October 26, 2023

Dog Diarrhoea: Causes, Treatment & Prevention

Dog diarrhoea is a common digestive issue that many dog owners encounter. It is characterized by loose, watery stools and can be caused by various factors such as dietary changes, food allergies, infections, or even stress. If not managed properly, diarrhoea in dogs can lead to dehydration and other health complications.

Diarrhoea serves as an example of an abnormality in the digestion process and can indicate an underlying health problem in dogs. It is essential for pet owners to monitor their dog's bowel movements closely and seek veterinary care if the condition persists or worsens. A proper diagnosis is crucial to identify the root cause of the diarrhoea and determine the appropriate treatment plan.

In this blog post, we will delve into the causes of dog diarrhoea, its potential consequences if left untreated, and how veterinarians diagnose and treat this common ailment in our furry friends.

Have a question about your pet? Talk to a vet

Causes of Dog Diarrhoea

Dietary changes or indiscretion

One of the common causes of dog diarrhoea is dietary changes or indiscretion. Dogs have sensitive stomachs, and sudden changes in their diet can lead to an upset stomach and loose stools. This can occur when owners switch their regular dog food to a new brand or introduce table scraps into their pet's diet.

Ingestion of spoiled food or garbage

Another possible cause of dog diarrhoea is the ingestion of spoiled food or garbage. Dogs are notorious for scavenging and may consume rotten food, garbage, or even items that are not meant for consumption. These ingested substances can irritate the digestive system and result in diarrhoea.

Bacterial or viral infections

Bacterial or viral infections can also be responsible for causing dog diarrhoea. Just like humans, dogs can contract infections from bacteria such as Salmonella or viruses like Parvovirus. These pathogens can enter their system through contaminated water, food, or contact with infected animals.

Intestinal parasites such as worms

Intestinal parasites such as worms are another potential cause of dog diarrhoea. Worm infestations are common in dogs, especially puppies who have weaker immune systems. Parasites like roundworms, hookworms, and whipworms can disrupt the normal functioning of the intestines and lead to loose stools.

It's important for dog owners to introduce new foods gradually to allow their pet's digestive system to adjust. Abruptly switching from one type of dog food to another can cause gastrointestinal upset and result in diarrhoea. Similarly, feeding dogs excessive amounts of human food that they are not accustomed to can also lead to digestive issues.

Ingesting spoiled food or garbage poses a significant risk for dogs as well. Rotting food contains harmful bacteria that can wreak havoc on their digestive system. It's crucial for dog owners to keep their surroundings clean and ensure that their pets do not have access to garbage or spoiled food.

Bacterial and viral infections can cause severe diarrhoea in dogs. These infections are highly contagious and can spread rapidly among dogs, especially in places like dog parks or kennels. Vaccinations play a vital role in preventing these infections, so it's essential for dog owners to keep their pet's vaccinations up to date.

Intestinal parasites are another culprit behind dog diarrhoea. These parasites can enter a dog's body through contaminated water, soil, or contact with infected animals. Regular deworming treatments prescribed by veterinarians can help prevent infestations and reduce the risk of diarrhoea caused by worms.

Understanding Small Intestinal vs Large Intestinal Diarrhoea

Small Intestinal Diarrhoea

Small intestinal diarrhoea in dogs is characterized by frequent, watery stools. It can be quite messy and inconvenient for both the dog and the owner. Along with the loose stools, you may notice other symptoms such as weight loss and poor appetite. This type of diarrhoea occurs when there is an issue within the small intestines.

The small intestines play a crucial role in digestion and absorption of nutrients from food. They are responsible for breaking down food into smaller particles so that they can be easily absorbed into the bloodstream. When there is an imbalance or disruption in the normal functioning of the small intestines, it can lead to diarrhoea.

There are several factors that can contribute to small intestinal diarrhoea in dogs. One common cause is an overgrowth of bacteria within the small intestine, known as small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO). This can occur when there is a decrease in motility or movement of food through the intestinal tract, allowing bacteria to multiply excessively.

Other possible causes include dietary indiscretion or intolerance, where a dog consumes something that their stomach cannot handle or digest properly. Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is another condition that can result in small intestinal diarrhoea. IBD refers to chronic inflammation within the gastrointestinal tract, which affects the normal functioning of the intestines.

To manage small intestinal diarrhoea in dogs, it's important to identify and address any underlying causes. Your veterinarian may recommend dietary changes or prescribe medications to help reduce inflammation and regulate digestion. In some cases, additional diagnostic tests such as blood work or imaging may be necessary to determine the exact cause of the diarrhoea.

Large Intestinal Diarrhoea

Large intestinal diarrhoea differs from its small intestinal counterpart in terms of symptoms and location within the digestive system. Dogs with large intestinal diarrhoea often experience an urgency to defecate and may have mucus or blood in their stool. They may also strain during bowel movements, indicating inflammation or irritation within the large intestines.

The large intestines, also known as the colon, are responsible for absorbing water and electrolytes from the remaining food waste. This helps to solidify the stool before it is eliminated from the body. When there is a problem within the large intestines, such as an infection or inflammation, it can disrupt this process and result in diarrhoea.

One common cause of large intestinal diarrhoea is a condition called colitis. Colitis refers to inflammation of the colon and can be caused by various factors including dietary changes, stress, or infections. Parasites such as Giardia or whipworms can also lead to large intestinal diarrhoea in dogs.

Managing large intestinal diarrhoea involves identifying and addressing any underlying causes. Your veterinarian may recommend a change in diet to a more easily digestible option or prescribe medications to reduce inflammation and control symptoms. In some cases, additional diagnostic tests such as fecal examinations may be necessary to rule out parasites or infections.

It's important to note that both small intestinal and large intestinal diarrhoea can cause discomfort and inconvenience for your dog. If you notice any signs of diarrhoea persisting for more than a day or if your dog shows other concerning symptoms such as lethargy or vomiting, it's essential to seek veterinary care promptly.

Understanding whether your dog is experiencing small intestinal or large intestinal diarrhoea can help guide treatment options and improve their overall well-being. By working closely with your veterinarian and following their recommendations, you can help alleviate your dog's discomfort and promote a healthy digestive system.

Tips for Managing Dog Diarrhoea at Home

Provide Bland Diet (Boiled Chicken and Rice)

When your dog is experiencing diarrhoea, it's important to provide them with a bland diet that is gentle on their stomach. One of the most commonly recommended options is boiled chicken and rice. This combination helps to soothe the digestive system and provides easily digestible nutrients for your furry friend.

To prepare this simple meal, start by boiling boneless, skinless chicken breasts until they are fully cooked. Then, shred the chicken into small pieces and mix it with cooked white rice in a 1:2 ratio (one part chicken to two parts rice). Make sure to remove any bones or excess fat from the chicken before serving it to your dog.

Please make sure that your dog does not have allergy to chicken and rice if you want to try giving this diet.

Ensure Access to Clean Water at All Times

Dehydration can be a concern when your dog has diarrhoea, as they may lose more fluids than usual. It's crucial to ensure that your pup has access to clean water at all times. Encourage them to drink regularly throughout the day, even if they don't seem particularly thirsty.

Consider providing multiple water bowls around the house so that your dog can easily find water wherever they are. You can also add some flavor to their water by using low-sodium broth or adding ice cubes made from low-sodium broth as a tasty incentive for them to drink more.

Avoid Feeding Table Scraps or Treats Until Resolved

While it may be tempting to offer your dog table scraps or treats during this time, it's best to avoid doing so until their diarrhoea has resolved. Certain foods can exacerbate gastrointestinal issues and make their condition worse. Stick strictly to their bland diet of boiled chicken and rice until their stool returns back to normal.

It's also important not to give in when those puppy-dog eyes beg for a treat. While it may seem like you're being mean, you're actually helping them recover faster by sticking to the bland diet. Once their tummy troubles have passed, you can gradually reintroduce their regular food and treats.

Consider Probiotics to Restore Gut Health

Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that can help restore the balance of healthy gut flora in your dog's digestive system. They can be particularly useful after a bout of diarrhoea to promote healing and support overall gut health.

Talk to your veterinarian about incorporating a high-quality probiotic supplement into your dog's daily routine. These supplements come in various forms, such as powders or chewable tablets, making it easy to add them to their food. Probiotics work by introducing good bacteria into the gut, which helps in improving digestion and reducing gastrointestinal issues.

In addition to these basic treatments at home, it's important to monitor your dog closely for any signs of worsening symptoms or dehydration. If their diarrhoea persists for more than 24-48 hours or if they show other concerning symptoms like vomiting or lethargy, it's essential to seek veterinary care promptly.

Remember that every dog is unique, and what works for one may not work for another. If you have any concerns or questions about managing your dog's diarrhoea at home, don't hesitate to reach out to your veterinarian for guidance tailored specifically to your furry friend's needs.

Have a question about your pet? Talk to a vet

When to Seek Veterinary Attention for Dog Diarrhoea

If your furry friend is experiencing a bout of diarrhoea, it can be concerning. While most cases of dog diarrhoea can be managed at home, there are certain situations where seeking veterinary attention is crucial.

Diarrhoea Persists for More Than 24 Hours in a Puppy or Small Dog or 48 Hours in an Adult Dog

If your pup's tummy trouble lingers for more than a day in puppies or small dogs, or two days in adult dogs, it may be time to consult with your vet. Prolonged episodes of diarrhoea can lead to dehydration and nutrient deficiencies, which can further compromise your dog's health. Your vet will be able to assess the situation and provide appropriate treatment options.

Other Concerning Symptoms Are Present

While occasional loose stools may not necessarily warrant immediate veterinary attention, the presence of other concerning symptoms should raise a red flag. If your dog experiences any of the following alongside diarrhoea, it's essential to seek professional help:

  • Blood in the stool: The presence of blood indicates potential underlying issues such as gastrointestinal bleeding or infections.
  • Severe abdominal pain: Intense discomfort or pain in the abdomen could indicate a more serious condition that requires medical intervention.
  • Vomiting accompanying the diarrhoea: Frequent vomiting along with diarrhoea can quickly lead to dehydration and electrolyte imbalances.

Your veterinarian will conduct a thorough examination and may recommend additional tests to determine the cause of these symptoms and provide appropriate treatment.

Early intervention is key. By promptly addressing any concerns you have about your pet's health, you increase their chances of a swift recovery.

Remember that every dog is unique and may respond differently to diarrhoea. Trust your instincts as a pet owner and reach out to your veterinarian if you have any doubts or concerns about your dog's well-being.

Concluding Thoughts on Dog Diarrhoea

Now that you have a better understanding of dog diarrhoea, you can take proactive steps to manage it and ensure your furry friend's well-being. Remember, prevention is always better than cure. By identifying the causes of diarrhoea in dogs, such as dietary indiscretion or stress, you can make necessary adjustments to their routine and environment. If your dog does experience an episode of diarrhoea, it's important to differentiate between small intestinal and large intestinal diarrhoea, as the treatment approaches may vary.

Managing dog diarrhoea at home involves providing a bland diet, ensuring proper hydration, and monitoring their condition closely. However, if your dog's symptoms persist or worsen despite these measures, it's crucial to seek veterinary attention promptly. Your vet will be able to conduct a thorough examination and recommend appropriate tests or medications to alleviate your dog's discomfort. Remember that your pet's health is paramount, so don't hesitate to reach out for professional advice when needed.

FAQs about Dog Diarrhoea

Can I give my dog over-the-counter medication for diarrhoea?

It is not recommended to give over-the-counter medication without consulting with a veterinarian first. Some human medications can be toxic to dogs and may worsen their condition. It's best to seek professional advice before administering any medication.

Is it normal for my dog to have occasional bouts of diarrhoea?

Occasional episodes of mild diarrhoea can happen in dogs due to various factors like dietary changes or stress. However, if the symptoms persist or become severe, it's essential to consult with a veterinarian as there might be an underlying issue that needs attention.

How long does it usually take for dog diarrhoea to resolve?

The duration of dog diarrhoea can vary depending on the cause and severity of the condition. In some cases, mild cases may resolve within a day or two with appropriate home care. However, if the diarrhoea persists for more than a few days or is accompanied by other concerning symptoms, it's important to consult with a veterinarian.

Can stress cause diarrhoea in dogs?

Yes, stress can be a contributing factor to diarrhoea in dogs. Changes in routine, travel, or anxiety-inducing situations can lead to gastrointestinal upset and loose stools. If your dog experiences stress-related diarrhoea, providing a calm and familiar environment can help alleviate their symptoms.

Are there any dietary changes I should make to prevent dog diarrhoea?

Maintaining a consistent and balanced diet is crucial for preventing dog diarrhoea. Avoid sudden changes in their food and refrain from feeding them table scraps or foods that are known to trigger digestive issues. Always consult with your veterinarian before making any significant dietary changes for your dog.

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