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Understanding Diarrhea in Dogs: Is it an Emergency?

 by ben on  |
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Seeing a runny stool when your dog uses the bathroom can be alarming but it is usually not a big concern. Nonetheless, many pet owners rush their dogs to the veterinarian filled with concern. It is understandable why pet owners rush Fido to the vet. They want to take care of their pet and they certainly don't want to clean up diarrhea messes around the house.

What Causes Diarrhea in Dogs?

There is a long list of causes of diarrhea in dogs; far too many to compile into one list. However, some of the most common causes of diarrhea include:

  • Parasites, such as intestinal worms, can irritate the gastrointestinal tract, resulting in diarrhea.
  • Diet changes may also cause diarrhea, so if you’ve recently changed your pet's food, this may be the only cause.
  • Infections can cause diarrhea. They’re more common in younger dogs.
  • Metabolic diseases such as those associated with the liver or thyroid can also cause a dog to experience diarrhea due to an upset GI tract.
  • Certain medications can cause upset to the GI tract, resulting in diarrhea. Antibiotics are the most common medical culprits of diarrhea.

How to Stop Diarrhea in Dogs

Many of the causes of diarrhea resolve on their own, but some do require intervention. To help ease diarrhea that your dog experiences, veterinarians suggest the following:

  • Continue to feed your dog as normal.
  • Increase fiber intake
  • Feed your dog smaller meals rather than larger meals so they’re easier to digest
  • Ask your veterinarian if any of the medications your pet uses could cause diarrhea, specifically those the dog has just begun using.

When to See a Veterinarian

You know your dog better than anyone else. Do not hesitate to schedule an appointment with the veterinarian if something just seems off to you. It is better to be safe than to be sorry and simply having the vet take a look at your pet can ease your mind and potentially prevent health concerns and other illnesses.

To determine if the diarrhea is cause for concern and warrants a trip to the vet, determine how much fluid is actually coming out and the frequency of the stools. If the dog is happy, is still eating and is playful, there is probably nothing to worry about if there are only small amounts of stool. However, if there are large amounts of stool, if the dog seems unhappy or doesn’t eat, or if there is blood in the stool, get the dog to the veterinarian quickly.


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