My Dog Has Diarrhea, What Should I Do?
We’ve all been there, standing behind our dog, poop bag over our hand waiting for them to do their business and out shots a pile of goo, or worse liquid diarrhea.
You reluctantly bend down and pick up what you can hopefully without leaving a smeared watery consistency mess on the sidewalk or a neighbors front yard where they dumped their gastrointestinal tract in liquid or near liquid form.
Gosh, it stinks to high heaven, and the foul smell lingers in your nostrils for what seems like hours!
If your dog has diarrhea, then you’re already familiar with the signs: loose, liquid-like poop, with frequent nonstop runs outside to poop.
Diarrhea in dogs is common and it varies in frequency, duration, and intensity from dog to dog.
Top 7 Causes of Dog Diarrhea
Many things can disrupt a dog’s well-balanced digestive system, causing diarrhea or, less common, constipation.
Things, like eating too much grass, are not a big deal. Others can be a sign of a life-threatening and deadly serious, such as an indigestible object (like a rock, which my dog once did and required an x-ray and an ultrasound followed by emergency exploratory surgery) lodged in the stomach or intestine, or types of cancer, pancreatic disease and simple things like food allergies.
Chronic diarrhea on the other hand is a symptom of a far more serious condition and can range from liver disease, kidney disease, and more. Bloody diarrhea is a very serious condition and requires veterinary care immediately.
So what causes diarrhea?
Diarrhea is the result of the movement of fecal material at a faster rate through the intestine, in combination with the decreased absorption of water, nutrients, and electrolytes.
Dehydration can cause diarrhea, we all have been there when you know that your dog should be drinking more water and absolutely refuses too.
Inflammatory bowel disease and flare-ups of irritable bowel disease in adult dogs can also cause chronic and acute diarrhea resulting in weight loss and severe fluid loss which requires intravenous fluids requires immediate veterinary care.
A viral infection is another cause of a bout of diarrhea as their immune systems fight off the infection. This may last up to a couple of days and can vary from mild diarrhea to other digestive issues and soft stool.
Ensure that your dog has plenty of water available to maintain electrolytes; consider adding chicken bone broth to their water to add beneficial bacteria to their diet. USDA Certified Organic Chicken Bone Broth contains the probiotic Lactobacillus, a beneficial bacteria which demonstrated a reduction in inflammation to aid in digestive health in preclinical studies and reduce episodes of doggie diarrhea in our furry friends.
Diarrhea that lasts longer or is chronic or ongoing diarrhea or prolonged diarrhea may be an indication that your dog has an underlying health issue. These range from metabolic disturbances, impaired absorption, exocrine pancreatic insufficiency, organ dysfunction, parasitic infestations, issues with adrenal glands, fungal infections and require a physical examination, diagnostic tests, and potentially extensive testing to rule out systemic illness from your veterinary to eliminate any life-threatening illness or the ingestion of toxic plants or poisonous substances like rat poison.
If the only sign of illness in your dog is diarrhea, a relatively simple problem such as an intestinal infection from bacteria imbalance, or it may be more serious and from viruses, or intestinal worms that may be the cause of diarrhea.
With dogs, let’s be honest, they are known to try to eat garbage or bark, and similar such as sticks, or my dog’s favorite acorns, or a change in diet is a common cause of sudden diarrhea.
Stress, especially from travel, going to the borders, or other changes in their environment, like visiting a relative, can also cause a case of sudden onset diarrhea.
So, what are some of the reasons your dog may have canine diarrhea?
1. Change In Their Kibble
A sudden change in their normal or regular diet or food can upset a dog’s stomach and intestinal tract, causing diarrhea.
If you are switching your dog’s food, allow for a transition period, and slowly increase the amount of the new food while decreasing their old food over the course of a week, will prevent GI distress that leads to diarrhea.
Try switching your dog to a bland diet of white rice and boiled chicken with beans for a few days. The benefit of a bland diet based on white rice is it acts as an elimination diet and helps clean your dog’s GI tract of any irritants.
Dehydration in dogs, like their human parents, occurs when the body loses more fluid than it’s taking in. Dogs and humans rely on water to keep their bodies functioning properly and in balance.
Heat exhaustion and heat stroke initial signs of distress are excessive panting.
Symptoms then rapidly escalate to include signs of discomfort starting with drooling, gums that are redder than normal, vomiting, diarrhea, mental slowness and loss of consciousness, uncoordinated movements, and eventually physical collapse as heat stroke results in swelling of the brain, kidney failure, intestinal bleeding and abnormal clotting of blood.
Fluids, e.g. clean water is vital for every single body function, including lubricating joints, maintaining joint cartridge, cushioning internal organs, aiding digestion, and regulating body temperature.
If you live in a hot tropical climate or take your dog on long hikes the risk of dehydration is higher than dogs that live in other climates and aren’t as active.
Nutrition is more than food, it includes water — a critical and necessary ingredient that allows the cells in your dog’s body to absorb nutrients, and maintain electrolytes.
When a dog’s body gets to the point where they are dehydrated from water loss, blood flow and the volume of fluids reduce the delivery of oxygen to organs and tissue.
Dehydration and even more so, severe dehydration in healthy adult dogs and puppies results in a loss of electrolytes (sodium, chloride, and potassium). These essential minerals have important functions in a dog:
Balancing the body’s pH
Moving nutrients into cells
Facilitating muscle function
Regulating nerve function
We all have been there when you know that your dog should be drinking more water and absolutely refuses to. Especially after play dates, long hikes, or runs.
Dog’s electrolytes may be out of balance and they need to increase their fluid intake and they absolutely refuse to drink.
Try adding some chicken bone broth, which is a natural prebiotic fiber and a probiotic supplement, or peanut butter powder to their water to enhance their taste buds. Dogs have very sensitive noses and this usually is enough to get them to drink a full bowl of water.
3. Leaky Gut Syndrome
Leaky gut syndrome is where gaps in the intestinal walls allow bacteria and other toxins to pass into the bloodstream.
Digestive enzymes in the stomach and small intestine break down nutrients in food and fluids into smaller molecules that the body uses for energy, growth, and repair.
The intestines also play an essential role in protecting the body from harmful bacteria and toxins.
Tight openings in the intestinal walls allow water and nutrients to pass through into the bloodstream while keeping harmful substances in the intestines, where it is passed through and eliminated (pooped out).
With leaky gut syndrome, these openings become wider, allowing food particles, bacteria, and toxins to enter directly into the bloodstream.
Enhancing your dog’s diet with probiotics boost beneficial gut bacteria, chicken bone broth is a great way to add a natural probiotic and gelatin.
Active Dawg USDA Certified Organic Patented bone broth is enriched for Type II
collagen showed a 12% increase in the presence of the natural probiotic Lactobacillus and a reduction in inflammation to aid in overall digestive health.
Chicken bone broth is rich in natural collagen which helps to soothe and repair tissues in your dog’s digestive tract that can contribute to poor digestion and nutrient absorption.
Collagen rich dietary supplements and foods enhance the growth of beneficial bifidobacterial colonies in the gut.
They are useful in strengthening the intestinal wall, preventing the transfer of disease-related compounds into the bloodstream.
Our All-Natural Chicken bone broth is a source of chondroitin, a compound commonly found in anti-inflammation supplements, which also supports digestive health helping to prevent “leaky gut” syndrome, diarrhea, and loose stools.
The bonus benefit of organic, all-natural chicken bone broth Type II collagen is that it’s delicious. It’s best sourced from chicken and not chicken byproducts – byproducts are what causes chicken allergies in dogs – so it’s a nutritious, healthy treat for even picky dogs.
Amino acids in collagen help to heal the intestinal lining by assisting the formation of connective tissue.
Prolonged diarrhea can result in dehydration, electrolyte and metabolic imbalances from the fluid loss. If not treated early your dog might require hospitalization and treatment with IV fluids.
4. Spoiled Food
“Garbage gut” means your dog ate something (maybe from the trash, table scraps, or that roll of toilet paper or the toy stuffing they just couldn’t resist) that has caused an upset tummy.
Garbage gut often is mild to moderate and not a serious concern. That stated, your dog could develop pancreatitis from a high-fat diet and that is a very serious and dangerous health issue that requires an immediate trip to your vet’s office.
5. Bacterial Infection / Viral Diseases
Your dog’s diarrhea could be caused by bacteria found in raw or under-cooked meats, meat left sitting out for a while, or from eating rotting vegetables. If your dog’s poop is a shiny mucus on the surface and has fresh blood in it, seek medical attention immediately from your vet.
If your dog is constantly tired, vomiting, lost appetite, is running a fever immediate vet care is needed. These may be symptoms of a viral disease.
6. Allergic Reaction
Diarrhea may be a sign that your dog is having an allergic reaction to something they came in contact with or ate. Their body is trying to flush out the allergen.
Runny eyes, sneezing, constant licking, or chewing their paws, increased scratching, red, itchy skin that is scabbed or moist are all signs of an allergic reaction.
An allergic reaction can be caused by some annual booster shots, foods, skin allergies from plants, and similar. We strongly suggest that you talk with your vet to rule out what is causing the allergy.
7. Dietary Indiscretion
Dogs are known for garbage belly as mentioned above, or basically eating things like sticks, mulch, acorns, picking at garbage, and others that we, pet owners and pet parents would rather never see them eat.
This dietary indiscretion is a known irritant of the gut or stomach and can result in an upset stomach leading to acute diarrhea or worse, including severe abdominal pain and electrolyte imbalance from ingesting a foreign object.
A lack of appetite and abdominal tenderness is a sign that veterinary attention and care is needed, especially after our fury friends have eaten a foreign object which may require x rays or potentially a toxic substance or developed intestinal parasites from eating spoiled food.
Anytime your dog experiences an episode of a loss of appetite is a reason for concern and when coupled with an upset stomach even more so. You want to rule out the obvious, ingestion of a foreign object, a toxic substance, infectious disease, intestinal disease, and/or intestinal bacteria that is out of balance.