Dog Diarrhea:
What Should You Do
for Your Poor Pooch?

Dog diarrhea (frequent loose or liquid bowel movements) must be paid careful attention to, since it can result from simply ingesting something disagreeable (dogs do tend to eat a lot of disagreeable things!) or it can signal signs of severe dog illnesses.

Diarrhea in dogs can also lead to serious dehydration due to fluid loss. For these reasons, if your dog’s diarrhea lasts for more than 24 hours, seek prompt veterinary attention.

Causes of Dog Diarrhea Include:

dog diarrhea dog lying on couch

  • Dietary issues, such as eating a food (or non-food) item that upset his stomach, eating spoiled food, a sudden change in diet, or eating food that is not well tolerated
  • Ingestion of a toxin or drug
  • Stress
  • Bacterial infections
  • Viral infections
  • Fungal infections
  • Intestinal parasites, such as roundworms, hookworms or whipworms
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Colitis
  • Food allergy
  • Glandular disease
  • Tumors in the intestines or stomach
  • Gastrointestinal cancer
  • Glandular disease
  • Pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas)
  • Liver or kidney disease
  • Intestinal blockage

(Please note that this is just a partial list and is not a complete list of possible causes of dog diarrhea. Only your veterinarian can diagnose your dog’s exact condition.)

Signs Requiring Immediate Veterinary Attention:

  • The diarrhea persists for more than 24 hours
  • Your dog is vomiting (also see article on dog vomiting) along with the diarrhea
  • Your dog has a fever
  • There is blood in the stool
  • There is a change in color of the stool (such as a black stool)
  • He is not eating or drinking adequately
  • He appears dehydrated (see the article on dehydration in dogs to check for dehydration)
  • He is depressed or lethargic
  • He is very young (less than one year old) or elderly (older than 10 years old)
  • He shows other signs of illness

Again, if your dog’s diarrhea persists for more than 24 hours, or if he displays any of the symptoms above, take him to the veterinarian right away. Your veterinarian can then perform a physical examination and determine the proper diagnostic testing (such as a complete blood count (CBC), fecal studies, abdominal X-rays, etc) to perform.

In the meantime, you can take steps to help alleviate the diarrhea, including switching your dog to a bland, low fat diet which will be easier for him to digest. To make your own homemade bland diet, you can combine either skinless, boneless boiled chicken or boiled ground meat (drained of its fat) with boiled white rice or boiled potato.

If you find that after a few days your dog is doing better on this diet, you can begin to gradually reintroduce his regular food over the course of several days. Seek veterinary attention if the reintroduction to your dog’s regular food once again triggers his diarrhea. If you cannot make your own bland diet, there are commercial brands available. However, remember that since this bland diet is not nutritionally balanced, it should only be used temporarily.

dog diarrhea veterinarian examining dog

Dehydration is a serious concern with dog diarrhea, so it is important to monitor your dog to make sure he is replenishing lost fluids. As long as your dog is not vomiting, he can have as much water as he wants. To replace some of the lost nutrients and help prevent deydration, you can also try giving him Pedialyte®, an electrolyte-replacement drink made for infants, which is also safe for dogs (again, as long as he is not vomiting).

As long as your dog is not vomiting, be sure that he has plenty of fresh water to drink to prevent dehydration. If the diarrhea is accompanied by vomiting, take him to the veterinarian.

Consult with your veterinarian before treating your dog with any medications for his diarrhea.

Dog diarrhea can be the result of simple stomach upset from eating something disagreeable, or it can be something more serious. The important thing is to closely monitor your dog, and to watch for other symptoms in combination with the diarrhea, such as vomiting or blood in the stool. It is also important to make sure that your dog is not becoming dehydrated.

If your dog’s diarrhea persists for more than 24 hours, seek veterinary attention. By being vigilant, you can prevent a simple case of dog diarrhea from turning into something much more serious.

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Legal Disclaimer
If your pet is showing any signs of distress or you suspect your pet is seriously ill, contact your veterinarian immediately. This information is not meant to be a substitute for veterinary care.

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