It’s a stinkin’ mess! There really is no “PC” way to describe diarrhea in dogs. Diarrhea in dogs presents in a very similar manner as it does in humans, with frequent elimination and loose, watery or even liquid stools. Your dog may also feel weak and lethargic and not interested in eating much. The good news is that most cases of doggie diarrhea are not serious. Obviously, if you notice blood in the stool or your dog has other symptoms, such as vomiting or fever, seek immediate care from a veterinarian. Likewise, if your dog’s condition doesn’t improve in a day or so. Otherwise, the condition usually resolves itself. It’s important to monitor your dog’s diet while he recovers and make sure he drinks plenty of fresh water to prevent dehydration.

Eating “Bad” Food

This is the most frequent cause of diarrhea in dogs. Dogs are scavengers by nature and as you well know, will literally “eat anything.” Your dog most likely ate spoiled food, garbage, another dog’s feces or some other contaminated matter that irritated his GI tract. The actual veterinary term for this is garbage toxicosis. Monitor your dog’s diet carefully. It may be necessary to withhold solid food for a few days and make sure he drinks enough water. Otherwise, feed him bland foods like chicken broth and rice and when your fur baby is feeling better, you can begin reintroducing his regular diet.




Parasites such as Giardia, worms, hookworms, roundworms or coccidia can cause diarrhea in dogs. The most common modes of transmission of worms are mosquitos, fleas or eating the infected feces of other dogs. Worms can also be ingested when your dog licks her paws after being outdoors. In puppies, worms can be passed through the mother’s milk. Deworming is the most effective treatment for getting rid of these pests and restoring your dog’s health.



Serious Illness

Diarrhea can be a symptom of a more underlying serious illness in your dog. Dogs can suffer from pancreatitis, which is a terribly painful condition, or kidney and liver diseases. Your pet could also be suffering from IBD, another illness which can occur in humans. Thyroid conditions can cause diarrhea. Your veterinarian can run a battery of tests on your dog, including bloodwork, to pinpoint the cause of diarrhea. X-rays and other imaging tests might also be performed.




Pets can be affected by stress just as intensely as their human companions. There are many causes of stress in dogs that can cause diarrhea. Have there been any major changes in your dog’s life? Moving, new family members, such as bringing home a new baby, or the introduction of a new pet can be very stressful for dogs. The same goes for loud noises, like fireworks. Being around aggressive dogs while out walking or at the dog park or while being boarded can also upset your dog’s tummy. If possible, keep your dog calm and away from the source of stress.



Change in Diet

Did you recently switch brands of dog food? If so, that may be the culprit behind your dog’s diarrhea. It can take your dog’s system time to adjust to the new food formulation. That’s mainly due to the source and ratio of protein in the new food. The best strategy is to introduce the new food gradually and if you still have some of your dog’s old food, mix small amounts of the new food with it until he adjusts. If your veterinarian has prescribed a special diet formula food, he or she can advise you on how to best offer it to your dog.



Food Allergies

Dogs can also suffer from food allergies, just like their human friends. Diarrhea is a symptom, along with vomiting, itching, gas and excessive coat licking. The foods that most often cause allergic reactions in dogs include beef; dairy products; chicken; lamb; fish; chicken; eggs; corn, wheat, and soy. Your veterinarian is likely to put your dog on an elimination diet to isolate what food(s) is causing the problem. Once the allergen is identified, your dog’s diet can be adjusted accordingly.



Viral Infections

Parvovirus, coronavirus, and distemper are three viral infections known to cause diarrhea in dogs. Parvovirus and coronavirus are highly contagious infections that are primarily spread through feces. Distemper is an airborne virus that is usually contracted from other dogs. If left untreated, these viruses can lead to more severe illnesses and can be fatal. The good news is there are vaccinations against many canine viruses.



Bacterial Infections

Bacterial infections that can sicken your dog and cause diarrhea include Salmonella, Campylobacter, Clostridium and E. coli. Just like in humans, these conditions usually stem from eating contaminated food. Your veterinarian will recommend the best treatment plan, which could include medications and hospitalization; the latter if your dog had such severe diarrhea that she is dehydrated and needs IV therapy.




You’ve probably experienced diarrhea as a side effect of taking certain medications like antibiotics. Antibiotics can also cause diarrhea in dogs. Many antibiotics prescribed for humans are also used to treat infections in dogs. As a note, never give antibiotics that were prescribed for you to your dog. Follow the dosage instructions and make sure that your dog completes the entire regimen to keep the infection from recurring — even if she seems to be feeling better. As far as diarrhea goes, your veterinarian can recommend steps you can take to curtail it and make your dog more comfortable. Just make sure that your dog drinks plenty of water, so she doesn’t get dehydrated.



Eating Non-Food Items

Eating non-digestible objects like toys, socks or even grass, can cause your dog to have diarrhea. Substances like grass or sticks or string should pass through with the stool. If your dog appears to be in obvious distress, sick immediate veterinary care. Your poor dog may have eaten something that is causing obstruction. The veterinarian can take x-rays and take measures to remove the object, including surgery.



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