Diarrhoea in Dogs: Causes and Treatments
Diarrhoea is an uncomfortable, sometimes painful, and somewhat embarrassing thing most dogs go through.
Diarrhoea may leave your pet distressed and not quite feeling themselves, but they should not suffer for too long and will be back to their usual spritely selves within a few short days.
As with humans, your dog will likely experience diarrhoea multiple times throughout its life. It is rarely a cause for concern and will generally pass within a couple of days.
Diarrhoea is often the result of your dog eating something they should not have, which most dog owners have had the displeasure of experiencing. Whether they have found their way into the rubbish bags, eaten a household item, or devoured one of their favourite chew toys.
Symptoms of Diarrhoea in Dogs
Diarrhoea is caused by issues in the intestine.
The most common diarrhoea symptom is loose and more frequent stool, but it can also manifest itself as vomiting, weight loss, and dehydration. Diarrhoea is often more severe and unsettling for your pet when combined with these other symptoms.
Causes of Diarrhoea in Dogs
The most common cause of diarrhoea, luckily, is easily treatable.
Diarrhoea is often caused by a change in your dog’s diet. This might be due to a change in their food, or eating something scavenged from outside.
If the diarrhoea passes within 24 hours, it is likely it was down to something they scavenged and should not be a cause of concern.
Many medications’ common side effect is diarrhoea, so if your pet has recently started or changed medication and has persistent diarrhoea, consult your vet to discuss your options.
However, there are a few less common yet more severe diarrhoea causes. Including bacterial and viral infections, and dietary allergies that can often present themselves later in life.
Other underlying health conditions, such as liver disease may also cause diarrhoea in dogs.
The Seriousness of Diarrhoea in Dogs
Usually, as with humans, diarrhoea is not serious at all. However, diarrhoea is usually the first symptom of many dogs’ illnesses, so you must see your vet if it persists.
If the diarrhoea contains blood, your dog is vomiting, or suffering from a fever; you must seek assistance immediately, as it could be a sign of something far more sinister.
If the diarrhoea shows no sign of easing after twenty-four hours, then you should speak to your vet for advice.
If you seek help from a vet, they will likely examine your dog’s abdomen and ask you a few questions. They may also wish to carry out an X-Ray or ultrasound scan on the dog if they suspect the dog has consumed an object.
Your vet will need to know about the dog’s current diet and if there have been any changes. They may ask about the dog’s mood, recent exercise pattern, and questions about the stool itself.
Treatments for Diarrhoea
Providing that your dog is not vomiting, there is no reason to withhold food.
Ensure they get plenty of water and switch them to a bland diet for the following few days. Although you can buy specific pet foods for this, a diet of boiled chicken and plain rice will suffice. Try to split mealtimes into six small portions throughout the day rather than two more significant meals. Once the stool begins to harden again, you can slowly reintroduce dog food back into their diet.
Once your dog is back onto their regular eating routine, you may want to consider adding probiotics into their daily schedule. Probiotics can help rebalance the bacteria in your dog’s gut. Do not think these are only for when your dog is ill; they are great for using all year round to keep your dog’s digestive system looking great.
Dehydration is prevalent in dogs with diarrhoea, so ensure your dog can access plenty of fresh water.
Preventing Diarrhoea in Puppies
Diarrhoea is extremely common among puppies because they are continually scavenging and usually end up eating something they should not, from one time to another.
There are a few simple steps you can take to minimise the risk of your puppy getting diarrhoea:
- Make sure they have their scheduled vaccinations at the appropriate points throughout their life
- Ensure that before your puppy is vaccinated, they are not in contact with other dogs
- Supervise your puppy wherever possible, reducing the risk of them eating something you are not aware of
- Do not feed your puppy any scraps from the dinner table
Avoid the Antibiotics
If you have some antibiotics laying around the house from when your dog was previously sick, it can be tempting to use them to try and make your dog better quickly. However, these will likely do more harm than good.
Diarrhoea is the bodies way of flushing something out it does not agree with. If you try to prevent this from happening, it means the toxin will be stuck in the body which can be distressing and painful for your pet whilst making the underlying issue worse.
The colour, as well as the consistency of the stool, is important.
Be sure to look out for red or black in your dog’s poo, which are typical signs of blood. Small flecks showing in the stool is entirely normal, yet red or black stripes, or a tar-like texture is generally a bad sign.
Blood in the stool is an indication that your dog is overstraining whilst trying to use the bathroom or even worse, an indication of internal bleeding.
If the stool is a grey colour, this typically is a sign of a pancreas issue. Whereas green poo usually means there are issues with the gall bladder.
Diarrhoea is Not Always a Huge Deal
The vast majority of diarrhoea in dogs is simply because they have eaten something they should not have. If the diarrhoea passes within a day, and your pet is otherwise fine in themselves, plenty of fluid and rest should be sufficient.
However, if the diarrhoea passes the 24-hour mark or becomes a regular occurrence, you are always best seeking your vet’s advice.