Dog Diarrhea: Causes, Symptoms, Treatments, and Prevention

Last Updated on March 6, 2023 by Woody Pet

Most of us have seen (and smelled) it and it’s one of the most common worries that every dog parent has. Dog diarrhea is quite common to many dogs but that does not mean you should let it prolong. Read more below!

Dog Diarrhea: Causes, Symptoms, Treatments, and Prevention

If you’ve been doing a lot of reading about dogs and the diseases they can contract, you’ve probably seen diarrhea as a recurring symptom. It’s a condition where your dog will have unformed or loose stools that usually occur in larger amounts and/or more often than usual. 

Given that, dog diarrhea is actually not a disease in itself but rather a sign of an underlying and, more often than not, a more complicated disease. Should the condition be a minor one, dog diarrhea can often be resolved quickly with simple treatments. More complex conditions may include something as severe as organ system failure and cancer. Regardless of its initial severity, dog diarrhea may lead to serious illnesses if left untreated in its early stages as severe dehydration and electrolyte imbalance may occur. 

What should dog poop look like?

dog diarrhea
Image From Brooke Cagle

Every dog is different, which means that what’s normal for them might not be the same for others. Only you, as their dog parent, can figure out when something has gone wrong or unusual with their bodies. Dog poop is one of the best indicators of a dog’s general well-being. Always stay vigilant on what and how your dog poops. 

In terms of color, your dog’s poop should be chocolate brown in color under any normal circumstances. If they have a black stool, it may be caused by increased bleeding in the digestive tract. Red streaks in the poop may indicate bleeding in the lower digestive tract. Gray or yellow stools may indicate issues with the pancreas, liver, or gallbladder.

In terms of shape, their poop should be shaped like logs and consistently so. Round stools may indicate dehydration in your dog. 

In terms of consistency, it should be compact, moist and easy to pick up. It should not be watery as this could indicate an intestinal upset. 

In terms of size, their poop should be proportionate to the amount of food they’ve eaten. The size increases as the fiber content of the food they’re consuming increases as well.   

Why does my dog have diarrhea? 

dog diarrhea
Image From Justin Veenema

Before knowing what the root cause of dog diarrhea is, you first have to determine the nature of the diarrhea, which includes its color, consistency, smell, and frequency. Seek help from your veterinarian as well. Upon approaching them, they will usually ask you to bring a sample of fresh fecal material with you to your appointment. 

Listed below are some of the most common causes of dog diarrhea: 

  • Underlying illnesses
  • Bacterial and viral infections
  • Parasites
  • Allergies
  • Changes in diet
  • Stress or emotional upset
  • Medications served on an empty stomach
  • Poisonous substances or plants
  • Swallowing an indigestible foreign object
  • Food intolerance

What can I give my dog for diarrhea?

dog diarrhea
Image From Matthew Henry

Since dog diarrhea mostly has to do with the digestive system, hence, the food that they’re consuming, it’s only appropriate to resolve this condition through an alternation in their diet. 

Aside from changing the food they eat, they should also fast. The American Kennel Club suggests holding back on food for around 12 to 14 hours but also still giving sufficient amounts of water. However, take note that this type of fasting is only recommended for healthy adult dogs. Should you do this to dogs that do not fit these criteria, they will be likely to develop hypoglycemia or low blood sugar. Additionally, dogs with chronic illnesses, such as diabetes, can only fast if recommended and permitted by their veterinarian. 

During and after fasting, give your dog rice water. To make this, boil once up of white rice in four cups of water for 15 to 30 minutes or until the water turns creamy white. Strain off the water and let it cool before serving the rice water to your dog. To make the rice water more appealing to them, you can add a teaspoon of the flavor your dog likes! 

Other additions you can make to the rice water includes probiotics. These are essential living bacterial cultures that help assist the body’s way of reestablishing themselves as well as helping them recover faster. A source for these probiotics that you can use include yogurt. It’s highly accessible as you can find these in any health food store or grocery.

In terms of solids, put your dog in a bland diet. You can try serving them cooked rice (make sure it’s plain) together with skinless and boneless chicken breast (unseasoned). As you go along, reintroduce other solids slowly. Make sure to prohibit any strenuous physical activity – no more running, jumping, long walks, or playing for the meantime! Letting them exhaust themselves will only slow down the recovery process and even make them feel worse. 

What are the signs that dog diarrhea needs medical attention?

dog diarrhea
Image From Matthew Henry

In some cases, dog diarrhea can be treated at home in a matter of days. However, there are instances where medical intervention needs to take place. Listed below are the warning signs that you should look out for:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Lethargy
  • Frequent vomiting
  • Blood in the stool
  • Pain or discomfort
  • Reduced or absent urination

How do I stop dog diarrhea?

dog diarrhea
Image From Matthew Henry

You can easily stop dog diarrhea from occurring again once you figure out its root cause in your dogs. Dog diarrhea is actually a commonly preventable issue in dogs. Try the following tips depending on your dog’s particular case:

  • Avoid sudden changes in your dog’s diet. Do this by gradually introducing other types of food into their diet and removing the unnecessary ones every few days. Doing so would give your dog enough time to adjust to these dietary changes. Abrupt changes can cause stomach problems, such as diarrhea. 
  • Always keep a close eye on your dog whether you’re at home or outside, especially if they’re the scavenger type. This will help prevent them from ingesting a foreign object and potentially harming his body.
  • If table scraps cause their diarrhea, try sticking to dog food exclusively.
  • Be consistent with their vaccinations and other necessary medications as prescribed by their veterinarian. Not only will this prevent diarrhea, but it will also strengthen your dog’s body and overall health from contracting any diseases. 

Has your fur baby ever experienced dog diarrhea? Let us know what steps you did to help them in the comments below! 


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