Dog Diarrhea: What To Do, Treatment & Prevention

If you’ve been a dog owner for long, you’ve probably already experienced one of the dreaded illnesses that your dog can get… diarrhea. Whether you have a puppy, an adult dog, or a senior dog, diarrhea can strike at any time and really wreak havoc with both your pet and your household. 

As a pet owner, learning how to cope with dog diarrhea, and how to reduce the likelihood that it will happen in the first place, is an important piece of information to have. From one group of dog owners to another, those of us here at WINPRO Pet want to help arm you with the knowledge you need the next time your dog deals with a bout of diarrhea.

What Counts As Diarrhea?

The definition of diarrhea can get a little confusing, so here’s what technically “counts” as being diarrhea (versus just “loose stools”).

Essentially, loose stools happen once, and diarrhea happens repeatedly. Your dog may have a single episode of looser poop, but that doesn’t make it diarrhea. If he or she keeps going outside and does the same thing, their loose stools have made it officially into the diarrhea category. 

Diarrhea can be softer stools (an analogy often used is that they are similar to “soft serve”) or just pure liquid. While a lot of people think diarrhea is a disease or a health condition, it’s actually just a symptom of something else happening in the body. In a lot of cases, diarrhea is one way that the body attempts to get whatever is bothering it out, just like how we experience the symptoms of food poisoning. 

Types Of Dog Diarrhea

As gross as it seems, in order to figure out where your dog’s diarrhea is coming from, you first need to know more about how to recognize what “type” it is. And yes, there are different types of dog diarrhea. Mostly it comes down to where in the body it is occurring. 

Small bowel diarrhea usually shows up as darker in color but not generally more frequent than your pup’s normal poop schedule. However, with small bowel diarrhea, there is usually a lot more of it.

Large bowel diarrhea, on the other hand, happens frequently. If your dog is desperately scratching at the door to go outside every 10 minutes, that’s a good sign he or she is dealing with a large bowel issue. This type of diarrhea also tends to be painful and can have mucus or bright red blood in it. 

Regardless of where it comes from, it happens because of the speed that the fecal material (AKA poop) is moving through your pup’s GI system. Because it’s moving so fast, it means that less nutrients, water, and electrolytes can be absorbed, which is why so many pups also deal with dehydration as a result. It can also get uncomfortable for your pup’s booty, and they may even experience belly cramping and more gas than normal. These are all things to make a note of so that you can tell your vet.

How Is Dog Diarrhea Treated?

The treatment that diarrhea needs is related to what’s causing it and how bad it is. Some pets can do just fine with home treatment, including a bland diet or supplements like Gut Health, while others may need medication and even overnight hospitalization to get them rehydrated. 

The first step is taking a trip to your vet to have them figure out what’s causing it. Because diarrhea is a symptom and not the disease itself, treating it means figuring out what the bigger problem is. Food allergies, eating inappropriate food (or non-food items), parasites, and even stress can be diarrhea triggers, and each is treated in a different way. When heading to the vet to evaluate your dog’s situation, make sure to grab a stool sample (if possible) so that they can check for any signs of infection or parasites. 

If your vet recommends a bland diet for your pet’s diarrhea, there are plenty of ways that you can make it at home with things you probably already have in your cabinets. The goal is to use “binders” which help bulk up the stool, along with nutritionally dense foods that aren’t known to cause stomach upset. 

Cottage cheese, canned pumpkin, plain yogurt, low fat boiled hamburger, and boneless, skinless chicken breast, along with white rice, are all great choices. You may also be advised to “fast” your dog for a period of time, which helps to reset their belly. This is usually recommended in dogs that aren’t considered high risk for dehydration. 

For another all-natural approach to treating diarrhea or loose stools for your dog, WINPRO’s Gut Health product is designed to use nature’s blood proteins to powerfully combat discomfort in the gut and restore normal function. 

Common Causes of Diarrhea in Dogs

  • Intestinal parasites (Hookworms, Whipworms, Roundworms, Coccidia, Giardia)
  • Bacterial infections (Clostridium overgrowth) 
  • Eating garbage
  • GI tract issues
  • Kidney or liver issues

When You Should Call Your Veterinarian

Dog diarrhea is an unfortunate but common issue, from puppyhood all the way through their senior years, but it can also be a sign of more serious trouble.

If your dog is having diarrhea in addition to any of these other symptoms, call your vet as soon as possible to have your dog evaluated.

  • Lethargy (being excessively tired).
  • Excessive amounts of blood in the diarrhea.
  • Dark, tarry stool.
  • A painful belly.
  • White, very pale pink, blue, or gray gum color.

Also, if you believe your dog has eaten a toxin or a foreign body like a sock or a chicken bone (even if they’ve done that before), call your vet immediately. In situations like these, time is of the essence. You should also have your dog checked out if the diarrhea is occurring frequently, even without any of the above symptoms. Be safe rather than sorry, especially when it comes to your furry family member!

It’s also important to note that dehydration can be just as big of a problem as the reason for your dog’s diarrhea, so you should always take this issue very seriously. Signs of illnesses such as weakness, fever, vomiting, abdominal pain, or loss of appetite, or if dehydration accompanies diarrhea can all be symptoms of something more severe.

Dog Diarrhea Prevention

Obviously, it’s best to prevent dog diarrhea before it starts. While that’s not always a possibility, knowing your dog’s specific triggers can help you avoid them and keep the likelihood of a poop emergency to a minimum. Unfortunately, this usually always involves staying away from all that extra stuff that we love to give our dogs (yes, this probably means no more table scraps). Additionally, adding supplements into your dog’s daily routine is a great way to promote healthy gut function and naturally fight any discomfort in your dog’s gut that may cause diarrhea.

If you know your dog has food sensitivities or allergies, make sure to be hyper aware of what you’re feeding them… including their treats. That may mean switching to a prescription food or just a different, more bland option. While that may seem “mean” to us, it’s actually one of the nicest things you can do for your dog. 

Imagine how much more fun you’ll have together when his or her belly doesn’t hurt! 

To Sum It Up

Dog diarrhea happens. When it strikes, knowing what may be triggering it and what you or your vet may be able to do about it can make a huge difference in your pup’s comfort level (and your carpets!). Whether it’s food allergies, a dietary indiscretion, or just a fluke, helping your dog through it before it has a chance to get worse can keep them happy, comfortable, and stress-free for all the years you’re lucky enough to have them. 

At WINPRO Pet, we support everything you do to make your dog’s life as great as you can. They give us so much, we’re always looking for ways to give  a fraction of that back.

 

Sources:

Colitis in Small Animals - Digestive System | Merck Veterinary Manual (merckvetmanual.com)

Diarrhea in Dogs | VCA Animal Hospital (vcahospitals.com)

Dog Diarrhea: Treatment, Causes & Remedies | AKC (akc.org)