My Dog Has Diarrhea – What To Do?! – The Everything Dog Site
Most of us love our dogs almost as much as our children. Many childless people and couples even think of their dog as their substitute child, so it’s to be expected that when your dog becomes ill, you start to panic and feel guilty thinking that it must be your fault that your dog is suffering. Even the healthiest of dogs will get bouts of diarrhea from time to time, in the same way that adults do. Also, dogs feel the world through their mouths in the same way that adults feel their world through their hands. Naturally, you dog would be more susceptible to diarrhea, even in the most cleanest of houses. It’s also inevitable that they will also use their mouths when investigating anything of interest when you take them for walks. So try not to feel guilty. Instead, read on to find out how to get your little (or perhaps not so little) friend get back on their feet.
How do I know my dog has diarrhea?
Firstly, you are likely to smell diarrhea well before you see it! Dog poo is never nice to smell, but doggy diarrhea is something else! When you spot some stools, it will be very runny (a chocolate pudding consistency) or may even be liquid. Your dog may also strain when passing faeces, and may need to pass faeces much more frequently than normal. The faeces may also contain mucous, blood, foreign objects and parasites. Other signs are more flatulence from your dog than normal, lethargy, vomiting, fever, lack of appetite, weight loss, and signs of abdominal pain (your dog looks bloated, groans or moves away from you when you touch his belly, or pants rapidly).
What exactly is diarrhea?
Diarrhea itself is not a disease; it is simply a symptom of a dysfunctional gastrointestinal tract. The diarrhea is an attempt by the gastrointestinal tract to get whatever bad food or pathogens out of it so they cannot be absorbed into the blood stream where they can cause a lot more damage.
It can be a sudden thing, but can also last weeks or even months. A sudden, single bout is nothing for you to worry about. Simply read on to find out how you can help your friend get back to peak health. However, if you find your dog has diarrhea that lasts for more than a day, please go to a vet as it will be experiencing dehydration. Also, if your dog is experiencing additional symptoms such as frequent vomiting, fever, lethargy, refusing to eat, abdominal pain, or sudden weight loss, this may be an indication of a much more serious health issue. So please go to your local vet straight away. If the stools are black, your dog could be bleeding internally from his small intestine or stomach. Do not wait for a day, but take it to a vet immediately. Also, if you have a puppy, again do not wait 24 hours, as diarrhea in young dogs can be a serious issue.
What can cause my dog to have diarrhea?
Your dog simply ingesting food that he is unknowingly intolerant or allergic to, or eating food that has gone off in bins may cause diarrhea in your dog. Even just abruptly changing your dog’s diet can cause diarrhea. Of course, dogs feel their world through their mouths and will attempt to lick and chew anything. So, if your dog ingests toxic plants when out for walks, or manages to swallow foreign objects such as rubber bands, plastic bags etc, it’s likely that he will get diarrhea as the gastrointestinal tract tries to get rid of the bad stuff.
Also, keep an eye on any medications you give your dog. Some dogs may be allergic to certain drugs, much like some humans can be allergic to, for example, penicillin. If you notice a pattern where your dog has diarrhea soon after giving it a certain medication, try to swap it for a different medication with a different active ingredients.
Another factor is stress. Dogs love routine, and changes to routine, such as new people in the house, sudden changes in family life, all can make for one stressed dog.
More serious reasons for diarrhea could be parasites inside your dog, such as coccidian, giardia or roundworms, an inflammation of your dog’s bowels, a viral or bacterial infection, liver disease, kidney disease, colitis, hemmorhagic gastroenteritis, and tumours within the digestive tract (cancerous or benign). Diarrhea can be a symptom of one of these underlying serious illnesses, so if you dog has diarrhea for more than a day, see your VET as soon as you can, even if it is just to put your mind at rest.
My dog is not a puppy, has not had diarrhea for more than a day, and does not have additional symptoms – how do I help my dog?
If he is not vomiting, then:
For the first 12 hours, only allow your dog to drink water and give it plenty of it to stave off dehydration. Do not allow it to eat any food. After the initial 12 hours, give him a couple of mouthfuls of bland food (e.g. white fish, cooked chicken or soft rice balls). Keep an eye on your dog’s faeces and, as soon as they start to become less liquid and more formed, very gradually introduce him back to his normal diet.
An additional source of nutrition, if your dog has diarrhea during the fasting period, is to make it drink rice water. Rice water is the white liquid left over once you have boiled rice. Use good quality rice (try the rice sold on the ‘ethnic’ aisle in your supermarket). Do not opt for the convenient microwaveable or ‘minute’ rice pouches, and don’t use brown rice either, as it has lots of fiber in it which will not help your dog’s gastrointestinal tract firm up his stools.
Simply boil a cup of white rice with 4 cups of water for around half an hour. The water will turn creamy white. Drain off the liquid into a separate container and wait for it to cool. If your dog will not drink the rice water, try mixing a teaspoon of meat flavoured baby food (e.g. chicken). Make sure it is only a teaspoon though, as your dog should be fasting and you don’t want it eating solids just yet.
If your dog is vomiting mildly:
Remove food completely and give it small amounts of water or rice water (only a few tablespoons at a time) for around 22 hours. If vomiting stops after this, give it small mouthfuls of bland food and, when his faeces are less runny, gradually introduce him back to his normal diet. If the vomiting does not stop after 22 hours, call a vet.
Is there anything I can give my dog from the medicine cabinet to help him/her?
Simply making your dog fast for a while should bring most bouts of non-serious diarrhea under control. But if he’s really suffering, some experts suggest try giving it some KaoPectate suspension, which is a combination of pectin and kaolin clay . This is an intestinal protectant which can relieve your dog’s symptoms. Alternatively, you can give it some PeptoBismal, which contains bismuth subsalicylate. This has an additional anti-inflammatory action, which could be ideal if your dog is having abdominal pain. Check out this article from Dr. Mark Papich on giving PeptoBismal/KaoPectate to your pet here, which includes dosage guidelines.
Another option that is suggested by experts is that if your dog has diarrhea that is excessive, and you are worried your dog is becoming dehydrated, is to give it some Imodium as it can help reduce fluid loss (here is a article dedicated to giving Imodium to dogs). Also, never give any of these medications to cats as they all contain salicylates which are toxic to felines!
Lastly, to aid your dog’s recovery naturally, you could consider giving your dog some probiotics. You can find these easily in your local supermarket or health food stores, as they have become increasingly popular with people who want to have a healthy digestive system. They are sold as yoghurts and yoghurt drinks, and contain living bacterial cultures. Make sure that the one you buy is pure and not a ‘mixed’ product, such as a strawberry flavoured milkshake style yoghurt drink with probiotics. You want the ones which are a pure probiotic yoghurt or yoghurt drink with nothing else added to it. Or you can opt to get high-potency powdered culture direct from your vet. These tend to be more powerful than the supermarket versions designed for human consumption, and will work faster and more effectively in relieving your dog’s symptoms. Add your chosen probiotic to the water you give your dog during fasting (or add it to the rice water)
You can continue to give your dog probiotics once he is feeling better and gradually eating solid foods. Aim for around 2 to 10 billion viable bacterial organisms in each meal to help his digestive system get back to normal.
My dog’s condition is more serious – what can I expect at my vets?
If your dog has diarrhea that lasts more than a day, or he has additional symptoms (such as frequent vomiting, fever, lethargy, refusing to eat, abdominal pain, or sudden weight loss), your vet is likely to take a stool sample at first, to check for parasites and dehydration, as well as take some blood to try and identify any underlying causes for your dog’s diarrhea.
More rigorous tests might be carried out depending on how severely ill your dog is and how long he has had diarrhea, such as endoscopies, ultrasound, radiographs, biopsies and cultures.
Try your best not to worry. You vet is an expert medical professional. Tell them everything you know about your dog and allow them to help your dog.
My dog has diarrhea quite frequently – why?
As long as you have checked with a vet that there is no underlying illnesses to be concerned about, then it simply could be that the breed of dog you have is more susceptible to diarrhea. For example, German Shepherds are known to suffer more than other breeds. Just ensure each bout does not last more than a day and treat your dog as described above. If it lasts more than a day, then do go to your vet – you can never be too careful. Also, puppies, much like human infants, are also prone to getting ill more frequently. However, we do not recommend waiting a day with puppies when it comes to diarrhea. See your vet immediately.
My dog’s fit and well again! But I don’t want my dog to go through all that a second time. How do I make sure my dog never gets diarrhea in the future?
Dogs will be dogs, and, just like with a child, you can’t keep an eye on them all the time. But you can reduce the chances of your dog getting diarrhea by following a few rules.
First of all, ensure your dog is up-to-date with all of his vaccinations, worming and is free of parasites (book regular health check-ups with your local vet). Also, avoid changing your dog’s diet suddenly. If you really like to change to a new food, try introducing it gradually by mixing some of the new food with the old food. In other words, ‘wean’ your dog off the old food.
Don’t give your dog small objects to play with, or leave small objects lying around where he can start investigating (with his mouth!) Another good idea is to have bins with locking lids so your dog cannot gets scraps of spoiled food out. Train your dog not to expect to get scraps from family dinners as you simply do not know what your dog could be intolerant or allergic to, as well as making sure you do not leave food out on kitchen surfaces and tables that your dog might get access to. Allow the experts who create dog food to create food that is suitable for your dog.
When taking your dog out for walks, keep an eye on your dog. Try to stop him from biting or chewing plants, drinking from puddles, or licking other animal’s faeces. Lastly, try to minimize any stressful situations your dog might experience. Sometimes, this can’t be helped, such as moving houses. Try to make some time for him and let him know he is loved. After all, what would life be without our adorable dogs?
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