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The Maryland SPCA Adoption Center will be CLOSED today, Monday, August 19, 2019.

The shelter will reopen tomorrow, Tuesday, August 20 for regular business hours.


What Is Diarrhea?

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
  • Allergic reaction
  • Bacterial or viral infection
  • Internal parasites
  • Disease, colitis, hemorrhagic gastroenteritis
  • Certain medications
  • Stress

What Are the General Symptoms of Diarrhea?

Loose or liquid, frequent stools are the most common symptoms of diarrhea in dogs.

Other signs include:

  • Flatulence
  • Blood or mucus in stool
  • Changes in volume of stool
  • Straining to defecate

The following may also accompany diarrhea:

  • Lethargy
  • Dehydration
  • Fever
  • Vomiting
  • Decreased appetite
  • Weight loss
  • 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:

  • Lethargy
  • Vomiting
  • Fever
  • Dark-colored or bloody stools
  • Straining to defecate
  • Decreased appetite
  • 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.