No one said being a dog owner was going to be easy. In fact, it can prove to be quite challenging at times, particularly when Fido isn't feeling well. As much as we would love for our dogs to be able to speak to us, it just isn't the case. For this reason, it is imperative that pet owners are hyperaware of changes in their dog's day-to-day lives. Everything from not eating to increased lethargy to (you guessed it) diarrhea are ways that our dogs communicate that something isn't right. Part of being a responsible dog owner is recognizing these changes and acting on them straight away.
In this article, we'll be covering the topic of dog diarrhea. How can you stop it and perhaps most importantly, what is Fido trying to tell you?
What Causes Diarrhea
Several factors can ultimately lead to your dog having diarrhea. Diarrhea itself is not an illness, but rather a symptom of an underlying health issue. Most cases of diarrhea resolve within 48 hours. However, this is based on the underlying cause.
The cause of diarrhea can be something as simple as an upset digestive tract or a sign of a more severe condition such as a parasitic infestation or cancer.
For this reason, dog owners must get down to exactly what is causing diarrhea to ensure that the underlying condition is treated appropriately and not masked by a quick fix.
Recent Diet Changes
One of the most common causes of diarrhea is a recent dietary change. Many pet owners may not realize that it takes several days for Fido's digestive system to adjust to new food. In more cases than not, if the new food isn't slowly transitioned into the dog's diet, it will likely result in diarrhea. This often occurs when pet parents begin to transition their pup into an all natural or a raw food diet. You can imagine that a dog who has eaten dry kibble their whole life will likely experience quite the shock when making such a big change. Experts advise to slowly introduce the new food a little at a time by mixing it in with their current food source until the old food has been entirely transitioned out.
Bad Eating Habits
Another extremely common cause of dog diarrhea is bad dietary habits. Most dogs enjoy eating just about everything, including things that they definitely shouldn’t be putting in their mouths. This includes garbage, spoiled food, and feces. Bad dietary habits also include overeating. All of these things can result in an upset stomach, gas, and diarrhea.
If your dog's diet is full of processed chemicals, high sugar and salt content, and fatty foods, you’ll likely see a disruption in the balance of their digestive system. This disruption often leads to diarrhea.
Additionally, dog owners must recognize when they are contributing to their dog's bad eating habits. We all want our dogs to be happy, and when Fido gives you those big puppy eyes, I can be hard to say no. However, feeding your dog table scraps will quickly lead to a bout of diarrhea. Feeding your dog table scraps can also leave to a number of behavioral issues, not to mention harmful side effects. For these reasons, among others, we recommend withholding table scraps and keeping your dog solely on a species appropriate diet.
Furthermore, too many commercial dog treats can also lead to diarrhea. Treats should be given sparingly, not multiple times a day.
Many dogs struggle with diarrhea and gas on a consistent basis due to a food intolerance. All dog breeds may have hypersensitivities to food that are rich in gluten, fat, and dairy. However, some specific dog breeds are more prone to these hypersensitivities. For instance, Wheaton Terriers and Irish Setters are known for having gluten intolerances. On the other hand, Schnauzers are known to be hypersensitive to diets that are high in fat content. Knowing specific characteristics that are tied to your breed of dog can help determine underlying health conditions before they develop.
It can be difficult to figure out exactly what your dog has an intolerance to. However, once it is determined, it should be avoided. Chronic diarrhea and digestive issues can lead to further problems in the future. Furthermore, pet parents can add foods and supplements that will help ease the digestive system such as more fiber, probiotics, etc. We will get more into that in a minute.
Furthermore, food allergies commonly lead to symptoms that include diarrhea. Allergic reactions vary in severity. If a severe reaction occurs, veterinary intervention will be necessary. However, if the allergic reaction is simply an upset stomach, the next step is determining exactly what Fido is allergic to. Again, this can be relatively tricky. Experts recommend a food elimination diet. This entails starting from fresh and re-introducing foods slowly and determining what causes a reaction. Furthermore, certain foods tend to cause more allergic reactions than others. For example, some dogs may be allergic to poultry, but not beef. If your dog is having diarrhea, a quick test is to simply switch out the meat content.
Here is where things get a bit scary. While diarrhea can be the result of something relatively minor, it can also be an underlying symptom of more serious conditions.
Intestinal parasites like hookworms, roundworms, giardia, and coccidia can lead to severe stomach problems. Typically, dogs contract parasites by drinking contaminated water. Puppies and dogs with weakened immune systems are also at a higher risk. In many cases, parasitic infestation which can be difficult to detect. If for any reason you believe that your dog may have intestinal parasites, take them to the vet for a fecal exam and a proper diagnosis. Only then can an effective treatment plan be issued.
Consuming Foreign Objects
As we previously mentioned, dogs seem to love eating just about anything. Swallowing foreign objects such as toys, socks, grass, etc. can easily obstruct the intestinal tract and cause constipation or loose stools. Once the foreign object is swallowed, the digestive system must work harder in order to allow it to pass. Most of the time, the only treatment is to wait it out.
Poisonous Substances or Toxic Plants
If you have not changed your dog's food or dietary habits, unexplainable changes in your dog's poop are typically the first symptoms of poisoning. Shortly after your dog has consumed a toxic substance, stomach pain and diarrhea begins. Ingesting poisonous substances is extremely dangerous and can cause severe health conditions if left untreated. A detoxification process will be necessary in a timely manner.
If for any reason you feel that your dog has ingested a toxic substance such as lead-based products or poisonous plants or even some household products, it is important to get them to the veterinarian straight away. Toxic substances also include things such as chocolate, mushrooms, human medications, laundry detergents, charcoal, as well as a number of plants.
Bacterial or Viral Infections
Additional worrisome conditions that have loose stool as a symptom are bacterial and viral infections. Parvovirus, distemper, coronavirus, and bacterial infections such as salmonella are often accompanied by severe diarrhea. If your dog also has a fever, is vomiting, has muscle weakness, and is more lethargic than usual, they may have a bacterial or viral infection. In most cases, Infections are highly contagious. This is troublesome in a home with other pets due to the uncontrollable diarrhea. Pet parents should make sure the quarantine the dog from other pets and be careful when cleaning up any bodily fluids. Some infections can be transferred to humans as well.
Illnesses or Disease
Additionally, many illnesses and diseases have diarrhea as an underlying symptom. These diseases include but are not limited to:
- Cancer of the liver and kidneys
- Tumor in the intestinal tracts
- Inflammatory Bowel Syndrome
As you can see, a proper veterinary diagnosis is extremely important if the loose stool continues to occur.
Furthermore, bloody diarrhea is typically a symptom of a disease that is directly associated with the digestive tract and surrounding organs.
Antibiotics or Medications
While antibiotics help cure infections, they’re also a leading source of why your dog may be having diarrhea. In fact, gastrointestinal issues are one of the most common side effects of most antibiotics.
Antibiotics work to kill the bad bacteria in the dog's body, thus curing infections. However, antibiotics are not able to differentiate between good bacteria from bad bacteria. Therefore, it, unfortunately, kills off both. Good bacteria is necessary in order to balance to the digestive system and gastrointestinal tract. Without the good bacteria, your dog will experience abdominal pain and stomach issues. If your dog has recently been put on antibiotics, their diarrhea is likely linked to the new medication.
Stress or Emotionally Upset
We probably don’t have to tell you that dogs are highly sensitive creatures. They experience highs and lows just like humans do. If you have ever felt so anxious that you are physically sick to your stomach then you know firsthand just how a dog with anxiety feels. Stress can be directly linked to irregular bowel movements that cause constipation and loose stools.
A good rule of thumb is that if something is stressing you out, Fido is likely picking up on it. If stress is the underlying cause of the diarrhea, a little extra attention and TLC usually helps to get the dog back on track.
What Your Dog's Poop Mean
As we previously mentioned, your dog isn't exactly able to speak to you, but a lot can be said for their poop. This article is geared towards the causes and treatment of diarrhea. However, diarrhea isn't the only poop that you'll see as a dog owner. For more information on what your dog's poop is trying to tell you, click here!
Time for a Vet Visit
At one point or another, every dog will experience a bout of diarrhea. In most cases, it isn't a cause for total panic. If you have recently changed Fido's diet or if they've been getting extra treats from the dinner table, there lies the culprit. However, there are certain things for pet parents to be aware of and keep an eye on.
Dog diarrhea that is accompanied by vomiting, blood or mucus can be early signs of much more critical conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease, liver disease, or exocrine pancreatic insufficiency. These conditions should not be overlooked or ignored. If they are left untreated they can lead to dehydration and a slew of health problems down the road.
The following are signs that dog owners should be implicitly aware of in order to prevent serious conditions from developing
Warning Signs Include:
- Diarrhea that lasts for over 48 hours
- Black tarry stool or bloody diarrhea
- Loss of appetite
- Increased lethargy
- Abdominal discomfort and/or increased sensitivity in their belly region (often seen as bloating, whining, panting)
If you find any of these symptoms, it is time to see a vet.
How to Stop Diarrhea
Now, you're likely wondering how to stop Fido from having to use the bathroom nonstop.
There are two main ways to treat diarrhea. The first is to let it run its course. Dogs with acute diarrhea can safely be treated at home. The second is to provide a supplement or medication to ease the issue.
Of course, the main thing that pet parents must figure out is what is causing dog diarrhea in the first place. Only then can a permanent solution be determined. In most cases, switching to a bland diet is the first step in getting your pup's stomach feeling better.
Dog Diarrhea Medicine
Many vets and pet parents rave about the results of the Vets Preferred Advanced Anti Diarrhea supplement. It aims to not only relieve diarrhea but also ease stomach cramps and abdominal pain.
This is just one of the many anti-diarrhea products on the market. It is important to discuss with your vet about what will work best for your dog.
Natural Home Remedies for Diarrhea
Additionally, there are several wonderful home remedies that have proven time and time again to be effective in relieving diarrhea.
Boiled Chicken & White Rice
One of the oldest tricks in the book is feeding your dog a bland diet of boiled chicken and white rice. It tends to work the majority of the time when it comes to stopping diarrhea. Dog owners should make sure that there aren't any additives in either the chicken or the rice. Simplicity is key!
Canned pumpkin is great at soothing upset stomachs. Pumpkin has a low glycemic index which enables it to absorb slowly in the body. This slow absorption makes it a great remedy for both constipation and diarrhea.
(*We want to make sure that pet parents are aware that canned pumpkin is NOT pumpkin pie mix! Be sure you are purchasing the right product!)
Ginger is very powerful in promoting and maintaining a healthy GI tract. Additionally, ginger acts as an anti-inflammatory that can also help fight nausea, bloat, and arthritis.
Bone broth is another great option for easing an upset stomach while simultaneously hydrating the dog. Dehydration is commonly associated with diarrhea and chronic dehydration will only exacerbate the present issues. Easing your pup's stomach upset with a product that will also help with dehydration can prove to get Fido back on track ASAP.
Dog owners can purchase bone broth or make it ahead of time. The bone broth can be frozen for in case of emergency situations. To make bone broth, simply simmer a whole chicken in a mixture of water and apple cider vinegar in a crockpot until the meat falls off the bone.
** We want to note that if you are purchasing bone broth, we recommend purchasing a brand that is specially formulated for dogs. This way you'll be able to ensure that there are no additives and nothing included that could cause further irritation and additional diarrhea.
Chances are, you've heard of some of the incredible benefits of CBD for dogs. From managing anxiety to treating epilepsy, CBD is finally getting the attention it deserves.
What you may not know is that CBD is also incredibly effective at easing present digestive issues as well as preventing GI tract conditions from developing.
Additionally, CBD proves to be incredibly safe for our four-legged friends. CBD for dogs is derived from the hemp plant making it all natural and non-toxic. Because it is derived from hemp, it has no more than 0.3% THC. In other words, Fido won't experience any sort of "high" feeling from the supplement.
Furthermore, while CBD is easing your dog's diarrhea it is also working in a slew of other ways in order to prevent other conditions from developing.
Pet owners can introduce CBD to their dog's life in the form of oil. CBD oil comes in tincture form with an easy-to-use dropper. The dropper gives pet parents total control over exactly how much product their dog is receiving. It is safe enough to be administered directly into the dog's mouth or it can be mixed in with their food or placed on top of their favorite treat.
Dog parents may also opt to give their pup CBD treats. The treats are great because they can either be used for overall wellness or you can purchase CBD treats that have been formulated for specific ailments.
For example, the turmeric flavored Relief CBD dog treats are incredibly effective at treating pain and inflammation and digestive and nausea issues as well as being a powerful disease preventative. Life is too short to live in pain. These treats provide a tasty, safe way for Fido to get back on the health and happiness path ASAP.
Additionally, we touched on the fact that dog diarrhea may be caused by anxiety. The Calming CBD dog treats are formulated to treat anxiety in dogs without the harsh side effects of conventional mood-altering anti-anxiety medications. The treats provide relief for dogs suffering from separation anxiety, phobias, fears associated with traveling, and even dogs who can't seem to get a good nights rest.
Keep Fido Hydrated!
Think about the last time you had an upset stomach. Chances are, the last you wanted to do was eat or even drink water. That's why when people have food poisoning they tend to lose weight. So much is coming out and nothing is going in. A couple of pounds for a human typically won't affect much. However, a couple of pounds for a small dog can be absolutely devasting. Dog parents should keep a close eye on how much water and food Fido is consuming. Severe dehydration can quickly lead to life-threatening situations that you'll obviously want to avoid at all costs. Luckily, most dogs love the boiled chicken and rice mixture we mentioned but you'll still want to make sure they are also drinking plenty of water.
Dog Diarrhea: The Bottom Line
At the end of the day, diarrhea can be a huge mess. When you add potential health scares into the equation, diarrhea can be incredibly stressful as well. Luckily, there is hope in sight.
With that in mind, we cannot stress enough that it is imperative to get to the bottom of what is causing your dog to have diarrhea. Putting a "band-aid" on the symptom will often lead to the problem itself to only get worse.
We sincerely hope that your four-legged friend feels better and is diarrhea-free soon!
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