." Discuss with your veterinarian which dog foods may be best for your pet. He or she may also want to prescribe medications to help alleviate nausea, excess gastric acid production or gastrointestinal inflammation.

 

When Should You Go to the Vet?

Diarrhea that has lasted for more than 24 hours could indicate something more serious than a simple stomach bug, and if left unchecked can lead to dehydration. “However, if your pet’s stool is bloody, dark or tarry, if he seems lethargic or has lost his appetite, or is also vomiting, don’t wait 24 hours,” says Dr. Benson. “In those cases, you should get to the vet as soon as possible.”

Comments  2

Leave Comment
  • No Help at All
    12/31/2014 04:29am

    I dont think the info is any help. I think anyone thats had dogs for a piorid of time already knows what you wrote I was hoping it would get into what you could do to help your dog at home for when the get it from getting into food that they are not to eat. I guess I was hoping for some kind of home remindy and sorry about my bad spelling

  • Vague
    09/29/2016 06:59pm

    My dog seems to always get diarrhea, especially when my husband and I go out of town and have family watch her, or just be out more than a couple of hours. We leave our home relatively spotless, and we have taken her to the vet MULTIPLE times, and they always give us the same runaround. They say that she might have a stomach bug, and they give us a prescription for her to take. Her diarrhea usually only lasts maybe 4 days and then she's fine, and when running upon this article, it never addresses the stress side of a dog that could be a possible cause for diarrhea. I wanted to know how to get through to my vet that the only thing that could possibly be causing her diarrhea is stress and/or separation anxiety. How can psychological stress cause diarrhea in a dog? It's mentioned, but never explained.

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