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What Causes Diarrhea in Dogs & How To Stop It

Diarrhea in dogs is a very distressing symptom for pet parents to cope with. If your pup is suffering from diarrhea no doubt your want to find a cure FAST! Here our Santa Clarita vets explain some common causes, and how to stop diarrhea in dogs.

Diarrhea in Dogs

Our Santa Clarita vets see a lot of dogs suffering from diarrhea, and for a range of reasons.

Mild bouts of diarrhea are very common in dogs and can be caused by mild intestinal distress due to your dog eating a small amount of something that doesn't agree with them, such as table scraps, or just from the simple act of switching to a new brand or flavor of food.

That said, your dog's diarrhea could be a sign of a more serious health concern. 

What is the most common cause of diarrhea in dogs?

Below are some of the most common reasons for diarrhea in dogs:

  • Stress or anxiety
  • Change in diet or treats
  • Eating garbage or spoiled food
  • Ingestion of foreign objects such as toys, bones and fabric
  • Ingesting toxins or poisons
  • Viral infections such as parvovirus, distemper or coronavirus
  • Parasites - roundworms, hookworms, whipworms, Coccidia or Giardia
  • Bacterial infections - such as salmonella
  • Pancreatitis
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Colitis
  • Liver or kidney disease
  • Intestinal cancer
  • Medications such as antibiotics

But how do you know whether your dog's diarrhea requires a visit to the vet?

Should I call my vet if my dog has diarrhea?

If your pooch has a single episode of diarrhea and is otherwise healthy and acting normal, their loose stool is likely not a cause for concern. Monitor your dog's bowel movements to see if things clear up. More than 2 episodes (chronic diarrhea in dogs) could indicate a problem, so it's a good idea to call your vet if your pooch has two or more bouts of diarrhea.

If your dog is straining to pass a stool but only passing small amounts of watery diarrhea, they could be experiencing a painful blockage due to the ingestion of a foreign object such as a toy. This is a very serious concern and needs urgent veterinary attention! Contact your vet right away or head to the nearest emergency animal hospital for care. 

Recurring bouts of diarrhea over a short period of time could be a sign of a very serious health issue, particularly if your pup is very old, very young, or has a compromised immune system. Infections such as parvovirus are extremely serious, contagious and life-threatening. Contact your vet right away if your pooch is experiencing repeated episodes of diarrhea.

Dogs showing other symptoms as well as diarrhea should also be seen by a vet as soon as possible. If your dog has any of the following symptoms contact your vet right away to make an appointment:

  • Blood in stool
  • Unusual drooling
  • Vomiting
  • Lack of Appetite
  • Weakness
  • Signs of dehydration (Sunken dry-looking eyes, dry nose, or dry, sticky gums)

If your pooch is displaying any symptoms that cause you concern, contact your veterinarian. Your vet will let you know whether your pet's symptoms indicate that an examination is necessary.

How can I treat diarrhea in dogs?

Never give your dog human medications without consulting your veterinarian. Many over-the-counter medications that work well for people can be toxic to dogs.

If your dog has had one or two runny or soft stools, you may want to give your dog some time to recover by simply fasting for 12 - 24 hours.

A bland diet for a day or two may help to resolve your pup's issue. 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 gradually reintroduce their regular food.

Other things that might help to soothe your dog's upset tummy include natural yogurt, probiotics, peeled boiled potatoes, cottage cheese, egg with no oil added, specially formulated dog foods, and medications prescribed by your vet.

When it comes to your best buddy's health it is always best to err on the side of caution. By taking your pooch in for an examination you give your vet the opportunity to determine the underlying cause of your pup's diarrhea and recommend the most effective treatment.

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.

Is you dog suffering from chronic or repeated bouts of diarrhea, has blood in their stool, or is showing other concerning symptoms or behaviors contact our Santa Clarita vets right away to book an examination for your pooch.

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