Is your dog experiencing sudden onset diarrhea? Worried about the cause and whether or not it’s an emergency? While this is a common health issue for canines of all ages, it’s not always immediately clear why it’s happening.
If you’re left scratching your head wondering ‘Why does my dog have diarrhea?’, then you need to pay attention to the warning signs and possible causes so you can get to the root of the problem. Here’s what you need to know.
Why Does My Dog Have Diarrhea?
Much like humans, constant diarrhea in dogs can be the result of a plethora of potential culprits. It can be tough to determine the exact reason without professional help, but some of the most common possibilities include:
Stress and Anxiety
There’s no doubt about it – dogs can get just as stressed and anxious as we do. In fact, they can even suffer from similar disorders like separation anxiety and depressive episodes.
Even though they might not be as vocal about it, stress can manifest in dogs in a number of ways – including diarrhea. So, if your dog seems unusually quiet or takes longer than usual to warm up to people, it could be a sign that they’re feeling overwhelmed. The emotional upset can then lead to physical manifestations like diarrhea.
If you’ve recently implemented some changes to your dog’s diet – even if it’s just switching brands of kibble – that could be enough to trigger an episode of loose stool. While some pups have no problem adjusting to new foods, others can be quite sensitive. The inner workings of their digestive system can get thrown off balance, resulting in chronic diarrhea.
Take note of what you’ve fed your pet in the last 24 hours and see if there’s any correlation with the onset of symptoms. If so, it’s best to go back to their old food until their system can better adjust.
Parasites, bacterial infections and inflammatory bowel disease are all common dog diarrhea causes that stem from an imbalance in the digestive system. Some of these conditions are more serious than others, but all can result in unpleasant (and sometimes dangerous) diarrhea symptoms.
These sorts of issues can sometimes be tough to spot on your own, however it’s always best to take your furry friend to the vet if they’re experiencing persistent potty problems. They’ll be able to properly diagnose the issue and put your mind – and your pup’s health – at ease.
Ingestion of Foreign Objects
Dogs are curious creatures, which can sometimes lead them to ingest things they shouldn’t. Everything from random objects found on walks to houseplants and kids’ toys can be fair game.
Make sure you closely monitor your pup when they’re exploring their environment to make sure they’re not putting something dangerous in their mouth. If you think they may have swallowed a potentially harmful object, call your veterinarian right away.
When Is Dog Diarrhea an Emergency?
In most cases, diarrhea is more of a nuisance than a cause for alarm. The symptoms usually last for a day or two and will eventually clear up on their own. However, there are some instances where this condition can signify a more serious problem.
If your dog is also exhibiting any of the following symptoms along with their runny stools, it’s best to bring them to the vet for professional care:
- Lack of Appetite
- Blood in Stool
- Excessive Vomiting
- Signs of Dehydration (Sunken eyes, Dry Nose, Weakness)
- Heavy Drooling
- Swelling of the Abdomen
These could all be indicative of a more serious issue, such as blockage of the intestines or poisoning. If these conditions aren’t treated immediately, they could lead to serious health complications – or even death.
How to Treat Diarrhea in Dogs
If your dog is only experiencing mild symptoms, there’s a high chance that they’ll be able to recover on their own with a little bit of at-home care. You can make this process a little bit easier using the basic dog care essentials as well as a few additions, including:
Plenty of Fluids
Watery stools can quickly lead to dehydration since your pup is losing more fluid than they’re taking in. To help prevent this, make sure they have plenty of fresh water to drink throughout the day. You can also add a little bit of unflavored Pedialyte to their water bowl to help replenish electrolytes.
Other clear liquids, such as chicken broth and rice water, can also help to soothe your pet’s tummy and offer some much-needed hydration. Just be sure not to give them too much at once, as it could further upset their stomach and make their symptoms worse.
Fasting and Dietary Restrictions
Many people are unsure of what to feed dogs with diarrhea, especially since most human gastrointestinal remedies are off-limits. The best course of action is usually to withhold food for 12-24 hours, allowing their system time to rest.
After that, you can slowly reintroduce small amounts of plain foods as part of their bland diet – think white rice, cooked chicken, cooked eggs and peeled boiled potatoes. Avoid giving your pooch any fatty or spicy foods, as these can further upset their stomach and make their symptoms worse.
Whenever there’s an imbalance in the gut, particularly after a bout of diarrhea, the natural bacteria can be thrown off. This can make it difficult for your puppy to properly digest their food and absorb the nutrients they need.
To help restore the equilibrium, you can give your pet probiotic supplements or feed them natural yogurt with live cultures. This will help to replenish the healthy bacteria in their belly and get their digestive system back on track.
Lots of Rest
Taking it easy and getting some much-needed rest is crucial for recovery, both for people and pups. Make sure your four-legged friend has a cozy place to sleep and plenty of quiet time to just relax. This can help them feel better faster and get back to their normal selves in no time.
You can even try using a calming aid to help relieve any stress or anxiety that may be exacerbating their symptoms. This may include anything from dog appeasing pheromones to CBD treats – whatever helps your pup to settle down and feel comfortable.
At the end of the day, leaky bowels are usually nothing to worry about – as long as your pet is otherwise healthy and not exhibiting any other concerning symptoms. However, if you’re ever on the fence and keep asking yourself ‘Why does my dog have diarrhea?’, it’s always best to play it safe and consult your vet.
They’ll be able to assess the situation, rule out any serious causes, and help you create a treatment plan that will get your furry friend feeling better in no time. After all, nobody likes dealing with a sick pet, so it’s always better to be safe than sorry.
This article has been edited and verified by our own veterinarian Dr.Stevce Ilievski.