Treatment for canine diarrhea depends on what may be causing loose stools. Some things to keep in mind when administering care for dogs with diarrhea include:
- Onset of diarrhea–was it sudden or gradual?
- Has diarrhea persisted for several days?
- Has there been a change in diet for the dog? More wet food, too many table scraps?
- Has the dog been given veterinary-prescribed medication for the diarrhea and continues to suffer from loose stools?
- Have you considered using probiotics for dogs with diarrhea?
Diarrhea in Dogs
Even the healthiest dogs will experience diarrhea at some point in their lives. With a gastrointestinal system similar to humans, dogs experience many of the same kind of health problems humans do, from stomach aches and flatulence to nausea and, unfortunately, diarrhea. While some incidences of diarrhea in dogs clear up on their own within a day or two, other cases will require additional treatment, such as probiotics for dogs and diarrhea symptoms, a safe and natural way to restore intestinal health, prevent dehydration and improve overall well-being of dogs.
What Causes Diarrhea in Dogs?
- Dietary changes, such as switching to another brand of dog food, overfeeding, underfeeding and giving the dog too much “people” food or canned food.
- Ingesting spoiled food, outside debris, toxic substances or foreign objects
- Viral, fungal or bacterial infections (rotavirus or leptospirosis)
- Food allergies to fillers and by-products found in some commercial dog food
- Parasitic infestations of the intestines (roundworms, tapeworms, giardia or coccidia)
- Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) caused by a constant and excessive influx of white blood cells entering the colon and/or intestines.
- Liver or kidney disease
- Digestive tract tumors (malignant or benign)
- Inflammation of the colon (colitis), an often chronic condition produced when the colon is irritated by parasites, infections, stress, IBD or ingestion of contaminated food.
- Canine hemorrhagic gastroenteritis (CHGE), a serious illness characterized by bloody diarrhea and vomiting.
Symptoms Accompanying Diarrhea in Dogs
Dogs that have only one or two loose stools generally do not exhibit other symptoms. When dogs experience diarrhea for more than two days, the risk of dehydration dramatically increases. Although a dog with diarrhea may continue to drink water, the amount of fluids lost is greater than the fluid taken in. Signs of dehydration and other complications resulting from untreated diarrhea include:
- Lack of energy, lethargy
- Fast breathing and/or excessive panting
- Rapid weight loss
- Attitude changes (more apprehensive, passive or skittish)
- Dry nose, gums and mouth
- Loss of skin hydration and elasticity (pinching a small piece of the dog’s skin between your forefinger and thumb and then releasing the skin should show the skin immediately resuming a normal shape. If the dog’s skin moves too slowly or doesn’t move at all, the dog may be seriously dehydrated).
- Has a rectal temperature greater than 105° F
- Unsteady gait or inability to rise from a prone position
Diagnosing Dog Diarrhea
Veterinarians diagnose the cause of dog diarrhea by:
- Gathering information from the dog’s owner about the dog’s diet, living environment, daily routine and past health history.
- Performing a complete physical exam on the dog
- Testing fecal samples brought in by the dog’s owner. Fecal smears and fecal flotations provide evidence of parasites, parasitical eggs and bacterial/viral infections
- Blood and urine samples may be taken from the dog if fecal sampling results are inconclusive. Complete blood counts can detect evidence of illnesses not detectable in fecal smears, such as pancreatitis, Addison’s disease, liver/kidney abnormalities and vitamin/mineral deficiencies.
- Abdominal X-rays and ultrasonographies can reveal intestinal obstructions and other foreign bodies that may be causing chronic diarrhea.
Treating Diarrhea in Dogs
To treat canine diarrhea that is uncomplicated by systemic disease, tumors or accidental ingestion of a toxic substance, veterinarians often recommend withholding food from the dog for 24 hours to allow the intestinal tract time to normalize and recover from whatever irritated it. Some may even suggest giving the dog some Pepto-Bismal. However, most dog owners care enough about their pet to know that giving dogs human medication is not in the best interest of their pet. Although humans share some similarities with canine physiology, non-primate animals often suffer harmful side effects from synthetic drugs that we can take without any problem.
With the emergence of serious clinical research over the past decade into the natural, restorative effectiveness of probiotics, dog owners have found that probiotics also provide a safe, healthy alternative to fasting or antibiotics for treating dog diarrhea.
A type of natural, living bacteria that supplement the beneficial bacteria within your dog’s system, probiotics are ingested orally and begin colonizing in a dog’s intestinal tract within minutes of ingestion. As they colonize, they start readjusting the bacterial imbalance in the intestines that causes dogs to have diarrhea while reducing bacteria motility and increasing the amount of “good” bacteria for rapid relief from diarrhea.
Probiotics Can Help Prevent Diarrhea in Dogs
Supplementing a dog’s diet with probiotics can reduce the likelihood that the dog suffers diarrhea due to stress, chewing on outside debris or having an older, less vital immune system. In addition, giving dogs probiotic supplements also promotes production of short-chain fatty acids that work to inhibit growth of pathogens like Clostridium perfringens, salmonella and E. coli and helps prevent female dogs from suffering urinary tract infections.
Disclaimer: the advice and information in this article is not intended to be used as a replacement for seeking medical attention if your dog is experiencing diarrhea or other health issues.