Diarrhea is a scary part of pet ownership. Because our pets are unable to speak, we can’t ask them the necessary questions to come to the root problem of their stomach upset. If left untreated, your dog could become severely dehydrated. 

What is Diarrhea in Dogs?

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As with humans, it refers to stools that range from soft to liquid in consistency. Diarrhea is a common problem with dogs as they are likely to eat anything and everything. Thus one specific thing cannot be pinpointed as the cause. Most dogs tend to heal by themselves. Therefore, it is not considered a serious illness. If other symptoms, such as frequent vomiting, lack of appetite, or blood in the stool, are observed along with diarrhea, then you should contact your vet or head out to the closest emergency veterinary clinic. 

Why Does My Dog Have Diarrhea?

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Scavenging is said to be the most likely cause of diarrhea in dogs, as well as other animals who scavenge for food. Scavenging is a term used to describe when dogs or other animals look around for food and/or scraps of food. This can be anything from fresh table leftovers to the food your dog ate from the garbage bag that had been torn open this morning. Other causes of diarrhea in dogs can be food allergies or intolerances. Sudden changes in your dog’s diet could contribute to diarrhea as well. 

Most cases of dog diarrhea tend to resolve themselves over time. However, you should take into consideration that diarrhea in dogs can be a result of a more severe condition such as parasites, infection, ingestion of a foreign body, or a poisonous substance. Dogs infected by common viruses such as parvovirus and coronavirus can also experience diarrhea. 

How do I Care for my Dog That Has Diarrhea?

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Take a look at the tips listed below on taking care of your dog when they have diarrhea. 

If your dog has diarrhea but no vomiting:

  • Do not withhold food from your dog.
  • Avoid dehydration by ensuring your dog has plenty of fresh water to drink. 
  • Commercial diets are available, offering your dog easy-digestible – low-fat, high-fibre – foods. 
  • A bland diet of chicken or fish with brown rice, wholemeal pasta, or potatoes is also suitable. 
  • You can also give your dog oats porridge (cooked in water), tapioca, or even polenta. Although, avoid rich foods such as dairy and fat. 
  • Split the dog’s daily meal requirements into 4-6 small meals. 

If your dog’s stool starts to harden:

  • Gradually reintroduce your dog’s normal diet. Do this over the course of 2-3 days by mixing it in with the bland diet. Increase the portions of normal food with each successive mix of the normal diet and the bland diet. 

Dog Diarrhea: Does the Colour Matter?

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The color of your dog’s diarrhea could be the first warning sign that something more serious is wrong. Therefore, it is best to keep a close eye on the color and consistency of your dog’s poop to ensure that you take them to the vet as soon as any warning signs occur.

The Warning Signs to Look Out for:

  • If your dog is no longer responding to you as usual, and this is accompanied by lethargy. 
  • If your dog is frequently vomiting.
  • When dark specs or blood can be seen in your dog’s vomit.
  • If your dog’s diarrhea is frequent and severe in nature.
  • If your dog’s diarrhea has been present for more than 24 hours. 

If you suspect that your dog has diarrhea, being vigilant when it comes to your dog’s poop, in this case, is very important. Dog poo should have a chocolate brown color and should be shaped like a log. 

Be on the lookout for the following:

  • If your dog’s poop is black and tarry, they may have internal bleeding.
  • Stools that contain blood or red streaks or even green may be an indication of gallbladder issues.
  • Orange poo may indicate liver problems. 
  • Grey or greasy stools can indicate potential issues in the pancreas. 

What is Colitis in Dogs?

Colitis in dogs refers to inflammation of the large intestine or colon, which is something that occurs in around one-third of dogs. Dogs with a history of chronic diarrhea tend to also have colitis. 

How does it work? 

Before your dog’s poop is expelled from his/her body, it is stored in the colon. The colon assists dogs in maintaining a good balance of fluids and electrolytes such as sodium, magnesium, potassium, calcium, etc. An imbalance of fluids and electrolytes can cause the colon to become inflamed, which causes dogs to suffer from severe contractions in the colon. The results of this are frequent small amounts of diarrhea which is accompanied by blood or mucus. Dogs who have colitis often experience pain when having to poop. 

What causes colitis in dogs?

It is said that in most cases, the main cause of colitis in dogs is unknown. Things that have been listed as possible causes are:

  • Infections
  • Stress
  • Trauma
  • Genetic predisposition
  • Bowel disease

Colitis is usually diagnosed after a close examination of the dog’s blood tests, a microscopic evaluation of the dog’s stools, and a rectal examination. Colitis in dogs is typically treated by identifying and eliminating the cause of the dog’s colitis. Vets tend to advise owners to supplement their dog’s diet with fiber. 

Puppy Diarrhea

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If your puppy is very young and showing signs of what may be diarrhea, it is of the utmost importance to keep a close eye on them. This could be an indication of parvovirus, exposure to dangerous bacteria, or even intestinal parasites. If your puppy starts showing signs of diarrhea, you should contact your closest veterinary clinic for advice. Puppy diarrhea should especially not be taken lightly if it contains blood, is black- or tarr-like smells foul, or is accompanied by loss of appetite, sickness, fever, and pain. 

How to Prevent Dog Diarrhea

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Prevention is better than cure. Therefore, knowing which steps to take to try and prevent your dog or puppy from getting diarrhea is a great choice. Take a look below at how you could help prevent diarrhea in your pooch. 

Ways to reduce diarrhea in your dog include the following:

  • Ensure that all food that is to be consumed by your dog is processed to reduce any harmful bacteria.
  • Avoid any sudden changes in your dog’s diet.
  • It is important to keep your dog up-to-date with deworming and vaccinations.
  • Avoid giving your dog small toys to avoid accidental consumption.
  • Avoid giving your dog bones as they tend to add to diarrhea or cause constipation. 
  • Try to prevent your dog from scavenging. 

The Endnote

Diarrhea in dogs is a common occurrence, although it is important to still pay attention to your dog’s stools. Phone the vet immediately if your dog begins to display any of the above-mentioned warning signs, and always ensure that your dog has fresh water available to prevent dehydration.