Dogs and Diarrhea: Everything You Need to Know

Dogs and Diarrhea: Everything You Need to Know

Dogs and Diarrhea: Everything You Need to Know

Dogs having diarrhea is never a pleasant experience and more often than not, a dreadful one. Not only is it messy, but dogs often can’t hold it in leaving you to clean up the mess inside your home.

What exactly is diarrhea?
Diarrhea is defined as unformed or loose stools, usually occurring in larger amounts and/or more often. It can also be different colors:

  • Yellow diarrhea typically happens from feeding a bland diet (read more about this below)

  • Bloody diarrhea or hematochezia is induced by large bowel diarrhea or colitis which occurs when small blood vessels in the lower part of the GI tract break open and bleed a bit into the stool. A small amount of blood is not necessarily concerning, but if the stool is primarily blood, your pet should be taken to the vet immediately.

  • Black diarrhea or melena is caused when blood is digested before it passes. This stool looks like a newborn baby poop and can be black or greenish in color.

Photo Credit: AKC

What causes it?
Diarrhea in dogs can be caused by a number of reasons. In general, it’s caused by fecal matter moving faster through the intestine along with decreased absorption of water, nutrients, and electrolytes. When it happens, it’s usually a symptom of another problem. Problems include:

  • Intestinal infection from bacteria, viruses, coccidia, or intestinal worms

  • Dietary indiscretion from eating garbage or other irritating materials

  • Change in diet

  • Food intolerance

  • Various allergies

  • Stress, especially following traveling or changes in environment (i.e, going to boarding for the first time)

  • Parasites

    • Roundworms

    • Hookworms

    • Whipworms

    • Coccidia

    • Giardia

  • Poisonous substances or plants

  • Infections with common viruses such as:

    • Parvovirus

    • Distemper

    • Canine Coronavirus

  • Bacterial infections which includes salmonella

  • Illnesses like kidney disease, liver disease, colitis, inflammatory bowel disease, and cancer

  • Antibiotics and certain medications

Photo Credit: Metro Paws®

What can you do to help?
If it’s not severe (such as, your dog isn’t having constant diarrhea and becoming severely ill), you might be able to help with some at home cures.
  • First would be to start your dog on a bland diet which is essentially feeding a diet of plan, boiled, unsalted chicken with plain rice or pasta. Here are some other things that can help:
  • Canned pumpkin (plain, non-pie filling) has an unusual distinction of being effective for diarrhea and constipation
  • Cottage cheese
  • Yogurt and it’s bacteria can help if your dog doesn’t have an intolerance to dairy
  • Boiled, skin-free potatoes
  • Rice Water: Boil a lot of water with high-quality rice, remove the grains and offer a creamy white soup for your dog, and add a splash of broth to make it more appealing
  • Probiotics, which are available in powder/pill form but can also be found in yogurt
  • Certain herbs like fennel
  • Some over-the-counter medications meant for humans can be effective for dogs such as Pepto-bismol but your vet should be consulted prior to administering them

Keep in mind that not all dogs are the same and just because one method works on someone else’s dog doesn’t mean it will help yours. Keep in mind your dog’s known allergies and intolerances. You will also want to keep them clean as having diarrhea can cause them to make a mess on themselves. Metro Wipes® can be used to clean their behind area without drying out the skin. Consider using hypoallergenic Metro Wipes® Natural Unscented for dogs with more sensitive skin.

When do you need a vet?
The time to call the vet depends on what is considered abnormal for your dog. Here are some reasons or benchmarks that can help determine if your dog needs to go to the vet:
  • They are on medications
  • Severe dehydration
  • Physical symptoms such as lethargy, vomiting, pale gums or trouble walking
  • Trouble walking and using rear legs
  • Preexisting conditions such as diabetes, Cushing’s, Cancer or any other type of medical issues
  • Diarrhea that is not stopping after using home remedies that have worked in the past
Photo Credit:Unknown

Now that your dog has had diarrhea indoors, how do you clean it up?
Having a sick dog is already stressful but adding in the mess made in your home just adds to that stress. It’s even worse if it happened on carpet.

If it happens on a surface like tile or wood floors, that’s simple to scoop up and mop up. You can also put something like cat litter on top first to make it easier to clean.

Now what if it’s carpet? Check out this effective method from Get Bombs Away (trust us, it’s been tested and approved with our own dogs!)


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