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Understanding Dog Diarrhea: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

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As a dog owner, it can be extremely concerning when your furry friend experiences diarrhea. Diarrhea is a common symptom that can occur due to various reasons, ranging from mild intestinal distress to more serious health issues. In this article, we will explore the causes, symptoms, and treatments of dog diarrhea, providing you with the knowledge you need to help your pup feel better.

What is Dog Diarrhea?

Diarrhea is a condition characterized by loose, watery stools that occur more frequently than usual. It can be acute, meaning it occurs suddenly and lasts for a short period, or chronic, meaning it persists for a longer duration.

Dog diarrhea is a common health issue that can occur due to various reasons. It is essential to understand the underlying cause of diarrhea to determine the appropriate treatment.

Common Causes of Dog Diarrhea

There are several reasons why your dog might experience diarrhea. Some of the most common causes are:

  • Dietary Changes: A sudden change in your dog’s diet can lead to digestive issues and diarrhea. Additionally, feeding your dog table scraps or spoiled food can also cause diarrhea.
  • Stress or Anxiety: Stressful situations such as traveling, boarding, or moving to a new home can cause digestive issues and diarrhea in dogs.
  • Ingestion of Foreign Objects: Dogs have a habit of chewing and swallowing objects such as toys, bones, and fabric. These objects can cause blockages or irritation in the digestive tract, leading to diarrhea.
  • Parasites: Parasites such as roundworms, hookworms, whipworms, Coccidia, or Giardia can infect your dog’s digestive system, leading to diarrhea.
  • Viral Infections: Viral infections such as parvovirus, distemper, or coronavirus can cause diarrhea in dogs.
  • Bacterial Infections: Bacterial infections such as salmonella can lead to diarrhea in dogs.
  • Inflammatory Bowel Disease: Inflammatory bowel disease is a chronic condition that can cause diarrhea, vomiting, and weight loss in dogs.
  • Pancreatitis: Pancreatitis is a condition in which the pancreas becomes inflamed, leading to diarrhea and other digestive issues.
  • Liver or Kidney Disease: Liver or kidney disease can cause digestive issues and diarrhea in dogs.

Symptoms of Dog Diarrhea

The symptoms of diarrhea in dogs can vary depending on the underlying cause. The most common symptoms include:

  • Loose, Watery Stools: Diarrhea is characterized by loose, watery stools that occur more frequently than usual.
  • Vomiting: Dogs with diarrhea may also vomit or have a loss of appetite.
  • Weakness: Diarrhea can cause weakness and lethargy in dogs.
  • Blood in Stool: In severe cases, diarrhea can cause blood in the stool, indicating a more serious health issue.
  • Dehydration: Dogs with diarrhea can become dehydrated quickly, leading to dry or sticky gums, sunken eyes, or a dry nose.

If your dog is experiencing any of these symptoms, it’s essential to visit your veterinarian for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan.

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When to Visit Your Vet

If your dog has one or two episodes of diarrhea but is otherwise behaving normally, it’s usually not a cause for concern. However, if your dog has more than two episodes or displays any of the symptoms mentioned above, it’s essential to visit your veterinarian for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan.

If your dog is straining to pass a stool but is only passing small amounts of watery diarrhea, they could be experiencing a painful blockage due to the ingestion of a foreign object such as a toy. This is a very serious condition that requires immediate veterinary attention, call your vet or go to the nearest emergency animal hospital for treatment.

Recurring bouts of diarrhea over a short time period can be a sign of a very serious health issue, especially if your furry friend is very old, very young, or has a compromised immune system. Infections such as parvovirus are extremely serious, contagious, and life-threatening. Contact your vet right away if your pup is experiencing repeated episodes of diarrhea or chronic diarrhea.

How to Treat Dog Diarrhea

The treatment for dog diarrhea depends on the underlying cause. However, there are some general guidelines that can help your pup feel better.


If your dog has had one or two runny or soft stools, you might want to give your dog some time to recover by simply fasting for 12 – 24 hours. This can help the digestive system to rest and recover.

Bland Diet

After fasting, you can introduce a bland diet to your dog. A bland diet for a day or two can help your pooch’s issue. Plain-cooked white rice with a little chicken and some canned plain pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling) could also help your pup’s tummy feel better. Once your dog is feeling better gradually reintroduce their regular food.

Probiotics and Medications

Other things that might help soothe your dog’s upset tummy include natural yogurt, probiotics, peeled boiled potatoes, cottage cheese, egg with no oil added, specially formulated dog foods and medications prescribed by your vet.

It’s important to note that you should never give your dog human medications without consulting your veterinarian. Many over-the-counter medications that work well for people can be toxic to dogs.


In conclusion, dog diarrhea is a common health issue that can occur due to various reasons. Although mild diarrhea cases are generally not a cause for concern, recurring bouts of diarrhea or severe symptoms can indicate a more serious underlying health issue. If your dog is experiencing diarrhea, it’s essential to visit your veterinarian for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan. With the right treatment and care, your furry friend can recover quickly and get back to their usual happy and healthy self.

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