While we always want our pups to be healthy, there will be times that your dog is feeling unwell and these times will bring various conditions such as diarrhea. Today, our Doraville vets discuss why diarrhea could occur, what causes bloody diarrhea and when you should bring your dog in for emergency care.

Diarrhea in Dogs

Our vets at WellPet Humane commonly treat dogs in the Doraville area for diarrhea. It is one of the most common conditions seen.

Diarrhea can easily be caused by mild bouts of GI distress. Intestinal distress if commonly caused by food as it can be caused by something as simple as your dog trying a new food or having treats that they don't normally eat. 

It is important to keep in mind that this distress can also be caused by more serious conditions and so you should always conctact your vet and have your dogo examined if they are showing any concerning symptoms or prolonged diarrhea.

Common Causes of Diarrhea in Dogs

Some of th emost common causes of diarrhea in dogs are:

  • Stress or anxiety
  • Change in diet or treats
  • Eating garbage or spoiled food
  • Ingestion of foreign objects such as toys, bones, and fabric
  • Ingesting toxins or poisons
  • Viral infections such as parvovirus, distemper or coronavirus
  • Parasites - roundworms, hookworms, whipworms, Coccidia, or Giardia
  • Bacterial infections - such as salmonella
  • Pancreatitis
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Colitis
  • Liver or kidney disease
  • Intestinal cancer
  • Medications such as antibiotics

Because there are a variety of causes for diarrhea in dogs it can be difficult to determine when exactly you should be concerned and when to bring your dog in for an examination. Below are some exampples of when you should contact your vet and if you are ever unsure then the best option is always to call and ask your vet.

Causes of Bloody Diarrhea in Dogs

The most straightforward indication that you should consider contacting your vet is when your dog's diarrhea is bloody.  There are two types of bloody stool to look out for when your dog is experiencing diarrhea

Hematochezia results from bleeding in the lower digestive tract or colon.  It is bright red in color and indicates certain potential medical complications.

Melena is blood that has been digested or swallowed.  This dark, sticky, almost jelly-like blood indicates that a serious problem in your dog's upper digestive tract might be to blame.

Singular streaks of blood are often a fluke. However, if the bleeding is consistently present or if the bleeding is in larger amounts, that is a clear indicator of a much bigger problem, such as a viral or bacterial infection, parvovirus, hemorrhagic gastroenteritis, and even cancer.

If you find blood in your dog's stool, in any amount, it is always best to contact your vet, describing exactly what you have observed will allow your vet to give you detailed instructions on what you should be watching for, and if it makes sense for your dog to come in for a visit based on their symptoms.

When you Should Contact Your Vet

If your dog has a single episode of diarrhea and is otherwise acting normal, it is likely not a cause for concern. Monitor your dog's bowel movements to see if things clear up. More than 2 episodes could indicate a problem, so it's a good idea to call your vet if your canine companion has two or more bouts of diarrhea.

If your dog is straining to pass a stool but 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 concern and needs veterinary attention right away, contact your vet or head to the nearest emergency animal hospital for care.

Recurring bouts of diarrhea over a short period of time could be a sign of a very serious health issue, particularly if your dog 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 dog is experiencing repeated episodes of diarrhea.

Dogs showing other symptoms as well as diarrhea should also be seen by a vet as soon as possible. If your dog has any of the following symptoms contact your vet right away to make an appointment:

  • Blood in stool
  • Unusual drooling
  • Vomiting
  • Lack of Appetite
  • Weakness
  • Signs of dehydration (Sunken dry-looking eyes, dry nose, or dry, sticky gums)

If your dog is displaying any symptoms that cause you concern, contact your veterinarian. Your vet will let you know whether your pet's symptoms indicate that an examination is necessary.

Treatment for Diarrhea in Dogs

Never administer human medications to your dog as most human medicines are highly toxic and potentially fatal for dogs.

If you are noticing runny stools for your dog then having them fast for a day or so should be enough to help them return to normal bowel movements.

A bland diet for a day or two may help to resolve your dog's issue. Plain-cooked white rice with a little chicken and some canned plain pumpkin (not pie filling) may help to make your dog's tummy feel better. Once your dog feels better gradually reintroduce their regular food.

Other things that might help to 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.

If your dog is experiencing any sort of distress then it is recommended to contact your vet for proper instructions on how to manage th esituation that you are experiencing. By taking your dog in for an examination you give your vet the opportunity to determine the underlying cause of your dog's diarrhea and recommend the most effective treatment.

Excessive or continuous diarrhea is concerning and if your dog is experiencing this then you should contact our Doraville vets to schedule an appointment to have your dog examined.