The Causes of Diarrhea In Dogs & How You Can Stop It

When dogs have diarrhea it can be very distressing for their owners, who will want to find a cure quickly. Here, our Jacksonville vets share some common causes of diarrhea in dogs and offer some ways you may be able to stop it. 

Diarrhea in Dogs

Our veterinarians in Jacksonville often see dogs with diarrhea for a wide variety of reasons.

It's very common for dogs to have mild episodes of diarrhea that could be caused by mild intestinal distress as a result of your dog consuming a small amount of something that doesn't agree with them, like table scraps, or from switching to a new kind of dog food.

However, there are various other more serious problems that could be causing your dog's diarrhea.

Common Causes of Dog Diarrhea

Here are a few of the most common reasons why dogs develop diarrhea:

  • Change in diet or treats
  • Stress or anxiety
  • Medications such as antibiotics
  • Ingestion of foreign objects such as toys, bones, and fabric
  • Eating garbage or spoiled food
  • Ingesting toxins or poisons
  • Bacterial infections - such as salmonella
  • Parasites - roundworms, hookworms, whipworms, Coccidia, or Giardia
  • Viral infections such as parvovirus, distemper or coronavirus
  • Colitis
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Pancreatitis
  • Liver or kidney disease
  • Intestinal cancer

But how can you determine if your dog's diarrhea requires a veterinary visit?

When To Call Your Vet For Dog Diarrhea

If your pooch just has one bout of diarrhea and is still behaving normally, you probably don't have a reason to be worried. Keep an eye on your dog's bowel movements to see if their diarrhea clears up. However, if your dog has more than 2 bouts of diarrhea it may be a sign of an underlying health issue. Therefore, we recommend calling your vet if your dog has two or more episodes of diarrhea.

If your pup is straining to pass a stool but only passing small amounts of watery diarrhea, they could be experiencing a painful blockage due to the ingestion of a foreign object such as a toy. This is a very serious concern and needs veterinary attention right away, contact your vet or head to the nearest emergency animal hospital for care.

Recurring bouts of diarrhea over a short period of time could be a sign of a very serious health issue, particularly if your pup is very old, very young, or has a compromised immune system. Infections such as parvovirus are extremely serious, contagious, and life-threatening. Call your veterinarian immediately if your dog is having repeated episodes of diarrhea.

Dogs that are exhibiting other symptoms on top of their diarrhea should also be examined by a vet as quickly as possible. If your pooch is displaying any of these symptoms contact your vet immediately to arrange an appointment:

  • Weakness
  • Lack of Appetite
  • Unusual drooling
  • Vomiting
  • Blood in stool
  • Signs of dehydration (Sunken dry-looking eyes, dry nose, or dry, sticky gums)

If you see your dog showing any concerning symptoms call your vet. Your vet will be able to tell you if your pup's symptoms need to be examined.

Treating Diarrhea in Dogs

Never give your dog human medications without asking your veterinarian first. Lots of over-the-counter medications that work for humans could be toxic to dogs.

If your pup has had one or two soft or runny stools, you might want to provide them with some time to recover by having them fast for 12 - 24 hours.

You could also put your dog on a bland diet for one or two days to resolve your dog's problem. Plain-cooked white rice with a bit of chicken and some canned plain pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling) might help your furry friend's stomach feel better. After your dog starts feeling better gradually reintroduce their usual food.

Other things that might help to soothe your dog's upset tummy include natural yogurt, probiotics, peeled boiled potatoes, cottage cheese, egg with no oil added, specially formulated dog foods, and medications prescribed by your vet.

When it comes to your best buddy's health it is always best to err on the side of caution. By taking your pooch in for an examination you give your vet the opportunity to determine the underlying cause of your pup's diarrhea and recommend the most effective treatment.

Contact our vets in Jacksonville today to schedule an exam if your dog has diarrhea.