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Coping with Diarrhea in Dogs: Advice from Experts

dog diarrhea

Diarrhea in Dogs: 5 Effective Ways to Deal With It 

Being a paw-parent, it won’t be long before you are faced with the unfortunate event of doggy diarrhea. It happened for the first time with me with my Greyhound Ted when he first came home from the rescue centre. He pinched something off the kitchen worktop during one of his ‘counter surfing’ escapades. He definitely ate something that did not agree with his delicate constitution and I saw the consequences.

It was a peaceful evening up until the explosion point. Ted was lying on my feet in front of the fire, just resting his eyelids as usual. Then there was a fart. A real stinker. He lifted his head and looked at me with one eye. And I thought ‘really, you think that was me?’.

ted the greyhound
Ted in one of his favorite spots

He laid his head back down and his belly gave the mightiest of rumbles. I kind of knew what was coming next. But I didn’t.

I will spare you the horrible details along with the stench that accompanied it. Needless to say that my lovely hearth rug was unsalvagable and ended up in the trash. Poor Ted. But after 12 hours of fasting and a bland diet for a few days, he was right as rain. And I put up a stairgate to keep him out of the kitchen and away from any future temptation.

Sometimes, diarrhea is not troublesome, just unpleasant, stinky and a pain to clear up. But sometimes, it is an indication of some systemic illnesses such as any bacterial or viral infection. But how do you tell? In this article I’ll cover in all it’s gory detail about what diarrhea is? How does it occur? And what are the methods of its prevention and cure to keep your dog’s gut health in good condition. Although I can’t prevent mishaps, like Ted’s, that’s up to you.

How to use a snuffle mat by Ruffle ...
How to use a snuffle mat by Ruffle Snuffle

Diarrhea in Dogs: Causes, Treatment, and Prevention

Diarrhea in dogs is a common problem that can be caused by several reasons. The most common are the change of food, eating too much, stress or ingestion of foreign objects. If your dog has diarrhea, you must take him to the vet as soon as possible. If left untreated, this condition can lead to dehydration and even death.

What Is Diarrhea?

Diarrhea is defined as loose and watery stool that may occur more often than the usual urgency of passing a stool per day. It is characterized by cramps, bloating, mucinous or watery stool, on and off fever if it occurs due to bacterial or viral infection. The formless, tarry stool, which happens more often, is a symptom of some systemic problem rather than being an illness itself.

What Causes Diarrhea In Dogs?

When there is less absorption of nutrients, water, and electrolytes from the intestinal walls, the fecal matter moves faster than usual due to faster bowel movement. Diarrhea can occur due to bacterial or viral infections of intestinal worms, which may get into your dog’s system because of the ingestion of garbage, toxic substances, or medications for human use. 

Sudden diarrhea can be caused due to stress, sudden dietary changes, and unfavorable environmental changes that may occur due to traveling. Allergies may also be the reason for diarrhea. Allergies trigger inflammatory markers, and if any part of the G.I tract gets inflamed, this may lead to diarrhea.

There are many potential causes and it can often be difficult to determine. Some of the most common causes of diarrhea in dogs include:

  • Stress
  • Diet change
  • Toxin ingestion
  • Viral infection (parvovirus, distemper, coronavirus)
  • Haemorrhagic gastroenteritis
  • Gut blockage
  • IBD
  • Liver disease
  • Pancreatitis

How can I tell if my dog has diarrhea?

There are a few key signs to look out for:

  • watery feces
  • mucous in the stool
  • blood in the stool
  • weight loss
  • dehydration
  • excessive vomiting.

If you see any of these symptoms in your dog, it’s important to take action right away.

A Note on Dehydration

Dehydration is a common side effect of diarrhea, so be on the lookout for signs like a lack of energy, sunken eyes, or dry mouth. If your dog has been refusing food and water for more than 24 hours, he or she should be checked for dehydration.

Severity Of Diarrhea In Dogs

The severity of diarrhea depends upon the frequency of stools, accompanying signs and symptoms, and its persistence. Blood in feces, weakness, vomit, fever, colic pain, and appetite disturbance point to a severe infection that should be treated with professional help. However, there are other forms in which it can be treated at home.

You’ll need professional help if you have suspected the ingestion of a toxin by your dog, if your dog has ingested any indigestible matter such as cloth, your dog seems weak, there is loss of appetite, vomiting, there is blood in the stool if the stool is tarry or black, diarrhea persists for more than 24 hours, gums are pale, or there are worms in your dog’s feces. All these symptoms indicate that you need to visit the vet. 

How can I treat diarrhea in dogs?

If your dog has had one or two runny or soft stools, it might be best to give them a break and feed them a bland diet. Dogs with diarrhea should not eat their regular food, but instead they should be given some time off by fasting for 12 – 24 hours. During this time you can give them plain cooked white rice with little chicken and canned plain pumpkin. This mixture is often successful in resolving the issue of diarrhea in dogs.

If your dog’s diarrhea does not improve after a few days on a bland diet, then you should take them in for an examination by your veterinarian. By taking your dog in for an examination you give your vet the opportunity to determine the underlying cause of your pup’s diarrhea. It is always best to err on the side of caution when it comes to treating diarrhea in dogs; if you are unsure about how to proceed then please consult with your veterinarian.

Tips for Treating Diarrhea In Dogs At Home

You can treat your dog’s diarrhea at home in the following ways:

  • Rest is vital if your dog is deprived of electrolytes.
  • Twelve hours of fasting gives a break to the gastrointestinal tract and allows stabilization in intestinal motility. Treats, regular meals, and snacks should be avoided during this interval.
  • Taking care of your dog’s hydration is necessary. Rice water is an effective remedy that helps better digestion, removes bloating and flatulence, and is a good source of carbohydrates and energy lost due to diarrhea.
  • Oral rehydration salt is also beneficial if you do not choose to feed your dog with rice water. It recovers the lost electrolytes in the dog’s system.
  • When it’s time for a meal after 12 hours of fasting, you can feed your dog with little amounts, less fatty and bland food such as boiled chicken.
  • Probiotics work well in generating intestinal bacteria. Yogurt is a natural probiotic that regulates digestion and is good for the immune system.
  • Pumpkin is a good fiber diet that aids in the recovery of good intestinal bacteria.

Home remedies for doggy diarrhea

There are a few safe home remedies that can help treat diarrhea in dogs. These include canned pumpkin, chicken and rice bland diets, bone broth, and herbs such as ginger. Diarrhea is usually a result of an irritated intestinal lining, so the goal is to soothe the intestine and allow it to heal.

Acute diarrhea can be treated with canned pumpkin or chicken and rice bland diets while long-term cases require homemade recipes that include ginger to speed the healing process. The key is to manage the diarrhea symptoms with a few “home remedies” before visiting a veterinarian.

The food fast should be followed by replenishing nutrients and hydration, as well as easy access to fresh water .

Canned pumpkin: Canned pumpkin is a safe and effective home remedy for diarrhea in dogs. It contains fiber which soothes the intestine and helps to firm up stool. Give your dog 1-2 tablespoons of canned pumpkin per 10 pounds of body weight per day.

Chicken and rice bland diet: A chicken and rice bland diet is easy on the stomach and can help to firm up stool. Cook 1 part rice and 2 parts chicken in water until tender. Remove the skin and bones from the chicken and shred or chop the meat. Mix the chicken and rice together and feed your dog small meals several times per day.

Bone broth: Bone broth is rich in nutrients and helps to soothe the digestive system. Give your dog 1/2 cup of bone broth per day.

Herbs: Certain herbs can be helpful in treating diarrhea in dogs. These include ginger, peppermint, and chamomile. Give your dog 1/4 teaspoon of ginger per 10 pounds of body weight per day. You can also give your dog peppermint or chamomile tea. Give your dog 1/2 cup of tea per 10 pounds of body weight per day.

What is the prognosis for dogs with diarrhea?

The prognosis for dogs with diarrhea depends upon the severity of the condition. In most cases, a full recovery is possible. However, if the diarrhea is severe or lasts for an extended period of time, it may be necessary to seek veterinary care.

How can I prevent my dog from having diarrhea?

There are a few different things you can do to help prevent your dog from getting diarrhea. One is to make sure they’re eating a healthy diet. You should also avoid giving them too many treats and be sure to always wash your hands after handling their stool.

  • Take a check on the bathroom habits of your dog. Observe the color of your dog’s feces and the frequency of stool. These are the measures that indicate if you need professional help.
  • A healthy lifestyle and diet keep your dog secure from developing indigestion.
  • Take a check on your dog’s vaccination.
  • Keep garbage and rotten food out of your dog’s reach as you keep harmful things away from your child.
  • Avoid feeding your dog with items which are toxic and act as stimulants to the gastrointestinal tract, such as onions, ginger, garlic, coffee, and nuts.

Is diarrhea in dogs contagious?

No, diarrhea itself is not contagious, but the underlying causes may be. For example, if your dog has viral gastroenteritis, it is possible for them to spread the virus to other dogs. If your dog has bacterial gastroenteritis, they may also be able to spread the bacteria to other dogs. If you are concerned that your dog may be contagious, it is best to consult with your veterinarian.

When should I see a vet for diarrhea in my dog?

Mild diarrhea in a dog is often treatable at home. However, if the diarrhoea persists for more than 24 hours or your dog experiences any other unusual symptoms then you should contact your vet.

If your dog has severe symptoms such as blood and/or mucus in their diarrhea, reduced appetite (eating less), vomiting and yelping when picked up or standing with their legs outstretched on the floor then they need to see a vet ASAP!

When To Visit The Vet

  • Visit the vet if your dog has a bloody or dark stool
  • If your dog is weak or lethargic
  • If there is a loss of appetite
  • If there are signs of dehydration, such as dry and sticky gums
  • If there is severe stomach pain and swelling in the abdominal region
  • If your dog does not respond to home remedies
  • If diarrhea is associated with vomiting

Veterinary Treatment Of Diarrhea

Vets usually treat diarrhea with intravenous fluids containing electrolytes (e.g., sodium, chloride, and potassium), which recover the body’s loss of salts and electrolytes.

Dewormers and over-the-counter medicines are also helpful in symptomatic treatment. For example, if the veterinarian diagnoses a bacterial or viral infection, he might suggest antibacterials or antivirals with a medication course and supportive therapy for pain management.

Wrapping up

Diarrhea is a common condition in dogs that can be caused by a variety of underlying factors. In most cases, diarrhea is mild and will resolve on its own. However, severe or prolonged diarrhea can lead to dehydration and other serious health problems.

Diarrhea is not an aggravating symptom unless other alarming signs are associated. Such as bloody or tarry stools, vomits, persistent fever, and loss of appetite.

Provide your pooch with a healthy lifestyle and avoid an abrupt change in its diet and physical activities. This way, you’ll minimize the risks of developing abdominal discomforts in your dog, and they’ll always remain your thankful companion!

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