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Diarrhea in Canines

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Diarrhea can occur in canines for numerous reasons - some as minor as a change in diet, others as serious as infectious disease. Treating dogs with diarrhea is very successful so long as pet owners address the issue in a timely manner. Acute and chronic are two different severities of canine diarrhea, and each requires specific attention and care.

Acute diarrhea can last for a couple days to a couple weeks. In most cases, it is caused from a sudden change in food, an allergy, or bacteria. There is no need to be alarmed; symptoms typically subside after some time, and most dogs still appear happy and active despite having diarrhea. Once acute diarrhea has lasted beyond two weeks, it is classified as chronic diarrhea, and the situation is deemed much more serious. Continual diarrhea can initiate essential nutrient loss, making the body become toxic, lowering immune system function, and obstructing a dog’s ability to heal itself. As the immune system’s functionality is impaired, secondary disorders are able to develop, causing the body to deteriorate.

When to take your dog to the veterinarian: 

  • Abdomen is sensitive to touch or pressure. 
  • Frequent and excessive vomiting.
  • Gums are dry or sticky (sign of dehydration).
  • Have a fever. 
  • Have large amounts of blood in fecal matter. 
  • Have visible bloating. 
  • They show extreme lethargy.

If condition worsens or persists after 2 weeks, please contact our office immediately to schedule an appointment.

At-home treatment for acute diarrhea: 

  1. The first step to alleviate a diarrhea problem is to implement a change in diet. You want to be feeding your dog something that is easily digested and free from extra fat and oil - absolutely NO PEOPLE FOOD. A diet consisting of skinless, boiled chicken with rice is usually best until the diarrhea has subsided. Slowly reintroduce pet food. 
  2. Add a probiotic supplement to your pet’s diet to aide in regulating gastrointestinal health.
  3. The most important step is to keep your dog hydrated. If necessary, dilute sports drinks (half sports drink, half water) to keep your dog interested in drinking fluids. Diarrhea causes a loss in electrolytes and replenishing those electrolytes is critical.

What causes chronic diarrhea?

Chronic diarrhea is usually caused by a food allergy, inflammatory bowel disease, pancreatitis, parasites, or a more serious (but often rare) condition that the vet will need to diagnose.

As diarrhea symptoms continue, you might notice that your dog’s coat becomes rough or wiry, your pet has less energy, and/or your dog seems dehydrated. All of these are side effects of chronic diarrhea and will continue until treatment is implemented.

Treating chronic diarrhea

If your dog is experiencing chronic diarrhea, we recommend you call and schedule an appointment immediately. Our veterinarian will examine your pet for internal parasites and disease, conduct blood tests, and assess dehydration levels. Complete diagnostics might also be necessary. After completing a thorough exam, we will be able to distinguish what is causing the diarrhea and will be able to develop an effective treatment plan.