Diarrhea in dogs-Causes, Treatment,


Diarrhea in dogs is a condition of the bowel that leads to the passage of unformed and loose stools. Most cases of diarrhea in dogs are characterized by excessive bowel movements as well as large volumes of stool.

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Under normal circumstances, ingested food takes about eight hours to digest and pass through to the small intestines. During this period the majority of the food and more than seventy five percent of the water is absorbed by the body. When dogs are inflicted with diarrhea, this is not the case. Instead, diarrhea increases the number and quantity of bowel movements that has additional liquid leading to miniscule or partial absorption of water and nutrients.

Symptoms of diarrhea in dogs

  • The main symptoms of diarrhea in dogs are the formation of loose stools and increased number of bowel movements.
  • Diarrhea in dogs that is accompanied by dehydration, fever, vomiting, bloody stools in dogs and behavioral changes require immediate attention by a vet.

Causes of diarrhea in dogs

There are several reasons that may result in diarrhea in dogs. Some of them are listed below:

  • Indiscretion in the diet of dogs can lead to the rapid onset of diarrhea. One may notice that dogs tend to eat anything and everything. They are natural scavengers and often ingest various kinds of indigestible items such as decayed or rotten food, carcasses or dead animals, garbage, grass, plants that may grow wild or which are ornamental, wood chunks, plastic pieces, paper, and other types of alien things. A number of such items can cause irritation of the stomach as well as the intestines. On occasions some of these materials are removed through vomiting.
    • Intolerance to certain kinds of foods can also lead to a rapid onset of diarrhea in dogs. Some of the food items that may be intolerable and cause adverse reactions in dogs can include fish, beef, horse meat, pork, eggs, chicken, corn, gravies, spices, wheat, salts, soy, fats as well as some types of commercial canine foods.
    • Lactase is an enzyme present in the intestine that converts the lactose that is present in milk into small chain sugars. Some adult canines may have conditions such as lactase deficiency, thereby making it difficult for such dogs to digest milk or other dairy byproducts. The lactose that remains undigested cannot be absorbed by the intestines and stays there along with water. This leads to increased mobility of fecal material and causes large volumes of diarrhea in dogs.
    • Puppies and adult dogs that are infected with intestinal parasites are more vulnerable to develop acute as well as chronic cases of diarrhea. Some of the parasites that cause the most difficulties are hookworms, threadworms, roundworms, whipworms and giardia.
    • Several types of medications and drugs especially nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin, some heart medications and antibiotics can lead to diarrhea in dogs.
    • Any unexpected or sudden change in a dog’s diet or living environment such as increased excitedness or sadness can lead to emotional diarrhea in dogs.

Treatment of diarrhea in dogs

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Diarrhea in dogs that is not accompanied by dehydration or bloody stools can be treated at home; else a visit to a vet is absolutely necessary. Some of the treatment methods are listed below:

In cases of acute diarrhea in dogs-

  • One of the most important and primary steps to treating cases of diarrhea in dogs is the increased intake of water. This can lead to the relaxation and rest of the GI tract as well as withholding of the food for close to twenty four hours.
  • Dogs with diarrhea should be encouraged to take in as much water as they can. In cases, where the diarrhea is persistent, supplemental electrolyte solutions such as Pedialyte may be given in a diluted form along with water.
  • Some types of sports drinks and customized electrolyte solutions for dogs such as the K9 Thirst Quencher are also recommended as a treatment method. Such drinks are flavored giving added incentives to the dogs to consume them.
  • Sometimes, a low-salt bouillon cube which is dissolved in water can also be given to treat diarrhea in dogs
  • Anti-diarrheal drugs such as Kaopectate and Pepto-bismol can also be used to slow the progress of diarrhea as well as intestinal mobility.
  • Intestinal rest that lasts for about twenty four hours usually leads to a successful treatment of acute diarrhea in dogs. The canine should then be restricted to a low fat and easily digestible diet for the next two to three days.

In cases of chronic diarrhea in dogs-

  • Treatment of chronic diarrhea in dogs in dogs involves treating diarrhea as per the cause.
  • If the cause is a diet change, then it should be reverted
  • Lactase deficiency should result in the elimination of milk and milk products
  • If overeating is the cause, then the diet should be changed to three regular meals that meet the daily calorie needs of the canine.
  • In case, diarrhea continues for more than three weeks, then the pet owner needs to visit a vet.
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