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Canine Diarrhea

Canine Diarrhea

Though not a life-threatening condition, diarrhea in dogs may sometimes indicate serious underlying medical conditions. Read on to know more about the same.
Sonia Nair
Canine diarrhea is one of the most common dog health problems. There are numerous causes for this condition and they include change in diet, food intolerance and consumption of table scraps or waste materials from trash. Sometimes, this condition could be a symptom of some serious illness. In most cases, vomiting is the early sign of diarrhea in dogs. This is one of the natural ways adopted by dogs to expel the toxins ingested into their system. In such cases, the symptoms may subside within a few days and all you have to do is to give the dog, a simple diet of chicken and rice for a day or two. But the condition of the dog may worsen, in case of severe loss of water and nutrients. In some other cases, the symptoms can worsen due to underlying causes.

As mentioned above, there are several causes for diarrhea in dogs. The condition is characterized by soft and watery stools with more frequency and urgency. Sometimes, it could be accompanied with bad odor too. The rectal area of the affected dog may become tender and the hair beneath its tail may have dried fecal matter. As mentioned earlier, canine diarrhea is usually caused by minor issues like diet change. In such cases, the condition may subside within a few days, provided, proper care is taken. Without appropriate care, the condition may worsen in some canines.
  • Infections caused by virus or bacteria
  • Dog worms
  • Change in diet
  • Stress and/or anxiety
  • Ingestion of hair
  • Pancreatic disorders
  • Bowel diseases
  • Metabolic disorders
  • Food intolerance
  • Liver, thyroid or kidney disease
  • Dog cancer
  • Gastroenteritis caused by viral or bacterial infection
  • Ingestion of table scraps and other wastes
  • Side effects of drugs
So, diarrhea in dogs can be caused by different reasons that may range from mild to severe. Even the symptoms may vary slightly with the different underlying causes. The following is a brief overview about the symptoms of dog diarrhea.
  1. In case of food intolerance, change in diet, indigestion and mild infection, the affected dog may exhibit symptoms like yellow diarrhea, which may start with a few episodes of vomiting.
  2. If the dog is affected with diarrhea and vomiting at the same time, then the possible causes include food poisoning, some underlying disease or viral infections.
  3. Apart from vomiting, if the dog is having stomach rumbling, gas, dehydration, loss of appetite, weight loss, dark or bloody stools and swelling in the legs, the possible cause could be some problem of the small intestine.
  4. In case of large intestine diseases in dogs, diarrhea, difficulty in urination, vomiting, weight loss and pain during bowel movements may occur. The stools may contain bright red blood and/or mucus.
  5. While a light-colored stool could be an indication of some liver problem, black stool in dogs might be due to intestinal bleeding or irritation. Gray stool is also a cause of concern.
Apart from the above said, there are some other canine diarrhea symptoms like rise in body temperature, depression and foul body odor. There are a number of diagnostic tests that are used to determine the underlying cause. They include blood tests, fecal tests, x-rays, endoscopy and ultrasound.

Diarrhea in dogs is classified as acute and chronic. In case of acute diarrhea, the symptoms tend to subside within a day or two. Avoid giving solid food to the dog for at least a day, but, let your pet drink lots of water. If required, electrolytes can be given, as per the instructions of the vet. In case the symptoms are too mild, provide the dog with specific food for dogs with diarrhea. Chicken and rice could be given as five small meals per day. Otherwise, opt for boiled rice and boiled eggs. It is said that pureed pumpkin is good for the stools to get firm. Two to three tablespoons of pureed pumpkin a day, will be sufficient for your dog. If the symptoms persist for more than a day or are getting severe, you must take your pet to the vet immediately. The same applies for dogs that develop additional symptoms. Chronic canine diarrhea is often associated with underlying causes and the symptoms may last for many days and weeks. In such cases, the underlying cause has to be diagnosed and treated.

In short, diarrhea in dogs is not a cause of concern, if there is no other symptom and the dog is eating and drinking well and behaving normally. More serious causes are associated with symptoms like, blood or mucus in stool, lethargy and loss of appetite. In such cases, canine diarrhea treatment is unavoidable. The treatment must be given immediately, to avoid further complications. The veterinarian may conduct some tests, to diagnose the condition and find out the underlying illness. The mode of treatment will be decided as per the underlying cause. In short, diarrhea in dogs is self-limiting and may subside within a few days, if there is no major underlying cause. But, if the symptoms worsen or the affected dog is experiencing severe symptoms from the beginning itself, then you have to provide the dog with immediate treatment by a certified veterinarian.
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