Diarrhea is characterized by frequent loose or liquid bowel movements. It can be caused by something as simple as a change in diet or a more serious illness or infection. A single bout of diarrhea is generally not a cause for concern in dogs—but if it persists for more than a day, it can lead to dehydration and may indicate an underlying health issue and should be checked out by a veterinarian.
What Causes Diarrhea in Dogs?
Change in diet or food intolerance
Ingestion of non-food, garbage, spoiled food, and poisonous items
Bacterial or viral infection
Disease, colitis, hemorrhagic gastroenteritis
What Are the General Symptoms of Diarrhea?
Loose or liquid, frequent stools are the most common symptoms of diarrhea in dogs.
Other signs include:
Blood or mucus in stool
Changes in volume of stool
Straining to defecate
The following may also accompany diarrhea:
Increased urgency to defecate
If your dog’s diarrhea is black, he could be experiencing internal bleeding of the stomach or small intestine and should be examined by a vet immediately.
When Should I Take My Dog to the Vet?
Bring your dog to the vet if his diarrhea continues for more than a day, or if you observe:
Dark-colored or bloody stools
Straining to defecate
Unexplained weight loss
Contact your veterinarian immediately if you notice your puppy has diarrhea, as it can be an important indicator of serious diseases in young dogs.
How Can I Prevent Diarrhea?
Keep in mind that even perfectly healthy dogs will sometimes get diarrhea. Here are tips to reduce the likelihood of occurrence:
Keep up to date with your dog’s vaccinations.
Make sure your dog is free of parasites by following your veterinarian’s recommendations.
Don’t let your dog have access to garbage, spoiled food, etc.
When walking your dog, watch that he does not eat anything off the street, does not eat plant material or drink from puddles.
Minimize stress in your dog’s environment.
If you decide to switch your dog’s food, it’s a good idea to introduce it gradually, mixing it with his current food to ensure an easier transition for your pet’s GI tract.
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