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Diarrhea in Dogs

Diarrhea is a very common problem in dogs. Dogs are very likely to eat things that they should not. Diarrhea in dogs can often be treated at home, without a trip to a veterinarian’s office. However, you know your pets best, so use caution with at home treatment and make sure to contact your veterinarian for advice and additional treatment options.

Diarrhea that appears suddenly in an otherwise healthy dog can be caused by any sort of dietary indiscretion or diet change, stress, or some sort of infection. Dogs are known for getting into things they should not. Sometimes a treat from the garbage can, or a dropped snack can induce diarrhea. Likewise, changing a dog’s diet rapidly (without a transition period) can cause GI upset, including diarrhea. Dogs are also susceptible to various infections from viruses, bacterium and/or parasites. If your adult dog is otherwise healthy, it is reasonable to try some at-home treatments before making an appointment with your veterinarian.

At home treatments for suddenly appearing diarrhea in dogs can start with a bland diet. Bland diets for dogs can include plain, boiled white meat chicken with no bones or skin (other mild proteins can be substituted if your dog has chicken allergies), and either pumpkin, sweet potatoes, plain potatoes or plain white rice. Any food offered should be void of any spices, seasoning, butter, etc. This diet may be maintained until your dog’s stools are back to normal consistency. Once the diarrhea has ceased you can transition slowly back to your dog’s normal diet. 

It is extremely important to keep your dog well hydrated when treating diarrhea, as diarrhea can result in dehydration. Make sure your dog has access to fresh, clean water at all times. If needed, you can try adding low-sodium chicken or beef broth, or Pedialyte to your dog’s water to encourage drinking.

If the diarrhea continues for more than 24 hours, or your dog gets worse, contact a veterinarian immediately. Also, consult a veterinarian if the stool contains more than a small amount of blood, if the stool is dark and tarry and or if the diarrhea becomes frequent and/or very watery. Your veterinarian may require additional testing or may prescribe medication.

[Metronidazole is a common medication used to treat diarrhea in dogs and cats. Golden Gate Veterinary Compounding Pharmacy can compound Metronidazole into capsules, tablets or even flavored soft chews and oral suspension. Click here for more information.]

Dogs may experience chronic diarrhea due to dietary allergies, stress, some types of parasites or other infections, pancreatic disease, inflammatory bowel disease, some types of cancer and/or other diseases. If your dog is experiencing chronic diarrhea, and/or is also vomiting, lethargic, experiencing rapid weight loss, or just doesn’t seem right, you should contact your veterinarian.

Diarrhea in dogs can be avoided by monitoring what your dog is eating regularly and taking precautions to avoid ingesting table scraps, garbage, small toys, etc. If there is a change in diet, transition slowly over the course of two weeks to avoid a shock to your dog’s GI tract. You should also maintain regular deworming and vaccinations as recommended by your veterinarian.

As always, you know your dog the best. Listen to your instincts and call your veterinarian when something doesn’t seem right.

Here is a great graphic produced by www.petmd.com on what to look for when monitoring your dog’s stools: