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Dog Diarrhea: Causes and Treatments

Being a dog owner can be pretty challenging. Your dog can’t talk to you, so you will have to be the mind reader. It can be frustrating and scary when you see some abnormal bowel movements from your dog. Even though diarrhea is often prevalent amongst the canine species, there are some cases where it requires special attention. For example, if you see that your dog is refusing food, become very fatigued, and constantly having abnormal bowel movements, then it might be time to investigate. Part of being a dog owner is to recognize specific changes and to make some quick decisions before these symptoms gets any worse.

Since your dog is like your child, it is perfectly normal to panic. Fortunately, we have all the valuable information for you, so you will know what to do when your four-legged friend experiences extreme diarrhea.

 

What Causes Diarrhea?

Before we dive in deeper to the strategies in getting rid of diarrhea, let’s explore what causes it. There are several factors that can lead to your companion's strange bowel issues. Keep in mind that diarrhea is not an illness or a disease, but a symptom of an underlying health problem. Usually, these abnormal bowel habits should wear off within 48 hours, but if it goes on for more than three to five days, it will require a trip to the vet.

Here is a list of common causes that might be troubling your dog's digestive health:

Recent Change in Diet

Usually, dogs have very sensitive stomach. Any slight dietary changes can ruin Fido's digestive system. If you are switching your dog to a new brand of dog food, the changes in the diet and ingredient can upset their stomach and lead to constant diarrhea. That is why it’s essential to make any dog food changes slowly and gradually. The best strategy is to mix in the old dog food with the new brand to let their stomach adjust for a couple of days.

Bad Eating Habits

Dog eating

Dogs love eating and will put anything in their mouth, even if it’s spoiled food, feces, or garbage. In fact, they often overeat and are unaware that they are full or have enough. Sometimes, it can be very tempting to feed your dog the delicious french fries and hamburger that you got from McDonald's, but if you do, just be prepared for the aftermath. Oily, fatty, and high sugary food can upset your dog's stomach. It could lead to bloating, abdominal pain, gas, and diarrhea. If your dog's diet is filled with unhealthy snacks and food, it can ultimately lead to an unhappy ending. This is very common with owners who love to feed table scraps to their dog because it looks cute when they beg. It’s best to resist this urge and make sure your loving companion maintains a healthy diet.

Related: Why Do Dogs Eat Cat Poop?

Food Allergies

Practically all dog breeds have hypersensitivity towards foods with fats, dairy, and gluten. This is especially true for Irish Settler in Wheaton Terriers. Some dogs also have personal food allergies. If this is the case, it’s best to give them healthy food and to keep an eye on potential symptoms after consuming a specific type of ingredients. For example, if you notice that your dog continuously has an upset stomach and diarrhea after eating chicken, then it’s best to avoid any dog food made with chicken.

Parasites

Usually, diarrhea is a common and normal symptom. However, it can be problematic if it’s from a serious underlying condition like a parasitic infection. If you notice any blood, eggs, or diarrhea that lasts for more than 3 to 5 days along with fever, then it's best to see a vet right away. Parasitic infections such as roundworms, hookworms, or Giardia can cause abdominal issues, diarrhea, fever, fatigue, and anemia. It’s important to diagnose it right away, so your dog will get the treatment that they need to get better.

Poisonous Substances

Dogs love to explore various places and try different food even if it's in a container that says "dangerous, harmful substances." If you notice that your dog has diarrhea and stomach pain after ingesting something, then it’s time to do some investigation work. Consuming poisoning substance can be detrimental and require immediate treatment. If you suspected that Fido has ingested something poisonous, it’s essential to get him to the vet immediately. The most common toxic substance that can cause severe harm to your four-legged friends are mushrooms, chocolate, laundry detergent, human medications, charcoals, and a wide variety of plants.

Infection

The most common infections that cause canine diarrhea is viral. Usually, your dog's immune system can fight off the viral infection, so all you would have to do is initiate support and therapeutic treatment regime. However, bacterial infections would require antibiotic medication from your vet. The best way to tell if your dog has a viral or bacterial infection is to observe the symptoms. If the diarrhea symptoms improve as the days go by, then it’s most likely viral. However, if the symptoms get worse, then this would indicate a potential bacterial infection.

Stress

If your dog experienced extreme stress from a certain change in his life or something emotional, it could definitely affect his or her bowels. Keep in mind that dog anxiety can lead to abnormal bowel movements of either diarrhea or constipation. For example, if you have just moved to a new house and witness constant diarrhea from your dog, then it’s most likely that he is stressed out about adapting to the change in environment from the move. Fortunately, once the dog is well adapted, he or she may lose anxiety and have a more regular bowel movement.

What Is the Poop Trying to Tell You?

It’s important to note the color of the feces. If your dog's stool is fatty, oily, and foul-smelling, then it’s most likely a giardia infection. Black stools would indicate dark blood from the upper G.I. system, which may indicate an ulcer. If your dog has stools that are filled with mucus, that means he or she might have parasites, parvovirus, or worms. Fresh and bright red blood in the stool means that the lower G.I. system has been compromised. White stool indicates that your dog is eating too much raw diet that is high in calcium. When that happens, definitely check the ingredients and switch to a new brand of dog food. Green indicates that your dog is eating too much grass, and that can be pretty detrimental to their digestive system. Orange feces means that the food is moving too quickly through the digestive system. If the orange color continues, it’s best to see the vet to check for potential liver problems. If you have recently changed your pet's diet, you may notice that the diarrhea is extremely yellow. That means it’s best to slow down towards the new diet instead of changing it too quickly. If you see white specs on the dog's poop, this may indicate potential worms. Often times, the worm eggs can be quite noticeable because they are often white. With that in mind, it’s best to collect the feces and provide them to the vet for further inspection.

How to Treat Diarrhea

Now that you are aware of some common underlying causes to canine diarrhea, then here are some treatment strategy to help your four-legged companion.

Play Some Detective Work

Before doing anything to stop the diarrhea, it’s essential to do some detective work. You want to find out if the diarrhea is caused by an infection, stress, dietary issues, or anything serious. Once you find the underlying cause, then it’s time to initiate the proper treatment.

Know When to See the Vet

If you notice some warning signs and symptoms like black tarry stool, bloody diarrhea, fatigue, loss of appetite, shaking, fever, vomiting, dehydration, diarrhea that lasts for over three days, abdominal pain, or anything else abnormal, it’s best to bring him to the vet immediately. Your vet can diagnose potentially life-threatening serious issues through an imaging exam, stool sample, and physical examination. They can initiate the proper treatment before it escalates any further. For example, your vet can initiate a stool culture, and if he or she detects parasitic eggs, they can prescribe the medication that your dog needs to get rid of the parasite. If left untreated, the parasite can absorb all the nutrients and blood from your dog’s body leaving him malnutritious and fatigue.

Keep Them Hydrated

Dog swimming

Once you find the underlying cause or rule out anything serious, it’s time to keep them hydrated. When your dog have severe diarrhea, they tend to use a lot of water and electrolytes. The best strategy to keep your dog hydrated is through cold water with ice cubes. If you want to get fancy, you can add Gatorade to the cold water to help hydrate and replenish their electrolytes level. During the whole diarrhea process, it’s essential to keep your dogs away from fatty or oily food. You want to initiate a bland diet with rice, warm water, and white meat. You can also give your dog some sliced banana for treats. This can help rehydrate and soothe his stomach.

What to do if Your Dog has Diarrhea

If your dog has diarrhea due to unhealthy dietary problems or changes, stress, or viral infections, then all you can do to fix the underlying issues is to keep them hydrated. Luckily, there are also some natural remedies that could help with Fido's bowel issues.

Boiled Chicken and White Rice

The most common trick is feeding your dog a bland diet of chicken and white rice. It does wonders to stop those nasty GI problems.

Canned Pumpkin

Pumpkins are excellent ingredients to help soothe upset stomachs. Since they tend to absorb slowly in the body, it’s actually an excellent treatment for both diarrhea and constipation. Keep in mind that pumpkin pie will not treat your dog, it’s best to give them regular canned pumpkin.

Ginger

Ginger has anti-inflammatory properties to help reduce bloating, nausea, and stomach issues. It’s also very effective in soothing the G.I. system, therefore, reducing diarrhea and pain.

Bone Broth

Bone broth is a fantastic ingredient to relieve upset stomach while keeping your dog hydrated. It’s easy to make; in fact, you can also purchase and keep them stored or frozen in the freezer. All you have to do is simmer a whole chicken in a mixture of water and apple cider vinegar in a pot until all of the meat has fallen off. The best thing to do is purchase a brand of bone broth that is formulated for dogs. That way, you will have natural ingredients that are dog-friendly without those nasty additives which can exacerbate your pet's diarrhea.

CBD Oil

If your dog is stressed out about a recent life-changing event or just stressed out in general, then CBD oil can definitely help. CBD oil or treats can support a healthy digestive system. It helps reduce loose stool by reducing dog anxiety and keeping him calm.

 

Related: 3 Things to Look for When Shopping for CBD Oil

 

Takeaway

Dog running in meadow 

It can be stressful to see your four-legged friend experience some abnormal bowel movement. Luckily, understanding some common underlying causes, red flags, when to see a vet, and various treatment strategies, might help put your mind at ease. In fact, diarrhea can be a normal process for the body to get rid of toxins. However, if the diarrhea symptoms continue to get worse or there are additional symptoms such as vomiting, nausea, abdominal pain, and fever, then it’s definitely time to see the vet for an examination and the proper treatment. If the symptoms are improving each day, then the best treatment regime is to keep your dog well-hydrated and on a bland diet. There are also natural remedies that you can create for your dog to help him through this process. At the end of the day, you just want to see your pet happy and healthy, and the best way to do that is through the power of knowledge from us and the right attitude. With all that in mind, your companion will be healthy in no time.

 

Related: 10 High Fiber Foods for Your Dogs

 

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