Diarrhea in dogs can be very frustrating for pet owners to deal with. Unfortunately most owners will encounter it in their pets lifetime and the cause can range from something very simple to something that can be life threatening.

Mild diarrhea is very common in dogs and can be caused simply by a change in diet or eating something that does not agree with them, such as table scraps.

However, there are several more serious causes for diarrhea in dogs and in this article we will describe some of these additional causes and what action should be taken. Let’s get right into it!

Causes For Diarrhea In Dogs

You Recently Changed Their Food

Any change in a dog’s diet could potentially lead to diarrhea and stomach upset, especially if your dog has a particularly sensitive stomach. Even just changing your dog’s brand of dog food could cause them to experience some diarrhea. As a result, many experts suggest slowly introducing a new food to your dog by mixing it in with their old food for a few days.

They Ate Something That They Shouldn’t Have

Many foods that we find delicious can cause your dog to have an upset stomach. Some dogs are no stranger to counter surfing, picking scraps of food off the ground and digging in the garbage. The smattering of fried and greasy foods, sugary sweets, and processed snacks found in these situations, while probably not toxic to dogs, could still give them a case of diarrhea. Because of this, keeping these kinds of foods out of your pet’s reach whenever possible is recommended.

Food Allergies

Food allergies, are more likely to cause skin disease, but in uncommon circumstances, can cause symptoms like diarrhea and vomiting. As a result, many dogs may be experiencing diarrhea simply because they are allergic to something in their food. Determining whether or not your dog has a food allergy has a very specific process to follow and our veterinarians are happy to work with our pet owners to help them determine if this is a practical route for them to take in dealing with a diarrhea issue.

Ingestion of a foreign body such as toys, bones or fabric

While vomiting, loss of appetite, and straining to defecate are more prevalent signs of a foreign body, diarrhea can also be a symptom. In conjunction with these other symptoms, a dog with a partial blockage may experience diarrhea as liquid passes around the obstruction. Ingesting a foreign body can quickly become life threatening. If you suspect your dog has ingested a foreign body, you should contact our office immediately.

Ingestion of toxins or poisons

Vomiting and diarrhea can also be a sign that a dog has ingested something poisonous. Things like paint, glue, rodenticides, pesticides, cleaning products and some plants are toxic to pets. Additionally, many of the foods that we love such as chocolate, macadamia nuts, grapes, raisins, and some artificial sweeteners are also poisonous to dogs. If you believe your dog has ingested something toxic, it is crucial that you contact your veterinarian immediately.

Intestinal Parasites

Intestinal parasites such as hookworm, roundworm, whipworm, giardia, coccidia and tapeworm can cause a dog to have diarrhea. The good news is intestinal parasites are usually easily diagnosed and treatable. Intestinal parasitic infections are diagnosed by bringing a stool sample into the office and having us perform a fecal test. If parasites are found, our doctor’s can prescribe the proper medication and treat the infection.

Viral and Bacterial Infections

In addition to parasitic infections, bacterial and viral infections such as parvovirus and distemper can cause diarrhea in dogs. These conditions can be life threatening to dogs, especially young puppies. As a result, you should contact our office immediately if your pet was exposed to other pets with viral or bacterial infections or if they exhibit signs of lethargy, vomiting, fever, difficulty breathing, loss of appetite in addition to diarrhea. These infections are the reason it is important that dog and puppy owners follow our veterinarian’s vaccination and safety protocols to prevent these illnesses.

Extreme Stress

Like in people, extreme stress or anxiety can cause stomach upset in dogs. This could potentially include diarrhea and vomiting. An exam with a veterinarian and a thorough history can help the doctor determine whether or not stress may be a contributing factor to an occurrence of diarrhea.

It is a Medication Side Effect

Some medications may have diarrhea as a possible side effect. As a result, if your dog is having diarrhea and is on a new medication, contact our office to discuss this issue. Our doctors will be able to determine if your dog needs to be put on a different medication or needs additional care.

Other Medical Conditions

Of course, there are many other medical conditions such as pancreatitis, inflammatory bowel disease, colitis, liver or kidney disease, etc. that can potentially cause diarrhea in dogs. The best way to properly diagnosis and treat the cause of diarrhea is to have your dog examined by one of our veterinarians.

When To See A Vet

If your dog has a single event of diarrhea and is otherwise eating, drinking, and acting normally, there is likely no reason to be concerned. However, if there are more than two episodes of diarrhea in a short period of time, we suggest you contact our office to schedule an exam with our veterinarian.

As stated above, if your dog is straining to defecate and is passing a small amount of watery diarrhea, contact our office to schedule a visit with our doctor. This could be signs that your dog has ingested a foreign body and should be seen immediately.

Continued episodes of diarrhea in a short period of time could indicate a more serious issue like a viral or bacterial infections. These infections can be life threatening. Contact our office immediately for an appointment with our veterinarian.

If your dog is experiencing diarrhea in conjunction with lethargy, vomiting, blood in stool, loss of appetite and signs of dehydration, contact our office for an appointment with our veterinarian.

If you have any questions about your dog’s health, don’t hesitate to contact Chicago Drive Veterinary Clinic for help. Our team is more than ready to assist you with whatever help your pet may need.