Last week, we tackled the mystifying question of why dogs love to roll around in smelly stuff. Today, we’re talking about another malodorous subject – diarrhea in dogs. Sure, it’s DEFINITELY not the most pleasant subject to read about – our apologies in advance. It is, however, important to be aware of any changes in your dog’s “business” and recognize the warning signs that can signal a serious medical issue. So we’ll keep it short and sweet (well, as sweet as we can). Here’s what you need to know about your dog’s diarrhea.

Potential Causes

Trash DogsDiarrhea in dogs can stem from a variety of different causes, from simple indigestion to serious illnesses. Here’s a quick list of some of the potential causes:

  • Changes in your dog’s diet
  • Eating non-food items, e.g., animal feces, garbage, dog toys, plants
  • Parasites, including giardia, coccidia, ringworms, whipworms, tapeworms, etc.
  • Stress
  • Allergies
  • Viruses, including parvovirus
  • Other systemic illnesses

The Different Types

Here’s where it gets icky. We all know what diarrhea looks like – loose, runny stools. But by checking the “color, consistency, smell and frequency” of your dog’s diarrhea, you and your veterinarian can help narrow down its cause.

  • Greasy, grayish diarrhea may mean that your dog has been eating food with a high fat content. Try restricting or eliminating table scraps from his diet, or try a dog food that is lower in fat.
  • Live worms in the stool points to intestinal parasites. Carefully dispose of the waste, and call your veterinarian. He or she will need to run tests to determine the type of parasite and required treatment. Most parasitic infections aren’t life-threatening, but if untreated can lead to more serious health issues as well as spread to your other pets.
  • If you spot blood in your dog’s stool or urine, call the vet right away. Your vet will want to locate the source of this bleeding, which could be due to a perforated intestine, a tumor, or parvovirus, among others.
  • The same goes for black, tar-like stool. This is a sign that your dog may be bleeding internally, and needs immediate medical attention.

What Should I Do?

Diarrhea caused by stress or changes in diet can resolve itself in a few days with some at-home remedies.

  • Try replacing your dog’s kibble and treats with a bland diet for 2-3 days. Try feeding her a bowl of chopped, boiled chicken breasts (without skin or bones) and white rice. This dish is both easy on the tummy and palatable for most dogs.
  • Another helpful tip to avoid diarrhea in the future is to always introduce new dog food brands slowly. On the first day, mix in a little bit of the new food with the old food, and for the next few days, slowly decrease the amount of old food and increase the amount of new food.
  • You’ll also want to keep your pup away from fatty people foods (non-lean meats, cheese, deserts, etc.) and away from the “tasty” treasures in the garbage can and the backyard. (Our indoor and outdoor solutions can help you with that!)
  • Diarrhea is often accompanied by dehydration, so you’ll want to make sure your pup has access to plenty of fresh water.

Sad MumbyIf the diarrhea isn’t clearing up after a couple of days on a bland diet, or if your dog’s diarrhea is accompanied by other noticeable symptoms like fever, weakness, loss of appetite or vomiting, a visit to the vet is recommended. He or she can examine your pet for other symptoms and run tests on your pet’s fecal sample to help identify or rule out serious conditions like parasites and viruses.

Finally, if your puppy is experiencing diarrhea with no obvious cause, contact your vet immediately. This may be a sign of parvovirus, an infection that is especially dangerous for young dogs with still-developing immune systems. For more information about parvo, check out our blog post on the subject.

Diarrhea is no fun for dogs or dog parents! We hope this information will help you manage it, and recognize when it could be a sign of something more serious.

Featured Photo and Bottom Photo: “Sad Mumby” by angela n. is licensed under CC BY 2.0. Featured photo is cropped.
2nd Photo: “Trash Dogs” by OakleyOriginals is licensed under CC BY 2.0.