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Dog Diarrhea and Loose Stools

Dog diarrhea (i.e. frequent loose stools) occurs when food travels through the digestive system too quickly, resulting in insufficient moisture being absorbed. This usually happens when the dog's intestines become irritated and inflamed.

Diarrhea Causes and Symptoms

Many things can cause dogs to have diarrhea. Intestinal parasites, viral and bacterial infections, changes in diet, garbage ingestion, overeating, eating spicy foods, medications and stress are just a few things that can cause diarrhea. Whatever the cause, the aim of first aid is to give the intestines a rest and a chance to recover. Usually this can be accomplished easily by withholding all food for up to 24 hours. However, small amounts of sugar water or electrolyte solution may be administered frequently during this time. (Note: Do not withhold food for any longer than 24 hours without first consulting your pet’s health care team.)

Diarrhea Treatments

To coat and soothe the lining of your dog's intestines, your veterinarian may recommend the administration of home therapy. If there is no response to home therapy after 24 hours, or if the pet seems ill in other ways, you should make an appointment with your veterinarian for further advice and a check up.

After fasting, if the problem clears up, your veterinarian will usually advise feeding a bland diet in small amounts throughout the day. Feed this diet for a few days in gradually increasing amounts until a formed stool is passed and then gradually wean your pet back to its regular food over the course of a week. If diarrhea persists, or there is evidence of blood or mucus in the stools, consult your veterinarian immediately. Some diarrhea conditions can be life threatening especially in young puppies and kittens if left untreated, so treat diarrhea as an emergency if symptoms persist or worsen.

For additional information on diarrhea, see Bloody Diarrhea (Parvovirus)