Diarrhea is one of the more common symptoms of ill health in dogs. It can be a minor problem caused by something the dog ate, or it may be something much more severe and potentially dangerous such as a parvovirus infection.
Knowing about the causes and treatment of diarrhea in dogs is an important part of being a responsible dog owner. To be safe, visit the vet whenever your dog shows symptoms of diarrhea lasting more than 24 hours or consisting of highly liquid, “squirty” stools.
The danger with diarrhea in dogs is the same as in other animals, including humans. Severe, prolonged diarrhea can lead to dehydration or malnutrition. At the extreme, the condition can be fatal, which is why a vet visit is indicated when the symptoms are prolonged or especially severe.
Contents at a Glance
- Diarrhea With Bloody Stools
- Diarrhea In Dogs After Surgery
- Diarrhea In Dogs From Antibiotics
- Stress-Related Diarrhea
- Treating Diarrhea In Dogs
Diarrhea With Bloody Stools
Blood can appear in a dog’s feces in two different forms. One is dark-red, tarry-looking material in the stool. This represents blood that the dog has digested and is not especially dangerous in itself.
The other form is a brighter red, fresh blood in the feces, a symptom known as hematochezia. This results from bleeding in the lower intestine and may be (but is not always) a sign of a serious condition.
Hematochezia that occurs only once is not really a cause for concern, but persistent bloody stool calls for a veterinary visit. The most common cause of hematochezia, especially in older animals, is cancer, while in younger dogs it more commonly indicates a parasitic infestation.
Diarrhea In Dogs After Surgery
Diarrhea In Dogs After SurgeryDogs sometimes experience diarrhea after surgery. This is fairly common when female dogs are spayed, but may also result from other surgery. This is less commonly a result of the surgery itself, though, than it is a side-effect of pain medication used afterwards.
The most commonly-prescribed painkillers, called non-steroid anti-inflammatory drugs or NSAIDs, can cause vomiting and diarrhea in dogs with sensitive stomachs. This is seldom of great concern, but if the diarrhea persists or is severe, consult a veterinarian.
Diarrhea In Dogs From Antibiotics
Another cause of diarrhea in dogs is a course of antibiotics, either to treat an actual infection or as a prophylactic after surgery. The reason antibiotics can cause diarrhea in dogs is the same as in humans: the drugs sometimes kill helpful bacteria in the digestive tract, which can disrupt digestion until the bacterial population recovers.
As with post-surgery diarrhea resulting from pain medication, this is seldom a serious concern, but if it is severe or persistent consult a veterinarian.
Diarrhea can result in dogs from either physical or emotional stress. The stress can arise from an injury or trauma, from surgery, or from anything new in the dog’s life, and is especially common as a result of boarding the animal for a period of time.
As with most causes of diarrhea, the symptoms are usually not dangerous unless they persist for more than 24 hours or are especially severe.
Treating Diarrhea In Dogs
If your dog suffers from diarrhea, you can often treat this by giving the dog a bland diet and making sure it has plenty of water. A bland diet for a dog consists of cooked white rice or potato, with lean cooked meat and some dairy products such as yogurt or cottage cheese. The idea is to get the dog’s stomach settled so that it can keep water down. Remember that the danger in diarrhea comes mainly from dehydration.
Severe or persistent diarrhea requires a visit to vet, who will use an IV to keep the dog hydrated and prevent malnutrition. This is definitely indicated if the dog shows other symptoms of parvovirus such as lethargy or high fever.